What to say to the kids.

Reflections on what we leave behind.

I included in yesterday’s post the interview with Bill Kotke and his concern that humanity’s greed, and that’s the correct term in my view, focusing on each generation having more, howsoever one defines ‘more’, was utterly at odds with a sustainable future on the only home we have: Planet Earth.  A finite planet in a finite solar system.

On Monday I was chatting with Roger D. back in the old country. It was Roger who introduced me to gliding back in the late 70s. Later we were in business together in Colchester, Essex and we still keep in touch.

Anyway, Roger was bemoaning the current state of affairs in the UK regarding Brexit and went on to say that every economic strategy offered by this or that UK Government was about growth. Whether we are talking economic growth, improvement in living standards or population growth why are there no leading figures in any leading government standing up and saying this can’t go on! Because it can’t!

world_population_1050_to_2050We are presently a global population of 7.5 billion. This year alone, as of today, there have been 56,000,000 deaths. But also, as of today, there have been 133,000,000 births. (I rounded the figures but what difference does it make!) That’s a growth of 77 million persons in this one year. It cannot go on!

Bill Kotke also spoke of soil loss. Just last Sunday there was a Care2 item about soil loss. From which I extract:

Could soil ever actually run out?

Yes. If we continue to harm and degrade topsoil at the current rate, it’s estimated that the world could lose all its topsoil within 60 years.

Topsoil is the uppermost layer of soil on the surface of the earth. It’s the most fertile type of soil that typically contains lots of nutrient-rich organic matter from broken down plants and other organisms. Topsoil is also alive with beneficial microbes, fungi and critters like earth worms, which feed on the organic matter.

The deeper layers of soil beneath the topsoil are not nearly as rich. They are primarily made up of decomposing rock that provides the raw material for future topsoil as well as a substrate for deeply rooted plants to anchor in.

If the delicate ecosystem within topsoil is disrupted, it will essentially die. Plants can’t grow in topsoil that doesn’t have abundant organic matter and thriving populations of microbes.

Yes, there are street protests about this political action or that political action but why aren’t we seeing tens of thousands on the streets protesting about the loss of our topsoil!!

Moving on.

There was a recent essay from Patrice Ayme in which he wrote about the Australian Asthma Thunderstorm. Just read this long extract from that essay:

(November 29th, 2016 Italics are from the story as presented in the New York Times)

Mr. McGann was one of thousands of people in Melbourne having an attack of thunderstorm asthma. About 8,500 people went to hospitals. Eight have died, and one remains in intensive care more than a week after a thunderstorm surged across Melbourne, carrying pollen that strong winds and rain broke into tiny fragments.

Perennial ryegrass seeds were swept up in whorls of wind and carried from four million hectares of pasturelands (about 9.9 million acres) that lie to Melbourne’s north and west. If broken into fragments, they are so fine that they can be inhaled.” 

Actually what also lie north and west of Melbourne are giant fields of canola. Consider the following propaganda picture:

Mr. McGann did not end up in the hospital.  “Every breath I took made the next breath harder,” he said, adding that he had no family history of asthma. “I just didn’t realize it could have the effect it had.”

Grass pollen is the primary source of allergies in southern Australia, and tracking the data allowed scientists to forecast high levels of grass seeds in the atmosphere on Nov. 21. Still, Ms. Hennessy said, the government was taken by surprise.”

Surprise, indeed, this did not happen before, by two orders of magnitude. How come so much more severity?

My lawyer’s theory is different.  It evolved from my own observations and theories of why asthma and allergies, let alone weird cancers, have been augmenting spectacularly. There are around 150,000 artificial, man-made chemical products in use. By medical drug standards, they are untested (in earlier essays, I mentioned 80,000, which is the number brandished in the USA; however, French specialists talk about 150,000 untested chemicals.).

Canola (or rapeseed), Brassica napus, is an oilseed crop which is cultivated for its high quality edible oil used in many foods (eg. margarines and cooking oil) and seed meal (the fibrous material left after the oil pressing process), which has a high protein content. That makes it highly desirable as a stock feed.

