BIODIVERSITY loss and global warming were headline news last week.

The World Wildlife Fund reported that the world has lost on average 60 per cent of its populations of higher (vertebrate) animals since 1970, all due to human exploitation. Biodiversity loss has reached a point of no return threatening human extinction, said a United Nations report.

Then, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that the sea has warmed faster than previously thought and it will be even more difficult to keep the Earth from warming more than 1.5 degrees. We only have 12 years to get this under control.

These reports were followed by a Meteorological Office announcement that summer 2018 was the hottest on record in England, confirming the upward trend in local temperatures.

Last week, the shale gas company Cuadrilla started test fracking near Blackpool. They hope that sufficient gas can be produced to burn to provide energy on a commercial scale, but the IPCC say that to prevent further global warming, burning of all fossil fuels should cease.

Moving nearer home, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that it is imperative that the progress of the Oxford-Cambridge development arc 'should move at pace' and has given money to promote this.

Oxfordshire will be in the centre of this arc and will have to contend with more road building and traffic, and the construction of 300,000 houses accompanied by business premises. This development will cause damage to the natural environment and biodiversity loss on a huge scale.

What good news is there to give some respite from all this truly dark stuff? An inspirational talk last week by Christiana Figueres at the Oxford Martin School was uplifting. She said that being stubbornly optimistic was a key to solving the world’s biggest threats.

Humans and the way we live are the problem – but people are the solution too.

A local example in Chesterton is the group who came to the inaugural meeting of the Friends of Burnehyll Community Woodland and are helping this new project take shape. The woodland will stretch all along the south of Vendee Drive and be a marvellous community asset. The young trees will use carbon dioxide from the air for growth and mop up traffic pollutants from the busy Oxford Road. The woodland will provide biodiversity gain, a vital ‘ecosystem service’.

Such beneficial actions by groups of individuals, local councils and companies will have a global effect when multiplied up across the world.