“In the depth of winter, I finally learnt that there was in me an invincible summer”
It’s mid-winter, skies are often grey and the oppression and claustrophobia of lockdown might feel never-ending. But nature, as ever, reminds us that nothing is permanent. Today is a hopeful turning point in the Celtic calendar: Imbolc falls on 1st February and marks the half-way point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox (ie. the shortest day of the year, and the day when night and day are of equal length). Lighting a fire has traditionally been important among Pagans to honour Imbolc, and even in the Christian calendar, this day was renamed ‘Candlemas’ and marked by the lighting of candles.
To counteract the fear and gloom that we currently face as a nation in unnatural isolation and confinement, we want to light a little fire or candle for you today with some good news. Here are some good reasons for optimism as we move towards spring:
- For the first time in its history, the UK generated more energy from renewable sources than from coal and gas across the year of 2020. 42% of our electricity came from green sources, as opposed to 41% from fossil fuels (a small difference, yes, but an important step nonetheless!). Read more here.
- Over the last decade, there has been an increase in the tonnage of apples grown in the UK of 79%! This is great news for cutting down our national ‘fruit-miles’, although there is still work to be done with retailers to market these. Of course, home-grown apples from your local community orchard will have an even lower carbon footprint! (source: British Apples and Pears)
- Is it possible to feed the UK’s population through sustainable, ecologically-sound farming methods? A report released in January by the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission used modelling to demonstrate that it is possible to reduce farming emissions by 38% while feeding the population at its predicted level for 2050, and still increase the amount of fallow land left for wildlife by 50%. Amazing! Read how this could be done, and what dietary shifts are needed here.
- New regulations are being introduced to protect England’s peatlands. These areas are vital carbon stores, while peat bog and moorland vegetation is also home to many wildlife species.
- Several species have reversed their decline against the odds: the critically-endangered Right Whale, found in the North Atlantic, is enjoying its best breeding season in years while sightings of Blue Whales have seen a significant increase; hen harriers managed to produce more chicks in 2020 than in any year of the two decades prior (source: the Guardian Weekly) and the white-tailed eagle has been reintroduced to the Isle of Wight.