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How To Get There 24/11/19

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, November 24th, 2019 - 48 comments
Categories: Deep stuff - Tags:


This post is a place for positive discussion of the future.

An Open Mike for ideas, solutions and the discussion of the possible.

The Big Picture, rather than a snapshot of the day’s goings on. Topics rather than topical.

We’d like to think it’s success will be measured in the quality of comments rather than the quantity.

So have at it!

Let us know what you think …

48 comments on “How To Get There 24/11/19”

  1. greywarshark 1

    Fran's War by Sally Trench, is what I  have just read – a novel incorporating her experiences and observations from her mission to Bosnia to truck out helpless children caught up in the Bosnian outrage of 1991-1996.  People were trapped with no food and there seemed no humanitarian plans. 

    Her background was the charity Project Spark which she had been running since 1972 to help deprived and disadvantaged children.   She and other drivers took truck convoys to and from Bosnia.   They involved schools and 'one Church of England primary school with only seventy pupils aged 5-11 gathered two tons of tinned food….

    Between 1992-1993 over three million people became displaced in Bosnia and 36 journalists were killed, 1500 foreigners were detained by Croatian police.   As fighting approached Sarajevo, workers at two aid institutes fled, leaving 230 children on their own….

    An estimated 55,000 Muslim refugees in Mostar were starving to death;  water supplies had been cut and the bombed-out hospital tried to function in its basement without medicines.  Doctors were performing amputations without any form of anaesthetic.'    (greywarshark – Condensed for brevity.)

    Sally writes about Fran as a young and ingenious, brave girl separated from her parents but with the strengthening message of her mother in her mind.

    We are in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered.
    We see no answer to our problems, but we never despair.
    We have been persecuted but never deserted.

    Fran draws on this thought and part of a small family as one of older children caring for younger ones.    During a phase of good weather and less shelling of the area, Fran explores the remains of the city devastated by an enemy army, where seeking safe accommodation, water and food (eventually eating rats) can be the key to staying alive of individuals and supportive groups that become like families.  

    Fran opens a door and sees a room and an an old man sitting on the floor who invites her in.  He greets her and then courteously offers her tea – from a much-used teabag which holds the memory of past times of  refreshment.   Then he curiously asks her which book she prefers, the Bible, the Koran or Dickens.    He has been a Professor of Literature and is using his collection of 5000 books as fuel.    He heats water in a pan using pages torn from his precious books.
    He ponders on the greed and poverty that is the reason behind wars.   He thinks that "This war is about moving maps.   It's about power and greed."   And continues: "One of the major difficulties in society is that problems seem so huge and so complex that we, as ordinary people, make this an excuse to do nothing.    We believe that we are merely spectators of a developing situation which we feel helpless to influence and then we convince ourselves that only outside governments possess the power and resources to deal with our own problems.  And yet it is self-evident that governments can only get away with what we, the people, allow them to get away with – that is if you're in a democratic country.   
    I think the idea of people power will certainly re-emerge as an expression of anger.  I'm not advocating it, but there is, after all, a kind of anger which the Bible calls "righteous anger".   Until the world feels anger at the pangs of the hungry, the indignation of the poor, the alienation of ethnic cleansing, they are not likely to act effectively."
    She questions 'So what will happen to us'?  He quotes Edmund Burke:   "As long as good men do nothing, evil will triumph…..People power needs leadership, and there is a grave lack of leadership in this contemporary world.  We need someone with vision;  an act of seeing, of course, but it embraces both insight and foresight…There is a great need today for indignation against the things that are wrong in our society.  But indignation is sterile if it does not provoke us into positive action.   Apathy is the acceptance of the unacceptable."     
    Finally he posits: "A leader recognises the extent of his task and the strength of the opposition.  He knows, too, that his own contribution may be small in the overall scheme of things.   But he remembers the wise words:  'Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing, because he could do only a little.'  Au revoir my dear."    He left his final message for Fran in his locked dwelling that the group had to break into.   He had decided that as his wife had died recently, he would choose to die also, and after meeting Fran he left his rooms and stored food for her and her group.

    The book reminds us of past experiences in the roil of international history that NZrs are part of and that we have to think globally, and act locally and in this nation actively and now, and watch globally as well.   It's a big task for the thinkers and doers and the precepts given from Fran's mothers are the ones to keep in mind.


