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EditorialsUp Front 05/15

Up Front 05/15

I don’t know where the term originated but back in the seventies people with deep concerns about the environment were often rather unkindly referred to as ‘tree huggers’. The Oxford Dictionary defines the term as ‘an environmental campaigner’ whilst Wikipedia calls it ‘a slang, sometimes derogatory term for environmentalists.’ The Merriam-Webster dictionary explains that it is ‘someone who is regarded as foolish or annoying because of being too concerned about protecting trees.’ After all these years of environmental research the term is thankfully no longer used with anything like as much childish sniggering as it once was. Endless scientific reports have suggested that the ‘damn tree huggers’ may well have a point and the damage we are doing to the planet needs to be dealt with. At an environmentally themed hustings event at the Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester recently, five candidates gave their views on subjects ranging from badger culling to fracking. With the exception of audience laughter at the concept of banning foreign plants, the audience were attentive. They were there to learn which party might be likely to deal with their own particular concerns and the welfare of the planet. Oddly enough the only candidate that mentioned trees in his summing up was the one who complained that we were being ‘invaded by foreign species.’ Speaking afterwards, one audience member explained that we need a multi-pronged approach that includes science, as well as universal change in the way we live our lives. News published recently might help. Scientists at The University of Manchester have discovered a way to make trees grow bigger and faster, which could increase supplies of renewable resources and help trees cope with the effects of climate change. One of the scientists, Professor Simon Turner, explained that the findings offered a ‘potential way forward for what is one of the most pressing challenges of the day.’ Now there may well be something creepy about forcing a tree to grow faster than it naturally would, but if we are to be serious about ‘saving the planet’ then every option should be looked at, even if it goes a little against the grain.

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