- Date published:
7:00 am, August 25th, 2019 - 70 comments
Categories: Deep stuff - Tags: the future
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 …
Reports of forests burning, especially those of the Amazon basin, are in my view, dreadful and deeply hurtful to anyone who identifies with forests, trees, plants of all sorts, and maintains a belief that those forests and all that thrive in them, are the single-most important factor in the fight to dampen-down the effects of climate change. Recent news of mass-plantings of trees in various countries were very encouraging indeed, but tree-people know the difference between a newly-planted forest and one that’s lived for longer than humans have been on the planet. The complexity and biological “depth” of the Amazonian rainforests are of a magnitude different from any modern, hand-planted forest, no matter how well-meaning the planters might be. So the loss of so much of those, along with those other ancient forests that are presently become ash elsewhere on the planet, is profound and deeply disturbing.
There is however, hope and while that word sets some of our more doom-inclined TS readers into a spin, I’m one of the forever-hopeful and also a reader of The Dark Mountain Project, where occasionally stories of hope are posted amongst the darker cautionary tales which make up much of what’s offered there. This week, the article featured explored “restoration” as a theme and despite being written before news of the burning Amazon jungle was broadcast, was pertinent to the event.
Here’s the hopeful premise:
“Destruction and restoration might seem to be diametrically opposed, but they are often two sides of the same coin. As so much around us is being destroyed – from ecosystems and species to languages and cultures – restoration has recently emerged as a focus of green movements worldwide:”
Some of that restoration involves leaving nature to get on with Her work, unimpeded.
“Chernobyl is a classic example of what happens when humans leave things alone – albeit after having caused catastrophic damage. Over the past 30 years biodiversity has thrived; wolves and boars stroll down empty streets past abandoned playgrounds, deer graze from the kerbs of once-deadly highways. “
“The same can be seen at no man’s lands, closed borders and demilitarised zones; the DMZ between the two Koreas is one of the most biodiverse places on the peninsula, home to 88 endangered species including Amur leopards, Asiatic black bears and Siberian tigers. Across Europe, the growth of cities and the decline of rural populations is having the effect of increasing forest cover, as agricultural land is abandoned and the weeds grow back.”
Whether this article, which you can read for yourself at:
is something that lifts your spirits, or even stimulates a positive response in you, I can’t know, but it set me thinking along lines that resulted in getting up earlier in the morning and out into my own garden and nursery to get busier than before, bringing as many plants as I possibly can, into the world for planting out somewhere, anywhere, as part of the foil to the foolishness that has been revealed by the fires abroad, and staying outside later than usual in order to squeeze as much as I can out of the daylight and convert that into propagating plants. So enthused am I that I’m writing this on Saturday night, when it’s too dark to be outside or even in the tunnelhouse, so that I can post it on Sunday morning, before heading out for another day of it.
very very good. I'm inspired (just spent half an hour in the garden before doing anything else). Really appreciate this Robert, as things were pretty grim during the week seeing so much fire. I think the time is for hope too and things we can do, or people are going to fall into despair. Will think on this but perhaps we need to go through the hopelessness first and then step into social and heart restoration.
Would it be worth inviting readers of How to get there to share some small details of their everyday life where thoughts of improving their habits for the greater good, are met with determinations to change?
I ask because I was struck a couple of days ago by the realisation that one of the treats I sometimes award myself, hummus on oat crackers, while it seemed to me a healthy, minor thing, a harmless little indulgence, was in fact wrapped, literally, in problems. It was that wrapping, plastic and plentiful, that got to me. Pottles of hummus and crackers further sealed with plastic, once emptied, become detritus that one way or another hangs around and not in a good way. Naturally I consign them to the recycling bin but I’m not convinced that’s the end of that matter. The best way to manage such vessels of convenience is to decline to purchase them in the first place, so I’ve made the determination to do just that.
