Category Archives: 5 Environment

CO2 levels exceed safe limit globally. Another sign we’ve broken the biosphere.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) reported that global carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have reached 400 parts per million – levels that haven’t been seen for about two million years!

world02Isn’t it wonderful that a little monkey can upset nature so violently?!  We wield such power!

CO2 has risen more than 120 parts per million since pre-industrial times and half of that rise has occurred since 1980.  That’s a spike that isn’t going to slow down unless we CHANGE BEHAVIOUR.

In case you’re wondering, that means fewer people, consuming less.  Reversing the population explosion isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but everyone can cut their consumption by eating less meat (livestock farming is the #1 cause of climate change), travelling less (for work or pleasure), lowering the amount of chems we use on our selves (cosmetics) and our homes (laundry, detergents etc).

On the other hand we can love nature more, enjoy the company of friends,  and feel better about our world, … while we still have it.

BBC: CO2 levels reach monthly record

 

Don’t watch “Earthlings”. You can’t handle it.

Three stages of TRUTH:
Ridicule.
Violent opposition.
Acceptance.

Earthlings is a docudrama drawing attention to vile, uncivilised behaviour in which we all play a role.  It focuses on the torture of animals which modern society condones and from which we distance ourselves, covering five aspects: pets, food, clothing, entertainment, science.

earthlings4Be warned.  It is graphic.  You might have a pet which you rescued, you might eat only organic produce, you might avoid leather and fur, you might not go to the races and you might not wear make-up, but the atrocities shown in the film still go on today, in your community and are endorsed by governments, leaders and “everyone”.

The point is: Just say NO.  Humanity can not survive if it does not extend the rationale of justice to nature.  That means treating animals with care, even if you are going to eat them, though plainly that in itself is far from necessary.  In fact, a simple fix for climate change is veganism/vegetarianism because the livestock industry in the number one cause of greenhouse gases and a major contributor to biodiversity loss and environmental contamination. (See “The Facts” about sustainability, the environment and your future.)earthlings9

I watched the movie last night (mostly with my eyes closed) because Ellen said “Food Inc is “Disney compared to Earthlings”.  She wasn’t kidding.

I used to make fun of vegetarians and tofu.  One day I realised I didn’t like killing animals.  (Duh!)  So I stopped killing them and became vegetarian.  That was nearly two decades ago.  I’m still alive, a little overweight in fact.  And now it is science that a plant based diet is healthier and the meat industry is killing the planet.   It should be that we can eat a bit of meat, but the impact on the biosphere of a meat focused food industry  has become so violent, that a simple avoidance policy is really the only option.

You don’t have to watch Earthlings, but humankind must slow down and drastically reduce its consumption of the biosphere (our habitat which we need for life) and that includes consuming fewer animals.

syria-christian-massacre-3Is it going to happen?  Well, this is today’s headline: Syria conflict: Aleppo civilians suffer ‘unthinkable atrocities’, in which accounts of civilian torture and massacre are reported.  Not a hopeful datapoint …

Earthlings Website

Watch Earthlings online here.

Sapiens: Thinking, Stories and Ignorance, then choosing to die.

Yuval Harari’s brief history of humankind, weighing in at a meaty 400 pages, is enjoyable, provocative and very worrying.  The wide-ranging, scholarly story is easy to read and sensible.  I enjoyed the book from beginning to end, though I had to restrain myself from skipping to the last chapter: The End of Homo Sapiens.

For the first few chapters, the irony of our vain self-naming “sapiens” (wise in Latin) is palpable on every page .  We wiped out at least six other species of hominid, not because we were better, stronger or smarter, but because we believed in things that didn’t exist, imagined collaboration and ran amok.

Skipping to the end of the book, the stories that we’ve imagined (like a bearded man in the clouds) stand in the way of common sense.  We believe what we want to believe, not what we know to be true.  We believe advertisements instead of our own personal senses and experiences.  We believe in the virtue of power despite evidence that it is corrupt.  And everyday, with increasing speed, we choose a virtual reality of thinking machines and media devices which lead to a life without nature and the inevitable rise of cyborgs which are stronger, smarter and more emotionally astute that homo sapiens.  That time, presaged by the approaching technological singularity, is happening now.  In a few decades, humankind will be on the way down … unless we choose to live within the laws of nature.

Buy Sapiens and enjoy the story.  It’s about you!

You’re NOT only human …

… you’ve got bits of bug in your DNA, and some of it is missing*.

These facts help appreciate the diversity of look and behaviour of humans, but looking deeper, it is the similarities in looks and behaviour, a.k.a. culture, which show that nurture is such a powerful influence on each of us.

Research published in Genome Biology suggest human beings have at least 145 genes picked up from other species – that’s why it’s fair to say we have a bit of bug and fungus in our constitution.

Now some might say that this evidence supports the rationale of genetic engineering.  But those would be people making money from GM.  A scientist without conflict knows that breeding is a hugely different, and natural, process compared to genetic modification.

The more relevant perspective offered by this data is that people’s behaviour is not so influenced by genes as by nurture.  The community and culture in which we mature is far more influential to our behaviour – how we dress, what we eat, how we treat one another, how we live.

The future that is now slipping from homo sapiens’ grasp is the diverse and stimulating, in spirit as well as body, culture that enlightenment offers.  The understanding of everything (you’ve heard of the theory of everything) is available and the resources to share the benefit of that understanding are present, BUT we all have to choose to move on.

It seems to be common sense, but somehow we continue to avoid the truths of our decadent modern age:- that civilisation is consuming nature.

 

Also see: The Economist: Genetically modified people.

* According to research that deduced the genetic code of the population of Iceland.  BBC:  DNA of ‘an entire nation’ assessed

Big money thinks Doomsday is coming. Think about it, and change your behaviour.

