Writer pedals the idea of a greener future

On the road to Glasgow, campaigner paints a picture of a ‘pretty grim Islington’ if nothing changes

Friday, 29th October 2021 — By Anna Lamche

Nicola Baird and Anna Hughes cycling to Glasgow

Nicola Baird and Anna Hughes cycling to Glasgow. Photo: Nicola Baird

EXTREME weather, floods and subsidence will become common in Islington if nothing is done to combat the eco-crisis, a campaigner said as she cycled towards the world environment summit in Glasgow.

Nicola Baird, a writer who lives in Finsbury Park, warned the borough would become “pretty grim” with trees dying and that popular birds like swifts would “not turn up in summer”.

In warmer and dry weather, soils can become hard and dry, causing the ground beneath homes to shrink and crack.

“There are many houses in Islington that have subsidence, and structural engineers have said that is definitely to do with the way the climate is changing,” said Ms Baird.

“What you will see is more extreme weather. We’ve already seen big floods, we’ve seen the streets have almost turned into canals.”

She said rising temperatures would also be “really bad for our canal” causing a surge in terrapin numbers.

“They would eat the wildfowl we’ve got used to, the moorhens and the geese,” she said.

Ms Baird said: “That sounds like a pretty grim Islington to me. And it wouldn’t just be Islington, it would be all of London. It’d be awful. But that’s just one vision,” she added. “Another vision is people having a go at growing things, shopping at thriving local shops selling unpackaged stuff. A new vision would be even less traffic.”

This week Ms Baird joined Cycle for Change for a 135.4 mile stretch of the campaign group’s cycle trip to Glasgow in the run-up to Cop26.

The cyclists started out from Vauxhall. Their aim is to encourage people to “donate by doing things” like pledging to buy second-hand clothes, sharing tools like drills and carpet cleaners, and draught-proofing the house.

For Ms Baird, “relentless optimism” – a phrase used by Christiana Figueres, the woman behind the Paris climate agreement – is needed to tackle the climate crisis.

She said: “It really helps doing it in a positive way. If you can help your community, that’s a really good start.”

“Something like 40 per cent of emissions come from people and the way they live,” she said.

“When you think about the environment, you think global and you act local. And the most locally you can act in your own homes,” said Ms Baird.

Simple changes can make a big difference. For example, “instead of buying a tumble dryer, you can air-dry your clothes”.

Ms Baird tries to reuse things where she can. “For parents, reusable nappies last for ages. I really believe you can’t throw things away. You might pick up litter but you can’t get rid of it. It’s still in the environment,” she said.

Ms Baird has made other choices, like reducing food waste. “It’s so expensive to grow and transport. Once we’ve got it, we should respect it and eat it up. We gave up flying as a family in 2001. We said we’d fly every 10 years.”

She added: “Each year we put some money into making the house warmer. Double glazing is very expensive, so we do one window a year.”

To make a climate pledge, visit www.wearedonation.com/en-gb/do-actions/

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