I made a similar pledge-to-self about air-travel and have managed to stay away from all airports since then, easy enough you might think and you’d be right; unless there’s an emergency of some sort, I reckon I’ll be able to honour that commitment easily enough.
By comparison, leaving the crackers and hummus on the shelves from which they beckon to me should be a cinch, but maybe it’s the little things that are the hardest to drop. We’ll see.
How about others? I’d love to read of similar changes people here have made. Just a suggestion.
will you replace the treat with something else wrapped in less problems?
One of my edges at the moment is book buying, which invariably means using Amazon or Book Depository (owned by Amazon). BD is really good with the packaging. It's basically a sleeve made from cardboard, but they've got some deal with a NZ wine company to insert a plastic card the size of a credit card as a way of luring people into some kind of deal. Drives me nuts especially when I think of the numbers of people they'll be targeting to get just a few bites. That's the smaller thing.
Beyond that, there's the whole flying books all over the planet thing (I'm sure they're not coming to me from the printer). I'd be happy to have books shipped to me but I don't think that's an option. Amazon seem to be in the same category level of evil as google and FB, so maybe I need to start talking to bookshops in NZ and see if anyone is shipping rather than flying, plus supporting local business again.
I don't buy a huge number of books, but being home based, it's been important when I do. Rethinking this, so that buying a book becomes a big deal rather than the click of a few buttons that Amazon has made it. Maybe my practice initially is learning how the last book I bought came into being and how it travelled to my bookshelf. That might make it easier to treat it with the seriousness it deserves rather than just casual and blind consumption.
I buy all my books from mightyape.co.nz. Though how they ship them here I don't know.
Why do you use them Brigid?
I use Better World Books, that sell both new and used. They take a few weeks to arrive so I guess it is by surface mail.
They are a B-Corp, so you can look at how they manage their environmental and social impact.
I need to go from Auckland to Wellington 4 times a year and have now done 2 return trips on the bus rather than driving to lower my GHG emissions. It worked for me. The cost was $23 each way with Skip bus company..
The free wifi worked most of the time and on some buses there are device charging facilities. I was able to do surf the net and got useful work done deleting old files and photos on my computer. You see some pleasant countryside and I spent some quiet time thinking and planning
Journey time about 11 hours, bus was warm and bus ticket was about $100 less than petrol each way. Pick an off peak journey time and there is a good chance you will have an empty seat next to yours. Take water bottle, warm jacket and perhaps download a doco, movie or music to your device before leaving.
Does it really make sense to spend 11 hours each way on the bus, rather than fly?
If you pick unpopular times, like mid-afternoon on a Wednesday, you can get a one way flight for only about $49 dollars. At that price there aren't many flights but other options aren't that bad. $59 and $69 flights exist on other days of the week.
Anything has to be better than 11 hours each way on a bus. Given you consider the alternative is to drive a car you can't be that worried about carbon emissions. A plane is a lot better, per passenger, than a car is likely to be.
"You see some pleasant countryside and I spent some quiet time thinking and planning" and "It worked for me", so it seems it did make sense.
I wonder how getting to the bus station compared with getting to the airport?
GHG was the reason for the switch.
As for plane ticket prices, yeah nah. They're all well and good if you know where you'll want to be in three months time, but even regular meetings get bounced around by a week or two. And either way, one usually should travel up the day before (unless you're the sort who can do 4:30am starts to get the red-eye morning flight and hope fog isn't common this time of year).
Oddly enough the cheapest flights are often at the most civilized time.
11 am from Auckland to Wellington, or vice versa, is often the time you can get the lowest fare. It doesn't suit people who want to go for the day on business. If you have the whole day to devote to a bus trip travelling at around the middle of the day by air wouldn't really be any different. You are still going to be taking the whole day for the travel and whatever else you want to do and you aren't doing the return trip in a day anyway.
Mid morning at the weekends also comes out in the cheapest flight of the day list also.
Might as well take the bus. If only for the wifi.
