my view of the natural world

Archive for June, 2008

Different times?

In recent conversation with my mother, the subject of communism came up. In the 1950’s, in Australia, a person could be jailed if found to be a member of the communist party. Times were tough for ordinary working folk in that early post-war period, for not only had they suffered through the Second World War, but had experienced the Great Depression before that. The solidarity of communism offered an alternative experience, but being a member could be a risky business. In this ‘free’ and ‘lucky’ country.

My mother was a member of a women’s co-operative which operated in her area. This co-operative was set up by well educated women, as a way to enable those less fortunate to improve their daily lives. As an example, a vacuum cleaner was purchased by a group of seven women, who had their one day a week to use it. Gradually, some women went on to have their own machine, until it was just two women sharing the use. This same vacuum cleaner and the arrangement lasted for nearly thirty years!

Now had these women been asked “Are you a member of the Communist Party?” the majority would have been horrified, and denied it. As they saw it, they were simply a group of women trying to help each other through tough times. My mother smiles as she recounts that one member of the group was a staunch Catholic, and was vocal in her opposition to Communism.

I bring this up today, having just read an article:

Choices no one should have to make | SocialistWorker.org

What is the connection? I feel it is that people who would not ordinarily associate themselves with anything titled “Socialist”, would nonetheless relate to the subject matter. Hunger. No-one wants to see their family go hungry. But in the world today millions are experiencing that every day, and the cause is not global warming, it is political decision making.

As the author of the article Anuradha Mittal says:

“Depending on the World Bank and IMF for solutions is like giving a key to the bank robber and asking him to guard the bank. We have to fight back, because there is no other option. We need to deal with that.”

and:

“Being the U.S., we have a job to do, and that is to fight the battle in the belly of the beast. We have to put pressure, especially in this year of the presidential elections. What do the presidential candidates stand for? Are they willing to take back the free trade agreements–there is nothing free about them.”

Now whether one lives in the US or elsewhere, the same principle applies:

“So it is really time to put pressure within this country–on the elected officials and the people planning to be in political office–that we need to have a different kind of policy.”

I come back again to this little group of women in the 1950’s. Just one of many many groups around the country. They did not sit about moaning, they got off their butts and did something. How about you? Do you think the times are THAT different? Remember, every action we take has a political consequence.


What we eat

When we put food into our mouths, we are making a statement. About what the food is, about where it has come from, about it’s acceptability. Of course there are usually compromises along the way, as few of us can have the luxury of eating totally according to what we believe. Nonetheless, I am always looking for ways that help me to live and eat according to my principles.

And so I come again to the GMO issue. I am not swayed by the fast talking salesmen/women who are pressing me to buy their products. Yesterday, Bob Phelps published an article where he warns on feeding the world with GM food. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=7530

Bob Phelps is Executive Director of http://www.geneethics.org/

But how many times am I unwittingly purchasing a product that includes GMO’s? The labelling laws in Australia are weighed in favour of the manufacturer, not the consumer, and it can be very difficult to determine just what is in a product.

http://sites.greenpeace.org.au/ has provided information for the consumer on:True Food Network : Welcome

They provide a range of information to enable the consumer to make well-informed choices on the food consumed, and on ways to voice concerns. To be pro-active.

In South Australia the Genetic Food Information Network also is a great resource. http://users.picknowl.com.au/~sagfin/

Information is the beginning of knowledge, the beginning of wisdom.

The final word must go to David Suzuki, who is his book Naked Ape to Superspecies says:

“Our disconnection from the Earth is epitomised by our relationship to food. Most urban people associate food with supermarkets but fail to connect it with the land”



Greed

All week I have been struggling with how to write about the food crisis in the world. Do I refer to the many articles I have about how this is manipulated by the agro-chemical companies, by the US Federal Reserve, by a few key players in the world, such as the Rockefellers? How do I bring it all together?
Today though, it seems I shall take a different tack. I decided to see what Google had to say on global hunger.

Results of Google search – Global Hunger = 602 hits of a possible 558,000. Now this seems a lot to me. This says to me that there is a huge investment in global hunger. Yes, people have invested themselves in continuing this state of affairs. Organisations are committed to it. What would happen if they were successful? They would no longer exist. So of course they are invested in it. I do not want to be complicit in their game, and I urge you to avoid them also.

