'Going to Hell in a Handcart'?


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'Nothing to see here!'

It is an expression that may sum up the feelings of many in our current world.


Let's not put too fine a gloss on it: The planet is being ravaged in some kind of last-ditch attempt to ensure that future generations live on the set of Mad Max; Politicians, who have the ability to steer their respective countries to safer waters, are hell-bent on reasserting their sovereignty by shelling their neighbours; China is just... China, and the world population keeps on growing.


Even worse, all the pubs are shut!


Truly the world appears to be on fire, as the above expression perfectly encapsulates.


I understand that the Welsh First Minister has recently decreed that no-one can buy 'non-essential' products and that these apparently included sanitary products, smoke detectors, clothing and (for some reason) books. Notwithstanding the utter insanity of telling women they can't buy the items they need, that it's OK for your house to burn down and you will have to make your clothes last a little longer, the idea of banning people from buying books is extremely worrying. At a time when nearly all forms of entertainment have been surgically removed from our lives, one would have hoped that the simple pleasure of a book could assuage our worries. Not in Wales, I am afraid. Perhaps the Welsh government should use the opportunity to allow only certain 'Covid-approved' publications to be available?


I recently thought that I might be unnecessarily anxious; that the daily symptoms I experienced of looking at the news on a computer screen whilst holding my head in my hands in an effort to stop the bad stuff getting in was just me be a bit of a worrier.


Now I have realised that this isn't strictly true: I am, in fact, bloody annoyed and I would like to invite you to join me in being a bit cross. Quite honestly I don't think it will be hard to do this. There are enough problems with the world to ensure that even the most mild-mannered and timid librarian should leap up and at the very least say something rude - or at least useful. But there seems to be an apathy gripping this part of the world that nothing can assuage and this is perhaps more concerning.


Please let me give you a few examples:


A recent report leaked from the Scottish government shows an alarming decline in seabed habitats; areas that were supposed to be protected under the Marine Scotland Act of 2010. The causes of the decline include dredging, engineering works, pollution from fish farms as well as climate change. NatureScot, the rebranded version of Scottish Natural Heritage, apparently collected the data between 2011 and 2018, meaning that the loss has been know about by a government agency for nearly 10 years. You would have expected that some kind of action had been taken to stop or at least slow the destruction. You might even have expected that NatureScot would have published some in-depth reports about the problem, but the didn't (they put a couple of blogs on their website telling us why seagrass is important, though!)

That inaction has cost marine life dearly, all because the Scottish government does not actually seem to care about Scotland's environment very much, and especially about that part of it that doesn't make much money. The fact they have held onto this information for so long is troubling but is also part of its' strategy of 'Nothing to see here'.


By January 2020 the number of trees cut down for wind farms had reached 14 million


Forestry has a similar woeful history. By six years ago, about 5 million trees had been cut down in Scotland to make way for wind turbines, with only a small fraction replanted. This breath-taking news might have spurred a couple of people to write indignant letters to their MSP's but otherwise it seemed to have been quietly slipped under the carpet.

By January this year, the number of trees cut down for wind turbines had reached 14 million, and this is because whilst trees do provide money for the Scottish Government, electricity generation provides even more, although at a huge expense to the environment.

Yet no one has protested, or if they have it has been done very quietly; possibly the most timid protest in history.


Education in Scotland remains a pressing issue. Even there are not enough teachers, the government insists that aspiring educators spend 4 years learning all about it at university before even applying for the job. Result: fewer teachers every year. At the same time, school budgets have been cut and a narrow curriculum introduced whilst at the same time the government makes statements like this:


"Education should open the doors to opportunities which enable children and young people to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors to society." (Scottish Government)


Yes, it should, so it's a shame the Scottish government is not managing to get it right and a whole generation of young people are unguided, aimless and without prospects (unless they want to become fish-farmers or tree surgeons).


Yet the 'Nothing to see here' approach, which has worked well for the Scottish government for some considerable time, is tearing at the seams. What we read about and see now is just the tip of an ugly iceberg.


Please, let's start complaining before the iceberg tilts. Scotland has the potential to be a great place to live: We just need to speak up.