First Steps for HUGS

We were slightly hampered by Covid in our first few months – the perishing pandemic prevented us from holding meetings or getting plans for a refill pop-up off the ground. But, we still managed to launch a nature trail (free on, run a campaign to plant 1,000 trees (400 planted so far!) and focus on helping the local owl population. Members also wrote to our MP, David Johnston, to invite him to take part in a discussion about the private member’s bill on tackling the climate emergency ( He declined.

We had a workshop on mitigating global emissions using the en-roads simulator – pretty whizzy stuff developed by MIT. You can have a go yourself at  And we contributed ideas to the various Parish Councils for improving green spaces, supporting nature’s recovery and becoming more sustainable. Hopefully more on these once we’ve seen the PC’s response to the village questionnaire.

Chilton Road Bird Survey

Have you heard the birds along Chilton Road? It’s quite a little chorus following the closure and will be even better as the weather gets warmer. We’ve started monitoring bird species on the new quiet stretch to see if anything changes. There were 10 species logged on the first pass in December. (You can see what they were on the iRecord system at – search for “Chilton Road survey”. You can also join the team of volunteers who are carrying out the fortnightly update.)

Ideally we’d also have comparison data from before the road was closed. Unfortunately we don’t have this, but we’re working with the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC) to interpret the data we’re now collecting.

While on the subject of cycle-friendly routes, did you know that there’s now an almost continuous track from Upton to Wantage along the 544 Cycle Route and Icknield Greenway? This is part of ongoing improvements to cycle routes across Oxfordshire.

On Boiling Frogs

Thanks to experiments by Friedrich Goltz in 1869 (and probably numerous predecessors), we know there’s no truth in the idea that a frog will sit happily in a saucepan that is gradually heated up until it becomes an ex-frog. But it’s an image that’s been used a fair bit when describing apathy towards mitigating climate change. The analogy works well: incremental change doesn’t seem to require urgent response. And then, suddenly, when the danger becomes clear, it’s too late. At the point of realisation, you’d expect a fast and decisive reaction. (Frog exits pot; governments ban CFCs to prevent further damage to ozone layer.) So, what’s different about climate change? Why are we so reluctant to take the necessary action to prevent global warming increasing by 1.5 degrees Centigrade?

The most obvious reasons are that governments want to protect their economies, and that as individuals we’re not willing or able to brook the cost or inconvenience of doing without the products that create the emissions. It’s not uncommon to feel powerless when in front of such a big problem. And after all, “the Chinese are building new coal-fired power stations so it makes no difference what I do”.

The main issue with doing nothing is that the problem gets worse. And if we divest ourselves of responsibility we’re being dishonest into the bargain: we’re the ones busy buying affordable goods manufactured in China, so we’re driving demand for that energy.

Facing up to the problem is going to involve changes, sacrifices and some creativity. One writer likens it to medieval cathedral building*. The people who start the job won’t be around to see it finished. But they know they’re contributing to something much more important that will endure.

*(Read the full article at