    • greywarshark 1.1

      Here is some beautiful music that fits the above.

      from Stabat Mater by Karl Jenkins – 9.10m  (turn the sound down then  can adjust)

      Karl Jenkins – Stabat Mater – Cantus Lacrimosus – 01

  2. Sacha 2

    One way to 'get there' is to respect the connections and different fields of expertise that can help solve big problems. Working together is something we can always do better.

    One NZ venture making smart tools for that is Loomio: https://www.loomio.org/

    What are other innovations have you found that help people come together and form shared purpose and action?

    • weka 2.1

      Do you think something like Loomio might have helped in the Ōwairaka situation?

      • Sacha 2.1.1

        I do not know how it addresses mandates or refusal to respect them, but the evidence base would be there alongside the discussion at least.

        The 'big problems' to be addressed in that case are really local governance and the Tiriti relationship.

        • greywarshark

          Here is an item on Owairaka from Radionz.   From what I have heard I have formed a prejudiced opinion of rigid bureaucracy and targets and goals that have become set in stone even if they are overblown and excessive, and a far less 'Grand Scheme' would be sufficient to meet the requirements of good and pragmatic outcomes.

          I will read the item now and see whether my prejudice is justified.   At present I have an image of Eddie Izzard acting out the arrogance of the powerful ones over-riding the wishes of the local people.


        • weka

          which is an issue of citizen engagement. I listened to the Prager interview, and while I disagree that she is mana whenua, I found it very interesting for two reasons. One is that the issues she describes about planning and community awareness are very familiar. NZ is largely locked into systems of consultation that by design lose a lot of people.

          The other is that, hearing her background, the thing that stood out for me is she has no cultural/spiritual home because Pākehā are largely disconnected from the land at the collective cultural level (hence her trying to define herself as mana whenua). We still largely relate to the land, institutionally, as a resource not as our mother. This is a big deal for Pākehā imo, and it underlies our unwillingness to do things like meaningful climate action or protecting water.

          Both those need to be dealt with by increasing democracy rather than simply imposing (more) authority. In the Ōwairaka, it's reasonably clear who is mana whenua and who has authority (under Māori and Pākehā systems), but that doesn't address how to bring people along.

          In the regenag communities there is debate about the issue of removing exotics for the sake of it (sometimes exotics are good). I can't tell with Ōwairaka whether the reasoning is sound around timing, but saying that the (science) experts said it's best doesn't work for me because DOC, and regional and city/district councils throughout NZ routinely use slash and burn approaches to exotics and do a lot of environmental damage. F and B and similar NGO and community groups likewise.


          • greywarshark

            Simple wishes to return to the pre-built environment or allow the native trees to flourish instead of exotics of all kinds is now redundant.   

            Lots of trees is what is required for helping to keep the climate bounded, shade is required so we can get out of the pitiless sun when weather patterns remain stuck for long periods.  

            Pulling out useful trees because some prissy and gormless tunnel-visioned environmentalist is a no-no;  we don't want to go into re-education as certain dominating regimes have done, but we can't allow simple simons going around being wise on past years’ approaches, it is now and the future we must act for, and incorporate what is good from the past.

            Some interesting quotes:

            George Santayana

            Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

            • Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.
              Skepticism is the chastity of the intellect.

            In fact, the whole machinery of our intelligence, our general ideas and laws, fixed and external objects, principles, persons, and gods, are so many symbolic, algebraic expressions. They stand for experience; experience which we are incapable of retaining and surveying in its multitudinous immediacy. We should flounder hopelessly, like the animals, did we not keep ourselves afloat and direct our course by these intellectual devices. Theory helps us to bear our ignorance of fact.

            Edmund Burke
            "People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors."


            It has all been said before;  now is the time for all good people to read and digest and consider and collaborate and act, and appreciate each other's gifts and personality and accept the wonder of our random unique arrival and make our brief time here a blessing for ourselves and others, as we can.   Anonymouse

            • weka

              I don't think Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority can in any way be characterised as a prissy, gormless and tunnel-visioned environmentalist. Mana whenua have very long relationships with the place, including a different kind of relationship than most Pākehā, and the knowledge that comes with that.


              "Simple wishes to return to the pre-built environment or allow the native trees to flourish instead of exotics of all kinds is now redundant."

