Old and new

We humans have very short memories. Each generation takes the world into which they were born and judges subsequent changes against this baseline. The world of your youth is ‘the order’ and the world it transposes into becomes the novel, for better or for worse.

We went out walking at the weekend, and at one point came across signs declaring the need to ‘protect this view’ from proposed wind turbines across the A1. The view in question was a remarkably flat, open, arable field with barely a tree in sight. It is entirely understandable that local residents would wish to protect a view with which they are familiar, but just imagine how past generations would perceive the view that the current population now cherish. This land has likely seen its vegetation changing from wild dense unmanaged forest; managed working forest; coppiced woodland; clearfell pasture with hedges and trees; parkland within the local Estate; farmland with trees; and finally the open arable desert it is today. Each older generation would have seen the steady loss of vertical vegetation as a dramatic change to the established order and each new generation would have taken this diminished experience as the status quo. The old would mourn, the young would groan as they listen to stories of how things used to be. The pattern revolves through the centuries and at each turn, another stage is lost from living memory.

If the turbines go ahead, the new generation will accept it as part of their familiar scenery, as part of the view, and I doubt it will spoil it for them any more than the absence of the ancient woodlands spoils the view for this generation. It is natural to resist change to something familiar and cherished, but the result of the change soon becomes the familiar and cherished and what was lost seems soon forgotten.

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