So the seeds are starting to arrive in the “Doomsday Vault”, an arctic store for seeds sponsored by big names with big money, like Gates, Rockefeller, Dupont, Syngenta, FAO of UN, Moore Foundation etc.

The trouble is, it doesn’t really work.  Nature is not like that.  The vitality of seeds declines over time, however they are stored.  The whole point of “life” is that it changes.  Seeds are part of a cycle and need to be used to grow plants to produce new seeds.  Otherwise they are just a dead museum piece that might be used to examine DNA but are not going to be any use in reproducing ecosystems.

The money, people and other resources backing the vault would be better spent preserving living nature now.  That means consuming less of it and educating rich people about the damage they do to the planet and themselves.

And we can all help by using a bit of common sense:  Eat better, travel less and spend more time with people and in nature.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Global Crop Diversity Trust

Deflation is everywhere. So what? It’s another crack in the wall.

Concerns about deflation are becoming widespread.  Deflation is unwelcome because it makes loans more difficult to pay off and dampens economic vitality by encouraging hoarding of cash (some banks offer negative interest for deposits).

There were concerns about the spectre of inflation back in 2008/9 but they were held at bay until the recent drop in oil prices.   Now it is difficult to encourage the optimism required to stimulate economies because the fundamental dynamics have not been addressed.

Job growth has not delivered livelihoods to people at the bottom of the pyramid.  Growth in part time jobs has occurred as businesses  fill needs without committing to the full cost of employment.  This means people have a job but can barely save cash at the end of the week, if at all.

While people in big cities might feel more optimistic the fundamental activity of economies around the world continues to be impacted by natural resource constraints and a top heavy, over-extended economic system.  The recognition of deflation is another sign that global systems have not been repaired since the financial crisis.  It is worrying.

As a sustainability advocate, I also see things from another angle, which is that deflation is exactly what the world needs.  The science of the biosphere is that there are too many people consuming too much for natural systems to bear.  It has been possible because of oil (millions of years of sun’s stored energy) but the consequence has been deterioration of ecological systems leading to climate volatility, species loss, water shortages and the impending vicious cycle of habitat loss.

We need success without growth.   That is possible, but we must all choose.  Policy makers must be bold if they are to see the new paradigms that are possible.  We must do more with less.  We must respect and enjoy our connection with nature.  As far as the banking system goes, it must continue to deleverage and become more transparent.  The biggest unspoken hindrance to positive change is corruption which increases the higher up the pyramid you go.

What to do?  Vote for change with your wallet – buy clean food and other goods, eschew packaging and dross.  Support people who make things.  Educate everyone.  Enlighten culture by supporting the values that everyone knows are right.  And if you are at the top, turn your organisation upside down – that will make the world a better place.  Good luck.

The Economist published three articles on deflation this week, so it must be serious.  Here they are:

The high cost of falling prices

Worse than nothing

Feeling down

The foxes have taken over the hen house!

Big business is secretly lobbying government to pass laws that give the rights to determine what we eat, irrespective of health or environment, as long as it makes money for them!

Maybe that sounds too fantastic to be true, but it’s happening.  Maybe you’re in big business and you think it can’t be that bad and it’s OK, but then ask yourself if you have any influence on the morality of the business that pays you or if they tell you what is ethical and how to behave.

The biggest problem today is corruption in business and politics.  It gets more vile as you ascend the hierarchy.  It shouldn’t be like that, because we’re all good people.  But turning a blind eye to small things has become ignoring big things and now the world is blind to our own failings …

Say no to TIPP here.

Drinking cow poo! Or not? Cleaning Up after Big Ag

Here’s the essay of the week from OCA.  It’s short and sweet and to the point.  The point is not so sweet – big food producers are breaking laws, poisoning consumers and getting away with it because of corrupted legislation and process …

Cleaning Up after Big Ag
Factory Farms Pollute Water

A “Cow Palace” in Washington State that threatens public health with its acres of untreated animal waste. A city in Iowa spending $1 million a year to keep illness-causing nitrates from farm runoff out of public drinking water.

And who can forget the plight of Toledo, Ohio, residents whose water last summer was so contaminated by farm runoff that they couldn’t even bathe in it, much less drink it?

For decades, America’s chemical-intensive, industrial farming operations have spewed nitrates and other toxic chemicals, animal waste, ammonia, antibiotics, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane gases into public air, waterways and communities.

How do they get away with it? Largely because lobbyists have seen to it that Big Ag is exempt from many of the rules and regulations that other industries, and even municipalities, are required to follow under laws such as the Clean Air Act (comments on exemptions here), the Clean Water Act (comments on exemptions here) and the Resource and Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA).

Concerned about the growing threat to public health, and tired of picking up the tab for cleaning up the mess, citizens and local and state governments are turning to the courts for help.

In some cases, they’re winning. But the real win will come when the conversation turns from mitigating pollution, to preventing it, by transitioning to pesticide-free, chemical-free, non-GMO organic regenerative agriculture.

Read the essay

Blooming flowers – a harbinger of doom.

According to textbooks there should be between 20  and 30 species in flower on new years day. This year there were 368 in bloom raising further questions about the effects of climate change during the UK’s warmest year on record.  Many of the flowers, like daisy and dandelion shouldn’t bloom for at least a couple of months yet.

While we don’t count blooming flowers, we’ve certainly had a mild winter here on the farm.  The grass was still growing in the first weeks of January and there are still petals on a few marigolds!  How can anyone, even an experienced farmer or gardener, count on the seasons when planning cultivation.  And how must nature feel when the environment they are programmed for is all topsy turvy.

Humanity needs to slow down and take a breath!

BBC: Unusual number of UK flowers bloom