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I can’t escape my eco-anxiety As a gardener, I see portents of doom everywhere


November 11, 2021   5 mins

The cherry tree in the front garden of the big house was a venerable thing. From its size and the age of the rambling property in which it stood I’d guess it was a century old at least. It had seen out the age of empire, seen Hitler’s bombs rain down on South London, and looked on as the tower blocks of the nearby 1950s housing estate grew from the rubble. And every spring its blossom, white on the left side, pink on the right — the result, I always assumed, of some Victorian horticulturist’s clever graft — had signalled the end of harsh weather, and the birth of milder seasons.

Then, last year, it gave up. By February the buds which had begun to swell along the branches turned brown and desiccated, like abandoned chrysalises. After the blossom failed, a few leaves unfurled, then dropped early. On a gusty day last spring, a main branch fell, cleaving the privet hedge below it in two.

As the gardener charged with pruning that tree — having shaped its canopy and enjoyed its blossom for a decade — I felt bereft, in that pull-yourself-together way one might experience at the demise of an aged pet. But I’m not sure I was mourning the tree so much as lamenting what it symbolised.

“Of course the trees are dying,” I thought, when I arrived at work to see that bough nestling in the hedge. It was just more fodder for my personal spiral of climate anxiety.

Any gardener will tell you that one of the great pleasures of the pursuit, whether amateur of professional, is the sense of connection it engenders between you and the seasons. Stewarding a patch of ground from spring to winter and back again plugs you into something ineluctable and constant.

In the decade or so that I have been doing it for a living, I’ve come to understand why people often talk of gardening in therapeutic terms. Once stricken with Seasonal Affective Disorder when the clocks go back, I now reconcile myself to winter as a necessary stage in the wheel. Most of what we do at this time of year involves “putting things to bed”, chopping back the wilted summer growth. But this isn’t death so much as dormancy, a prelude to inevitable rejuvenation. Spring rolls around like a gift. Whatever clamorous stupidities might be afflicting the human story, the garden, this earth, moves to organic rhythms deeply etched in time. Gardening, then, becomes an act of self-reassurance.

At least, that is how it used to feel. As the years pass, the drumbeat of alarm around climate change has begun to shake the foundations of this happy psychological refuge. The meteorological cues which dictate the behaviour of our garden plants and wildlife have gone haywire. The energy that plants expend on negotiating weather patterns for which they haven’t evolved is making them more vulnerable to blights and pests. The first frosts land later, which means the window for the spread of fungus and foliar pathogens has widened. There are fewer insects, meaning less pollination. There is, too, just a general tenor of capriciousness — the sense that conditions are less hospitable, more violent, and incrementally less predictable. The rain falls in torrential bursts. The summer sun feels that bit too harsh. The garden’s cheering constancy has been fatally disrupted.

Suggested reading
I can't escape my eco-anxiety

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At a practical level, this demands certain adjustments. The wealthy homeowners who comprise the majority of our client base, fluent in western guilt and self-exonerating gestures, are starting to think about ways to make their gardens more environmentally friendly. Add some wildflowers for the bees. Let the grass grow longer, acknowledging the writer Michael Pollan’s colourful assertion that “a lawn is nature under totalitarian rule”. Like many landscaping firms, we wait impatiently for the performance of battery-run tools to catch up with our current petrol-driven machinery, and calculate how much to increase our rates by to cover the outlay (around three grand, in case you’re wondering). These transitions are fine and good. Gardeners, like people generally, are an adaptable species.

What is less easy to process, however, is the impact this horticultural uncertainty might be having on our wellbeing. It is increasingly clear that the kind of discourse we have seen around COP26 in Glasgow is precipitating an epidemic of “eco-anxiety”, especially among the young. That this anxiety is prompting me and others to draw alarming extrapolations upon witnessing the struggles going on in our herbaceous borders reveals something profound about the impact of climate change — not so much the terrifying existential threat of it, but the proximate emotional cost.

Of course, we continue to take solace in whatever mitigation we can find. I can’t be the only person who found a guilty, and frankly perverse, respite in the recent study which claimed that the UK ranks among the five countries best placed to ride out “societal collapse”. (Hooray?) Maybe, we think to ourselves, maybe my little corner will escape the worst of it. Perhaps my kids will be OK.

