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«Spikes have been fixed to trees in a leafy neighbourhood of Bristol in an attempt to prevent birds perching there and creating a mess on residents’ cars.»

And check out the picture in the article. Truly nasty stuff. It's horrible.

Here's a comment on the matter, which introduces us to the thread subject:

«It’s one tree. There are plenty of others. Pigeons are not endangered. Bird poo can damage car paintwork and is a pain to chisel off (I know from tedious experience, although it’s nothing that some hot water can’t sort out.) The spikes are preferable to killing the birds, or the tree (which also happens.) Anyway, the spikes were erected in 2014 and, hooray, they keep people in employment. They’re made in Britain. Another industry to celebrate.


«[W]e love cars so much, we destroy nature for them […] It’s a somewhat trivial incident, but revealing of a wider shame – British society continues to be built around the car, no matter the cost […] If the car were an animal, we would have hunted it to extinction shortly after the first Model T Ford rolled off the production line in 1908. But we are the idiots of the Anthropocene: we tolerate all manner of human depredations but exterminate every animal guilty of the slightest inconvenience to our cosseted lives.»

The rest of the article is simply on fire, so I've reproduced it below, but I recommend just reading it, it's not very long. Someone should send this author some Ivan Illich and invite them to!

«Hearteningly, however, this trivial story has gone global because thousands of people have recognised its significance as a symbol of our disastrously dysfunctional relationship with the living planet upon which we ultimately depend.

«These spikes cut open modern Britain in a myriad of unflattering ways. They are not shocking or unusual, but utterly typical of a society that poisons the air we breathe, has extinguished the stars with artificial light, and builds parking lots on paradise every day of the week. They demonstrate how deaf we are to beauty: that we will sacrifice birdsong (proven to enhance our emotional wellbeing) rather than have to wipe down the Audi once a week. They reveal how intolerant we are of urban nature. We rail against “dirty” urban foxes, rats, gulls and pigeons, when it is our filth that enables them to survive so successfully alongside us in cities.

«Most of all, they emphasise the extent of Britain’s estrangement from the natural world. We pioneered the Anthropocene before the baton was taken up by larger, more powerful nations. We have led the way in finding novel ways to destroy fellow species. We have purged 97% of our wildflower meadows, up to 90% of marshland, and thousands of miles of hedgerow and ancient woodland. We claim to be a nation of great nature-lovers, but barely 6% of our land is protected as nature reserves, far lower than in most western nations.

«Most fatally, we barely perceive the great wealth of wildlife we have lost, or its profound benefits for us, to say nothing of its moral right to endure despite us. Instead we focus on nature’s costs. While we do this, British society continues to be built to recognise all the benefits and none of the costs of the car. We’re still spending billions on new roads that rip up hedgerows and ancient woodland, on car parks that cover meadows, and on those spikes (a bargain £4.58 per metre).

«Hopes that we will liberate ourselves from this monster of our making with the coming era of driverless vehicles and the end of oil look like wishful thinking. I’ve recently read stories lamenting the loss of children’s freedom because of the car, and urging government to change transport policy to help pedestrians and cyclists. They date from 1974.

«In the decades since, the vast majority of Britain’s new houses and shops have been built around the car. Road traffic continues to rise. We are more dependent upon cars than ever – no wonder they have become physically so much bigger and loom larger than ever as status symbols for many people.

«Some spikes on a branch in Bristol are one small outrage, but they scream at us – whatever we are doing to our world, we really should stop.»

Above, I mentioned Ivan Illich, who lucidly critiqued cars and traffic:

I recommend just reading the entire thing (these excerpts are not that long either), because they're just so well written and illuminating. I hold Illich in high regard, with good reason. I'll reproduce three paragraphs to capture your attention:

«People move well on their feet. This primitive means of getting around will, on closer analysis, appear quite effective when compared with the lot of people in modern cities or on industrialized farms. It will appear particularly attractive once it has been understood that modern Americans walk, on the average, as many miles as their ancestors -- most of them through tunnels, corridors, parking lots, and stores.

«People on their feet are more or less equal. People solely dependent on their feet move on the spur of the moment, at three to four miles per hour, in any direction and to any place from which they are not legally or physically barred. An improvement on this native degree of mobility by new transport technology should be expected to safeguard these values and to add some new ones, such as greater range, time economies, comfort, or more opportunities for the disabled. So far this is not what has happened. Instead, the growth of the transportation industry has everywhere had the reverse effect. From the moment its machines could put more than a certain horsepower behind any one passenger, this industry has reduced equality, restricted mobility to a system of industrially defined routes, and created time scarcity of unprecedented severity. As the speed of their vehicles crosses a threshold, citizens become transportation consumers...


The model American male devotes more than 1600 hours a year to his car. He sits in it while it goes and while it stands idling. He parks it and searches for it. He earns the money to put down on it and to meet the monthly installments. He works to pay for gasoline, tolls, insurance, taxes, and tickets. He spends four of his sixteen waking hours on the road or gathering his resources for it. And this figure does not take into account the time consumed by other activities dictated by transport: time spent in hospitals, traffic courts, and garages; time spent watching automobile commercials or attending consumer education meetings to improve the quality of the next buy. The model American puts in 1600 hours to get 7500 miles: less than five miles per hour. In countries deprived of a transportation industry, people manage to do the same, walking wherever they want to go, and they allocate only 3 to 8 percent of their society’s time budget to traffic instead of 28 percent. What distinguishes the traffic in rich countries from the traffic in poor countries is not more mileage per hour of lifetime for the majority, but more hours of compulsory consumption of high doses of energy, packaged and unequally distributed by the transportation industry.»

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