Category Archives: the butterfly effect

This changes everything …

Over the years we’ve chosen to pick our battles with the kids. Hair colours, piercings, clothes – we’ve pretty much let those slip through to the keeper. They’re superficial things. Easily changed. Easily grown out of.

No, the things we’ve gone toe to toe about are those deep seated values of respect, honesty and trust.

I’ve realised this week I need to adopt the same approach to life and the issues we find ourselves surrounded by. I can’t keep across it all. I’m not going to try anymore.

I need to pick my battle.

In 2015 it’s going to be the environment.

Why?

Because if we don’t start stepping up, we’re going to get stepped on.

the 2015 politicians' to do list

I read an interesting statistic during the week on the Mother Jones site.

“Globally, the total amount of clean energy investment jumped 16 percent in 2014, to $310 billion …(and so it went on till the last dispiriting paragraph … ) There was one darker patch in the numbers: Australia, where the government is trying to slash the country’s Renewable Energy Target, a policy that creates mandates for the amount of clean energy in the electricity mix. Bucking the global trend, investments there fell by 35 percent.”

She groaned.

Out loud.

Nearing the end of my six week hiatus I’ve just finished reading Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate, a book that has taken five years to research and write.

I had a sense, but I realise now, I had no true understanding of just how powerful the fossil fuel industry is throughout the world.

It is pervasive. It is fighting for its very existence. And it will go to any lengths to keep breathing and keep turning a profit. Whether that’s by funding political campaigns or funding green groups themselves. Don’t laugh, it’s absolutely true.

Robert Manne is Emeritus Professor and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at La Trobe University and has twice been voted Australia’s leading public intellectual and in this excellent review of This Changes Everything for The Monthly he concludes by saying :

“Like all those engaged in this struggle, Klein admits that she cannot free herself entirely from the threat of “inertia or even despair”. Neither she nor I nor anyone else knows whether humankind will rise to the challenge of climate change; or, if we do, whether it will be too late; or, if it is not too late, what the new, non–fossil fuel energy mix will be; or how this new mix will be transferred from the developed to the less developed world; or what the world that has transcended neoliberalism and unfettered capitalism will look like. Of only one thing can we be sure. None of this will happen without a revolution in the way we think about our relations with the Earth and with our fellow human beings. Naomi Klein understands all this as clearly as any contemporary thinker, which is why I regard This Changes Everything as among the most brilliant and important books of recent times.”

I grew up in a Liberal family. My parents ran their own businesses. They worked hard and they saved all their lives. They were self-funded retirees and didn’t believe in being a burden to anyone, including their own children in their final years.

If you lean towards the right and think all of this is bullshit, I would beseech you to give this book a go. It isn’t anti-business. It’s not even anti-extractivism. But it’s very much about exposing an extractive mindset that callously puts profits before and at the expense of everything else.

So here is my personal takeaway…

(from Klein) … “In 2009, Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, and Mark A. Delucchi, a research scientist at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, authored a groundbreaking, detailed road map for “how 100 percent of the world’s energy, for all purposes, could be supplied by wind, water and solar resources, by as early as 2030.” 

Whether that’s 100 percent true or not, the fact is, change – full blown, renewable, clean, change – is absolutely possible.

Ask yourself why it’s not happening.

Because all roads lead back to the immensely rich fossil fuel families, foundations and corporations that are oiling the wheels of the extractive industries and governments.

I don’t want to live in “the one darker patch” in a clean energy world. I want Australia to be a bright light in a renewable future. I want our political representatives to get their heads out of the fossil fuel lobby’s lap and think beyond the next election.

I’m with Robert Manne on this one. This Changes Everything is “among the most brilliant and important books of recent times.”

If any local friends want to borrow it sing out. It’ll blow your mind.

thischangeseverything

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A greengrocer’s granddaughter

 

I feel like my life is at a tipping point.

scales

Lately the universe has been sending me signals that things have got to change.

I have a friend who has what we call spotlight attention syndrome. What I mean by that is that you can be talking away to him and know full well that he’s only half listening and then, BANG!, like a spotlight, he turns and laser beams in on your words, your face, and you know you have his complete and full attention.

I feel that I’ve been half-listening to the messages about our environment, about eating local, about the western world’s love affair with the shiny and new, the biggest and best.

I saw this quote from the beautiful Lisa Chiodo at Renovating Italy this morning in the comment section on Whole Larder Love.

“… I have no doubt at all that the life we are creating for our children (and ourselves) is the right move, out of the suburbs of Queensland to the wild mountains of Italy.

We now live on so much less and get so much more, and I especially see this for our son Luca who has high functioning autism. All of a sudden he is blossoming, he is in a tiny village school which is high on hugs and praise, previously he was always going to be ‘not good enough’ and unable to ‘keep up with his peers’…at last he is learning to read (aged nine). We only need a small amount to live well here, our kids are learning in the school of life xx

I have never seen life and death the way I do here, it’s right in your face, we were invited to make the salami, butcher the pig, see the feathers of the chickens killed for that nights dinner, get eggs fresh from our chickens, growing rabbits for the pot, eating veggies from our own garden, it’s wonderful, not a hardship at all in fact the reverse. If I’d have known this I would have done it years ago, and as you say even in the city it’s possible to grow something, join a community garden, buy food from local markets, buy less and live more. …”

Buy less and live more.

Am I in your spotlight?

Buy less and live more.

Ghandi once didn’t say … “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

He actually said something like this: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

The spotlight is pointing over into the wings. It’s up on the ceiling.

But we need to throw a spotlight on ourselves, especially those of us who find ourselves, as privileged individuals in a western world.