Meanwhile, and perhaps ironically, growing awareness of our unsustainable relationship with nature has only increased our recognition that communing with nature is good for us. Such old wisdom, as no end of recent self-discovery memoirs detail, has come to be seen as an antidote to the artifice and alienation of the western lifestyle.

But anyone who spends a lot of time among the shrubbery will tell you that what we are faced with, at minimum, is a world so discombobulated, so shorn of its old certainties, that contentment itself becomes forfeit. A world in which gardening — the uncomplicated pleasure of cultivating a plant from bulb to flower, stem to trunk — becomes freighted with the very temporal and political concerns that its practitioners are trying to escape.

On the spectrum of climate change’s ramifications, this might seem like trifling stuff. Amending a planting scheme because the flowers aren’t unfurling at the expected time in the calendar is self-evidently not in the same league as a million-hectare wildfire, or a hundred contiguous miles of coral bleaching. And I’m the first to admit, as someone inclined to believe that climate change is every bit as bad as its most adamant Cassandras claim, that this reflex is toxic for the soul. In this way, it is a microcosmic analogue of the apophenia we now see pervading so much of our political culture.

For the climate change denier, this tendency to connect the dots in support of pre-existing convictions can mean that the sight of some snow appears as categorical proof of the great global warming con. Conversely, for the accepter, it becomes tempting to see evidence of accelerating catastrophe in every incongruous sunburst and drop of rain. Corroboration has largely been supplanted by intuition. Gripped with this tendency, the skeleton of a once-bountiful cherry tree becomes a portent of doom.

The truth is that I don’t know whether it was climate change that did for the old cherry or whether it is simply a tree whose time has come. But the owners have opted to leave it standing in the vain hope it will reanimate next year. It stands there now, a shadow of its former self. I’d swear it is trying to tell me something.


Henry Wismayer is a writer and gardener based in London.

henrywismayer

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Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Calm down, it is not such a big deal, and also – there is nothing to be done, so just live with it, or not so much ‘it’ as your end of times, Eco-anxiety cod-psychosis of AGW.

Your problem is you do not quite ‘Get’ nature. Being a gardener in the super artificial formal way you operate in, you confuse the garden with nature. I spent many years living in remote wilderness lands – living off, and with, true wild nature, I am one of the people who is completely at home in nature, I know it, I can read it, I am a creature myself in it. Nature is not going away, it will continue along, maybe superficial differences – but the underling ‘Juggernaut’ is unchanged – (the Hindu God who’s massive and inexorable wagon rolls over all crushing life from it, and after passing the barren land sprouts anew and new life burgeons forth in the cycle of the Great Wheel.)

Those who have lived in the true wilderness have no sentimentality for nature, it is not the Victorian Poets ‘Benevolent Pantheism’ – nature is Cold, it is as cold as the most distant rock in space, it is eternal suffering, and cruelity and want – life, misery, and death on such a vast scale – utterly without any compassion or feel – Those who have made their living in the wilderness know the ice coldness of it – One loves the grandness, the vastness, Beauty, but know it for what it is, which is inhuman coldness.

When around human society there is compassion, hope, cheerfulness, love, happiness, charity, community, society, art, creativity, intellectualism, understanding, and to be exiled from that has always been the ultimate punishment, Shunning, Outcasts, because to only be alone in nature for ever is a very dark thing indeed, like the solitary prisoner, removed from fellowship is hellish – and that is nature, it is completely without love or charity, utterly disinterested.

And AGW matters not the least to it. Maybe some change in that flowers when, maybe birds move their range and plants are displaced by others, but nature will still be there, still the same as it is, will be, for eternity. Cold, Grand beyond understanding, Beautiful, cruel, and indifferent to how us organic things are doing.

What you worry about is what flowers grow where, and that is not really Nature – Nature is not that, and it will not be different because of us.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Anthropogenic Global Warming in case anybody else was wondering.