              On the contrary, there are compelling reasons for maintaining native ecosystems, as well as restoring them. There are biodiversity systems that cannot be had any other way. Even if you don't value native systems for their own sake, they are highly integrated systems because of their long evolutionary process and thus important in a climate change world. I don't think anyone is arguing that Ōwairaka shouldn't be restored to native.

              One of the key things about ecology and sustainability (and thus climate action) is the importance of relationship. So it's not simply about the shade that a tree can provide or the birds nesting in its branches, it's also about the relationships between all those things and how stable they are and how those relationships and stability create the whole. There is a lot to be learned about this from Māori, and also systems thinkers in regenerative parts of society.

              I personally think there are strong spiritual reasons for protecting and restoring native ecologies, and this too is part of climate action. The more we let ourselves belong to the land, the more likely we will tend and defend it like our family.


          • Sacha

            In the regenag communities there is debate about the issue of removing exotics for the sake of it (sometimes exotics are good). I can’t tell with Ōwairaka whether the reasoning is sound around timing, but saying that the (science) experts said it’s best doesn’t work for me because DOC, and regional and city/district councils throughout NZ routinely use slash and burn approaches to exotics and do a lot of environmental damage. F and B and similar NGO and community groups likewise.

            I have heard no reason to distrust the experts involved in this process about the need to remove the root systems of existing large trees to enable new ones to grow on the same spot.

            But these people are not protesting about evidence.

            • weka

              I haven't seen a good analysis of the site and the rationales (just seen people saying the experts say), nor anything indepth from the protestors. Removing trees to create space might be an argument for selective removal.

              If it were happening where I live, I'd be concerned about the trees for their own sake, as well as the bush. But maybe Ak has a surfeit of trees, whereas lots of places down here don't have any or many so each tree strikes me as significant.

              Yes, it’s more than about evidence, hence my original question of whether something like Loomio would have helped.

              • Dukeofurl

                TMA have been planting new natives on  Owairaka and certainly they can  be planted and grow as an understory to the large exotics as  well.

                 Its funny how I have been there often like at Ihumatao before all the rukus blows up.

                When TMA has as its experts Treescape they are goining to maximise removal in one go.

                • weka

                  I still haven't seen the rationale for removing all the exotics on one go.

                  • Sacha

                    It exists, whether or not we have seen it. /open-mike-24-11-2019/#comment-1668588

                    • weka

                      If you haven't seen it, how do you know what it is? I've seen a single link (on twitter) that attempted to explain, but it relied on 'trust us, we're experts'. I'm not saying they don't have a good rationale, I'm saying that I don't have an opinion on the rationale yet because I haven't seen it, but I'm not assuming that they are right. What I am seeing is lots of people saying the experts have good reasons, but little explanation of what those are. Certainly not enough to then have a conversation about whether it's got some of the problems of other authorities as mentioned above.

                    • Sacha

                      I've skimmed the Ngahere report a couple of weeks ago via Twitter (from Bookface I believe). Couldn't see the link again when I looked just now.

                      In any case, I trust the bodies and the people making the decision to have done their jobs properly (and I'm not driven by deeper motives about who should get to decide, like some of the protestors are).

                    • weka

                      Right, which is the position that many liberals take. Native good, exotic bad, trust the experts. There is however valid critique to be made of that position and it's very interesting to see how hard it is to even have the conversation. I've been treading carefully with the Ak situation because I think the mana whenua context makes it more complex and sensitive. But I and many others routinely see exotic plants removed (usually by poison, often by felling) to the detriment of the environment. And that slash/burn approach is endorsed by the experts including those within pro-native orgs like DOC, and F and B. So 'trust the experts' needs examining imo, especially because of climate change.

                      So while you may have been satisfied with Te Ngahere report, I'm guessing you weren't running a regen eye over it nor thinking about it in the context of the issues I am raising. Which isn't to say they are wrong, just that we haven't had the full conversation yet.

                    • Sacha

                      I'd say it is more likely the bigger trees are exotics rather than natives just because of who controlled that land at the time they were planted.

                      There has been broader local body work across the region over the last couple of decades to restore native bush connections for birds in particular from the gulf islands to the Waitakere ranges, and this is just another part of that.

