A ‘Twitter friend‘ of mine, Tom Wilkinson, recently wrote a very interesting blog posting that I want to recommend if you haven’t already seen it: Land of Confusion. He asks questions about the ways we construct the idea of the natural landscape:
Centuries of land-shaping activities such as clearing forests for farming and the building of infrastructure have left the landscape far removed from its original pre-human form. Is the ‘natural landscape’ these days just another manufactured environment, built upon layers of already commodified space?
Questions about wildness and natural landscapes are occupying my mind quite a bit just now, not least since I have (finally!) started putting the first chapters of my Wind power exploration on line. Part of this series, of course, will be about exploring the concepts of ‘wild land’ and what that means, and I don’t really want to discuss that at length just now since it will come up in forthcoming chapters.
I have been prompted to think about this now by seeing reports today from the John Muir Trust and the Scotsman. What I find particularly interesting here is this idea of ‘threat’ from wind farms: altering the landscape is treated as something new, as if human beings have not constantly altered and changed the landscape, even if that means leaving it unaltered (National Parks etc.) – that’s a form of human intervention and change too! And in any case, climate change is bringing about more changes in the landscape than we can possibly imagine.
I wonder if a more constructive way of engaging with this is to reflect on what changes are desirable, and what are not. I think much of this might have to do with size, as Rob Hudson suggested in his comment on my first Wind power chapter.
Perhaps the fence – designed to keep sheep in, and low enough for me to jump over – and the disused lobster nets are small enough not to diminish the calm beauty of the early morning scene here? Would the scene be less beautiful if there were tall wind turbines on the hills on Mull?
I don’t really have definitive answers to these questions, but I’m also wary of those who claim that there are definitive answers…