It’s Up to Us

It’s Up to Us
Christopher Lloyd
What on Earth Books

Thirty three award-winning artists from around the world have each contributed a terrific illustration for this book, which is subtitled A Children’s Terra Carta for Nature, People and Planet. It’s based on the 13 point Terra Carta – a kind of roadmap created by HRH The Prince of Wales (who contributes a foreword) and his initiative Sustainable Markets, which aims to ‘put nature, people and planet at the heart of global value creation’ set out at the back of the book using the original language of the Terra Carta’s preface).

The main text comprises four parts. In Nature, the first, we’re reminded that we humans are living our lives surrounded not only by other people but also by an incredible wealth of flora and fauna; and it’s likely that no matter where one looks there is evidence of this, be it from the tiny wild plants poking out between the cracks in the pavement, or the birds singing in the trees we walk past on the way to school or the shops.
However not all life is visible to the naked eye: there are millions of tiny microbes living in every conceivable place on Earth – even in between our toes – but you’ll only see them with the aid of a microscope.
Did you realise that all life is dependent upon three things: the air, the soil and the oceans; from these come oxygen, food, water and the wind? Immediately recognisable, Poonam Mistry’s intricately patterned illustration surrounding this information pays tribute to her love of nature. Nature – Earth’s circle of life – has been around billions of years before human life first existed, and indeed Earth is the only planet on which we can be sure, life exists.

illustrations by Estelí Meza and Mehrdokht Amini

The Nature surrounding us is so amazing that from it we derive everything we humans need (and much more), of this we’re reminded at the start of the People section of the book.
There’s a downside to this though – the pollutants released into the air and the water, poisonous emissions that cause immense harm to myriads of tiny living things that keep our soil healthy.
But that’s not all: stop and consider the vast amounts of pollutants now found in our oceans and rivers due to our consumerist lifestyle. The result? The extinction of ever more plant and animal species. Catastrophic indeed. Due in part to the fact that we have forgotten that we too are Nature.

illustration by Rutu Modan

That is why our attention is drawn in Planet to global warming. something that is now impossible to deny. Its impact is chronicled in searing illustrations of forest fires, blackened landscapes due to CO2 emissions,

illustration by Black Douglas

melting ice-caps and disastrous floods, all of which have been so much in the news during this past year.

However it’s not too late quite yet; but we need to act quickly to bring Nature back into balance and the ways so to do are set out in the Terra Carta. Herein seven ‘WE WILL’ intentions are stated. It’s no good though if they stay as intentions; actions are crucial and as the banner held by one of the young people on the final spread says, IT’S UP TO US! Young people from all over the world have been at the forefront of the movement to put Nature first but it’s up to adult individuals, businesses, politicians and governments everywhere to recognise the urgency of the situation and take decisive action, NOW!

With its dedication to life-long activist and pacifist Satish Kumar, this is a timely, must have (sustainably printed) book for families, school classrooms and libraries as well as delegates to COP26.