‘Unsheltered’

Unsheltered – by Barbara Kingsolver

For me, this was a life changing novel. It has deepened my understanding of the thinking about why some people think how they do and what motivates them to do so.

As an unabashed devotee of the Great American Novel I was eager to read the latest book by Barbara Kingsolver which promised to deliver on her earlier portrayals of an unravelling set of characters beset by existential threats and other more mundane ones. Quite simply, I enjoyed the different layers of this novel. On one level it is a story about some liberal, educated folk who have fallen on hard times, chronicling how they deal with birth and death. On another, it tackles the conundrums posed by rational scientific discovery when pitted against belief.

There is a further modern day political polemic discussion surrounding the rise and popularity of the current occupant of the White House which may, in time, date the popularity and relevance of this novel but for me made it especially enthralling as it attempts to address the question of why people find ‘the Bullhorn’ (Trump) acceptable. Trump has indeed engaged me in the machinations of American politics and I think this is because of the life lessons his saga has given me. However, he is but a minor subplot!

The story enfolds along two parallel narratives which I found myself ripped between. The first is set in modern day academic daily life and the other in correspondence with Darwin, scientific enquiry and the social morays of the time. The binding themes between the two narratives are the environment and our attitudes towards it and it is these themes that drive me to recommend it to you.

Rebecca McFarlane

Climate Action meeting – Tuesday 19th May

Thank you to those who took part in our first online meeting on the 21st April to start our visioning process looking at what we want the Climate Action Group to have achieved in 10 years’ time, what would success look like? Thirteen people joined in the discussion and there were an additional seven contributions sent in by email. We have collated the notes from the meeting and the email contributions. The next stage in creating our vision will be to add to/amend the ideas suggested so far during this online meeting on Tuesday 19th May, starting at 7:30 pm.

If you would like to join the online meeting, and are not already on our mailing list, please contact us for details.

‘Climate Change and the Nation State’

Anatol Lieven’s new book ‘Climate Change and the Nation State’ gives a much needed new approach to dealing with climate change. Lieven shows how in this emergency our crucial building block is the nation state. Drastic action required both to change our habits and to protect ourselves can be carried out not through some vague globalism but through maintaining social cohesion and through our current governmental, fiscal and military structures. This replaces global protest with a national policy. The book aims to provoke discussions.

Political parties pay far too much attention to localism, voluntarism and corporate responsibility. All are valuable, none are adequate. I particularly liked the quote from Theodore Roosevelt, ‘Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of ensuring the safety and continuance of the nation.’

The current task must be to mobilise patriotism by convincing the people living in this country that global heating ,is a threat, not just to humanity and the planet but to the interests and future survival of Britain; and that society as a whole must pull together, alleviate suffering and make sacrifices as part of a common effort.

If we can’t manage this Lieven doubts that liberal democracy will survive what is coming at us down the line. See also the article in The Guardian 14 Mar 2020, ‘Patriotism could be the unlikely answer to solving the climate crisis’. 

Malcolm Davison

Buy Local

North Yorkshire County Council has launched a new Buy Local web directory to help you find businesses and tradespeople open for business during the COVID-19 restrictions. NYCC has said, “We will continue to develop the functionality of the website over time and it is intended that this website will stay live after COVID19 restrictions are lifted to encourage local people to ‘Buy Local’ supporting the local economy. Businesses registered on the site are able to update their information themselves at any time.”