In a couple of minutes you can hear what is wrong and how we can change to save ourselves from our most primitive instincts, like fear and greed.
“The real power belongs to the people.”
“My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 15 years old. I am from Sweden. I speak on behalf of Climate Justice Now. Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn’t matter what we do. But I’ve learned you are never too small to make a difference. And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to.
But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.
Everyone knows that fuel is used to grow our food and that petrochemicals are used to feed and protect food. But it’s probably worse than we realise. Most food has more fossil fuel energy in it than natural, current energy. It takes about 10 fossil fuel calories to produce and transport each food calorie in the average American diet. That’s about three times as much fossil fuel as we spend on transport.
We’ve been trying to take fossil fuel out of food we grow here for a couple of decades now. If you’re realistic about it, there’s hardly any chance to make fossil free food these days. In the garden here we make a pretty good attempt. There are organic or self-grown seeds, no sprays, no artificial fertiliser, etc. We do use a two-wheel tractor (diesel so can use biodiesel), chainsaws, cutters, mowers etc, but we use a lot of Tommy Power!
There are always fossil fuels involved somewhere. It’s hard to avoid. Starting with me. I eat food that comes in a bag. Paper or plastic that bag was made with energy from fossil fuel. And of course I drove to town to pick it up, and it came to town on a big truck running on fossil fuel. And the food was made almost entirely with fossil fuels – big tractors (possibly with auto-satellite drive), loads of chemical fertiliser, pesticide, herbicide, transport, sorting (by machine) etc etc The saga of our reliance on, our addiction to, fossil fuel continues. But if you want food with less fossil in it, buy local, organic, or grow your own. 😉
Where the rubber hits the road, or the spade hits the soil, we do a pretty good job. We use a lot of physical effort, sowing, weeding, harvesting. Here is a little glimpse of what it’s like to grow natural food avoiding fossil fuel and fossil chemicals.
There are three tools on show here: spade, 3 prong hoe, and swivel hoe (aka hoop/stirrup/oscillating hoe).
The spade, being used to dig and turn between rows of carrots. The ground in the patch is very weedy because it was broken, turned and planted for the first time this year. (The ground above and below has been cultivated for over a decade.) You can see the physical effort and technique employed. You can get an idea of the rate of progress – much slower than a big ol’ tractor! But no fossil fuels are being burned and no chemical sprays are killing the soil.
The 3 pronged hoe is being used to drag away the couch grass, and other weeds turned over by the spade.
The swivel hoe … ahh the swivel hoe. What would we do without the swivel hoe? It was one of the first tools we bought 20 years ago when we started. We have a 175mm (used in the clips) and 125mm. They are still going strong. The blades and handles wear out. We’ve replaced the handle on the 125 but had to use a broom handle replacement. The 175 handle is still original and we like it because it’s long and has a concave taper which enhances its handling. We replaced blades on both. (Check Dunmore Country School for them if you’re in Ireland.)
The clips are an example of light weeding potatoes, weeding tomatoes in the greenhouse and one of heavy weeding along the back wall of the greenhouse.
In 1999 we guessed that we had 20 years to change systems if natural cycles were to be protected from anthropomorphic destruction. Our guess was pretty good – nothing changed and here we are with climate breakdown …
Now we reckon we’ve got 20 years of fossil fuels left. They’ll always be around, but only in small quantities, as was the case before the industrial revolution. Why do we think they’ll run out? Because we passed peak oil some years ago and consumption is increasing. When everyone realises oil is running out, things are going to be very difficult as food supplies will shrink, transport capacity will shrivel and no one has any useful life skills any more – like carpentry, gardening, metallurgy, … Infrastructure will disintegrate as all those little plastic washers, valve, osmotic barriers etc which allow high tech to function will not be available …
So in the meantime, we’re enjoying growing fossil free food and eating and sharing it.