                      Some strong threads about restoring wairua and mana in there. It is not however a regenerative agriculture venture so no doubt you may see some different angles.

                      Most private plantings across Auckland have been and will continue to be exotics so I don't think they are in any danger of extinction.

                  • Robert Guyton

                    Hi weka. I'm very interested in the discussion and recognise that it's fraught; marty mars will go ballistic smiley but thinking our way through the native/exotic question (I know it's not really a binary, but want to ignite debatesmiley is to my mind, really crucial to how we manage our world into the future, if we are fortunate enough to have one. For example, the question of containing/preventing fires through the planting of flame-proof trees (oaks are best, and exotic-as) requires some debate; will we plant firebreaks through native forests with oaks, etc. My personal view, which is no secret at all, is that we need to quickly adapt our kaitiakitanga (shouldn't use that term unless we have manawhenua, doncha know) to an effective, rather than a theoretical one; that is, gather all the information available, no matter where it originates, and get very busy ensuring the place doesn't burn to the ground. It requires Greek thinking in the early stages and some good old Roman pragmatism when the decisions get tough. As to the issue of the existing exotic trees being felled and their roots removed; wtf? All that stored-as-roots carbon? All those tree-specific mycchorriza lost?? All that soil disturbed and it's humus-held carbon oxidised?? It's difficult to get the full picture from this distance, but easy enough to test some of the claims being made by both sides. The interview was cringe, but amongst the dross, some gold (or rather, preta) Mahingarangi wasn't great, I reckon  (for Marty smiley

                    • Sacha

                      I believe they were talking about preventing the root systems competing for nutrients, rather than actually ripping them out. Weka has a copy of the report now so may be able to say more.

                    • weka []

                      haven’t found a way to upload it yet. Nor can I find the original online. Would the word redacted in the file name suggest it’s not meant to be in the public domain?

                    • Sacha

                      On the contrary, redacted means it has been prepared to be public (well in a resource consent process anyway).

                    • weka

                      For example, the question of containing/preventing fires through the planting of flame-proof trees (oaks are best, and exotic-as) requires some debate; will we plant firebreaks through native forests with oaks, etc.

                      Can you give some examples of where you are thinking? In the Longwoods? Middle of Fiordland National Park?

                      I've been thinking about what's going to happen to the tussocklands and other higher ecosystems that are now carrying a lot more flammable material than in recent memory. Farmers have been pointing out the fire risks for a while, but their solution is burn and overgraze. I'm tending more towards keeping humans out of certain areas eg conservation estate that has has sheep removed but is still at the bracken stage. Mostly I want to see a wide range of people involved in those conversations. I don't know what work DOC, F and B and so on have done on this already.

                      One of the values of Pākehā not using the term kaitiaki for themselves is that it prompts use to think in our own language about what we are trying to communicate. We have some work to do culturally to shift us from resource caretakers to people who belong.

                    • weka

                      Here's the report, Robert you might be interested in the species lists. I've not lived in that climate so I don't have a good sense of what those plants will be doing.



                • Sacha

                  There was a detailed site report from Te Ngahere.

                  • Robert Guyton

                    Sacha, I reckon the debate around what is native/sacrosanct and what is exotic/invasive, is a very interesting and intense one. Aside from the particular situation at Owairaka, do you have a rule of thumb you employ when deciding the matter?

                    • Sacha

                      I never have to make any decisions of that sort.

                      The overall plan about how to manage the region's maunga was signed off in 2016. I expect the reasoning/principles will have been mentioned in that process.

                    • Grafton Gully

                      You can decide if native or exotic by referring to books on the NZ flora.  There will be a few plants where it is not easy to decide if self introduced or not, but in deciding on extermination the standard books on flora should suffice. 

                      Extermination when expedient is embedded in a humanity that imagines itself separate from and in authority over life on earth.   

                      The sacrosanct or invasive decision is obviously far more difficult because people have different points of view and opinions.  In my opinion the old exotic trees on Auckland's volcanic hills are sacrosanct invaders that have been part of peoples lives for generations.  I mourn their death, accepting that the destroyer's idea of sanctity differs from mine and is supported by legislation. 