Philip May
Philip May
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

TY

Hersch Schneider
Hersch Schneider
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

A while ago I read your perspective of nature from you having truly lived in it, in complete solitude.. cold, inhumane, brutal. And how humans aren’t evolved for that existence; we’re social creatures. It stayed with me. You’ve lived some life, my friend!

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
2 years ago

Not sure living with nature in complete solitude counts as having truly lived in it. Sounds like a rather artificial experience, at least if the solitude had any duration. As you rightly say we hummans are social creatures. The hunter gathers who experience nature without our modern trappings tend to live tribally, and a common view from those who have studied them is that they are often happier for it, lacking most of our contemporary malaise. I also enjoy reading Galeti Tavas’s comments and agree or learn something from some of them. But their views on nature & especially climate are very much minoirty positions.

Hersch Schneider
Hersch Schneider
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

From what I recall he said he lived in the North American wilderness alone, for a substantial period of time.

I don’t know why that’s something worth you being pedantic over?

Last edited 2 years ago by Hersch Schneider
Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

You need to calm down. The writer is not panicking but you certainly have a derogatory tone in your comment. You who understands nature above us or many or us. Whatever!

The climate change issue is not about nature so much as it is about us humans. Everyone here is clear that nature will carry on unfettered and unfeeling. How it will displace and destabilise US humans is what is being discussed. Living with it (change or not) is inevitable and given too. All that human compassion and community and society you talk about will adapt accordingly with it too. Whether our karma will reflect misery or bounty, no one can pin point. However one can take pause & reflect and assess and recalibrate if they feel they have lost the way.

The author is simply noticing & writing his perspective from his lens. A small amount of anxiety can cause you to look up and change course if needed. Maybe he is just doing that.

Paul K
Paul K
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Those who have lived in the true wilderness have no sentimentality for nature, it is not the Victorian Poets ‘Benevolent Pantheism’ – nature is Cold, it is as cold as the most distant rock in space, it is eternal suffering, and cruelity and want – life, misery, and death on such a vast scale – utterly without any compassion or feel – Those who have made their living in the wilderness know the ice coldness of it – One loves the grandness, the vastness, Beauty, but know it for what it is, which is inhuman coldness.’
Except that the culture of almost any tribal people – those who have lived far closer to ‘nature’ than a Western person who has fled to the ‘wilderness’ – tells us precisely the opposite. You are not describing the world here. You are describing yourself, in all your cold, arrogant certainty.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

In an essay about gardens – indeed one in which insects are mentioned (but soil health is unfortunately not) – how can there not be a discussion about the devastating impact of chemicals and pesticides and man made waste on the environment? Does the author know what ruination is being visited on the earth and the oceans and other waterways?
These are a far more immediate threat than climate change and are easier to address.
I am putting aside the debate on reasons for climate change for now.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

It surprises me how much environmental degradation, ie everything from plastic pollution, through overgrazing, to poor forestry control is all wrapped in the “climate crisis.”

Global warming – difficult to prove, impossible to stop (if true).

Environmental degradation- a wide range of visible, measurable, human activities much easier to identify, prioritise and control.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I got kicked out of the Haringay Greens for pointing this out in about 1993. If we focused our efforts on things we can definitely affect, and poured our creativity and energy into that, we really COULD transform the world.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago

Well said Lesley.

I too am constantly amazed at the climate alarmists who never mention the non-stop poisoning of the soil, which is resulting in everything from nutritionally poor quality food to farmers committing suicide, GMO seed patenting and the giant agro-chemical businesses taking over the planet. Add to that the doomsday scenario of Bill Gates getting involved and you have a very scary future.

These threats are immediate and are solveable, but the same people who will make billions out of the so-called climate emergency are the ones already making billions through these evil practices.

Anyone who wants a genuine take on environmental issues would be better off reading and listenng to Vandana Shiva rather than people like Al Gore, who has made hundreds of millions from the climate already, Bill Gates who is evil incarnate, Bezos who would gladly exterminate hundreds of million of people if it would add another ten percent to his Amazon shares, Boris Johnson who will say whatever he needs say to win votes, or darling Greta who has been used as a puppet by some very nasty people.

