The current floods are clearly causing much distress, damage to property and physical and economic hardship. Many of us are affected in one way or another by these floods and this constant rain but our hearts go out to those who have seen their homes, businesses and farms flooded. This has been a very depressing winter for our island.
It has brought to the fore many attitudes and unthinking assumptions and the mistakes they lead towards: For example, the long hiatus in the dredging of rivers. The Environment Agency appears to have a policy not to dredge rivers. The suspicion is that this is all part of a misanthropic ideology whereby Man is seen as the enemy of Nature, rather than the manager of Nature. In reality all the countryside that surrounds us has been managed by Man for generations. The Somerset Levels is a key example of this. The way it looks is as a consequence of the interaction between Man and Nature. Take Man’s management role away and we would be faced with a wilderness. It is Nature as we have shaped it that strikes us as particularly beautiful – the hedgerows, the patchwork of fields on green, rolling hills.
The blogger takes the view that if our countryside has been shaped by us, then we should maintain its beauty as well as its potential to provide us with resources. We should not feel embarrassed that we are moved by Man-moulded countryside – that surely was our role in the first garden! The combination of Man and Nature is the most natural state of affairs.
So, while it makes sense to preserve habitat for the songbirds and other birds that enrich our lives, it is important not to lose a sense of perspective. Nature is there as a gift to us, for us to work, not to abandon. So if Man needs to dredge rivers to live in the country, rivers must surely be dredged. The consequence of not dredging may well have led to widespread destruction of habitat and the drowning of animals, particularly those that are hibernating.
It is of course completely possible for Man to abuse Nature rather than manage Nature, but the two should not be confused. Wiping out the dodo was an abuse; deer stalking to manage the deer population is management.
So, we have a duty as part of our raison d’etre to manage Nature – not to abuse it, but not to abandon it either. It seems to the blogger that the radical-environmentalist ideologue is as wrong as the greedy owners of log businesses destroying the rainforests; for they both deny our role of responsible management in Nature. We are integral to the process and indeed, as with the case of river dredging, Nature is there to work for us and enrich our lives just as much as it is for us to honour our duty to manage it. Building on floodplains is an abuse of Nature; not dredging the rivers looks to be an abdication of responsibility.