This week's issue is a special on the environment. I am not sure whether I was fitting in with that or acting as a devil's advocate, but this is an unusually heartfelt column.
I wrote at greater length about the beneficial effects of exposure to the natural world for Openmind a few years ago.
A survey for the National Trust has found half the children questioned cannot tell bees from wasps. A similar percentage cannot recognise a barn owl or oak leaf, and one in three cannot identify a magpie. But nine out of ten know the Daleks and Yoda from Star Wars.
Perhaps not so surprising it is. Yet I was struck by the comment from the Trust’s conservation adviser: "The more distanced we become from nature, the more difficult it will be for us to survive on this planet."
This concern with survival is typical of the environmental movement. All its talk of "saving the planet" is really about saving the human race. The planet would jog along without us quite happily.
But survival is a depressingly narrow aim for any political movement. And it is a dangerous one for Liberals, because it can be used to justify any amount of repression.
Years ago environmentalists decided their only hope was to scare us half to death. Peak oil and global warming are just the latest in a list of dooms. The result has been to make many people terrified of the natural world. The environment is all around us (you cannot argue with that) and it is out to get us.
This fear combines easily with parental concerns about traffic and strangers, so their children’s encounters with nature are increasingly limited. Yet the best of 20th-century education and children’s literature saw such experiences as central to a wholesome childhood.
Liberal Democrats should have a more generous view of the importance of the environment. There is abundant evidence that experiencing the natural world is good for everyone from behaviourally disturbed children to recovering surgery patients.
And the claim that a vengeful Nature is going to sweep away our economic system is a cop out. We are going to have to use our intelligence to reform it if we want more people to live happy lives
I leave the last word to the great Victorian nature writer Richard Jefferies:
Let us get out of these indoor narrow modern days, whose twelve hours have somehow become shortened, into the sunlight and the pure wind. A something that the ancients called divine can be found and felt there still.