Chi's Letter

To my future grandchild on the day of their birth in 2030,

You have come into this world, welcomed by your loving parents and grandparents. I wish so much for you to have a happy and fulfilling life. My heart, however, feels heavy with a mix of difficult thoughts and emotions, as well as delight and joy on seeing your tiny, beautiful form.

The happiest experiences I have had have been the times when I have been close to nature, for example waking up at dawn in a tent in the Outer Hebrides listening to skylarks performing their amazing flight song, with the occasional other-worldly drumming sound of snipe wingbeats interrupting; walking wherever my feet take me across West Highland moors, with not a building, vehicle or other human in sight for miles around, letting the wildness and the refreshing scent of bog myrtle infuse me and marvelling at the variety of wild flowers, from the tiniest eyebright with such delicately detailed petals only my magnifying glass can reveal, to huge drifts of big, showy foxgloves that can be seen from half a kilometre away. How I wish I could share this with you.

I have had some truly memorable experiences in my youth whilst immersed up to hip height fly-fishing for wild salmon, like the time I was surrounded by a family of inquisitive otters right there in the water beside me! Just as wonderful was what was then quite ordinary and common - wading along the river bed, seeing hundreds of those beautiful, powerful silver fish leaping or swimming by on an average day. I have always been intrigued and humbled by Atlantic salmon. When I see one of them in this Lancashire river I know that, after 5 years of surviving a tough life in the river and then open ocean, and growing from a 1 inch-long fry to a fully mature 8 pound adult, it has navigated thousands of difficult, exhausting miles back to the very river bed where it was born. All this so that it can spawn and produce the next generation before it dies.

Nature is endlessly wondrous, inspiring, life-giving, crucial.

I'm sorry to say, however, we humans as a species haven't looked after our world and nature as we should have, and now I am afraid for your future; all our futures.

Even 20 years before you were born, I was already visiting the river and not seeing a single salmon for days, and rambling through the countryside hearing nothing but crows and seagulls - these birds being numerous because they got good at scavenging from human food waste. Gone seem to be most of the ground-nesting birds like my beloved skylarks, their habitat turned over to intensive farmland and their nests decimated by the machinery of multiple industrial-scale harvests. Things have got even worse since then.

I'm sorry to say that the people of this country and our leaders knew nature was being gradually throttled, but too little was done, too late. Pledges for nature protection were unfulfilled, plans repeatedly put off or dismantled completely, making way for other priorities, usually to do with money. The same has been the story with climate change: necessary actions by governments and ordinary people just didn't happen fast or soon enough and now the world is warming far too much. I often thought, what is the use of money and material possessions if the world and all that lives on it are suffering the consequences of humans wanting more and more?

It breaks my heart to know that I will probably never be able to go spotting puffins with you; they are all but extinct in the UK now. Nor will we ever catch a wild salmon together in our local river. I can only tell you stories.

How I wish I could introduce you to a world which is healthy, fair, filled with biodiversity with clean, unpolluted air, water and soil, where the climate is stable and humanity only takes its fair share of the planet's resources, allowing nature to recycle and regrow what all life on earth needs.

I wish I could tell you the world will change for the better like this one day, but at the moment I can only give you a hug, and hope.

All my love, Grandma x

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