Paul Hawken has edited Drawdown, a comprehensive review and analysis of tangible actions that can mitigate the destruction of the natural environment which is now being precipitated by anthropogenic pollution and is most visible in global warming. Drawdown is the work of many professionals collaborating to synthesise practical mitigation actions.
Yesterday was an unusual day filled with seemingly inane chores that had to be done. I was arriving back home in the afternoon with groceries for guests and planned to turn the hay. I drove past a field adjacent to our where a tractor was spraying and turned in to the drive to be greeted by a distasteful, though recognisable, toxic smell.
Usually I’d just accept that that landowner had to spray to make a living, but I didn’t like the idea that our hay was being contaminated while it was looking so good. Unusually, I decided to take another angle, dropped the bags on the kitchen floor, said “Hi!” to guests and spun the car around back up to the field.
After working out which row the tractor was in I walked up to the driver, who kindly stopped and helped me get n touch with the landowner.
The driver said the spray was only to stop “disease”.
The landowner said it was only to stop “disease”.
They both said it was “OK”.
The contractor couldn’t come back on a still day because he had to empty the tanks since the pesticide had been paid for. The wind might die down so he could wait a bit. I knew the spray would still be sprayed, and would drift. Hopefully little would drift, though you could see a 20 metre tail behind the tractor and smell it quarter of a kilometre away.
I asked what it was. “I dunno. Let’s have a look.”
So we did. It was Imtrex.
“Wow. Look at the labels on it! Dead fish. Dead tree. Heart attack. C’mon! This can’t be good.”
It’s weird though. It’s being sprayed right on the ears of ripening barley, and we’re going to eat it. There’s poison on it , and we’re going to eat it. We’re killing ourselves and enjoying it.
We don’t make the connection between our demand for cheap, convenient food and lifestyles and the consequential impairment of diet and lifestyle. Our monolithic food chain, standardised automated production, controlled by capitalists is withering our soul and costing our health. Apart from the increased incidence of cancer which only affects a third or so of us, almost everyone is affected by the lower quality of food – processed, refined, packaged with a fraction of the dietary health benefits of real food, but extra poison.
Yet we all buy in to it. We all live the lie. The farmer can’t make ends meet if he doesn’t. (Ironically, I found out since that this “T3” third treatment for “disease” was being applied too late, as the ears were grown, and so wouldn’t improve yield, although the farmer could prove he sprayed the “treatment”.) We can’t make ends meet f we don’t play the pyramid consumption game. So we all turn a blind eye to our gradual suicide. It’s fairly painless anyway.
But it could be different. It would be different if we all chose differently. It doesn’t have to be much at first, but even little thoughtful choices make a difference. And they lead to bigger thoughtful choice. And when everyone starts choosing differently, the world changes fast. So whether you’re in the tractor, in the shop, regulating the chemical, making the chemical, or financing the chemical, don’t turn a blind eye. Think, and choose to change a little.
Because dying can be easy or hard, and withering from poison is not easy.
Over 500 experts contributed. The consensus is that progress and attention is lagging the need for change. If data is restricted to those with a decade or more of experience the picture is worse.
Progress is dominated by social entrepreneurs and NGOs while national governments’ and corporates’ performance is considered poor.
The lack of attention by governments and corporates is underpinned by their “clients” – voters and consumers – so clearly there remains among people generally a lack of awareness of the need and opportunity for system change. People don’t perceive the dangers of failing commercial and social systems and the disintegration of Earth’s natural environment upon which we rely.
Perhaps this is not surprising. Except for change agents and social entrepreneurs, people are not engaged with the problems of the world but instead stick to traditional mindsets and routines. (The SDG’s themselves are fundamentally flawed in their promotion of growth, as opposed to working within natural laws and the capacity of the biosphere.) Continue reading Time is running out: Behind the curve on SDGs→
How do you see yourself? How do you see others? How do you see the world?
And do you see things the same way as other people around you? Even though what you’re looking at is the same thing, we often see them differently.
Perhaps you’ve come across this optical illusion:
Do you see the young lady looking away, or the old lady looking across to the left? Can you see both?
Maybe what you see depends on what you’ve just been thinking about, what you expect to see or how you think about the world. This collage of the young lady, the old lady and both helps us to see the illusion.
As children we are flexible in our views. We’re working everything out. We can be duped easily because we haven’t established what’s real and what isn’t. Have you seen a baby giggle at the game of “Peekaboo!”? But by the time we’re adults we’ve got a firmer idea of what the world is like. Since we rely upon our assumption every day, our ideas become more entrenched, unless we stay open to new information and interpretation. That’s why young people and old people sometimes don’t see eye-to-eye – understandably they see the world differently.
If you are an expert in your field you have a good idea of what is going on in that area. That’s how you make a living. Most of us express views about news and events that are outside our area of expertise especially if we think that they might effect us in some way, like politics and economics. The Presidency of the United States of America is one of those things.
Everyone will be talking about the new US administration in America today. Some will be earnest, some dismissive, some joyful, some sad or angry. Irrespective of your emotions or political leanings, its impact will affect you. Continue reading Where the world is going, today.→
This time of year has had special significance for millennia.
Because it is the end of the annual spiral to darkness and nature’s rebirth. Solstice is a time of rejoicing because it means winter darkness is lifting, warmth will return, and food will become available again.
Imagine you live 10,000 years ago, somewhere above latitude 45 or so, you would notice the lengthening of the days a couple of weeks after December solstice. That meant you might survive.
Even 5,000 years ago communities had invested so much in understanding the solar cycle that farmers in the Boyne Valley, Ireland built New Grange, an 85 metre diameter stone tomb, which has a light box which illuminates a 19 metre long passage and chamber as the sun rises on solstice morning! The solar bounce was important to their livelihoods.
The people who run the world, you know people like you and me who live in the “First World”, have a particular view of the world. Even if we can see the scale of inequality in society and the collapse of nature, we do not connect ourselves, our behaviour or our community to those uncomfortable facts. We’d rather blame some one else – a politician perhaps. We’re “good” people, doing the best we can and the problems are a result of the system about which we can do nothing.
It’s past due time to wake from that comfy dream. The system at the top of which we sit is perpetuated by ourselves and it doesn’t have to be that way. Each of us makes a difference and the small changes in what we say and do can make the system better, quickly.
Reeling from the long predicted “surprise”, many are emotional but uncertain. The victor is magnanimous, the process continues. The winners are joyous, but realising next steps have not been planned or prioritised. The losers are distraught and fearful that regression will be prioritised over progress.
In this breathing period some signals are clear.
People voted. A lot of people. People who rarely vote, voted. They voted for change. They voted against a system that seems to keep them down and voted for a symbol of change, a voice of change. The result came about because of many people voting, not just one man. On the world stage this is the second time this year. The emotional voice of Brexit has been amplified in the vote for President of the United States of America. This is a popular cry for change.
The waterfall is heard before you see it. The thunderous torrent crashing on the rocks resounds about the valley.
As you approach, the mist becomes visible, as vapour bubbles up from the torrent. The spray blows far and wide so that when you come close you are soon soaked. From close up you can barely see the path of the waterfall as the clouds of mist and spray obscure its fall. Yet you can feel the reverberation through the ground.
The waterfall is mighty! People come from far and wide to see the waterfall. It is celebrity. People want to be like the waterfall, strong, impressive, powerful.