SYMONDS YAT Rock in Herefordshire is regarded by many as the most scenic spot in England and visiting it for the first time in May, I can enthusiastically concur with that assessment.
Perched high above the Wye valley, the panorama of meadows; woodland; distant church spires and pretty country houses, is quite spectacular.
But a chance comment from a small group standing close by, caught my attention and went something like this: “They are always going on about our over populated country, but just look”.
A young man was lecturing his companions, sweeping his arm expansively across the vista by way of emphasis. It gave me food for thought, and to be honest, it left me feeling somewhat alarmed.
On ITV’s News at ten each night, the opening credits show a night-time satellite view of Europe. The light pollution that envelopes great swathes of England is extraordinary.
From Liverpool in the west, right across the country to the east coast; also Birmingham and the Midlands, and the great light explosion of London and the Home Counties.
Compare it to much larger countries like France and Spain where there are substantial sectors of comparative dullness, indicating areas of least population. The contrast is striking.
Yes there are regions in England like the South West, that are relatively free thus far, but as the great conurbations expand outwards, swallowing up thousands of acres of green belt land with their villages and hamlets in order to satisfy the insatiable demand for housing, these areas are diminishing fast.
My home town of Reading – no great city by any means – has changed out of all proportion since I was a boy. A brook in the countryside where I used to fish, and was two miles from my home, is now sandwiched between a science park and office blocks and housing.
And showing compassion to our fellow human beings who wish to escape tyranny and war is right and it is desirable. But this must be proportionate to the compassion that we simply must show to our environment.
97% of our wild meadows have been lost since the end of the Second World War and with them, flowers, insects and birds, some that were commonplace not so long ago, but are now endangered.
If we do not urgently tend to Mother Earth, she may very well turn her back on us, and compassion to fellow humans will become an irrelevant issue.