In 2010-11, the Australian state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located,  produced 476 thousand tonnes of canola with a gross value of $293 million.

Control of weeds, particularly weeds from the Brassicaceae family (broadleaf), through herbicide application during the canola-growing season, significantly improves the quantity of the grain produced. Weeds compete for space, nutrients and sunlight. (African countries have dismissed that the quality of GMO seed is higher, in contradistinction with US propaganda; quite the opposite, they say)

Two genetically modified (GM) canola varieties have been developed in Australia, Roundup Ready® (by Monsanto Australia Ltd) and InVigor® (by Bayer CropSciences Pty Ltd). For maximum effect, each GM variety has been developed to be tolerant to and hence used with, a specific herbicide. The result is the mass poisoning of the planet, horizon to horizon.

The same poisoning trick is used for insecticides. To boot, the poison resistance spreads, demanding even higher doses of poison to be used in the grand outdoors..

In other words, massive quantities of poisons are put in the soil, and from there, are kicked up, in the air.

Exposed to this life destroying poisons, the body reacts by shutting down all pores. Asthma.

It cannot go on!

It is time for you and me and millions of others to be the change we want to see. Whether it’s the little things like recycling, or car sharing, or the bigger things like moving to an eco village we have to make a difference.

We have to learn from those communities that for thousands of years lived harmonious and sustainable lives on the planet. Doing so many thousands of years before farming man came on to the scene

In 1969 I spent a year in the outback of Australia as a correspondent for KotiPosti; a Finnish magazine. While I was out in the wilderness looking for Finns to write about it was impossible not to be drawn into the history of the aboriginal Australian.

ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIANS ARE descendents of the first people to leave Africa up to 75,000 years ago, a genetic study has found, confirming they may have the oldest continuous culture on the planet.
Professor Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen, who led the study, says Aboriginal Australians were the first modern humans to traverse unknown territory in Asia and Australia. “It was a truly amazing journey that must have demanded exceptional survival skills and bravery,” he says.
A century-old lock of hair, given by a West Australian indigenous man to an anthropologist, has led to the discovery that ancestors of Aboriginal Australians reached Asia at least 24,000 years before another wave of migration that populated Europe and Asia.

It was back then that I truly understood the relationship that those early Australians had with the earth; with their planet. Forget religions and churches, the Aborigines had a spiritual relationship with the planet that sustained them.

I will never forget exploring quietly, just me and my wife of those days, the caves and darker recesses around the base of Ayers Rock, better called Uluru, the most amazing monolith right out there in the middle of the desert. The unmistakable signs of so many of those quiet recesses being spiritual places for those ancient people.
home-1Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is a massive sandstone monolith in the heart of the Northern Territory’s arid “Red Centre”. The nearest large town is Alice Springs, 450km away. Uluru is sacred to indigenous Australians and is thought to have started forming around 550 million years ago. It’s within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which also includes the 36 red-rock domes of the Kata Tjuta (colloquially “The Olgas”) formation.

It is just he same for the North American Indians. They have a spiritual relationship with the land.

Back to Bill Kotke’s talk. He spoke of how when each of us was the product of the fertilisation of the egg by the sperm in utero we grow first as a fish, then as a mammal and, finally, emerge as a human: “We are connected to the earth!

As you all know I am a secular humanist. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have deep, as in spiritual, feelings for the lands and the oceans and for the wildlife of this planet

So let me close by repeating what I said at that meeting where Bill was presenting. For Bill spoke of being connected, in a heartfelt manner, with the planet. For if one is so connected then it is natural for one to want to love and protect the planet.

This is what I said:

Bill,

In 1991 I departed Gibraltar Harbour solo on my yacht Songbird of Kent heading West out across the Atlantic.

After I had settled in to the routine of being at sea, better described as settling in to being connected to the ocean, I loved watching the dolphins come up to the boat, give it the once over, raise their heads and offer me a brief eye contact and then slip away.