Hannah Holder
Hannah Holder
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Curious to understand how GMO patenting poisons soil and how you know Mr Bezos would gladly exterminate people.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago
Reply to  Hannah Holder

If you read up on Monsanto you will understand. It is really important that people are familiar with what Bayer (the new owners of the evilness that is Monsanto) are up to as these things directly impact all future generations and are quickly becoming irreversible. As for Bezos an indepth study of Amazon will open your eyes to how mercenary Bezos is. Don’t get me wrong, he is an entrepreneurial genius, but then so was Rockefeller and look where that has got us.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Hannah Holder

He didn’t say GMO patenting poisons the soil
. Roundup (Monsanto) certainly does.

Paul K
Paul K
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Any serious environmentalist will talk about both climate change and soil erosion, and a number of other things. Shiva would give short shrift to the kind of harrumphing nonsense regularly seen in comment sections here, in which well-heeled right wingers bang on about the ‘fake climate crisis’ and ‘cultural Marxism’ and imagine that asking ‘why don’t we call it global warming anymore, hmm?’ is a clever question.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul K

What does any of this have to do with Shiva. How do you know how ‘well-heeled’ anyone is? Perhaps you are trading in stereotypes and hate-figures.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul K

How many times have you heard or read about nutritional depletion of soil throughout the whole of Cop26 or during interviews with ER? Never!

And who are these ‘well heeled right-wingers’ you speak of? It seems most of the ‘well-heeled’ are the ones gluing themselves to roads and preventing the workers (many of whom voted Conservative) from getting to work, or they’re flying up to Scotland to attend conferences 🙂

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

The main reason for the lack of common sense in these areas is that the Left always needs a crisis that is unsolvable.
Your concerns and observations above are certainly rather easily solvable, therefore, of no use to the Left.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren T

Exactly. And totalitarian solutions to every problem. Your global ID, tied to your digital currency, tied to your social credit score is their dream come true. Climate change nonsense is just propaganda to get their. Like Covid.

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago

This article raises a lot of interesting questions:

1. Why do our upper classes seem to produce these weary and effete men?
2. Is it just an affectation to try to impress women or is the author really on the verge tears about the weather?
3. Do the Chinese and Indian elites have the same problem with weak millennials or is it just the Anglosphere?
4. What happens if the author gets stung by a nettle while gardening? Does he start crying and have to take the rest of the day off?

Henry Wismayer
Henry Wismayer
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

There are probably few things as weary and effete as trying to buttress your delicate masculinity by traducing other people in the comments section, Matt. But you carry on.

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  Henry Wismayer

Hello Henry, nice to know writers look at their readers comments.

Surely I am right that the only people that claim to be having sleepless nights about global warming are upper class types. It is the same with all the woke stuff. It only appeals to people who come from privileged backgrounds. Ditto Remoaners.

It is an interesting question why. Is it a cultivated stance to fit in with the peer group or is it something else?

Paul K
Paul K
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Perhaps you need to get out more. Meet some Pacific islanders, or Inuit people, or the poor of many parts of Africa who are already seeing desertification and crop failure. Plenty of them turned up in Glasgow. Much of the ‘developing’ world has been ‘having sleepless nights’ about climate change for at least two decades. The ‘Chinese elites’ take it very seriously.
I humbly submit that the really ‘privileged’ people are those who can afford to cant on on websites about subjects they are afraid to learn about.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul K

Much of the ‘developing’ world has been ‘having sleepless nights’ about climate change for at least two decades.

You are not going to change the world (or the climate) with effeminate fulminations of doom about imaginary victims having trouble sleeping. Or the absurd notion that the only thing between me and environmental enlightenment is a meeting with Pacific Islanders. Activism is all histrionics, no potatoes.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul K

I lived in Zimbabwe, does that count? Desertification happens regardless of how many Chelsea tractors pump out CO2. Ditto crop failure. Do you know what the agriculturalists in Zimbabwe found was the primary cause of desertification in that country? Goats.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

As someone who lives in Zimbabwe myself, I can’t agree more with this point

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul K

There are losers and gainers from change. The Inuit will be gainers. The Sahara and other deserts have been advancing for centuries; look at the history of the Nile. We need to help those affected, start caring and stop this chat chat about meaningless objectives

