Probably by mistake, a tiny bird flies up to my balcony in the busy, restless city and looks me in the eye. Is it sheer sentimentality that floods me with joy? Why does it feel like a visitation?
I haven’t taken the train anywhere in months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and I find myself filled with irrational longings for the inquisitive, iridescently speckled starlings that used to dart about my feet at the station, threading the cavernous space with their silvery song.
Many of us who live in urban areas feel a periodic yearning, an ache sometimes, for the wild. Even a cultivated green space becomes a refuge from daily stresses. And the scientific knowledge is piling up about all the ways simply being in nature helps our mental health, our immune systems, our wellbeing.
Nature restores, but is itself in need of restoration. Due to our constant commodification of the natural world we are erasing huge chunks of its awe-inspiring variety and damaging ourselves in the process. This edition’s Big Story amplifies some of the concerns of those who live closest to nature, while attempting to get to grips with the complex challenges involved if we want to stop biodiversity’s catastrophic decline. In the words of author Lucy Jones, we can no longer view nature as ‘a luxury, an extra, a garnish’.
Our continuing Food Justice series dovetails into the biodiversity theme with articles on the virulent consequences of Big Agriculture and forest farming in Ethiopia, a country in the news for reasons of conflict. Elsewhere we report on relatives’ agonizing search for Syria’s missing and what Finland has done to make its citizens so content.
Dinyar Godrej for the New Internationalist co-operative.
Ethical and political dilemmas abound these days. Seems like we’re all in need of a New Internationalist perspective. Enter stage: Agony Uncle.