When the history books are written, what will these present years be remembered for?

The historian seems likely to be spoiled for choice. Brexit? Trump? Trade wars with China? North Korea? Iran? Russia? Syria? One can easily produce a long list of plausible candidates to constitute the most memorable thing about the history we are making today.

But one hot contender is the changed attitude to the environment.

There has, of course, been very considerable concern about our ecosystem for many years. Back in the 1980s, Mrs Thatcher led the world in dealing with CFCs in order to protect the ozone layer and then moved on to warn of wider concerns about anthropogenic climate change. And this coincided with the early stirrings of the Green Movement in Western Europe as a whole.

By the turn of the millennium, the IPCC was well under way; climate change was on the international agenda; the first work on our national Ecosystem Assessment had begun; and the state of the oceans was coming under increasing scrutiny.

But, just recently there have been two really significant shifts in public consciousness. The first, of course, is the renewed and more urgent concern about achieving net zero emissions of greenhouse gases. But the second, less well publicised turning point has been, really for the first time, a serious shift in attitudes towards plastics.

Nationally, the highly successful plastic bag tax has been succeeded by moves against plastic beads and a whole series of other welcome initiatives. But, as we have seen in Dorchester, something more rooted in local action - and perhaps in the long run, even more significant - has been beginning to happen.

Led by valiant Damers school pupils (whose energy and enthusiasm for ecology seems unlimited), Dorchester businesses have been reducing their use of plastics well beyond the requirements of any national scheme.

I suspect that this shift in cultural attitudes to pollutants may ultimately come to be seen as the hallmark of the 2020s.

This isn’t, of course, just a question of local sentiment in Dorchester. Hundreds of other towns up and down the country - including Bridport, Lyme Regis, Sherborne and Beaminster in our part of Dorset - have exhibited similar tendencies in recent times. And we shouldn’t forget that Chickerell was one of the first towns in England to take litter really seriously.

Talking of litter, I hear encouraging reports that the litter-picking exercises on our beaches - which used to yield a large return are now returning nearly empty-handed. Another sign of the shift in popular consciousness that is having a real-life effect for the better.