Well, 2016 certainly provided its share of surprises. If you are wondering what lies ahead for 2017, just consider whether this time last year you would have foreseen both the UK voting out and Donald Trump being voted in.
Truth is, we can never easily predict a future that so many factors can influence. Our best hope is that people take rational decisions based on sound information. In today’s world, where even abbreviated social media messages can sometimes appear to have the impact of a Gettysburg address, misinformation can so easily engender confusion and mistrust.
Occasionally however, someone comes along who generates genuine trust and perspective, perhaps because we know they have nothing to gain from misleadng. As 2016 faded, up stepped none other than 90 years old Sir David Attenborough and another epic BBC series. Astonishingly, as you may well have read, more people watched the final episode of Planet Earth 2, than watched the final of X Factor one hour later. Without wishing to decry the latter, it seems more public tears were shed in a few minutes over the feat of disoriented baby turtles, than are normally shed by a whole series of X-factor contestants.
I guess that’s entertainment, Simon. Nevertheless, in the best spirit of an unpredictable year, who’d have thought it? For over sixty years, which for most people means our lifetimes, Sir David has shared a world where the truth can also sometimes seem stranger than fiction. Mostly in magnificent ways of course, one which no politicians spin could ever match. But always presented in context.
Attenborough’s context provides lifelong, first-hand evidence that the world has changed before his eyes and through them, our own. From the melting poles to creeping deserts and exploited seas, living proof that climate change is real and that human behaviour is having dramatic repercussions for all who inhabit our unique and fragile planet. The scale of the challenge is so immense that as individuals it might seem we are powerless, but we are not. As the great man says, we are responsible for the problem and must be held responsible for the solution. Not just in the big decisions we should demand our politicians effect, but the cumulative impact of the innumerable habits we ourselves can change.
Using our reusable bottles in combination with mains-fed water are but a tiny part of that solution. But a part we remain proud you help us play. Here’s to predicting more of the same in 2017.