I took a very difficult decision today.
There’s hoopoe, a rare bird that I’ve always wanted to see, showing well in Warwickshire. People have been posting stunning photos of it. I’m free today, and I have both the time and money to go and see it. But I’m not going. The decision is agonising, but it’s the right one. Because I can’t sit here and moan about the lack of political action at COP26, I can’t feel helpless and hopeless about the bus-crash-in-slow-motion that our planet is on, and then calmly take my car on a 180 mile round trip just to see one bird, not matter how rare and pretty.
Change isn’t about big politics and leaders, it’s about small domestic decisions taken by each and every one of us. I’m still going to travel to see the things for the books I write. But I imagined myself explaining to my great-great-grandchildren why the hoopoe justified killing the planet just a little bit more. Or more immediately, explaining to the Maldive islanders why it was worth the loss of their homes. My not going is only a small contribution. But there are seven billion of us, and seven billion small contributions might just add up to one big change.
The hoopoe will be gone soon, back to Africa. It may be fanciful, but I hope that by not seeing a hoopoe today, I’m helping to make sure that my descendants still can in the future.