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clash of cultures, clash of climates!

May 31, 2012

today I was sitting in a meeting which discussed, among other things, how we manage the National Park “sustainably”, we looked – as we always seem to do – at how to care for landscapes which are so precious they need to be handed on intact to our children. Here sustainability is about protecting places where millions of people find physical and spiritual refreshment so that they can continue to offer that to those who want to run, walk, climb, cycle or swim in them. It is, of course, also about how those who live or work in those landscapes can thrive – but do so without damaging the environment.

That is challenging, especially when the effects of climate change can flood places like Cockermouth, or increase the demand for Lake District water to supply areas outside of Cumbria. It means taking active steps to protect very vulnerable landscapes such as the “uplands”, it means managing the land on a landscape scale. How do you reconcile our need for renewable energy with keeping natural places like the lake district free from wind farms?

I spend my days doing what I can to ensure that answers can be found and to enable people to get on with protecting these amazing landscapes. But next week I will be in India, accompanying a group of students from a Scottish High School as they look at climate change in a very different context.

I don’t yet know what I will find, but I do know that sustainability means something very different. It is about the ability to take enough from the land to survive, without taking so much that there is no tomorrow. It is about finding ways to cook without using so much wood that there are no trees, it is about getting clean safe water to live, without lowering the water table so there is no water left to water your crops.

I’m sure that our views will be challenged, that we will see things that show us a different reality. and I’ll share my thoughts with you as I have opportunity over the next three weeks.

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