I trust you will follow your own advice. I personally think that after an 11 hour bus trip I wouldn't be in terribly good shape for meetings the next day.
To each his own I suppose. Enjoy the trip.
It's what the Slow movement advocates, Alwyn. There are many benefits to slowing down some of the hyped-up activities we are encouraged to do these days; fast this and fast that. Take it easy and enjoy the ride, is the call.
maybe we will see bus companies organising their itineraries to make the journeys more pleasant. Stopping at a beach or forest for morning tea (weather permitting). Or lunch break at a museum or art gallery.
I miss the train.
But 11 hours on a bus vs three hours shuttling to airport, doing the hooplah and security, getting packed into the toothpaste tube, the turbulence and cramped space – even buses are a bit easier than that.
I changed from sending my 1 x 8 kg cartons of tamarillos away in cardboard cartons lined with plastic to lined with heavy brown paper this year .
I feed my household more and more on the food of the season and have planted bananas to toe this line of thinking more … who can live without bananas!
I tend to make, recycle and bake more now to avoid packaging and rubbish making.
I have yet to ask my daughter to pass on the food she throws out of her fridge weekly – because what she throws out I could live on – so we are not all on track yet in this family !
Well, that is excellent, Janet, especially your decision as an exporter to eschew plastic. As a receiver of boxes and crates of fruit and veggies at the local co-operative, it's disturbing to see plastic liners; bananas being the worst.
No not an exporter now – we send direct all over NZ. As an exporter – and we were pre-psylid – you have no say. Its plastic fantastic liners and trays in cardboard boxes each piece of fruit labelled. Over the top and dictated to from the overseas importer. Not sure how that situation can be remedied!
The worlds lungs are on fire, and sadly it's only a small minority that seem to give a damn. Just look at our newspapers, T.V and radio, barely a mention. Life will go on, you are correct in your examples like Chernobyl. Sadly for humanity, that life that does go on will most probably not involve us as a species. The will to change our ways simply currently does not exist, I have started to prepare for the impending doom, other like minded individuals should do as well.
That small minority will become the vast majority, in my opinion, MickeyBoyle, as circumstances change/worsen. The will to change is growing; witness the rapid growth of Extinction Rebellion and the youth climate movements. I wonder what your "preparations" involve? Mine are around learning more about growing food in difficult circumstances, involving others in doing that and bending the will of local government politicians as far as that brittle medium will allow
Do you think extinction rebellion will become extinct? The faith based appeal (by ER) being unscientific.
It may, though there are faiths that have survived a very, very long time. Science, a more modern faith, has been around a while too and may well become extinct in the way you hint Extinction Rebellion might.
I propagate my own seeds, I have installed a 40,000l water tank with a crude desalinization plant that runs off a wind turbine and inverter. I'm completely energy independent. I have taught myself to butcher and cure meat, I make biodiesel out of rape seed oil, and I have recently learnt the art of blacksmithing, although rather crudely. Add to that, that I have significant financial reserves and am in close proximity to the sea, but at a high elevation, I'm feeling okay. I'm not a prepper or anything like that, I'm just a self sufficient electrical engineer with two much time on his hands 😀
Impressive! Sounds like you could be the core of a sustainable community
I live two lives Robert, I spend 10 months of the year living in Jack's point, running around the place like a snobby prick. And the other two months I go full on Ray Mears in the wild west, just south of haast, where I catch a bit of whitebait, pickle some veg and pretty much shut myself off from the world with the lovely wife. One extreme to the other, but it works for me.
That's lovely Robert, and we can just think of Christchurch's Red Zone to see Gaia at work among the rubble. Long live weeds and wilderness, let's hope their new green corridor plan will keep spaces for both – and the thoughtless grumble of council ride-on mowers trying to keep nature tidy will not be heard.
This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.
A windpuff-bonnet of fawn-froth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, fell-frowning,
It rounds and rounds despair to drowning.
Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844-89
Wonderful, JO: GMH had a marvellous eye; I had the last verse of that poem on my wall when I was just setting out as a wild-forest-gardener along with another of his:
Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
The new developments in the Red Zone saga sound very encouraging; good luck to you and all those working to rewild the city
Ah, yes. And for today's breezy sun after a bleak winter, for the racing lambs I saw yesterday, because Friday was National Poetry Day – and just because words, in whirls…
I am not in Christchurch now but lived there and in North Canterbury in the 1960s. There was some debate about the wisdom of replacing the huge productive market gardens in that area with massive housing developments – Marshlands Road was named for a reason! Half a century later it's great to hear that this Government plans to protect our best food-growing soils.
Just seen a German park on Gardener's World, established on a disused steel and coal production plant. Peter Latz, utilised ex-workers and community to develop Landschaftspark over the last two decades. Those interviewed on the programme, almost universally spoke of their enjoyment of seeing nature envelop the industrial remnants of the past.
An alternative to razing the site to the ground and starting with a blank – and boring – slate.
Business leading the way:
"We have to start acting like it's an emergency; the whole world is going to have to shift… We're really keen to see Nelson come out as a world leader," Chloe Van Dyke says.
"If little Nelson could do it, how amazing would it be for people to look to us," Florence says. "If every business could do this we could change the world."
“Further north, in the Waikato, Raglan Coconut Yoghurt owner Latesha Randall is celebrating receiving its zero carbon certificate through carbon offsetting company, Enviro-Mark.”
“The company offsets its emissions by buying credits that fund two forest reserves. They're also helping fund a bio-gas cooking scheme in India, which provides families with ovens fuelled by cow dung and organic waste. On a more personal level, Randall lives an off-the-grid lifestyle with a beehive and worm farm outside her tiny home.
"It was a lot more intense than I expected, there's a lot to look at," she says.”
“In Christchurch, Lucy Bennetto's chocolate making business is a global maelstrom, using cocoa beans grown in Peru but produced in Switzerland, which posed a few challenges when it came to offsetting Bennetto Natural Food's emissions to become carbon zero.”
"It's actually quite easy to commit to being carbon neutral. There are lots of options; none of us are perfect but we want to make the commitment to being the best we can."
In the theme of restoration, yesterday I watched this 30 min piece from Australian Story about Peter Andrews, a pioneer in restoring seriously degraded farming landscapes.
For those familiar with Andrews, this is an update on the ongoing series, broadcast last year. In some ways this is the best I've seen from Australian Story on Andrews.
For those new to Andrews, it's a dramatic story of the land, politics and the people involved. Andrews is a character, not always an easy one. There's a lovely thread running thought this of restoration of relationships too. Resilience and renewal after tragedies.
Andrews created a land restoration process called Natural Sequence Farming, that works primarily through changing practice to maintain water in the landscape. Lots of good stuff for NZ's drier places (although his techniques will need to be adapted to our situations).
"Compared to my school days of people chaining themselves to boats and taking fun sailing trips to protest at Moruroa Atoll, our kids of today are crushed under climate-change-induced clinical depression. The obligation on us is clear: we have to do more for our kids and our planet."
Alison Cole is a war crimes investigator and international lawyer specialising in climate justice. She teaches at Victoria University and is a senior lecturer at Hong Kong University.
Her article is a punishing read and a must-read, I reckon.
"So that's why I'm using my voice and the privilege of my life experience to call for our country's elected representatives to prevent us from being privy to polices which shock the conscious of humanity. To call for us to NOT be part of the acts which may lead to our own extinction."
It's good to see Peter Andrews Natural Sequence Farming cropping up again here.
I have been putting info up for ages and would love to hear if someone has taken it up and picked up hints, and thought of getting informed by going to one of the teaching sessions in Australia. It would be good if progressive farmers in Oz and Nz could form a body that would gain size and authority and rival the deadweight of Fed Farmers.