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Conflating a number of issues – “wokism”, climate, Brexit – does not form an argument, it is quite possible to be anti-woke, pro-Brexit but still have concerns about climate change and, more generally, environmental degradation

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago

Yes I agree. I wasn’t saying people shouldn’t be concerned about things. I would just prefer men to be a bit less dramatic about it. What happened to the fabled stiff upper lip of our public school boys? I think our menfolk could do with rediscovering a bit of steely resolve rather than crying for dead trees.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
2 years ago
Reply to  Henry Wismayer

Bravo & thank you . I’m not the only one who noticed . Upvoted.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

He probably noticed you noticed. Guys do that. Getting approval from women motivates about 98.7% of what men do. I tell you what though, Henry won’t be much use to a woman in 98.7% of real world crises. You might want to think about that.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

I have no idea how much you and Henry know each other & I do not know guy psychology, I was writing wrt the rather cutting comment and noticed that all other comments were also reflecting one single opinion which is not mine. Hence my comment.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Henry Wismayer

I’m disappointed, Henry, that your first thought when the Cherry tree died wasn’t about the next step in the cycle of life. Where I’m from we’d cut the leader into 8′ sections and haul the logs to a sawmill out by Dowelltown. If you want to be a good steward of the environment put that lumber to good use. Trees die. Lumber lives forever.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Henry Wismayer

Just for the record, are you OK with being described as a climate “bedwetter”?

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago

A hundred years is old for a cherry tree, especially in a dense urban environment. It’s time had come; shed a tear, use the wood to make something nice,. But look around you; the world is greener than ever, and lush, lusher than ever. I am making a new garden out in the country, now five years since I began, and it has grown astonishingly.
We have had two “normal” winters since I began, and three mild ones. We have had four good growing summers and one very dry one – I emptied all my (extensive) roof water storage by late July.
But the climate has been benign for gardening overall and that is why things have grown so well. A harsh winter would nip off a lot of this lush growth, I know.
The climate is always changing; in my lifetime I remember very cold winters in the 1960’s and very dry summers, and a perusal of UK history will reveal long runs of very hot dry summers, exceptionally wet summers, long harsh winters. Vines grew further north than now, plantations were destroyed by bad winters. 10,000 years ago Dogger Bank was an inhabited island! The climate varies, our planet is not static. There are winners and losers in change and we need to help the losers.
But are we, humans, making it worse – the more I read the more I sense hysteria but not understanding of powerful forces that drive all this. Certainly I get nervous that we will somehow manage to make things worse by interfering in forces that we do not understand, and that may be self balancing. Population growth is a problem for may reasons and pollution ought to be unacceptable. But we should be very careful about rushing to measures that will impoverish many citizens – better to concentrate on positive things.
In the meantime we should relax and plant more trees!

Last edited 2 years ago by JR Stoker
jim peden
jim peden
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I am not a gardener but I understand from my wife, who is, that cherry trees have a rather limited lifespan and 100 years seems to be a pretty good innings – as for a human.
I agree with you about the mass hysteria aspect of climate change. Mass psychosis seems to be a condition that shows up every so often in human populations. Currently it seems to have been amplified and globalised by social media.
Your comment about interfering in complex systems that we don’t properly understand is right on the button.I believe the word is hubris. If we’re lucky we’ll get away with our ham-fisted interventions. However, it would be preferable to see a little humility on the part of the powers that be.

Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
2 years ago
Reply to  jim peden

I do know apple trees live longer if left untended. Pruning produces a much bigger crop of apples but shortens the life of the tree to eighty years or so. Makes sense. It was peculiar for me to see trees my father planted all begin to fail and die in turn after he’d gone. And rather beautiful – like the clock stopping without his hand to wind it. I’ve planted a few on my own this year.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dan Gleeballs
Gavin Stewart-Mills
Gavin Stewart-Mills
2 years ago

The truth is that I don’t know whether it was climate change that did for the old cherry or whether it is simply a tree whose time has come.

