Image for What went right this week: UK ‘culture wars’ don’t reflect genuine divisions, plus more positive news

What went right this week: UK ‘culture wars’ don’t reflect genuine divisions, plus more positive news

A report found culture wars in the UK aren't as deep-seated as some would believe, ‘person of colour’ was added to official Irish lexicon, and giant pandas were no longer classed as endangered, plus the week’s other positive news

A report found culture wars in the UK aren't as deep-seated as some would believe, ‘person of colour’ was added to official Irish lexicon, and giant pandas were no longer classed as endangered, plus the week’s other positive news

A report found UK culture wars don’t reflect genuine divisions

‘Culture wars’ are not as deep-seated as some make them out to be, according to a new report. Instead, this week’s report – published by the Fabian Society – concludes that cultural divisions are inflated by politicians and the media, but with real consequences.

After England’s defeat to Italy in the Euros on Sunday, and the racist abuse directed at three of its penalty shootout players, footballer Tyrone Mings criticised the home secretary Priti Patel for ‘stoking the fire’ of racist abuse.

Studies have found that most people in the UK aren’t even sure what a culture war is. They therefore do not necessarily reflect what is actually happening.

Roger Harding, who co-authored the report, told the Guardian: “Culture-war peddlers often use contrived stories to pit working-class communities against one another and caricature movements for racial and LGBT equality.”

“The public deserves better than fabricated fights,” added Kirsty McNeill, a charity executive and fellow co-author of the report.

Image: Gary Butterfield

The UN set out a Paris-style plan to halt biodiversity loss

Details have emerged of the targets to be included in a new wide-reaching UN plan to halt biodiversity loss in its tracks. The latest draft, set out by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) includes goals such as eliminating plastic pollution, protecting a minimum of 30 per cent of the world’s oceans and land, and reducing pesticide use by two-thirds.

2030, a year for which an increasing number of sustainability goals are now earmarked, is the goal date – with further targets set for 2050.

The draft could take some time to be ratified, however. A meeting where the goals were meant to be discussed has already been postponed twice and is expected to be delayed a third time, to the first half of 2022. Once agreed, it will be signed by the 196 parties to the CBD, Paris-style.

Image: Marcos Paulo Prado

The Glenfinnan Viaduct
The government backed a flight-free holiday platform

As UK travellers currently in the Balearic islands scramble to adapt their plans after a change to the traffic light system this week, many may be wishing they had opted for a less stressful trip closer to home.

Enter Byway, the “world’s first flight-free holiday platform”, centred around personalised, slow travel with a minimum carbon footprint. The startup has just announced the closing of a funding round which saw £1.1m raised from a combination of angel investors and the government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Since launching in mid-2020, more than 7,500 trips have been built through their platform. It offers trips in the UK and across Europe.

Cat Jones, founder and CEO, said: “We’re taking the time, and the work, out of planning and booking off-the-beaten-path trips by train, boat and bike – and the reception we’ve had has been glowing.”

The company aims to use the funding to accelerate growth, hire more staff and further develop the technology behind the platform.

Image: Connor Mollison

A baby beaver was born in Exmoor for the first time in 400 years

After two adult beavers were successfully reintroduced into a National Trust estate in Exmoor in January 2020, park authorities announced this week that the female has given birth.

Hunted to extinction in the 16th century in the UK, beavers have been making a slow comeback since the early 2000s, thanks to reintroduction efforts at several sites.

Since settling in at the Holnicote estate, the mother, ‘Grylls’, and her mate have transformed the unmanaged woodland in their enclosure into a more open wetland, creating diverse habitats that benefit a plethora of wildlife.

The National Trust is currently taking suggestions for names for the new arrival.

Image: Svetozar Cenisev

Guardians of the Irish language added ‘person of colour’ to official lexicon

A new term this week has been entered into Ireland’s National Terminology Database: duine de dhath, meaning person of colour.

For generations, Irish speakers have used bizarre or racially charged terms to describe those who are not white: an fear dubh (a man of any colour with black hair or skin) and duine gorm (blue person), among them.

Ola Majekodunmi, who suggested the new term, is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, and a board member of Foras na Gaeilge, a public body that promotes Irish in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

She said: “I remember when I was in school wondering: who are these people? I’m not blue.”

Donncha Ó Cróinín, the chief terminologist at Foras na Gaeilge, added: “We were happy to use it. It’s a case of concepts emerging and changing.”

Image: Seven Shooter

Giant pandas were classed as no longer endangered

Delight echoed through social media this week as China’s conservation authority announced the giant panda has been reclassified from endangered to vulnerable.

The change comes amid efforts in recent years to improve biodiversity: habitats have been expanded and bamboo forests, a food source for the bears, replanted.

Far from being out of the woods, however, the bears could still face destruction of habitat, warns the IUCN. The climate crisis could destroy more than a third of their bamboo habitat in the next 80 years, the conservation body has said.

Image: Polina Razorilova 


A study found the UK public ‘overwhelmingly optimistic’ about what a green future could look like

The climate crisis is one of the gravest threats humankind has ever faced. And yet, members of the UK public feel positive about our chances of tackling it.

From Aberdeenshire to Thurrock, findings from a series of ‘citizens’ juries’ have found there is strong support for ambitious government action for a green transition. Over the past 18 months, the IPPR Environmental Justice Commission has had hundreds of hours of conversation with people from all walks of life. Participants were randomly selected to share their views.

Carys Roberts, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, said: “Our findings were clear and arresting. [People] recognise the challenges we face but are overwhelmingly optimistic about what a greener, fairer future for the country could look like, from more good jobs to flourishing local wildlife, access to nature and revitalised neighbourhoods and communities.”

Image: Paul Rysz

Technology helped indigenous Amazonian communities to curb deforestation

The plight of the Amazon rainforest was again thrown into the spotlight this week with the news that it is now emitting more carbon dioxide than it is able to absorb. With deforestation largely to blame, solutions that reduce tree loss are needed more than ever.

With that in mind, a study has found evidence that placing technology in the hands of indigenous forest communities in the Peruvian Amazon can have a significant effect on deforestation. Researchers gave indigenous groups satellite data and smartphones in order to capture instances of suspected illegal deforestation, which if confirmed, would be passed on to authorities to deal with.

Encouragingly, after one year, deforestation was reduced by 52 per cent and by end of year two, it had come down by over 20 per cent.

Read more here about how empowering indigenous communities can help win the fight against deforestation.

Image: Nate Johnston
Main image: Nick Fewings 

What went right previously