By now, you will all have now heard that “we” have voted to abandon the European Union. That we, the British populace, have opted to leap into the dark, choosing to abandon reason entirely and thus allying ourselves with the likes of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson – men boasting the foresight and moral integrity of some particularly grubby root vegetables. Today is a dark day for Britain and a darker one still for the members of the younger generation who now have to live with the consequences of this momentous decision.
To say that I am heartbroken by the referendum result would be a monumental understatement. Watching throughout the night, my initial optimism soon found itself waning as more and more counties – including those I hold to heart in the North East – voted to leave the union. Turning the map the most pitiful shade of blue I have ever laid eyes on. It will come as no surprise that I found myself firmly rooted in the “remain” camp on the run up to the referendum. Not least because in my opinion, the leave campaign was dominated by flagrant racism and a refusal to treat people, as people. The main reason for me voting to stay however was the protection the union formerly offered the environment and the species I hold to heart. Laws such as the Birds Directive and Habitat Directive preventing the all out destruction of the British ecosystem. These, it would seem, have just gone up in flames alongside the hopes of an entire generation.
As the old saying goes however, there is no point crying over split milk. Britain has made up its mind – all be it by a narrow margin – and now, each and everyone of us must live with the consequences. Already this morning I have witnessed a solemn outpouring from those in the environmental field. Many, it seems, are now concerned for the future of our environment and the jobs of those seeking to protect it. A sentiment which I cannot help but share as, after all, without an obligation to protect nature, it would be pointless paying people to do so. Many jobs in the field may indeed have been lost, alongside the laws that protected vulnerable species, maintained clean air and water, and aimed to stabilise our climate. A wholly bleak picture but one I am trying to look past.
Attempting to be optimistic, I do not think this is the end for nature loving Britain. The sorry result broadcast this morning surely does mark the start of an uphill struggle of the like never before seen, but the end? I do not think so. If anything, this mornings result is a wake up call for each and every person professing to care about the natural world. Now, more than ever, it is necessary that we band together in the face of such wanton disregard for the environment and encourage the new generation to take up arms for nature. Now, more than ever, it is time to strengthen our resolve, not let it fall to ruin alongside Britain’s EU membership. The only way to stand up for nature now, is to do it ourselves – through sweat, toil and public outcry – as no longer can we rely on the EU to fight our battles for us.
Things are certainly going to be disheartening in the near future – many species will suffer, many wild places will lie vulnerable to exploitation and many regrettable decisions will be made – but, I do feel that, with a certain degree of fortitude, we can still prevail. Defeatism has no place in the new Britain, especially with so much at stake and the time has now come to stand up and be counted. The EU was good while it lasted but now, like Britain as a whole, conservationists must develop with the times.