Robert I am going to write to Hubbards cereals and ask them to change their basic muesli to brown paper bags instead of the plasticised ones now. I like buying NZ made goods and though it is not as good as bulk, it is good for a company selling to the general public.
I like biscuits and am going to organise home-made for these non essential items which will save numerous plastic containers and wrappers.
If you have some time to delve into a range of people exploring belonging at TEDxChch today, the stream is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUqNgFVbBVU
any picks for speakers? Missed Marilyn Waring this morning, will keep an eye out for the video.
Have not really paid enough attention this year. List here: http://www.tedxchristchurch.com/2019
Marilyn Waring starts around -1hr 25
Being mindful of why we are in the troubles of today I think we have to change our thinking and living styles. I like Alexander McCall Smith's writings and he unwinds ideas about ethics in his books and particularly the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. The lady who was the featured character in the book series Mma Precious Ramotswe, illustrates the thinking that is the way we should all be considering the matters we are confronted with.
(There has been a tv series made.) In a moment of reflection about her, her husband J.L.B. Matekoni thought:
She was reluctant to condemn other people for not being quite as good as they might be. She was not one to expect unattainable standards. She understood that many of us would like to be better in our personal lives but somehow could not seem to achieve it. She recognised that sometimes the best we could do was simply to muddle through, getting some things right but also getting many things wrong. She knew all that, and was never too quick to blame or offer reproach.
She was kind; she was forgiving. She did not think that people should be punished too severely for their actions, as long as they acknowledged that what they had done was wrong. If you punish somebody harshly, she said, then you are simply inflicting more pain on the world. You are also punishing not only that person, but his family and the people who love him. You are punishing yourself, really, because we are all brothers and sisters in this world, whether we know it or not ; we are all citizens of the same village.
In the book a story unfolds about a hit and run. A good doctor is knocked over and severely injured. He recovers but needs extensive medical treatment, he cannot work and is poor as a result. The police don't find the perpetrator and Mma Ramotswe is asked to help. She uses her local knowledge and contacts and succeeds. She talks to the man's mother, who she knew in the past; together with the Dr they come to an agreement on how to deal with the matter to their satisfaction. The man is to sell his car and pay the money to the Dr for his treatment, the Dr is involved with a group running sport for youth, the man is tall and would be a good basketballer, and he is pleased to be offered a job as coach. A neat example of effective justice I think.
The book is The Colours of all the Cattle by AMcCS.
Thanks for that quotation, grey.
I do enjoy the character of Precious Ramotswe in the book series, and also how they translated her to the television. (The lead character was played by the singer, Jill Scott. Great casting, and she is a great singer as well.)
I didn't catch that tv version Molly but I think they are on youtube. I will look. I was concerned that the tv might have taken away some of the charm. Thanks for the heads up.
I am putting in a plug for trademe. If you can buy a book here in nz that is good. Some businesses have set up nz addresses and use nz post, that is good for our postal service.
Also let's keep the book system alive, the one that has human fingerprints and skills all over it, humans strongly in control. I really like humans and think that they (we) should keep thinking and doing and being great people and helping each other on a small scale, rather than buying machines from large entities that can achieve the perfection that we never can. To err is human, and to accept being human, is divine I am sure.
By book system, that means libraries to me.
Perhaps when we have finished reading our purchases we can share them by donating to the local library.
Lilliput Libraries are fun. Local too. Citizen initiated and managed.
Tried giving some books to one small library but it was too small to be interested in anything that didn't mention the town specifically; even though the non-fiction subject had affected the town and so was relevant locally and to the citizens in general.
Libraries like to recycle books, and may have had your offerings. If so the local hospital might like them if the condition is good and they are clear or large print and not depressing in their subject. Community, drop-in rooms might like them and to be able to state that they are free and can be retained by the reader.
