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Wow! The last label I would give you is conservative. I like your idea of seeing yourself in the role of telling the stories people don’t want to hear – I think this is the first step in the process of social change, although the person telling the story will have to endure slings and arrows. Thank you for doing what you do.
Sorry V.Arnold I am not impressed with this Thomas guy in your link – reminded me too much of Margaret Thatcher (and that is not a good thing! in my books). Interesting though to see his description of urban decay- very vivid.
Re failings of the environmental movement: I agree that telling people we can save the planet and maintain our energy rich lifestyle has been a serious failing. I am not sure that the former head of Greenpeace has great moral authority now that he is a nuclear lobbyist (as if nuclear energy is going to save us).
McFlora-thank you for your thoughtful reply to my comment a couple of days ago.
I wish I could get excited about mass tree planting but I see large challenges. Examples: I planted 10 native pines alongside my orchard. No synthetic chemicals and no grass competition and reasonable fertility. All 10 succumbed to fungal disease, showing serious signs of disease during all 3 growing seasons. Friends in the area are trying to re-tree their sandy soil (think dessert) with native species. Without daily watering during the growing season these trees die. I cannot see daily watering happening in large scale plantings. I have a reasonable amount of knowledge and experience in this area and it is not at all as easy as it sounds. In our wild forest we have Dutch elm disease killing all of our elm trees. Our general area has also been hit with an ash borer killing all ash trees. Butternut squash are also seriously impacted with disease. Oak wilt is coming soon. I am sure there are people around who manage to successfully plant a whack of trees but success is far from guaranteed and there are very large challenges.
On trees and SUVs: I heard a presentation by Diana Beresford Kroeger (Call of the Forest) in which she was strongly encouraging everyone to get out and plant trees. As someone with an orchard and a chunk of forest, the logistics and challenges come quickly to mind with all if the new non-native native bugs and new diseases attacking all of the trees (non-native orchard apples etc and wild) thanks in part to the global transportation. In said presentation Diana expressed disappointment that she had missed out on an opportunity to go to Florence Italy (from Canada). When called out on it she hemmed and Hawed.
Correction: Jersey lifestyle should be jetset.
The issues with air travel that I see are the very large distances that people travel to meet their needs for wonderlust. People now see these trips as essential. The scientists suggest that air travel, mile per mile, is significantly more harmful environmentallly than any other mode of transportation. Venice (population 50,000) gets 30,000,000 tourists per year. Major tourist destinations (fed in part by air b&b) are becoming uninhabitable for the regular citizens. We cannot continue to jet about treating the planet like Disneyland. Some travel by any mode can be understood as necessary. The idea that we should all feel okay about hopping on a plane to go see some rare species on some pristine part of the globe is the definition of insanity.
On the tree planting: I see this as impractical. Where do people plant these trees? Should they plant them before or after they go on their vacation to (insert jet holiday destination here). I cannot see continuing a jersey lifestyle for nonessential travel while planting a tree every now and then.
Very valuable article. I would add another option for improving soil fertility which we are using in our young permaculture orchard. nitrogen-fixing plants and hardwood shrubs and trees from which young growth is chopped and dropped (it is called ramial wood). Deep rooted plants (such as comfrey) are added to the mix to mine nutrients at greater soil depths. We use a chipper to create most of our ramial wood chips although this could be done manually on a smaller scale.
Dr. D can you provide a reference to your statement that Chomsky supports the US going to war with Russia? Everything I have read online regarding his position on this issue is the exact opposite of what you are saying (ie Chomsky does not want a war and is on record as saying the US should improve relations with Russia.
Dr. D you seem to a specific hate for anything related to socialism. Do you think full blown capitalism will solve our problems? I am not at all convinced that pure capitalism would help. Do you think our environmental problems would be eliminated with pure capitalism? What do you propose as a better solution? I can see issues with pretty much any of our human approaches to running society but we need some kind of system as imperfect as they are. The US with its for-profit health care delivers for the non-rich pretty poor results in terms of outcomes and cost. Studies have shown this
Canada’s socialized system, as imperfect as it is, delivers by comparison better outcomes at less cost. Again, I acknowledge no system is perfect but we need some kind of system and I can’t understand why you give capitalism a free pass.
Seeing 2 elderly parents thru numerous health crises currently and over the past 5 years in Canada, it never ceases to amaze me how horrible health care is in the United States compared to our socialized, government-run, health care in Canada. While there most certainly are gaps in our Canadian system (which I am well aware of due to my spouse having worked in health care for 20 years), for the average non-wealthy person you would hands-down be better off in Canada. Nothing I am hearing about the American system has convinced me otherwise. The money you folks have to pay for health procedures gives me nightmares.
