Thank you to all those who have stood by me through some of the darkest days of my life. As many of you know I found myself facing an uncertain future from hospital following Corona complications last week. Net result is a fresh appreciation of the current crisis we are in and an opportunity to think again about life and its priorities. I will heal-but that cannot be said for everyone and it is indeed a time to reflect on the gift of life.

My brush with death has also been an opportunity to think about breathing. Our blue planet is the colour it is because of the perfect mix of gases in the atmosphere that enable us to have life and breathe. Nature can only thrive in what is termed the “Goldilocks” zone-a very narrow window where we are the perfect distance from the sun, the right distance from the moon, the correct balance of gases, the right amount of rainfall and the perfect amount of fresh water.

Take a deep breath in. Savour it. Don’t take it for granted. Did you know that we would all be dead if it were not for one specific type of bacteria in the ocean called Prochlorococcus? This one microscopic bacteria photosynthesises like plants do on land and produce at least 20% of the worlds oxygen supply. Often the only way of detecting this bacteria is through the colour of sea water. When you go to the tropics and are overwhelmed by the incredible emerald colours; more often than not, the colours are a result of just one tiny bacteria- or to be more precise, trillions of them, filling our oceans with colour and enabling the planet to breathe. The role of bacteria in sea water is at least as important as the role played by tropical rainforests.

So you will not be surprised to learn that a combination of micro plastics in the ocean, pollution from industry and cities, melting fresh water from glaciers and siltation from massive flood events are starting to impact the oceans ability to breathe. If oxygen production begins to fall then the planet as a whole is in deep trouble.

There were several days in the last couple of weeks where I found I was struggling to breathe. It was like having my head in a swimming bath and not be able to get above water. In short it was a feeling that quickly leads to panic. Our planet is facing such a moment. Climate change, together with unprecedented levels of so called “growth” are squeezing the planetary lungs dry-and unless we shift direction fast we will pay a heavy price.

And yet all is not lost. As I come out of a dark tunnel, I have found that my belief in the power to change has grown, not diminished. My sense that there is real hope and real possibility for creative and large scale shifts in the way we live. For in hospital I saw the very best in people; incredible care for those suffering and a determination amongst the amazing medical staff to keep as many of us alive as possible and nursed back to full health. Their passion and dedication reminded me that the battle for our planet is worth every minute of fight that we have in us. Whether it is tree planning, or creating a pond, or putting up nest boxes, or buying a zero energy car, or ditching meat, palm oil, plastics……. We can collectively transform our gardens, homes, businesses, retail spaces, holiday destinations.

Stop. Breathe. Believe. Together we can do this.