We have seen in recent weeks how passionately many young people feel about the environment.
It is heartening that the people who are now growing up, not just in the UK but around the world, are acutely conscious of the need for us to be good stewards of our planet if we are to continue to benefit from its many and bountiful offerings.
So much that we take for granted in fact depends on the great forces of nature continuing to work broadly in our favour rather than against us. One has only to think of the extent to which we depend on water and on the condition of our soil for our survival to see that maintaining the ecological balances that support life on earth is a matter not of choice but of necessity. Technology can have awesome power – but it is ultimately puny in the face of the power of the natural world.
But all of this can seem very abstract and remote. So it matters a lot that concern with the future of the earth should be brought down to earth.
This is exactly what pupils at Damers First School in Dorchester have been doing brilliantly over the past few years.
Recently, the pupils met Michael Gove to talk about the need for a deposit return scheme on bottles and cans to reduce litter and plastic.
This is an obviously sensible proposition – and it is good to see young people focussing on something so practical as a way of improving our surroundings and preventing long-lasting damage to our ecological balances.
But this is just part of what has been going on at Damers school. The pupils have been involved in cultivating what is turning into both a lovely and very useful garden. They are not only adorning the landscape but growing things to eat, recycling waste and producing energy.
Hats off to Damers!
What makes all of this so encouraging is that, alongside examples of practical work in schools like Damers, pupils from a wide range of schools from West Dorset as a whole have been involving themselves in every possible kind of activity to demonstrate their commitment to preserving and improving the environment.
I don’t think that this is just one of those fashions that has come and will later go. I believe it is, on the contrary, a profound cultural phenomenon. Of course, there is a long tradition right across the world, of concern for the preservation and enhancement of nature. This stretches back into the distant past – both in the western world and in the east.
But there was a time not so very long ago when the focus on technology and on human development seemed to eclipse these traditional concerns.
The ripple of environmental consciousness across the world in recent years has changed all that. And I don’t think it will now be possible for anybody to persuade people that we humans can preserve the quality of our lives without attending to the way in which those lives impact upon the world in which we live.