Since Beth graduated from her Distance Learning College Degree in Environmental Economics, Liam’s respect for his daughter had grown enormously. Her long held interest in and concern for the natural world had never been shaken and was now stronger than ever. He couldn’t deny that she had a depth of knowledge, understanding and commitment that he listened to with a father’s pride.
She expressed a determination to minimise her impact on the planet’s finite resources and on other species. Where Liam for a long time felt that attitude to be beneath humans and nothing but a hardship and penalty, Beth embraced it as a life philosophy. He watched the way she decided things and the way she could admit to uncertainty and a feeling that she ought to be able to do better. She neither gave up nor beat herself up. For Beth every day is a new day and a fresh opportunity to think deeply and act to reduce her impact. Looking backwards and either blaming past players for the current situation or wishing things could be like they were in the past were not options for Beth. She didn’t feel deprived by her philosophical position, rather she found it to be rewarding.
Beth had a mantra that she leaned on and encouraged her father to think about. It's easier to look ahead when you're surrounded by forward thinking.
Amelia had achieved her Masters in Bee-Nurturing qualification. Her supervised work with the Communal Mining Bee (Andrena carantonica = scotica) had attracted wide interest. Pioneering work with video and Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags on individual bees and detectors adjacent to the colony’s entrance had enabled a behavioural study of the species beyond anything that had been attempted previously. The bees were trapped and fitted with a small RFID tag stuck on to their thorax, rather like the way honey bee queens are marked with a coloured dot appropriate to the queen’s birth year. Her analysis of the bees’ comings and goings had produced data that gave statistically valuable information not previously available. Various wildlife organisations had contacted Amelia to discuss collaboration on proposed similar behavioural study projects for other species of mining bees. There was a great enthusiasm among wildlife organisations to perform the behavioural studies in a range of locations with different soil types and land management practices,
Liam admired his wife’s hard work and unshakeable belief in the equal value and rights of all species. What he once thought was an idealistic vanity project of no relevance to the way he thought humans had a right to live, he now recognised as an enormous amount of work, a massive practical and intellectual effort by his wife. His pride in his wife matched his pride in his daughter.
These days Liam thought more deeply about biodiversity and the intriguing complexity of the planet’s ecosystems. He wondered about it every day. He spoke about it with his family he even ranted in front of The Listener and on occasion became a passionate advocate for, Humans in nature not above nature. His former bitterness went away and he became reconciled with his brother in Colorado and sister-in-law in New Zealand. They talked openly about the efforts they and their countrymen were making on behalf of the planet. They agreed that although the protection of species, biodiversity, ecosystems and the planet is the goal, local actions and personal decisions will always be shaped by local and personal needs.
The personal airtravel allowance (PAA) was currently set at 1000 miles per annum. The allowance could be accumulated into a larger total if in any year the PAA was unused, the unused element being rolled forward. This system was necessarily bureaucratic but the fact that it had been agreed internationally by more than 150 nations meant that it worked pretty well and without much abuse. Nevertheless the chances of making visits to see his brother and sister-in-law, particularly the latter, reduced such visits to once or twice in a life time event.
Liam had adopted his own mantra to console himself and to encourage others in their planet protecting endeavours. Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little - Edmund Burke.
Liam’s passage from Denial to Anger and Bargaining and climb out of Depression brought him eventually to the Acceptance that humans must desist from abusing the planet and all non-human species.
Liam’s story is itself a behavioural study. His gradual and painful transition from mourning the loss of past values, attitudes and practices to a willingness to consider change is very familiar to me in my role as a Listener Analyst. I am pleased to share it here. I could have written about any number of similar documented case histories that I have reviewed and passed forward to policy makers over recent years. Most of The Listener material is analysed for trends in public opinion by Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms but a proportion are analysed by human professionals in order to evaluate and improve the AI.