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Grafton Gully – what do you think of the idea that previously exotic trees could be brought into the native "fold"; perhaps one a year, voted-for by the public; perhaps the apple tree, I would like to suggest, or the macrocarpa, given their service to herons and owls (ruru too). If that flew, we might consider exotic insects as well; the honeybee? Very much valued by humans living on these far-flung Pacific islands. After all, kiore have been granted taonga status; why not bees? Bumbles as well. There's a lot we could discuss here. Mammals that are now at home here. Then, cultures; how about we grant "native" status to one "exotic" culture as a gesture of friendship. Then some others…smiley

                    • Sacha

                      Robert, who is the 'we' you imagine doing this granting, and under what authority?

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Humans, assembled, virtually and actually, for the purpose of exploring this new proposal. We vote for "Bird of the Year" don't we? If it was "Manu o te  Tau" wouldn't we do the same? 

                    • Pingau

                      Reply to Robert … The answer is … that depends! Some exotics are aģressively invasive and will change an ecosystem and diminish biodiversity in one place but in another place are not really a problem. Many exotics are quite mild mannered. Some wicked north island natives are a bit invadey down South in Canterbury (e.g. karo, north island houhere).

                      I sometimes think the way to tell if something is a pest or not is if it 1) is altering or will cause harm to … an ecosystem/agriculture/human health and 2) if it is expensive or difficult to control once it establishes in the wild.

                    • weka

                      'Native' already has a clear meaning though, and I can't see how artificially and arbitrarily bringing non-natives into the definition is useful or meaningful. Would it not be more change our relationship with the introduced plants?

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Ah, but is the definition "native" a help or a hindrance as we battle to save the environmrent from the effects of our presence here? Are we on the brink of an overthrow of old paradigms; a necessary redefining?

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Are kiore native?

                      Are humans native?


                    • Incognito []

                      Only last week another commenter, who shall not be named, argued “[t]he whole concept of “indigenous people” is a ridiculous Eurocentric term anyway”.

                      What is the point of these ‘discussions’?

                    • Robert Guyton

                      I do recognise the "danger" of including humans in the discussion, Incognito and would prefer to stick to plants, the original focus of the thread. What's the point in teasing out understandings of "belonging" or "origin"? I think, with regard plants, trees in particular, old descriptions and beliefs need to be revisited and dissolved if they doom those plants, the environments they live in or the people who live there too, to extinction. I can see that my view is not shared here and it's not surprising; it's one that is tentative and barely-formed, but waiting on the other side of a thorough discussion of the issues is a prescription for necessary change involving the plant world and humans as caretakers. These differentiations are holding back our understanding, imo. I'm not proposing a particular world-view, just angling for discussion however in light of the lack of traction and expiration of the thread (they don't last much more than a day, do they) I'll retire still hungry. 

                    • weka []

                      “Ah, but is the definition “native” a help or a hindrance as we battle to save the environmrent from the effects of our presence here? Are we on the brink of an overthrow of old paradigms; a necessary redefining?”

                      Come back to me in 700 years and we can talk about whether macrocarpa are then native to NZ 😉

                      I’m not aware of macro having established itself in the wild, so probably not a good example but I’d be interested to hear your rationale for that choice. Are honey bees still living in the wild? So bumblebees then. To be native (in my lay person opinion) there would need to be something like evolutionary adaptation that separates the species from bumblebees in their home ecology. I think the argument you are making is more about how humans define things rather than about how nature organises. Western science isn’t the only world view I hold, but it’s still useful to be able to discern between different sets of things. If we can’t tell x from y, how can we talk about it, or have a deeper relationship with both?

                      “is the definition “native” a help or a hindrance as we battle to save the environmrent from the effects of our presence here? Are we on the brink of an overthrow of old paradigms; a necessary redefining?”

                      I think it’s very helpful. We can and should overthrow old paradigms, but we might want to keep the baby even though we are done with the bathwater (overthrow or pour into a reedbed?). When we value exotics for their own sake and their role in ecologies as introduced plants then we might be able to start thinking about how species can be integrated more deeply. One barrier to appropriate response to CC is the Pākehā discomfit about being introduced and the contradiction between native/good/exotic/bad for the rest of nature but not applying it to ourselves. The resolution to that lies in loving nature rather than separating it into good and bad.

                    • Incognito []

                      I don’t have (the) answers, just loads of questions or thoughts rather.