I’m sure a tree surgeon could help with that.
As a fellow gardener I have to say I didn’t really relate to the article at all (apart from the joyous evocation of gardening per se). I simply can’t see “portents of doom” anywhere; in fact the predictability of garden re-growth is one of the abiding miracles we have. I do however know 1 or 2 middle class re-wilding types, who with much self-congratulation have let their lawn go to thistles, dutch clover & ruination without any apparent benefit.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
2 years ago

Bees adore thistles and clover and other wild flowers. Not sure the difference in clovers. I have a lawn too but i know it is a monoculture for animals to eat and humans to enjoy looking at. If you let a piece of land go, you can see several species of grasses reappear after being long suppressed. In amongst you can see bugs and ants and other insects and crawlies that do not frequent a pristine lawn. But of course , you already know that.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

This article really gets to the point. As soon as I see the words ‘climate change deniers’ I get very, very angry.

There will not be many people who deny that the climate is getting warmer. I would venture to say that most on UnHerd would agree – ice at the North Pole is melting and winters seem to be warming. But the big question is WHY.

Should we believe all these politicians who get free meals and free career advancement by attending a conference? Do we always believe politicians? Are they usually wrong but in the case of climate change they are correct?

The science is not proven but the politicos are driving one solution and ignoring others. They are also ignoring other issues like poisons going into rivers to provide cheap cotton goods from Bangladesh and all of the tonnes of plastics we are pouring out into the world (as LvR says in her post).

This man-made global warming is a dream for the politicians. They can answer every embarrassing question with, ‘Can’t stop now. Have to address climate change.’ Every other issue then becomes secondary.

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

Nature lives in dynamic equilibrium. The old tree that shades the ground prevents new sapplings taking hold, until some storm comes and takes away the tree, allowing new life to emerge. If you watch a meadow turn through the seasons there is this natural competition between plants depending on temperature, sunlight and rain – each species of grass, weed and flowers fighting for its moment.
Modern gardeners replace the natural dynamic with managed favouritism, nursing their plants and destroying competition. Whereas real nature adjusts to shifts in climate – dry years, hot years, cold years, storms, fires are all perennial issues – it’s the modern gardener who bemoans the need to adapt to preserve their man-made idyll. Nature just gets on with it – change and evolution are built in.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago

“Climate change denier” is such a laughable pejorative. Who denies climate changes? If it stops changing, that’s what should worry you.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
2 years ago

Bingo.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
2 years ago

I think the author read too many articles in the Guardian and watched too much of D. Attenborough nature films, religiously telling us of the coming Apocalypse..
I recommend a bit of reading biologists like P.Moore, who will tell him, that the bleaching of the corals is not the end of the world. Australia’s Barrier Rief sprang back to life, which was hardly reported in the press. Also recommend recent books/talks by Björn Lomborg, who will tell the author, that wild fires, hurricanes etc. are less deadly than 100 years ago. Actually 97% of the population is less affected and dying at such events
 Problem is that the media loves all this Gloom and Doom and tries to scare the hell out of the uninformed, especially the children.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

Climate deniers, climate ‘acceptors’ or climate appraisers: take your pick but one is definitively derogatory. Appraisal is science in action; slandering appraisal is science totalitarianism.
Readers might like to see a climate appraisers appraisal of the apocalyptic claim here that insect numbers are falling: https://www.mattridley.co.uk/blog/were-not-facing-an-insect-apocalypse/

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Interesting article, thanks for the link

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Climate bedwetters is my preferred term. Ecofascists are a subset thereof, but not all bedwetters are ecofascists.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago

Try thinking of a cherry tree that might have been there 100,000 years ago. It would not have survived the last ice age, and if yours had not died it would not survive the next ice age. That is climate change not the nonsense from COP.

