Sunday, 15 August 2010

The sound of silent summer

I've been thinking through my legs & ears on this trip...the walking & the sound recording making me as much aware of the contours of the aural landscape as the visual one (which tends to dominate for me). The brush & swish of walking through rushes & grasses, the brush & swish & sometimes beat of turbine blades, my shod feet crunching over stones, streams & rivers, drips, the incessant shove of the wind, but layered onto or behind all this the hum, buzz & grate of insects, the bird song & sharp calls, animal cries.

So there's a paragraph in Mark Lynas's Six Degrees that disturbs me greatly & somehow makes sense of this trip for me... It's in chapter 2 oC (pp 95-96) with 'only' two degrees of warming (a level George Monbiot's Heat suggests we may already be committed to) is a response to Chris Thomas's 2004 Nature paper which revealed that, according to their models, over a third of all species would be committed to extinction by the time global temps reach 2oC including a quarter of European birds (red kite, starling 'near the top of the list'). Lynas writes:

'Consider the thought that living species, which have evolved on this planet over millions of years, could be destroyed for ever in the space of one human generation; that life, in all its fascinating exuberance, can be erased so quickly, and with such leaden finality. As the biologist Edward O. Wilson has suggested, the next century could be an 'Age of Loneliness', when humanity finds itself nearly alone on a devastated planet. In tribute to Rachel Carson, I call this our Silent Summer - a never-ending heatwave, devoid of birdsong, insect hum, and all the weird and wonderful noises that subconsciously keep us company.'

What on earth is that crashing loss set against the relatively insignificant presence of wind turbines in an already changing landscape?



  1. I love your blog Jess. So much to engage with, and think about. Especially like the way you fuse contemporary polemics, classical literature, science and performance! Hope you make a few people think.

  2. This is a very good post which I really enjoy reading. It is not every day that I have the possibility to see something like this.

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  4. "What on earth is that crashing loss set against the relatively insignificant presence of wind turbines in an already changing landscape?"

    With all due respect, that's a naive, unscientific claim. Too many Greens are stuck on the idea that wind power will actually offset carbon, and are continually downplaying the sheer number of wind turbines in existence and planned for the future. There are already about 300,000 of them, globally, though it's hard to pinpoint a figure. The industry is striving for tenfold that number. Who would call that an "insignificant presence?"

    Look at what's already happened to the UK's scenery, for nil reduction in actual carbon emissions: (John Muir Trust visualization of wind turbines spreading across Scotland from 1995 to 2015)