The stage was decorated with trees laden with berries, and as Andrew Mitchell, a ‘self-confessed tree-hugger’, gave an impassioned speech on saving the rainforest which started, ‘Have you ever really looked into the eyes of an orangutang?’, torrential rain suddenly poured from the heavens, rousing amazed applause from the audience.
‘It’s coming to press your point,’ smiled the peace activist and former monk Satish Kumar, the editor-emeritus of Resurgence and the spiritual leader of the festival.
The issues discussed were dark – price and profit, it was clear from the talks, are threatening our world. George Monbiot explained in the festival’s closing ceremony that we have 60 years of harvests left until our soil runs out – yet the news, written by blinkered metropolitans and controlled by billionaires, is full of trivia instead. ‘Our task,’ he said, ‘is to listen for what is not being said, for the urgent crashing critical issues surrounded by silence.’