What is the biggest environmental problem: climate change? Loss of biodiversity? Soil erosion? Is it our collective failure to harness sustainable technologies, our inability to muster sufficient political will? Or is it there something more vital still: namely the fact that so few people have an understanding of nature and thus find it hard to comprehend what is happening?
When I started my career in conservation in the mid-1980s, the Forestry Commission was environmental enemy number one. At that time it was using tax incentives and grants to promote large-scale commercial forestry expansion, including across large areas of peatlands in northern Scotland.
When it comes to protecting our environment, I fear that if 2011 is to have any parallel then it might well be 1993. That year was the worst I have known. The Rio Earth Summit had been and gone. For the media and many politicians the environment had been done. It was literally last year's issue. John Major was struggling with an economic downturn and rebellions on his own not-very-green side of parliament.