Is it too late to reverse climate change? Should the UN adopt an additional crime against peace? And should planning laws be changed to encourage sustainable building?
Environmental experts Ben Law, Polly Higgins and Maddy Harland will be debating these hot topics and many more at the festival's first environmental gathering on Thursday, October 30 in The Beacon.
The evening event comes at a crucial time in Wantage and Grove, which is expected to see more than 4,000 new homes being built in the area over the next few years.
Ben Law, whose appearance on channel 4's Grand Designs is the most watched in the series' history, is the author of five books and has inspired a renaissance in how we manage small woods in this country. Ben has lived and worked in his woods in West Sussex for the past 24 years and practically shows how long term woodland stewardship utilising sustainable management techniques can help increase woodland bio-diversity whilst supplying many of our local needs for housing. Ben believes house building materials need to be locally sourced and materials that cannot be recycled or bio-degrade over time, should not be installed in buildings leaving future generations the pollution to deal with. By building beautiful yet functional spaces it is possible to enjoy the present knowing we are laying down the foundations for future generations.
Maddy Harland, co-founder and editor of Permaculture magazine and co-author of Song of the Earth, will be discussing Earth Restoration. Our ancestors, who relied on their understanding of the land for their survival, held a worldview that acknowledged and celebrated their fundamental interconnection with the natural world. The industrial revolution and our post-industrial society have severed that link and our disconnection is reflected in our agricultural, pharmaceutical, energy and business practices. Maddy introduces permaculture design and grounds the ideas behind it with examples that lock up carbon and heal ecosystems. Maddy also suggests that we need to become 'transformational heretics' and explains how we can actively say ‘No’ to our ecological, social economic disconnection. “The idea is to present solutions because so many people now think we are at a point of no return with climate change,” said Maddy. “But it is never too late to act positively.”
International lawyer and barrister Polly Higgins says in addition to the four international Crimes Against Peace – Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes and Crimes of Aggression – Ecocide should be the fifth: the destruction of large areas of the environment and ecosystems. The author of Eradicating Ecocide and Earth is our Business, argues that while ecocide can be caused by severe weather events like tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, human activity is to blame for Ascertainable Ecocide, which is destruction or damage caused by nuclear testing, the exploitation of resources, mining practices like tar sands extraction, the dumping of harmful chemicals or the use of defoliants and the emission of pollutants or war.