Beatrix Potter’s Evil Master Plan: Trash Woodlands, Replace with “woolly maggots” So says George Monbiot.
Nuclear enthusiast George Monbiot has said of the Lakeland fells: “The forests that once covered them have been reduced by the white plague to bare rock and bowling green…the sheep wiped the hills clean.” Sounds persuasive. But is it credible?
Far from the fells being covered in trees the pre-Neolithic landscape would be a relatively open park-like mosaic rather than closed forest. It is a very safe bet that there are far fewer of Beatrix Potter’s beloved Herdwick on the Lakeland fells now than there were when she was the Ennerdale Show President in the 1930’s. It is also very safe to say that the wildlife of the Fells was far more abundant in Beatrix Potters hayday. Recent research into the ‘brand’ of Cumbria has shown that farming and tourism are the two industries most damaged by nuclear developments. Undermining farming and tourism would leave the field wide open for the nuclear industry to achieve its ambition of New build and burying heat generating nuclear waste under Cumbria. A friend of Beatrix Potter, the sculptress Josefina de Vasconcellos arrived in Cumbria in the 1930s:
“When I first came to the Lake District whenever John or I walked there were birds but since the atomic station came there have been less and less and less, they almost died out”.
Josefina’s observations are backed up by science. Lancaster University has been studying the effects of chronic long-term radiation on animals. This includes: “Severe effect on reproduction hatching and abnormal larvae (fish).”
These test studies are backed up by findings in the real world. Many universities worldwide have been studying evidence from nuclear accidents:
“Low-dose radiation has been known to have negative consequences for living beings for almost 100 years. Indeed, background radiation causes the death of tens of thousands of humans annually. These ‘natural’ effects may be exacerbated by the 23 nuclear accidents recorded during the last century”.
Radiation Free Lakeland believe Sellafield to be the equivalent of an ongoing accident with routine releases of radiation to sea, air and groundwaters.
Beatrix Potter left a vast area of Cumbria to the National Trust to be farmed with the express wish of keeping Herdwicks on the land. Her life’s work was to retain the delicate balance created by the domestic and wild community that share and maintain the Lake District. “Rewilding” sounds good but seeks to to divorce domestic animals and humans from the community of the wild. The outcome, a dystopia where humans live only in cities and any link to the wild is through a tv.
While there is no doubt much to improve in farming, blaming sheep for eating trees is disingenuous. Rabbits, grey squirrels and deer are much more problematic than sheep in the establishment of young trees in a dynamic landscape. Nuclear is needed in that living landscape like a hole in the head. George Monbiot’s vitriol against “woolly maggots” has maybe far less to do with sheep than with a desire to further the nuclear agenda at any cost. In Japan Beatrix Potter’s Tales are used to teach English to Japanese children, thousands of whom are now nuclear refugees.
The same companies who designed and built Fukushima have walked away from any responsibility and want to build nuclear reactors in the UK. Many Cumbrians are hefted to the land the same as the Herdwicks but the land is not ours to curse.
For all our sakes … Stop and Contain nuclear.
Wildthings: Childrens Culture and Ecocriticism Of Beatrix Potter : Real “magic” is the delicate balance created by thecommunity of creatures and plants that share and maintain a habitat like the Lake District’s
there is general agreement that the original-natural forest may have been more open than was previously thought,
Grey Squirrel Damage
Ennerdale Show Presidents
Josefina de Vasconcellos
Effects after chronic radiation
Fresh Water Use
The A83 and Sheep – The Lie of the Land
George Monbiot has introduced his “Sheepwrecked” premise with a story about the A83 in Scotland, a road notorious for landslips. The premise is that sheep are a major factor in causing landslides. Really? Cattle and sheep have grazed the land in this area of Scotland for longer than the A83 was in existence, not to mention red deer and other land mammals. One Landslide Mitigation method suggested for the A83 is the “introduction of sheep.” This is suggested as having the potential to lessen instability of the hillside from three perspectives:
To keep the height of the grass down to help reduce the build-up of snow in the winter
To prevent un-grazed grass dying off and weighing down the slope
Sheep forming compacted paths as they traverse the hillside thus creating drainage run off
The Landslide Mitigation report’s final conclusion is “it seems prudent to recommend that if vegetation planting is to form part of an on-going strategy to address instability at this location then efforts should be made to limit the presence, or exclude completely, livestock and in particular deer.” All the best lies have a little bit of truth in them and although George is right in a No Shit Sherlock: sheep eat grass, kind of way, it is clear that the principle agents of landslides on the A83 are not the sheep