                      When people mention sacrosanct I interpret that as rather purist and dogmatic, based on and in favour of (an) ideology and usually at the expense of other ideologies. It can also have moral overtones – there are certain terms for this, which I won’t mention because it will rip the lid of the proverbial can of worms. I don’t think talking about native or endemic versus exotic species is particular helpful unless it is very clear what the context is. By that, I mean what is the purpose and intention of the parties/people involved.

                      Should all non-native plants and trees be considered pests or weeds by default? On what ground [no pun]?

                      Should every Gingko, which is a living fossil, be literally be uprooted and destroyed? And the English Oak?

                      I think it often comes down to perception more than to science.

                      The flora and fauna is a hugely complex system, which we humans don’t fully understand. Yet, we make claims we can and should (must?) control it.

                      These systems have evolved over long periods of time and on one hand they are incredibly fragile, e.g. to outside influences such as invaders (pathogens), yet on the other hand they are incredibly stable and resilient, e.g. they recover from natural disasters such as floods, storms, fires, harsh winters. The thing that seems to be often overlooked is that they are still evolving, as this never stops really.

                      With climate change, we’ll see these systems change and respond. Who are we to stop these things?

                      I think human hubris knows no boundaries and instead of playing God, we should show respect and be in awe of powers that are much greater than ours are. We can master but never control them.

                    • Sacha

                      The prime consideration here is how well plants sustainably fit their local ecosystem. It's a principle in the overall regional maunga plan.

                      Does not matter what you call them but the least risky choices will be proven over longer time periods.

                      There are also other dimensions that the maunga authority has heeded. It is a body combining iwi and council representation so has had many perspectives to draw on in coming up with its plans.

                      There has been a process. If people do not like that they do not get veto rights simply by being noisy or having enough spare time to sit on a folding chair and wave a placard.

          • greywarshark

            There used to be workshops on the Treaty of Waitangi run around NZ by activists i think, but with government funding.    When determined to do things better government can get behind projects.    It is time we had workshop projects on how civic matters should be planned and facts gathered.    Having citizens understand that local governance is not just about where to put drains (an important matter) could result from taking part in a planning exercise with real outcomes.   It could start from being given three options and the first decision would be which to choose, and why. 

            It is no use just having more democracy.    People have to think about what is being planned.    At meetings there is usually someone who can talk hypnotically and they take up a quarter of the discussion time at a meeting with say 40 people.   So ways of running meetings to ensure full understanding and growth of thinking of a reasonable critique would be helpful.

            • weka

              The problem with meetings is that they tend to favour people without responsibilities. Think women with young kids. Maybe it's a matter of taking the issues to where those people are. Or adopting hui/marae formats where people live in and the kids come along and are taken care of.

              Or, use something like Loomio, and fund internet access for people that don't have it.

  3. joe90 3

    Yay trees!

    Clients: Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) and Speak for the Trees (SFTT)

    Authors: Bryndis Woods and Liz Stanton, PhD

    November 2019

    Researcher Bryndis Woods and Clinic Director and Senior Economist Liz Stanton, PhD prepared a policy brief that compares two cutting-edge carbon dioxide emission sequestration (or storage) technologies on the basis of cost, history of success, near-term commercial viability, co-benefits, and potential risks: 1) Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), and 2) Technosilvicultural Reclamation for Environmental Emission Sequestration (TREES). Our assessment finds TREES facilities to be competitive with, or superior to, CCS in all evaluation categories: TREES facilities are less expensive per ton of CO2 stored, have a longer history of success, stronger near-term viability, more robust co-benefits, and fewer risks than CCS.


  4. Drowsy M. Kram 4

    Nothing new in this idea for those reading here, but interesting to me nevertheless.

    Wasn't much of a long-term thinker; more focused on short-term threats/consequences.  But climate change/global warming has shifted my focus.

    Brain biases

    We lack the collective will to address climate change because of the way our brains have evolved over the last two million years.

    “Humans are very bad at understanding statistical trends and long-term changes,” says political psychologist Conor Seyle, director of research at One Earth Future Foundation, a programme incubator that focuses on fostering peace long-term.

    “We have evolved to pay attention to immediate threats. We overestimate threats that are less likely but easier to remember, like terrorism, and underestimate more complex threats, like climate change.”