Everytime I go to the checkout and realise I’ve forgotten my fabric bags now I feel like I’ve let myself and the community down. I’m embarrassed now to walk to the car carrying plastic bags. I kick myself when I realise I’ve missed catching our local whole food co-op when it’s open, when I have to throw out food I’ve let rot in the fridge.

Imagine a world where the western world’s symbols of success actually became symbols of excess. I mean I know they carry that to some degree now, but imagine they actually became a symbol that says “Look at me, I’m letting my planet down.”

It’s a hard reality.

We need homes. We need cars. We need food. But we don’t need more than our fair share of what the planet has to give us.

I was sitting at the breakfast table this morning after the boys had left and I had this sudden memory that my grandfather used to have a greengrocer’s store in Oakleigh, a suburb of Melbourne. I was very little when Mum used to take me down to visit each year, but I can still remember the pride he took with his produce which at that time would have all been sourced locally. I think there were moments during her life when mum might have been a little bit embarrassed that she was a greengrocer’s daughter – especially when they were mixing in more swishy company. But as I sat there this morning, smiling at the memory, thinking about what our individual choices do to the planet, I couldn’t be more proud that Grandpa made his living providing his community with beautiful locally sourced fruit and veg. I think in the world we’re living in now, Mum would be too.

Buy less.

Live more.

Spotlight fades to black.

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Do not eat emus! They contain palm oil!

I’m joking.

But this caught my eye during the week and it made me smile.

1005811_735297943160713_603176585_n

And then it didn’t because I started exploring the whole issue of palm oil and before you zzzzzzzzzzz off on me just hang in for a few secs.

When Rohan Anderson at Whole Larder Love despairs and he’s been despairing a lot these past couple of weeks, the bells start ringing.

Basically he’s despairing about what I call my Easter Island theory. Which …(big breath, exhale) … in a somewhat misinformed, unsubstantiated view of history amounts to this: The Easter Islanders cut down all their trees, they kept having babies, they couldn’t keep warm, they couldn’t make boats to fish, they couldn’t grow crops, they were hungry and pissed off, they started to fight among themselves, their stone idols looked on going WTF?, and then they all died because they basically ate themselves out of island and home. That is what we are doing to the world. That is my Easter Island theory. You can quote me if you like. But I’ll never reveal my sources.

Easter Island statues

Because Easter Island is so small it all happened relatively quickly.

It’s like a microcosm of what we’re doing at large.

(On that note Rohan has a spasm, much like Bill Nighy, the old rocker/ex-heroin addict in Love Actually.)

Love-Actually-love-actually-578121_1024_576

So between Rohan’s despairing and my sense of “WTF can I doooo?” I’m musing about doing a post every so often, that addresses one thing, just one thing, that I, and perhaps you, might consider doing to make a positive difference. Think of it as my feeble attempt to save the world.

So here we go…

MY FEEBLE ATTEMPT TO SAVE THE WORLD #1 | PALM OIL ™ ©

AIM:  Make myself more aware of what products contain palm oil, talk about it with the family (they’ll be shocked) and try to avoid consuming products that contain it.

THE ISSUE IN A NUTSHELL

  • Palm oil is not the issue, the manner in which it is farmed and manufactured is.
  • Malaysia and Indonesia account for 90% of world palm oil production.
  • Apparently the problem with palm oil lies with the 83-84% of UN-CERTIFIED oil that is being unsustainably harvested (predominantly in Sumatra and Borneo), read: habitat loss. CERTIFIED palm oil is OK but it represents a meagre 16-17% of the world’s supply.
  • Over 50 Orangutans are killed every week due to deforestation.
  • In Kalimantan, at least 236 plant species and 51 animal species are facing extinction due to the massive conversion of forests into oil palm plantations.
  • Some of the other critically endangered species due to oil palm deforestation include the Pygmy Elephant, Sumatran Tiger, Asian Rhinoceros, Sun Bear, Clouded Leopard, Malayan Tapir, Proboscis Monkey, Gibbon and many more.

 

EGGPICNIC's "With love from Indonesia"

EGGPICNIC’s “With love from Indonesia”

 

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

  • Visit the Palm Oil Investigations website or Facebook site and discover how many common products are using palm oil.
  • Lobby to have Australia introduce mandatory labelling of products.
  • If a brand is not using CSPO (Certified Sustainable Palm Oil) then consumers need to place pressure on these brands to change to certified oil.
  • If you spot a product that you love on the Palm Oil Investigations Facebook site, send an email to the company telling them that you are refusing to buy it till they change to CSPO.
  • Tell your friends on social media.

RESOURCES

  • Palm Oil Investigations. This site is run by a voluntary group of 9 admins who are extremely passionate about the effects of Palm Oil. Everything you ever wanted to know about palm oil, you’ll find here.
  • They started a Facebook site in March 2013 and they’re up to nearly 50,000 LIKES. They post photos of products that contain palm oil and alternatives that don’t.
  • They also have a Facebook site that addresses American products.
Orangutan

One of Eggpicnic and Aleta Hunts’s little felt orangutans fighting the good fight

 

Eggpicnic is a rather lovely Chilean-Australian design duo based in Sydney. They create a bridge to communicate complex, sometimes confronting, socially-conscious ideas and stories through handmade art-toys, objects and illustrations. They currently collaborate with 3 non-profit organisations in Australia of which Palm Oil Investigations is one. Here’s a direct link to their shop. They donate a percentage of their profits to these organisations.

So what do you think my friends? Tell me, if you made a feeble attempt to change the world, where would you start?

And a little PS to Rohan. Have heart Ro. I know it seems insurmountable. But there are lots of good people in the world and we have to believe that good will triumph over evil and we won’t end up like Easter Island. You continue to inspire me.  x

_____________________________________________________

Emu pic from here, Easter Island pic from here, Bill Nighy pic from here

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