Hello, welcome to the new edition of the Voice for Arran, I hope October’s been a great month. It’s been a busy weekend here, what with the clocks going back, carving pumpkins and guising, and then the arrival of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior in the Clyde, which sailed by Arran on its way to Glasgow! Of course November heralds the start of the long awaited COP26 Climate talks and on-board the Rainbow Warrior were a group of young activists from Namibia, Uganda, Mexico and Bangladesh, members of Fridays for Future MAPA – Most Affected People and Areas. Their mission in Glasgow is to ask world leaders to ‘stop failing us’. They have come to demand that richer countries, mostly not so close up to the impacts of climate change, start to address the huge inequalities, both social and environmental, experienced between nations.

This is where climate change becomes not just an issue of the physical environment but a matter of human justice as well. It is a subject Sally Campbell discusses in her piece on COP26 Glasgow Climate Change and Climate Justice, and refers to the relations of colonialism and capitalism that have for centuries led to resource depletion in some parts of the world and a hyper consumer culture in others. The vast inequalities are now also seen in the differential impacts of global warming across countries. The obvious economic benefits of these relations to rich countries have been supported by the perhaps universal trait that what is somewhere else, and ‘far away’, is ‘not my problem’. The young activists on-board the Rainbow Warrior have come to say that this situation cannot continue anymore.

Yet the ‘out of sight-out of mind’ phenomenon also seems to be one that George Gunn grapples with in Caithness in the north of Scotland. In his piece, The Dead Guillemot Society, Gunn describes how for a few weeks in September this year, dozens of young guillemots were washed up on Dunnet Beach. While this is a naturally occurring event, the extent to which it happened this year up and down the Scottish coasts was far greater than usual. It seems that the guillemots died of hunger due to a scarcity of their natural food sand eels and Gunn was told that with ocean temperatures rising, numbers of prey fish are being driven down. Gunn describes the anger and hopelessness he felt at coming across these young birds and is incredulous that we can allow this sort of thing to happen on ‘our back door’. As he says, “The North Atlantic is not a remote part of the world. It is where we live.”

The disconnect that both Gunn and the young activists experience is perhaps similar – they witness the environmental degradation in their local communities and don’t understand how our society can let these things happen, whether this is on a Scottish beach, in the Arctic or the Equator. What does it take for the preciousness of our natural world to be valued and not taken for granted? In Letter to America, through the life of a prisoner on death row, Alice Maxwell brings these issues into stark focus. Over the past year and a half she has been writing to one of the inmates and learning about what mundane things such as a kettle or letter box means in his situation. Recently he was moved a larger cell with a window and she writes, “for the first time in years he feels warm sun on his cheek and can watch the free flight of birds”. The experience of this friendship leads Alice to resolve “to pay more attention to the world around” her, and can remind us all of the value of life. Hopefully the governments meeting in Glasgow will hear a similar message, once the activists aboard the Rainbow Warrior have made it to the SECC.

We hope you enjoy the issue, and wish you a lovely month, Elsa