As the old Chinese saying by Lao Tzu goes – “Give A Man A Fish, Feed Him For A Day. Teach A Man To Fish, Feed Him For A Lifetime”

This brings me to a woman I’ve met, and who was recently interviewed on local television, Mij Tanith.
http://www.abc.net.au/stateline/sa/content/2006/s2275611.htm

Urban Guerrillas – Mij Tanith
MIJ TANITH, GUERRILLA GARDENER:” I was a very politically active person and I have been for years but at the moment I think I’ve realised that the only acts of politics that are actually worth putting my energy into are those that literally bear fruit. So working at a grass roots level in a way that is practical and if you think about it, growing your own food is a highly political act.”

http://www.primalseeds.org/guerrilla.htm is a site where people can learn the ‘how to’.

OK, this is not going to change the world in an instant. It does follow the saying though to “Think globally, act locally.” And as Gandhi says - “ Be the change you wish to be in the world” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahatma_Gandhi

Another aspect, for those of us in this privileged world, where we know we shall eat each day, is to consider the 100 mile diet. http://100milediet.org/category/about/
Only consuming food which has been grown within a 100 miles of one’s home. It is another way to beat the corporate greed.

Because, when it all boils down to it, greed is the basis for the hunger in this world. Make no mistake about that!


Nuclear Dumps

This week this item was in the news, no surprises, it was expected, but still I feel the grief of what will take place.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/080610/21/177mn.html

The politicians are using typical polly-waffle to avoid answering direct questions from the media, but it does appear most likely that a nuclear waste dump will be built in the Northern Territory. This spells disaster for this country.

Helen Caldicott http://www.helencaldicott.com/ has been a long time activist/educator in the field of nuclear power, warning of the dangers of it’s use. Here’s what she wrote last year about the situation in Australia:

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=6177&page=1

Andrew Bartlett, of the Australian Democrat Party, has this to say on nuclear disarmament:

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=7495

Here is how I am feeling today:

Nuclear dumps

Nuclear dumps? What does it mean?
Does it mean it’s to be here
For thousand of years?
For millions of years, the land hoarded it
Where it lay away from the people.
But the people got ‘smart’ or so they say
And learned to dig it all out
To send it away.
Now it’s come back, in manner much changed
And so much more dangerous than ever before.

The Elders they knew of the dangers
Their Law it forbid
To dig in the land, and anger the Mother.
She, they knew, had told them quite clear -
Now you leave well alone, this is not for you here.
But the Elders have gone, their words are forgotten
Ignored or decried and the cultures gone rotten.

More greed it spreads, more sickness it brings,
The large gaping holes from whence it came
Lies scarring the land, and scarring the people.
These gougings have a cost which is beyond measure
For as you hurt the land you hurt the Mother
And you hurt yourself.

And now I am told the battle is lost
The warriors like Helen are mostly forgot.
Governments, demon-a-crazy we have
To plunder to kill whatever they want.
The battle is lost, the war is not.
The war shall go on despite this loss
For if they win the Darkness will descend
The Light will be gone.


Biosecurity

Further to my other posting on weeds, I just came across this article on biosecurity. For decades now, through various changes in governments, the funding for the Australian Quarantine Service has dried up to a dribble. Too few people are expected to do too much work, and despite previous calls to address this by the concerned staff the situation has continued. Not only that, but the emphasis has been placed in the wrong direction. Now, more than 200 submissions have been received from diverse groups by a federal government inquiry.

Let’s hope that this is not yet another inquiry that gets hidden in the archives.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2008/06/02/2262713.htm?site=science&topic=enviro


The Genetic Bill of Rights

I mentioned in an earlier post, about the power-full-ness of art from the heart, and I urge you to visit this site and take time to read, and to absorb the messages……time is running out…..we must make changes…….we must stop what is happening…..

http://www.gene-watch.org/genewatch/articles/20-4GBR.html


Patterns

For some years now I have been examining patterns. Not just the patterns of the natural landscape, not just the patterns on a bird’s feather or a tabby cat’s fur, but the patterns of human behaviour.

Why do people continue to make the same mistakes – why do I continue to make the same mistakes?

Answers can be found in the patterns. By closely examining them, and viewing them with different eyes, a change can be brought about. Sometimes…..

Here is a piece another wrote on this subject, it is dark, it is a reminder to get to work…..

http://www.redbubble.com/people/crowmanic/writing/1229353-footsteps-in-the-corridor


Beetles

The cute, cuddly and fluffy species of this earth get all the good press. I’d like to speak up on behalf of the others. Maybe because I feel some affinity….