A fitting reminder of our past and current failing to live up to the moral code we all profess. Personally, I know my direct ancestors have been party to self-aggrandising laws and behaviour which was wrong. As have I …Laurie Embree, having been arrested for protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline, speaking eloquently to the court on 31 July 2018:
Your Honour, I have lived my 70 years abiding by the law. But, if we look back into our history, there have been many times when our laws have supported injustices.
In the 18th century there were laws that supported child labour to the benefit of the Industrialists of the times.
In the 19th century, laws were created to support the ownership of black people to the benefit of Plantation Owners.
In the 20th century, we made laws that allowed us to take native children away from their parents and to place the rest of the family on reserves, to the benefit of Europeans that wanted their land.
And again, laws that suppressed women’s rights, to the benefit of their husbands.
All of those laws were created through the judicial system- that you are a part of, sir – but they were actually designed by influential people behind the scenes that would profit from them.
As much as we think we have come a long way, the mentality behind the Industrialists, the Plantation owners, the European lust for Indigenous land, and the men that wanted their wives to do their bidding, is still very present in our society.
Our judicial system is still being manipulated by rich and powerful people that have the influence to make our legal system work for them.
I truly believe that when we have laws that support injustices, it is the duty of all good men and women to stand up and challenge those laws.
A prominent and recent case in point would be when Director Chatenay of the Canadian Wheat Board was jailed for protesting the Canada Customs Act and its restrictions on grain exports. In his own defence, Mr. Chatenay stated that, “The greatest respect for the law is to change an unjust one.”
Subsequently, on August 10th of 2012, Mr. Chatenay, and others jailed for that protest, were pardoned by then – Prime Minister Harper who, in doing so said, and I quote,
“These people are not criminals. They are our fellow citizens who protested injustice by submitting themselves peacefully to the consequences of challenging injustice.”
I believe the man I just quoted is the person who appointed you to the position you hold today. This law sir, that you have created, and that I, and many others are peacefully challenging, is unjust. It supports an industry that is not just harming children, or black people, or women, or Indigenous peoples. Your law, in fact, is supporting an industry that has been scientifically proven to be harming the whole world and every living thing on it.
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→
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.→
Yeah, but … you’re still part of the problem. We all are.
Here’s a piece of the big picture puzzle:
Soda and chips … sugars and fats … vegetable oil … palm oil … slaves and rain forest exploitation.
That food chain is run by big companies, big banks and rich owners. (You might be one without even realising it!)
It’s fuelled by people buying foods made with industrially grown vegetable oils. That means most products on the supermarket shelves, including all the big brands owned by companies like Nestle, Unilever, Pepsico, Heinz, Cargill, CocaCola, Kraft, P&G, … And the food chain is financed with money from big banks like Citi, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered, Mizuho, Rabobank, …
In 20 years we’ll be facing Big Stuff. Climate change, weather volatility, species loss, clean air, clean water, … that whole environment thing will be getting much more serious and everyone will be dealing with it in some way or another. I’m hoping it’ll make Ireland a bit more like the south of France, and it might, but whatever else, it’s going to make the simple things in life more difficult. For most of humanity that will include feeding themselves and getting clean water.
So that will make food and land more important.
In 20 years we may well have passed “The Singularity“. That’s a term coined by futurists, often with a trans-humanist bent, which denotes the inevitable point at which technology development starts happening “by itself”. This occurs as humanity’s understanding of physics and biology enable the creation of thinking machines (computers) that emulate the brain, and then androids and cyborgs begin to be used in place of people.
Certainly in 20 years technology will have changed our world even more than in the past 20. Do not imagine The Singularity to be fantasy. We are close already. The mobile phone/computer in your pocket is old technology compared with neuro-computers being tested in laboratories. Robots are already becoming remarkably similar to C-3PO in looks and mobility at least. Today the consequences are being felt in most professions as AI (artificial intelligence) takes jobs away from humans. This is what we all wanted – automatic checkout, automatic cashier, automatic accountant, automatic lawyer, automatic vehicle … The challenge now being solved is automatic creativity.