Then I became aware that when I was laying down on my bunk in the cabin I could sense when the dolphins were close to my hull. Each time I had that sense I would come up to the deck, briefly pausing to clip on my safety harness lest I truly joined the dolphins, and one or two of those dolphins were always by my boat.

I called this post What To Say To The Kids. Not just my son and daughter, now both mature adults, but my grandson Morten son to my daughter and her husband.

Because I feel so strongly that waiting for our leaders and politicians to lead humanity in protecting our planet is pointless. They are driven by other values.

It cannot go on!

I want to be measured by my son and my daughter, and by my grandson in due time, as a person who made a difference; even just a small one.

For I truly believe that showing love for our planet will make a difference and that is what I want to say to my kids.

We have to return to community living;  a twenty-first century version of such living. Even in the giant populations of big cities we have to reach out and form local communities. Groups of people who are driven by the imperative to curtail population growth, eager to share in as many ways as possible and totally committed to taking no more from the planet than they put in.

Because It cannot go on!

This is what I want to say to my kids.

 

 

15 thoughts on “What to say to the kids.

  1. So well written Paul! I feel the passion and pain…
    Each of us must show our love for the planet and do what we can on an individual basis, as well as joining with others. Together we can bring about change for the future of us all!

  2. Yes, so well written Paul.
    What we urgently must have, is ‘Degrowth’ to ‘Steady State’ economies. Wikipedia has good descriptions of these concepts and there are now many groups and websites promoting this alternative economic and social system. Like others, the Australian academic Ted Trainer has been writing for years on the problems of ‘growth’ and contemporary capitalist economies. His writings at the following website include descriptions of his own very simple lifestyle and what daily life would look like for most of us if we are to avoid a crash of the biosphere and, hopefully ensure our own survival.
    http://thesimplerway.info/
    Personally, I believe it is all too late and have given up hope that human beings have the will to change voluntarily in time. Much of humanity and many other life forms are on a collision course with an iceberg and shall sink like the Titanic.

    1. Dear Marg, what a helpful addition to today’s post and I will most certainly follow up Ted Trainer’s experiences. My head agrees with your last paragraph but my heart does not. Either way we don’t have many years before it is clear. Thank you.

  3. Another powerful piece, Paul. Right now people are too distracted by the politics of the moment to heed the scientists’ warnings about the future of our ecosystem and planet. It would be very utopian if we could form communities. Like you said my heart doesn’t believe with what MargfromTassie said but my head does.

    1. Yesterday, I was talking to Kevin D. about a whole range of topics and he made a very powerful observation. Namely, how easily large numbers of people expressed outrage over the recent Presidential election in the USA yet there was no similar outrage over what we are doing to our planet. Same in Europe over Brexit, etc.

      Fiddling while Rome burned doesn’t even get close to what’s happening now.

      1. Which gets to the heart of what inspired me to write this post. I have a wonderful young (as in five years old) grandson. His name is Morten.

        Most likely I will be dead when he gets to the stage of life of feeling, with a degree of moral accuracy, that my generation so badly let his generation down.

  4. Thanks for the info on the origins of Australian Aborigines. Their ability to pass stories down through the generations in the absence of writing is truly amazing. Recent research on the Great Barrier Reef (over 50% of which has been destroyed in the last 30 years) has validated ‘Dream Time’ stories of Aborigines having been driven to higher ground by the invading ocean: 6 to 8000 years ago the continental shelf, on which the modern incarnation of the Reef has developed, was not underwater.
    http://www.livescience.com/6290-great-barrier-reef.html

    However, the existential threat to the Reef is ocean acidification.
    http://www.gq.com.au/success/opinions/does+australia+care+about+saving+the+great+barrier+reefr,41281

    1. Rick, thank you for both your replies and for the very interesting links and for that remarkable dream time story. I had forgotten that many years ago I had heard that particular story and not really added 2 + 2!

      1. Cheers, Paul. An Australian aunt tells me that centre-right PM, Malcolm Turnbull, is being forced to pursue denialist policies by extremists in his own party. Does that remind you of anyone?

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