A major driver of my journalism is my concern for the environment and the damage that we are doing to it. A big part of that draws on my rural roots in the north of Scotland, where I spent the first 20 years of my life. I shot, fished and occasionally helped out on farms during that time, meaning that in one way or another I was in direct contact with nature.
I gave up shooting in my 20s, deciding I no longer wanted to exercise the hunting instinct I believe is deep inside all of us. I did not turn anti-blood sports though, which would have been hypocritical given that I’d enjoyed all the times I’d gone shooting and had friends and family who still went. I also always accepted the arguments of shooting friends who ate what they killed – that the animals on their plates had led much less environmentally damaging lives than your average factory-farmed pig or chicken.
When still with Reuters, I volunteered to cover the implementation of a hunting ban in England and Wales, going on two hunts, on foot and on four wheels. I wrote this piece before the ban became law and this one the day it came into force. The absurdity of the eventual law did nothing for nature and served only to convince me of how poor our political system has become.
The pro- and anti-camps – be it on hunting, shooting or fishing – share much in common in their love and respect for nature yet most are too busy slagging off their opponents to realise.
The arguments spill over into vegetarianism, as I know only too well having recently been on the end of a withering from Agnes, a nine-year-old, aspiring vegan who was appalled to learn of my occasional meat eating.
And so to the point of this post. I don’t intend this blog to become a plug fest for the Guardian unlimited news site, and yet this excellent article was too good to resist.