Introduction: End Game by Ehsan Masood

There is a small box-shaped hedge at the front of the house where I live in the southeast of England. It’s adjacent to the main front door and measures about a couple of cubic metres. It’s the last thing I see when I leave home to go out to work, and the first thing I see when I return.The hedge has a reassuring quality about it: it’s an immovable, dependable, ever-watchful biological gatekeeper.
Three days before finishing this essay introducing the climate issue of Critical Muslim, I glanced at the hedge as I usually do when leaving the house. In spite of intermittent rains, it seemed unusually off-colour. On closer inspection I realised that the leaves, which were formerly green, had now turned a greyish-brown, and were joined together in a haze of webbing. I peered more closely and could see that every twig was infested with a species of caterpillar. There were in fact hundreds of caterpillars, moving and rolling very, very slowly, as if at the end of a particularly heavy Iftar or Christmas dinner. This was the box tree caterpillar and, as I later discovered, it is on a mission to defoliate gardens up and down the British Isles. The box tree caterpillar is remarkably efficient: it does its job in forty-eight hours.That’s forty-eight hours to destroy the leaves on a hedge that, I am reliably told by elderly neighbours, has stood in its place for at least fifty years.
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