I like trademe too. I'm not sure that the big booksellers there are too different to Amazon. Not sure how NZ based the NZ ones are. Have to admit the UK second hand booksellers will be hard to give up, some of those books are extraordinarily cheap and they seem to be subsidising the freight to NZ.
Just had a quick look, The Nile, one of the big booksellers on TM is Australian based.
Southern Sky look interesting. NZ owned and operated, they sell to schools and libraries on their website, and to the public via TM.
(odd name for an Auckland company though).
True weka. But we should try NZ 1 out of 3 at least. Often it is the shipping that is the worst. I like Thorndon Antiques
My home is the little community of Murchison in the Top of the South Island! We have a very active Facebook Community page and there are lots of buy/sell/swaps/wanteds happening locally, including surplus fruit/vegetable/eggs/nuts, shared rides to the big smoke of Nelson/Christchurch etc. Plenty of locally produced food here especially as the early settlers planted lots of 'food' trees.
Great news from Murchison, Matiri. I lived there back in the day, before many of those things you're describing were apparent.
A little pome for the garden minded. To go with the gnome. 😀
Interesting reading from 2003 report which becomes more immediate each year.
31 native plants in Hastings today.
Stony, so lots of sheep poo.
The tally is growing!
In Christchurch we had some great news on Friday morning – the minister Megan Woods has approved the plan for the Otakaro-Avon red zone. This area is about 600 hectares and over 1/2 of this will be the 'Green Spine' which runs along each side of the river. The green spine will be the area reserved for ecological restoration.
The whole area will include wetlands for stormwater and flood management, community projects, trials of alternative housing on the margins (e.g. tiny house villages) and visitor assets (to bring some funds in) and a whole range of other stuff with community and environment at the heart of it.
There is a long way to go and questions yet to be answered re funding but this has the potential to be an amazing space and an asset for Christchurch that will appreciate over time.
The full plan can be viewed here.
Thanks, Pingau and congratulations!
Cheers Robert! Some very smiley people were seen in the vicinity on the day.
On trees and us from a 2013 calendar 'Art of Trees'. I thought they were beautiful thoughts to carry around –
(Let some serve to be paper, to record our deeds in treasuring our planet, its water, each other in understanding ourselves kindly with respect for our need for goodness and practicality, and all who or what live around it, or in it.)
Thanks very much for those lovely quotations, greywarshark!
You're welcome Robert G. Are you standing for the Council again? I find high-minded quotes are restful for me, and perhaps too for a councillor struggling against the sucking quicksand.
I am, grey, I am!
Here's the Facebook page I'm using to inform and, I hope, entertain any voters who might feel inclined to support me
A few tidal generators might fill the gaps left by depleted hydro lakes; a much more plausible approach than hydrogen.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee on the web. What does he think about it. You have to go down the list below Toni for about six headings.
In the future we need to see ourselves as an island amongst Pacific Islanders.
For instance with West Papua in the news at present.
Prominent NZ thinker Maire Leadbeater about *East Timor.
Our diplomatic efforts for **Bougainville.
What can we do about the triangle of West Papua, its huge copper and gold mine*** and Indonesia and the USA?
* Marie Leadbeater: Defence ties with Indonesia valued over Timor Leste justice https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11492522
** MFAT at 75 | New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
https://www.mfat.govt.nz › about-us › mfat75
Bougainville – a risky assignment In the 1990s, Bougainville, Papua New Guinea was in the grip of a devastating civil war. New Zealand combined diplomatic skill, opportunity, and luck to play a vital role in resolving the conflict and setting the region on a pathway to peace.
*** West Papua: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grasberg_mine
Perhaps in the near future we should try to live in harmony between ourselves and our planet. We might then lessen the number of laws and demands that result in having cameras everywhere to check whether the laws are being broken. If we can find a way to be human and practical rather than inhuman and punitive, then we won't have stony-hearted people watching videos of us doing our human living without feeling or compassion.