Another 5 Years of War
The Great War started in July 1914 and ended in November 1918, lasting a few days over 4 years 3 months, and the 100th anniversary commemoration has well & truly started already with the BBC in multi-platform full flow. It will go on to the end of 2018, lasting at least 5 years if not more (surely there will be a post war analysis lasting into early 2019), exceeding the real thing by getting on for 12 months. I realise of course the great importance of the event in world history terms, and for what it meant to so many. After all, a great number of humans killed each other and one estimate suggests 8 million horses died from wounds, starvation, poor conditions and disease, so it’s right to remember at least what happened to all those horses. And so, if you can’t beat them………
In 1914 the population of the UK was a little over 46 million. The world population stood at 1.75 billion. By 1939, the UK population had hardly grown, by less than a mere 1/2 million or so, having lost about a million in the war. The world population had grown by a much greater percentage, to around 2.3 billion.
After WW2, the population of the UK grew quickly to 52 million in 1960, and world population to over 3 billion. Today there are 63 million in the UK, around 45% more than in 1914, the increase equivalent to 2 cities the size of Greater London. In the world there are over 7 billion, or 4 times as many as in 1914. In the UK this has resulted in building on hundreds of square miles of wild landscape, numerous social and health problems and an enormous increase in pollution. We are unable to provide enough food locally. Worldwide, similar challenges have arisen but increased by a considerable order of magnitude, and countries unable to either feed local populations or afford to import have high levels of food poverty and starvation.
What has this got to do with horses? Nothing, except that there is precious little room to ride one safely these days or without encountering a farmer’s ‘Keep Out’ sign, and notwithstanding recent journalistic histrionics over horse meat appearing in your steak and ale pie or lasagne, we may have to start eating them soon to feed our out of control population.
A Perfect Excuse for a U Turn
After two very cold winters and now a very wet one our infrastructure is in a bit of a state. Our roads resemble those to be found in some of Africa’s poorer countries, the railway lines to the West Country will need millions spent if Devon & Cornwall are not to become isolated, our rivers and ditches apparently also need millions spent to make up for 20 years of neglect, and our uplands need more money to ‘re-wild’ them to help prevent flooding lower down, no doubt compensating the hill sheep farmers who have done very nicely out of EC subsidies for the last 30 years and will now need to move their flocks to lower pastures. Belatedly we are realising the role played by trees on hillsides, rivers allowed to meander naturally and upland marshes in holding water which otherwise rushes straight downhill and into folk’s houses, and having grubbed out the trees, straightened the rivers and drained the marshes to provide grazing, need to reverse the process.
Having pissed off the voters in the Shires with HS2, and the rural voters in Somerset by allowing them to drown, might the Government turn around an increasingly hostile electoral situation with a simple ‘volte face’? An announcement that instead of wasting several billion on a railway nobody but the politicians wants and instead carrying out a programme of major infrastructure refurbishment, would be met with much sage nodding of electors heads, and approval for doing ‘the right thing’. What do you think DC – have you got it in you? Bet you haven’t.