Changing how I see the world

Image: Shutterstock

By |2022-11-28T14:24:19+00:00November 28th, 2022|Environment, Philanthropy, Sustainable Living|Comments Off on Changing how I see the world

Synchronicity Earth Trustee Catherine Bryan describes how her perception of the world around her has shifted since she moved into the environmental sector eight years ago, and explores the capacity we all have to help bring about positive change for nature.

Catherine BryanGiving nature space

Writing during this summer’s unprecedented heat wave, I sat in the shade in my garden watching the butterflies dance through the long grass that was once a closely cropped lawn. Earlier in the year we delighted in finding another orchid, in addition to the two that have flowered in previous years, in the same area of unmown grass. I wonder how many other people are now allowing a more ‘untidy’ approach to gardening to make space for wildlife? I can only say how much I have enjoyed seeing what happens when you give nature space to thrive, even in a small area, so how do we do that at larger scale and how do we work together to really bring about change?

Appreciating what is around us

As I’ve learned over the past 8 years in the environment sector, imposing our controls and impacts on nature plays out across all areas of our life and I have never been more aware of it. The longer I have worked in the environment sector, the more the world around me looks different. I have learned so much about what healthy and vibrant habitats look like, and the ingredients needed to achieve these, so now, when I look across any landscape, I try to pick out wildlife habitat; hedgerows, trees, flower-rich grassland, and streams. As I walk through any urban landscape, I look for the trees, shrubs, and flowers – the green spaces that research shows make us happier and support good mental health, that clean the air we breathe and bring wildlife into the places where an increasing number of us live. We know so much about why our natural world is continuing to shrink and become less resilient and we are recognising the impact this can have on our health – both physical and mental – and our wellbeing. In many cases, the good news is, we know what the solutions are.

Wildflowers in an urban environment

Wildflowers in an urban environment. Image: iStock

Eco-anxiety taking its toll

Working in the environmental charity sector since 2014 has been a deeply formative experience. My perception of the world has changed so much and at times, like so many others in this sector and beyond, the future has looked very bleak. And this isn’t just affecting those of us working in the sector: a 2020 survey of psychiatrists working with children in England, published in the British Medical Journal, highlighted that more than half of them (57%) are seeing children and young people distressed about the climate crisis and the state of the environment. ‘Eco-anxiety’ has become a term that is regularly used for the deep concern felt by so many people, not just the young, for the continuing climate and biodiversity crises and the lack of action being taken to address them by governments around the world. However, so much of what I’ve learned is about how change takes place and how each of us can play a part.

Barriers to change

A key issue is shifting policy and regulation in the context of extensive corporate lobbying (see Influence Map reports to understand the extent of this on climate change