Four minutes to get under a table

Four minutes to get under a table – the fears of a 15 year old boy

In the 1950s there was much talk of nuclear war, the awesome terror of hydrogen bombs seemed very real to me and my pals at school . We worried about being annihilated. We were told there would be a 4 minute warning if the Russians attacked. We must rush indoors and hide under a table – would that really have helped! Many children went to sleep with bad dreams.

Now times are even more worrying – climate breakdown, chemical contamination of life on Earth, loss of insects, plastic pollution and over-use of the planet’s ecosystem. Nowadays, news reporting is never ending, unlike those naïve days of my youth, and more and more young people are getting alarmed. They want something done now not tomorrow.

Yesterday morning, I drove home from the Cairngorms and saw three smoke clouds from the burning of grouse moors. To me, that’s now like sticking a knife into a wound. In Scotland, we must ban large scale heather and grassland burning and immediately start a massive regeneration of woodland and scrub over all our barren spaces. Turning a ‘wet desert’ as Fraser Darling said in that nuclear era, into a thriving restored land to capture carbon, influence weather and water, and restore damaged ecosystems. Rewilding on a massive scale – our long-delayed contribution to planet renewal. It should become anti-social to own and maintain degraded land.

Too few, in authority, recognise a threat that is greater than the worries of my youth or are they purposely burying their heads in the sand. Thank goodness young people are protesting for the future of our planet – they need to and they must demand urgent action while there is time. It’s important they do not give up for they are the future and they are unlikely to get much support from many of their elders. I say to them – keep going – insist on change.

The young need to have hope and they must be in charge of their destinies. I support lowering the voting age to 16 years, I would go even younger for it’s their future. I asked my ten year old daughter – she thought to vote at 10 or 12 was too young – ‘they wouldn’t understand’ – come on let’s make it 14 or 15. Because of dangerous times I would also remove the vote at 60 years of age. We had our chance and we failed. Tough measures for tough times.