Beetles do a fantastic job in this world. In my garden live a variety of beetles, but the ones I see most frequently are the ground and dung beetles.

http://www.austmus.gov.au/factsheets/beetles.htm

http://www.austmus.gov.au/factsheets/dung-beetles.htm

I remember watching a TV program by David Attenborough some years ago, in which he told the story of the humble dung-beetle. Hilarious and fascinating. http://www.animalplanet.com.au/david_attenborough/index.shtml

If Australia had more dung beetles, and more of those which deal specifically with sheep manure, the flies and the fly strike problem would be considerably reduced. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myiasis but this is not considered by those multinational chemical companies who advocate further use of toxic chemicals. And they are the ones who influence government policies…..

These wonderful creatures, the beetles, consume and transform dung into humus. They are in fact, wizards, alchemists – they transform manure into gold. They are worth more than their weight in gold. They are invaluable, beyond price.

The Egyptians highly regarded them. http://www.insecta-inspecta.com/beetles/scarab/index.html

So next time you come across a “bug” or “beetle”, before you thoughtlessly step on it, consider what part it plays in the greater scheme of things, and reconsider your actions. Maybe they have something to teach us all.

http://www.spinelesswonders.com.au/collection/insects/carabidae.html



Biopiracy

The ways of the world baffle and dismay me at times. This modern society has much to learn from indigenous peoples from all parts of the world, but why does this knowledge need to be continually taken in such a greedy manner? I refer in this instance to biopiracy, the commercialization of traditional medicines: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioprospecting

There are organisations and people who are outraged by this behaviour, and in their different ways, endeavour to raise awareness and to change the approach.

Alex Steffen is one such person, who wrote an article back in 2004 http://www.worldchanging.com/archives//000941.html

and more recently, Regine Debatty http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/008013.html looking at it from an art perspective, with works by Ines Doujak.

Art has a way of bypassing our conditioned minds, and getting a new message through to the heart of the matter. Long live Art.


Weeds

There comes a time when a task can no longer be delayed. So it was for me, when last week I removed a vine from the front garden. As soon as I moved to this place, the vine was doomed, as I recognised its weed potential and knew it had to go. Throughout the long hot summer, against a hot tin fence and receiving no watering, it continued to grow. Tough all right. Probably why someone planted it. It may have been given to them by a “helpful” person, many plants are spread this way. But there is a dark side to this sharing of plants. They can become invasive.

http://www.weeds.org.au/ is a site with a great deal of information in an easy to follow format.

The World Wildlife Fund http://wwf.org.au/ourwork/invasives/ is also very concerned about weeds and their effect on Australian species :

“Weeds, Pests and Diseases

The threat posed to Australian native species by invasive weeds and pest animals is growing. It is now second only to land clearing as the biggest threat to Australia’s biodiversity.”

I am not a lone flag waver on this. There are many concerned people who are doing great work in undoing the damage. Regenerating the bush.

http://www.aabr.org.au/ is one such organisation. They have a REPORT: PAYING THE PRICE OF GARDEN ESCAPES. Click here to download the Report.

While not everyone can get out into the bush and remove the weeds, we can all behave in a responsible manner when it comes to putting plants in our gardens. No longer can we use the excuse “I didn’t know” – we must make it our business to know. The information is now readily available from many sources, and the nursery industry has come on board with a great range of information and alternatives.

Unfortunately, many of the exotic plants I have grown up with, and consider my friends, are on the invasive list. Others may not be on the list, but their potential still exists. And just because a plant is a “native” does not preclude it from problems. Many natives grown outside of their original habitat have become weeds.

http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/

Their site states:

“What are invasive species?

An invasive species is a species occurring, as a result of human activities, beyond its accepted normal distribution and which threatens valued environmental, agricultural or other social resources by the damage it causes.”

  • CRC for Weed Management Systems is a Cooperative Research Centre.
  • Environmental Weeds in Australia lists environmental weeds in Australia and their impact. Some photos available.
  • Invasive Plant Species in Australia covers what work is being done at present and what needs to be done in the future.
  • Weed Science has information about weeds from the Western Australia Agriculture Department.
  • Weedbuster Week is a national awareness event that highlights the impact of weeds on primary industries, the environment and human and animal health, and encourages governments, industry, private and community organisations to work together.
  • Weeds Australia National Weeds Strategy – a strategic approach to weed problems of national significance.

Remember: a weed is a plant in the wrong place.

Please take care of the land, where-ever you live.