Climate of Envy

I’m so happy to see climate change finally being discussed. The frightening combination of plummeting insect numbers and subsequent vanishing bird populations is suddenly in our discourse. The cultural conversation. Leading news bulletins. Radio 4 interviews. Guardian think pieces.

It’s long overdue and deeply important.

A raft of artists and public figures have put their name to a public letter drawing direct connections between the wonder of birdsong and their own creative practise. It’s not an open letter; it’s a public letter. To warrant inclusion to such an esteemed forum entails a degree of recognition I don’t, and begrudgingly only now am I beginning to reluctantly accept, probably won’t possess.

There are 78 names on the list. Which doesn’t seem like many to me. It’s a well intentioned and oddly moribund list, from national treasure to local scenester.

Here really lies the crux of my dilemma. As heartening as it is to hear Sam Lee on front row, extolling the joys of his beautiful paean to birdsong with inimitable charm, and the very public campaigns of household names against netting and habitat destruction tweeting their way into public awareness, there’s part of me that feels cheated, duped, overlooked.

I should feel elated. Instead I feel, ridiculously, childishly green with jealousy.

Why wasn’t I asked ?

Why does no-one want to see my birds?

My human ego is the real problem here, and wasn’t it ever thus. In the last year I have engaged in submission and conversation with the BFI, Arts Council England, Random Acts, the local wetlands, the RSPB and various others, as I’ve hoped in vain to scrabble together enough money and time to make an animation about swifts, their migrations, their precariously magical fragile airborne lives, dancing at the edge of the sublime.

My employer, an animation studio of some renown, has no interest in supporting films that address climate concern outside of typical advertising budgets. My newly heralded local borough of culture has resources aplenty for the reappropriation and presentation of locally popular Victorian wallpaper magnates but precious little for 20th century animators with 21st century concerns.

And herein lies my real dilemma: do I really care about the plight of birds, the swifts, the sandpipers, these most delicate of eco systems.

All the things I profess to care about. Or do I really only care about myself. My sense of feeling cheated, overlooked, excluded.

What a terrible, selfish, oh so fitting human response to something genuine and real and horrifying and true, the extinction that will claim us all:

career envy.

Swifts looping