Sunday, 22 April 2018

Another “Day”! News stories. Problems and solutions.

Apparently today is Earth Day. Various social media sources tell me so. I am always intrigued as to who decides such things. I thought this might be another modern invention but when I looked it up I found this:-

“Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970. Peace activist, John McConnell proposed the day of March 21, 1970, the first day of spring, to honor the earth and the concept of peace. The date changed to April 22 that year and by 1990 it was taken internationally. Now more than 192 countries each year celebrate Earth Day.”

So it’s been around a while then. However, I still maintain that the whole thing about “Days”, always with a capital D, is a very modern concept. When I was a secondary school teacher in the 1970s I never was encouraged to celebrate Earth Day with my tutor group. And yet we are now told that “Earth Day is globally coordinated by the Earth Day Network. Activities might include lectures, learning time in schools and universities, peaceful demonstrations, and sometimes focusing on a key issue like the benefits of recycling.” This year the big concentration is on ending plastic pollution.

Plastic turns up in all sorts of unexpected places and is clogging up rivers and oceans. Part of the trouble is the cost of sorting it all out. I saw a news item the other day on a river in Indonesia so crammed full of plastic waste that you could not see the water. Workers were valiantly removing net-loads of plastic from the water prior to it being taken off to who knew quite what kind of sorting. It all seemed very promising until the reporters discovered that the workers did not have enough lorries to take it all away. So they used machinery to unlock the jam created by the plastic waste and enable it float away downstream. It then became someone else’s problem.

Of course, we could just ignore problems of this kind.

Some of our newspapers do so. One of the tabloids today has a special Royal Edition or something of that kind. The front page headline informed us that Pippa is pregnant. Naturally, we all know who Pippa is but there is a photo just in case. When exactly did Pippa Middleton become a princess? And why do the rest of us need to know that she is having a baby? Congratulations to that young lady and all that but, really, is that news? As I stood in the queue to buy my more sensible paper, the front page of the special Royal Edition, or whatever they called it, revealed a story inside headlined: “Slim Meg needs alterations”. Presumably they are having to alter the wedding dress. Has she done what so many brides do and gone on a special pre-wedding diet? Am I bothered?

More interesting was a report I read yesterday about a certain Günter Schütte in Wolfsburg, in northern Germany. He was a little sceptical of the enthusiastic reception given to refugees in Germany a few years ago but when he read about how traumatised some of the children were by their journey across the Mediterranean in flimsy boats, especially as many of them had barely seen such expanses of water before let alone learnt to swim, he decided that he would do his bit by organising swimming lessons. After all he had experience as a sports teacher. And that’s just what he did. And when some local parents complained about his block-booking of the pool, he pointed out that they were welcome to bring their children along too. Suddenly swimming lessons became a tool for integration.

It’s nice to have some good news stories in the midst of all our chaos.

Today is also the London Marathon, run in the hottest conditions so far, according to one report I heard on the radio. Runner Mo Farrar came third after having some trouble locating his water bottle.  Around here we have had a cycle race going on. It has been announced for a while on large posters warning us: Caution cycling event Sunday 22nd April. I have been tempted to go out and add some punctuation. Unless, of course, “caution cycling” is a new type of sport. Anyway, they had no problems with excessive heat, rather problems of excessive water! After a few days of fine sunny weather, today the rain came down on time for the caution cyclists.

Mind you, they should be used to such unpredictability around here!

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