Once upon a time, when the Sun King was a young prince, a ring of gas and dust gradually formed itself into a small, blue dot. In alkaline vents, deep beneath the surface of the oceans that made up seventy percent of this blue dot, a miracle began to stir. A magical, mysterious process began that will probably never be truly understood. Simple organic molecules evolved. This was followed by the evolution of proteins which led to the construction of DNA and RNA, the building blocks of magic. Single-celled organisms materialised which were able to feed on chemicals in the atmosphere. Gradually this feeding led to changes to the chemicals in the atmosphere, boosting the levels of oxygen. The first organisms developed sufficient independence that they were able to leave the nurseries of the alkaline hydrothermal vents.
These organisms spread across the globe. Single-celled organisms eventually bonded together into colonies, forming multicellular organisms. Over millennia animals became more mobile and began feeding on each other. Thus the zoological arms race began with the evolution of predators and victims (prey). Each influencing the evolution of the other species as they attempted to outwit each other. The victims evolved characteristics to defend themselves and the predators characteristics to hunt and sustain themselves . Finally, one of the top predators was born: Homo sapiens (humans).
What is magic?
I appreciate that magic is a very flexible word in pagan culture and it means many different things for many different people. There is no one definitive answer to this question. For me, magic means life. Magic is standing beneath a dark sky spangled with twinkling stars. It’s the rich, pungent smell of the earth. It’s the breeze caressing your face. It’s the dark, sweet taste of wild blackberries on your tongue. It’s the song of the cuckoo heralding spring.
It’s the flowers gradually unfurling their petals, releasing their scent. It’s the white bottom of a bumblebee, cute as a needle-felt curio, as it borrows into a foxglove flower in search of nectar. It’s the starlings performing their dark murmurations against a backdrop of sky.
The Anthropocene mass extinction.
Magic is dying. We are currently in the midst of Mother Earth’s sixth mass extinction with one million species threatened with extinction and the extinction rate hundreds, possibly thousands, of times higher than the natural background extinction rate. Why is this? Previous mass extinctions have generally been believed to have occurred as a result of natural disasters such as asteroid strikes or volcanic activity. However, evidence is suggesting that the current mass extinction is occurring as a result of an issue much more sinister and closer to home: human activity.
Several human activities are causing species to die out and it’s beyond the scope of this post to name and describe them all in detail. However it can reasonably be said that there are two major reasons. One is habitat destruction and degradation, as habitats are poisoned by the byproducts of human activities or destroyed altogether to create human cities and agricultural land. Another is the human activity of burning fossil fuels which is changing the levels of various chemicals in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide. Increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is leading to a warming of Mother Earth, further upsetting natural ecosystems and driving species loss.
Happily ever after.
So, where’s the happily ever after, amidst all this doom and gloom? In order for us to preserve magic, (or life if you prefer to call it that), our human behaviour and society will need to change dramatically. As politics is a major driver of society change, this includes radical new politics. On September 2nd 2020 Caroline Lucas, sole MP for the U.K’s Green Party, introduced a new bill into the U.K’s Parliament called ‘The Climate and Ecological emergency bill’ (CEE bill). It was presented as a private members bill. It’s objectives are;
• A serious plan to deal with the UK’s fair share of emissions and to halt critical rises in global temperatures.
• Our entire carbon footprint be taken into account – in the UK and overseas.
• The active conservation and restoration of nature here and overseas, recognising the damage we cause through the goods we import.
• Those in power not to depend on future technologies to save the day; technologies that are used as an excuse for us to carry on polluting.
• Ordinary people to have a real say on the right way forward in a Citizens’ Assembly with bite.
One of the particular strengths of the CEE bill is that it tackles the two major environmental issues synchronously. Taking serious action to limit the degree of global warming would result in healthier ecosystems. Restoring ecosystems to a healthier state would make them better carbon sinks, better able to take in the carbon emissions humans produce and withstand the effects of climate change. Another one of the bill’s strengths is that it makes the U.K government responsible for the damage it does overseas through the goods it imports.
If we want to save magic, and have this bill passed, we will all need to become knights in the quest for environmental justice. From individuals to local councils, to Women’s institutes and other organisations, to MPs, to the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister, we all have a vital role to play. If this bill is passed into U.K law, it would set a precedent for other countries as well.
We might be one of the world’s top predators but we are still victims of our environment. If we destroy our environment we will destroy ourselves.
The CEE bill is due to have its second reading in parliament in February. Meanwhile, to find out more about the bill, please visit the CEE bill website.