20 Mar 2007
A Host of Plastic Daffodils… An Odd Manifestation of Climate Change Denial.
While I was washing up I heard a ridiculous story on the news that I am still thinking through the implications of. The Lake District is famous at this time of year for its amazing displays of daffodils, especially thanks to Wordsworth’s poem, but the exceptionally warm winter and mild spring have meant that the daffodils have all flowered and wilted much earlier than usual, and, most importantly, before the tourists arrive. The South Lakeland Parks holiday park at Fallbarrow, on the shores of Lake Windermere, has responded by planting thousands of plastic and silk ones instead.
Says spokesperson Caroline Guffogg;
>our guests love to see the daffodils in bloom when they come for their Easter break, but this year the flowers have been out since the middle of February. The chances are they won’t be at their best come April, so we’ve taken the decision to replace them. The fakes are high quality silk and are extremely realistic. Unless they look really hard then I don’t think many people will notice the difference.
This really strikes me as an extraordinary sign of the times. I wonder if the owners of the park have made the connection here, and, as well as the plastic daffs, have insulated their caravans, begun sourcing local food, started planting walnut trees and put solar panels up? If not, it is a demonstration of an amazing kind of denial, somewhat akin to men of a certain age covering their bald spot by sweeping their remaining hair over the top.
What next? Perhaps we should cover Mount Fuji with thousands of tons of fake snow just to keep the tourists happy. We could make some enormous plastic icebergs and tow them to the North Pole so we can pretend the real ones aren’t melting. We could give some students summer jobs dressing up as Orangutans and swinging about in the trees in places where they are nearly extinct. Or we could just stop pretending. Really.
If people are going to fly half way around the world to go on holiday to go to the Lake District, they need to see the signs of the effects their actions are having. We can’t hide the reality of climate change from people, however much crap ‘documentaries’ on Channel 4 might try to…. the effects are becoming obvious. As someone on Radio 4’s Now Show said on Friday, “I don’t know much about climatic concentrations of carbon dioxide, but I do know that I had a wasp on my Christmas cake, and that’s not right” (or words to that effect).
The climate is changing. We are responsible for that. It is a gravely urgent situation and we need to get on with it. Will humanity respond by putting out metaphorical plastic daffodils in other aspects of our lives too and looking the other way? In many ways we see the plastic daffs syndrome manifesting in other aspects of our lives too, people installing air conditioning who never had to before, having to rethink tree planting choices because native trees are becoming less suited to the climate and so on. We need to help people to see that it is not a problem to embrace the reality of the changes they are being forced to make in their lives as the impacts of climate change become more and more obvious.
Perhaps rather than planting plastic daffs, they could have planted edible forest gardens, walnut trees, alpine strawberries, made the caravan park and off-the-grid resort, and told their visitors why they are doing it all. This would have far more effectively turned a problem into a solution. Beware the plastic daffodils of the mind….