Raymond Inauen
Raymond Inauen
2 years ago

Gardens are our way of imagining nature. Nature has its own way of adapting to change. It is not manicured in any way and moves with its rhythm. The alienation that urbanization has caused from nature only shows that people cannot imagine what nature is really like when they live so cut off from it. The daily negative media reports about nature only make it worse. This fosters anxiety and depression and the feeling that the world is dirty and being destroyed. People only see their urban surroundings and have lost touch with nature.
You can’t watch a nature movie without climate change being mentioned, but if you turn off the sound, you might realize how beautiful it is. Maybe people should go to the countryside more often.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

As someone who doesn’t suffer from vogueish faddish trendiness in any way, I can’t bridge the gap between my own understanding of climate and the hysteria represented by the above article. I have read a lot of history and watched a lot of documentaries, so I know that the earth has been much hotter than it is now, and that is almost certainly its normal state. I also know that for the last 2.7 million years we have been in an ice age, almost certainly caused by the closing of the Darien gap. This has brought about a reduction in global temperatures and repeated glaciations. Both ice caps are frozen over, which is not normal for earth. Despite living in an inter-glacial, we are still very much in an ice age. We don’t know why inter-glacials end, just that they have numerous times over. But instead of climate scientists, geologists and other relevant scientists investigating how soon it will be before the glaciers start advancing again, they’re all emoting over a slight rise in temperatures caused by… yeah, we’re not sure. I find that very frustrating. I also find articles like this unhelpful.

Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
2 years ago

After that magnificent comment by Galeti Tavas, I shouldn’t add my own tuppence ha’penny, but here it is:

Climates change. The world is complex. Islands rise and fall. Fires appear in Australian wilds for forty thousand years; the Romans grew vines in the English north, where none can grow today. Farmers farmed in Greenland, now under ice. Sparrows vanish in the UK.

Climate is not stable. Luckily, human beings are clever enough to mitigate the effects and adapt.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago

I figured there would be a bunch of sardonic replies to the poetry-class lamentations of our bereaved “gardener” and I was right. Well done, Unherd commenters. Mr. Wismayer’s dirge made me think of my old landlord, a dairy farmer who took his first vacation – was away from his herd for the first time – at the age of 67. Two milkings a day (first miliking at 5:30 am) for close to 50 years without interruption. What would farmer Lloyd think of the sensitive gentleman, ten years a gardener, (once stricken – yes stricken – with Seasonal Affective Disorder!) beating “the drumbeat of alarm around climate change” like a performance artist in a San Francisco city park? He wouldn’t think much. Of course, he wouldn’t have time to indulge “eco-anxiety”, his or anyone else’s, because he’s got row crops to harvest just like he has every year for as long as he can remember.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

Why do climate alarmists always use the term “climate change denier” to describe anyone who is not apoplectic about the changing climate?
Of course the climate is changing, for heaven’s sake! Please find me someone on the planet who actually believes that climate never changes?
The issue at hand is whether we need to dramatically change life on earth to address an issue that really can’t be changed.
Once humankind figures out a way to prevent a simple summer rain shower from occurring, I’ll be onboard with this lunacy. Good luck with your attempt at altering the climate of God’s green earth.

Jane Ingram
Jane Ingram
2 years ago

The author seems to think the lack of insects is caused by climate change. Wrong. The decline of insects is caused by so called ‘conventional farming’ which is really chemical farming, that has poisoned the land and also the insects helped also by domestic users of pesticides in their gardens.

ralph bell
ralph bell
2 years ago

My own recent experience would advise you to dig it up and check the root system is well bedded into good quality moist soil.
That is key with these and shrubs.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago

This author’s opening statement seems anecdotal and not statistically significant. Trees die all the time for various reasons – lightening strikes (a fierce one felled a tree on our property), fungus, age, inappropriate conditions. Gardening is a brutal sport. That said, it should also serve to calm anxieties not exacerbate them. Perhaps it is the general ‘neurotic climate’ that one should worry so?

