I am fiercely independent. If someone tells me to do something I get defensive; I don't automatically do the opposite, but I certainly have a good look at the options to see whether it would work to do something else. I want to be absolutely sure that I am my own person. And I do it obsessively. When someone says they can predict how I'll react to something or what I'll say, it throws me into a kind of panic and I don't know what to do. I cast about for new ways of being unpredictable. I don't want to be weird, but I certainly do want to decide things myself and I pride myself on having original ideas and new ways of doing things.
It's perhaps because of this that I am a man of short term obsessions. I have had my hatred of umbrellas, my love of cheese, my love of the cardigans, my love of tea, my obsession with cacti, and many more. When someone finds me out, or, worse, is more obsessed than me, it shocks me and I flee in panic!
But slightly contradictorily, I like to take up the same opinions as my Dad. You could probably say that the time when I was gaining all my background of opinions and way of thinking was a time when I listened a lot to my Dad. He was a Quaker, he was slightly anti-establishment, he was an environmentalist and a scientist. Everyone has beliefs and values that are unquestioned, and these are some things that are firmly ingrained in me.
A wonderful thing about university is that there are a lot of people with carefully considered opinions. I don't discuss life, the universe and everything too often, but certainly over a few years you get through most things. So you start to question your ingrained values. That's important to me, because then I get to be that little bit more independent in my thoughts.
I realised only recently that environmentalism was something that I should question too. My Dad died before everyone believed in global warming, so I can't just steal his ideas on that. It brings up lots of problems that he probably thought through but I just accepted.
What kind of world are we trying to save?
Do we want to stop seas from being filled with fertilisers that kill off local fish populations?
Do we mind that a land filled with people, our houses, infrastructure and agriculture is unnatural?
Is the destruction of sea habitat somehow more important or more avoidable than the destruction of habitats on land?
Is biodiversity very very important? It's not so natural either. After all, if you leave land to do its own thing, nettles could cover it and squeeze out anything else. Or bracken in the highlands.
If we will be able to survive the problems of global warming, is that enough?
In terms of importance, if you give a human life a value of 10, what's the value of a frog?
If there is a huge swarm of insects is it more justified to kill them rather than a lone bug?
Can we even define the state of the Earth environmentally?
I'm not planning on abandoning my environmental views, because I think they are important. But it's something to think about, because unquestioned views are dangerous no matter who you are.