Burying our heads will not save us. But if tempted to hide away from the realities of the environmental crisis, we could find ourselves face to face with one of the solutions. 

Humanity appears to consider itself king – or queen – of the animal kingdom. We often describe ourselves as being, ‘top of the food chain.’ Nature, society was led to believe, would be tamed by technological advances. That somehow, the environment functioned separately from the world that we inhabit. 

However, our reality is much different from the optimistic worldview of the past. By the seventies, environmentalists were warning of the effects of fossil fuel use, and the possibility of climate change. Lone voices once kept to the margins by newspaper editors and presented as alarmist, are now generating frontpage headlines and regular items on news channels.

When environmental concerns finally became a topic of serious debate for mainstream political parties and global conferences, was it because of how rapidly the effects of climate change were encroaching on ‘developed’ countries in the Global North? Far quicker than the most pessimistic of environmental scientists could have predicted these changes, we are now experiencing the consequences of pursuing self-indulgent lifestyles for far too long. 

We are not an isolated species. Everything in nature is interconnected. We are fortunate to be gifted with a level of intelligence seemingly unique within the animal kingdom, though it appears to come with a tendency for self-absorption and arrogance. This is not true for other animals, thankfully. 

Take the modest earthworm. It’s easy to overlook its contribution to a healthy environment, hidden in the ground for most of its subterranean life. 

Without the earthworm diligently working away: 

  • aerating the soil and allowing air to reach plant roots
  • improving soil quality by producing up to 11 times the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that they ingest
  • creating tunnels whilst burrowing and allowing rain and irrigation water to penetrate the soil
  • breaking up dense, hardpan soil that could not normally host plant roots, 

we would be at greater risk of soil degradation, associated flooding and possible crop failure.

That’s why we’ll be joining the Earthworm Society of Britain and celebrating World Earthworm Day on 21st October. It’s an opportunity to champion the positive contribution the earthworm makes to our environment. Whether it’s keeping the soil healthy in the garden or breaking down the compost pile into nutrient rich matter, we can show our appreciation for the earthworm and all the unseen insects and microorganisms that help to keep our environment healthy.

If you aren’t composting at home already, consider creating a compost heap. Our friends at Compost Culture have information to help get you started. You’ll soon be hosting plenty of earthworms in your garden. And join our campaign telling Birmingham City Council to Save Our Soil. The devastating effect that pesticides have on pollinators like bees and butterflies is widely known, not so much on earthworms and other organisms. 

Show your appreciation for the humble earthworm by signing our petition here.

Written by, Jolyon Walford

Photo: Unsplash