Last edited 2 years ago by Cathy Carron
Max Beran
Max Beran
2 years ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

It’s all anecdote, at least so far as the writer’s assertions about the weather are concerned. Not a single number to back them up.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

Old trees sometimes die

R Baron
R Baron
2 years ago

Any climate change denier, Henry, should be locked up, climate, in fact the whole environment of which the earth climate is a part, has been changing since it set in billions years ago. What the AGW fruitcakes are shouting and obsessing about is the source of the climatic changes, they blame people for.
The current level of CO2 in the air is just over 0.04%, of which humans contribute not forty, not even fourteen but a mere 4% – FOUR percent – to the annual aggregate discharge of the gas, which is an absolute must for photosynthesis of plants, the feedstock of herbivorous animals plus other creatures.
If we all sat on our ar$e$ the whole year the release of the compound would reduce by a marginal amount. As the great Darwin had it ‘adaptation is the route to survival of a species, and that includes the human one also.
We would be by far more successful if we all, the seven billions of us, ran to the ocean when a tsunami comes peed into it to stop the big wave than we can ever be stopping climatic changes, the function of the Universe, not the planet.
Madness.

Last edited 2 years ago by R Baron
David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago

Relax. The climate has always changed.

Jim Davis
Jim Davis
2 years ago

Henry,
You need to chill. The gloom and doom crowd has been warning of our imminent extinction for decades. Acid rain, predictions of global cooling, with billions dead of starvation before the year 2000. What happened? Nothing.
In addition many industries voluntarily and successfully reduced their emissions substantially, including the automobile industry. The Amazon is reforesting itself at a rate faster than the forest is being taken. In many parts of the earth there are more plants there were than 100 years ago.
Your most (only) correct statement is “Whatever clamorous stupidities might be afflicting the human story, the garden, this earth, moves to organic rhythms deeply etched in time.”
Even if all of this climate change alarm was real, there is nothing humans can do to significantly slow it down or stop it. So Henry, find a new tree. Pour yourself a glass of wine and contemplate on the fact that we are all alive, are not in significant danger of demise collectively due to this, and that the earth itself will survive all by itself.

Andy Shaw
Andy Shaw
2 years ago

Beautifully written. Are you going to plant another Cherry tree? A future generation could then project the anxieties of their age onto it, when it dies.

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
2 years ago

I think the author is prone to anxiety. The clue is in the reference to seasonal affective disorder. Anxious people find an issue to fixate on. There is absolutely nothing an individual can do to have an impact on climate change. But the obsession with climate change is causing a mental health crisis among the young and the ramifications of that are going to be terrible, not least because that is avoidable .

R Baron
R Baron
2 years ago

And another thing:
This piece appeared after your lament, Henry, but you may like to read it, it’s on the Spiked blog.
It’s very much worth digesting, the argument is in favour of fossil fuels, not the intermittent solar and wind solution forced at everyone at massive cost, the Brendan’s narrative should be a compulsory read for the delusional crowd including the political class and anyone else that has gone loopy over the infinitesimal rise in the CO2 in the air.
https://www.spiked-online.com/2021/11/12/keep-burning-those-fossil-fuels/?utm_source=The+week+on+spiked&utm_campaign=7111bdcc71-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2021_11_12_06_40&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_7e9712ba33-7111bdcc71-65626153 

Matthew
Matthew
2 years ago

That’s a great piece Henry. I’m also a gardener and I’d love to be able to express myself as beautifully as you. I’ve been gardening for 35 years and, although I believe that everything is generally going to shit, I feel quite agnostic about climate change as I witness it in English gardens. I could be wrong and it’s a small sample size but I feel like I’ve seen a bit of everything in terms of seasonal change – cold winters, mild winters, late springs, early springs, wet summers, hot dry summers etc. No year is alike. Nothing conforms to the kind of template in your head. But what I have witnessed is a change, very recently, in the general attitude to gardening; and this has, probably, been accelerated by the pandemic. There is an aesthetic pleasure now in sharing our gardens with wildlife and letting the grass grow longer etc, whereas before it was more about control. Now it’s more about letting go. And I think that is very good for both mental health and the environment. Although there is a depressing increase in plant diseases (more caused by globalisation than global warming?) I would guess that you prunus died of old age. It’s right that your client wants to keep it standing. It will provide a happy home for wildlife for years to come. Keep up the good work!

Last edited 2 years ago by Matthew
Jim Cooper
Jim Cooper
2 years ago

But if course you, me, the Mombidiot will never know what CAUSED your tree to fall. Nature is far too complex for scientific understanding of it. My advice is to follow Lord Salisbury’s advice that “life is just DELAY” so Enjoy it in the meantime