‘What’s not to like?’ is an expression that makes me cringe. It usually comes as a smug conclusion to a list of virtues or benefits. I found it passing through my brain this morning, though, taking a before-breakfast walk through Holland Park, glowing, if not perspiring, in a temperature in the high 20s. The sun shafted through the tall woodland trees making shade hard to find. What was not to like was the memory of the programme the previous night when David Attenborough listed the existential threats to the natural world. Of course we know them all in theory. It was his illustrations that made them scary, and scarily urgent.
The most shocking to me was the plunder of the oceans, with fish being ‘harvested’ in unimaginable quantities, like gravel from a gravel pit, whales wiped out, the ocean floor bulldozed bare. The squabbling over ‘our’ fish resources, not based on how to sustain and multiply them but on who gets the biggest share, seemed worse than obtuse. Indeed, obscene.
And the previous evening a friend in California told me that the night-time temperature in St Helena had not fallen below 104 degrees. ‘What did you do?” I asked. ‘We stood in the shower wrapped in a towel.’ Will there always be enough water? There is a lot not to like.