    “Cognitive biases that ensured our initial survival make it difficult to address complex, long-term challenges that now threaten our existence, like climate change,” says Seyle.


  5. WeTheBleeple 5

    The might Kauri is felled by a microscopic organism that is, in turn, controlled by the exudates of Kanuka roots. Titoki leaves provide fodder for Tui when nothing else is available. Coprosma are a fire retardant species that also provide protection from wind and fodder for birds. The roles of each species are myriad but our understanding is poor. 

    It stands to reason many such relationships exist and so natives should be treated as ecosystem parts that together make more than the sum of parts, rather than singular species. A firebreak in a forest might be edged with the light loving wind and fire resistant coprosma, as it is made for such a job. This in turn provides shade and shelter for other species that, in turn, enhance others.

    Exotics are here to stay. We'd starve without them. But where they get to stay is the point requiring attention. Where land is set aside as a reserve I see no reason for keeping exotics unless they have a specific ecosystem service natives may not provide e.g. rapid growth for biomass to rebuild depleted soil. If the land is to yield more than carbon capture and habitat, exotics are (most likely) required. If the land is to be set aside as a nature reserve, go as natural as you can – lower maintenance, native habitat, nursery, seed and breeding sources… Self replicating systems of ecological value are priceless. If they are not spreading themselves out (a source of propagules) something is amiss.

    Our unique ecosystems require conservation efforts. Wetland restoration needs to occur on a broad scale to counter the depletion of aquifers (and myriad other benefits). The myriad connections and support systems between species that have evolved alongside each other is obviously beyond our understanding right now as, most ecologists I know are specialists, and don't connect between themselves let alone the dots. When you make statements like this they get defensive and point out all the conferences attended where they listen to each others work – and go back into their boxes afterward.

    Forests are an open microbial-fungal-insect-avian-animal-plant-soil-water-atmosphere system. Both the plants and the soil are habitat and important components of carbon capture and other services e.g. pollution reduction, water cycle (ground = storage, filtration and nutrient capture; plant = uptake, erosion control and rain catalyst). Both the generation of, attenuation of, and cleansing of water are microbially dependent, which are in turn plant dependent, which are in turn dependent on microbes, fungi and animals for nutrient capture, pathogen resistance, seed distribution etc. 

    No plant is an island. That is why so many Ag systems require so many inputs to run. A plant requiring fertiliser might instead be supplied by nitrogen fixing and deep rooted mineral gathering species, birds pooping, fungi eating rocks and lignin to trade for sugars…  Nature knows how to grow forests, we are amateurs, rank amateurs at best.

    Exotics are part and parcel of systems designed to provide for humans. The monocultures do little to enhance anything but BAU and landowner profit. These are the systems we could add natives to to enhance, and more exotics to diversify production lending insurance to the vagaries of markets and seasonally variant plant afflictions. 

    Forest or food forest – the roles of plants as they interact with each other and other types of organisms require better understanding. Plants are species within systems, they are integral working parts of a whole. Reductionism has failed us isolating productive plants and creating systems where they are central despite this rarely ever occurring naturally. These plants are junkies, requiring a fix constantly.

    Production systems of exotics should be designed as mixed species systems for many reasons, the most obvious being the ability to (at least partially) provide for themselves. Reduced inputs = raised profits. Where we plant is rarely even considered we instead force land to do our bidding, and then issues are never ending. 

    It's a whole other book describing a productive exotic system that is at once economically and ecologically sound, think food forest, but as well as trees that provide for us, there are also trees that provide for trees. And we, the Kaitiaki, watching closely.

    • Pingau 5.1

      Yes this!

      Thanks WTB – it seems to me that in European/Pakeha culture that most people view plants as interchangeable objects primarily for human use rather than an integral part of natural systems. Likewise, rivers are thought of as water (that is wasted if not "used") rather than a part of various systems.


  6. Stuart Munro. 6

    Some of you may be aware of the Good Bitches – an outfit promoting a better society by sharing food. A friend in Turkey drew my attention to this  http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20191125-turkeys-ancient-tradition-of-paying-it-forward?ocid=ww.social.link.facebook&fbclid=IwAR22YOZfCsSpcm2k-DjDLQR-hcTAwkPaXa6IzJqs7iw1KPWvMK1x8L5JEjQ

    which might be another path for greater community support.

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