Cranes, large white wetland birds, standing 1.3 metres tall with flamboyant tail-feathers that bob about as they graze, were hunted to extinction in Britain four hundred years ago. But last weekend we went to visit a now thriving resident population at the Slimbridge Wetland Centre on the Severn Estuary near Bristol. It was a magical and uplifting experience, and it turned out that the Cranes shared the billing with an astonishing cast of other beautiful wildfowl.
Revisiting a half-finished blog from the end of 2021, I was reminded how angry I was hearing Shell’s CEO proclaim green credentials one minute, and in the next breath complain that being told to cut his company’s emissions in line with national targets was “unreasonable”. The job of the climate movement is to make it unacceptable to enrich yourself through destroying the eco-systems on which we all depend, and rally the majority of people behind political and economic approaches that instead enable human civilisation to survive and thrive.
A few days ago I was feeling good with myself, having polished my annual markontour favourite songs of the year list down to the fifteen tracks that would befit its title, and then Rough Trade went and sold me The Felice Brothers’ new album. Ah well. Herewith the sixteen tracks of the Festive Fifteen 2021. The usual rules apply: all songs must have been released this calendar year, one song per band, no re-releases, plus an indeterminate number of bonus tracks, usually commemorating an artist who passed away during the year. The full playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify.
As the dust settles on COP26 it is clearer than ever that the climate crisis is not going to be averted by inter-governmental negotiation. That’s not to ignore the momentum generated by COP26, or the incremental progress made in Glasgow. But the commitments on the table from national governments when the gavel came down fell well short of locking in action to halve global emissions this decade, and that was the ultimate indicator of success or failure. As a result there is an even more urgent need for cities and other non-state actors to lead immediate science-based climate action, and increase the impetus on national leaders.
Fontaines DC were the stand-out band at Green Man this year, with one of the most intense sets I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing. But they could have run an open-mic session on the main stage and it would still have been a wonderful festival, such was the anticipation for Green Man 2021 in the markontour household. As it was, this was a bumper year, with many great performances from a mostly British and Irish line up, particularly from bands who have yet to get an album under their belts. Here follows markontour’s review of Green Man Festival 2021
The formation of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, an independent group of scientists which published its first reports over the summer, may turn out to be a pivotal moment for humanity getting to grips with the climate emergency.
s focused on enjoying themselves. This isn’t really a blog as much as a list for the memory banks, but herewith the markontour review of Latitude 2021:
I bought Raptor: A Journey Through Birds by James Macdonald Lockhart because spending a pandemic year in Wales has afforded the privilege of seeing birds of prey on a daily basis, and I wanted to learn my hawks from my falcons. Raptor has certainly helped with that, but much more besides, with Lockhart’s lyrical descriptions of avian behaviour making my own experience of seeing raptors in the wild even more magical.
Five thousand years ago the people living in what is now the Brecon Beacons National Park, the area of Wales where markontour currently resides, were into megaliths, big time. This much we know because over thirty of them survive to this day, still marking out the valley roads and high passes in this lush, undulating landscape. They are extraordinary things to get out and see in situ, stubbornly remaining on the spot they have inhabited through so many human generations, and in many cases accessible enough to be able to get right up close and touch.
I approached The Ministry for the Future, eco sci-fi master, Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest book, with some trepidation. I was anticipating a grim imagining of a near future in which human civilisation descends into chaos as a result of failure to respond to the climate crisis, something I am generally trying to escape when I find time to pick up a novel. But while there is plenty that is frighteningly real in Robinson’s narrative – from millions dying in droughts, floods and fires, to the rise of global eco-terrorism as a generation realises that the one-percent really are willing to sacrifice their futures for short-term profit – ultimately ‘The Ministry of the Future’ is a manifesto of hope.