What Nature Does for Britain by Tony Juniper - review by Colin Tudge

Colin Tudge

Biosphere Blues

What Nature Does for Britain


Profile Books 281pp £9.99

Election ‘fever’ is mounting as I write and I marvel as always at the triviality and the moral timidity of most of what is being said. None of the major parties – apart from the Greens – engages seriously with the all too obvious fact that the stage on which humanity struts and frets is collapsing. The fabric of the Earth is falling apart; the myriad creatures that make it work are dying out. When the conventional parties remember to refer to the non-human world at all it is as a ‘resource’ or ‘amenity’. Even the word ‘environment’ is unsatisfactory. It suggests stage scenery and real estate. Far more preferable is ‘biosphere’, a term denoting the realm of living creatures, coined more than a hundred years ago by the Austrian geologist Eduard Suess. For all political parties apart from the Greens, the biosphere is an add-on: a piece of whimsy to capture a few votes when we have got the economy back in balance, whatever that means, and whenever that may be. 

Britain is not the worst sufferer – though largely because we have already knocked most of the stuffing out of our own biosphere, with more than 90 per cent of our native woodland gone and about 95 per cent of our flowery meadow too. Now, despite heroic rearguard actions, we

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