So true V. Arnold. So much “expendable” humanity – everyone is just trying to find their way in this crazy world – some have been graced by a better chance than others. For the rest, selling trinkets it will be.
Great commentary as usual Dr. D – you simplify and make understandable a lot of info. Thanks for continuing to share your thoughts.
Congratulations Ilargi! I start just about every day with your blog. Your environmental and humanitarian articles help remind me what matters most. I wish I knew how to address your copyright issues. All the best to you.
V. Arnold I always enjoy reading your impressions of the art posted here – enriching the beautiful works even to unartistic folks like me!
I guess the problem I have with much of the discussion of American politics is that the disgust towards Trump (which I share in many ways) is not paired with an acknowledgement of the contributions of Obama and other prior leaders who seem to have created the angst and inequality which enabled Trump (and similar populist leaders around the globe) to gain ascendency. Too much focus on the now and not enough focus on how we got here. There are Trumps popping up everywhere. We need to understand why.
Re the bees: there are about 2500 types of wild bees in North America and some of these are far more efficient pollinators than honey bees. Bee keeping has become an integral part of industrial agriculture. However non-native hone bees in North America out-compete the wild bees for food.
If our agricultural practices created a steady food supply for wild bees (ie with different plants flowering throughout the growing season instead of having hundreds of hectares of one crop blooming all at once and then nothing for the rest of the time) wild bees would be all we would need. I know orchardists with a good mix of fruiting plants and these folks removed honey bee hives due to excess pollination. In our mixed fruit orchard we rely exclusively on wild bees and we plant a mix of wild flowers between our trees and shrubs- we have a beautiful variety of pollinators. Farmers are now being encouraged to interplant their crops with pollinator friendly plants. IMHO big ag bee keepers have done a great PR job that is perpetuating an unsustainable model.
Great article and great commentary. I am trying to better understand the workings of central banks and this helps a lot. Always find it confusing when central bankers are described as incompetent-seems absolutely unlikely although maybe this appears to be the case because these bankers ultimately cannot control all that they would like to control. At the same time the central banks appear to have massive vested interests in areas not related to overall public good, and are very competently protecting these interests.
Dr. D I hear where you are coming from-well said. So much is missing from what we hear in the media on this issue.
Our farm region used to be cleaner (because the land is so margunal in quality) but in the past couple of years one guy in the area approached a bunch of farmers om our road,convinced them that corn and soy are the way to go. Massive machinery now rides up and down our road and hay fields are disappearing while we can now smell glyphosate in the air some days. The only saving grace is that some parts are just so rocky that no one would bother with them.
I installed a bat hotel last year but have not seen any guests checking in yet. Lots of snakes and frogs and good pollination from wild bees but I think the endangered swallows got scared off and a more common song bird has overtaken the abandoned nesting house.
Hi V Arnold
We are in Canada (eastern Ontario). Sounds like you have lots of wildlife also. We too use no synthetic chemicals and rely to some extent on permaculture principles. Michael Philips is the guy we follow for how we look after our trees and shrubs. This year is looking quite good so far although our biggest challenge will bw getting to the fruits before the 4 legged fellows do. This project is without doubt the most satisfying thing I have done in my life-very hard work in all types of weather but there is nothing I would rather do.
Happy to report the snakes and frogs abound in our perma orchard. Also I discovered that a threatened species is now nesting in one of our bird house boxes. Lots of wild bees are doing the pollination work-we opted against honey bees because of their negative impact on wild bees through competition for food.
Tabernick the story of Aboriginal people in Canada us much more complex than what you have described. Take a look at the book The Inconvenient Indian for a start. How would you justify the experimentation on Aboriginal children as described here? How do you justify the government forcing Aboriginal people onto reserves located on the worst land which was highly contaminated? This is not just a question of the inconvenience of accommodating a small sparse population. The explicit government agenda was to extinguish Aboriginal culture.
Bugs gaining resistance to the one-trick pony pesticides may mean a boost for organic production except we will have to deal with these stronger bugs. Herbicide resistant super weeds are also becoming an important issue in my region.
I appreciate reading the comments here- a good variety of perspectives and I appreciate the effort this represents.
So now they are putting Assange in solitary confinement effectively. Horrifying.
I don’t know where to look for a solution other than waiting for the whole mess to fall apart and, if I am “lucky” enough to survive start picking up the pieces with whatever bits and pieces of life that make it thru the storm. Out to prune the grapevines-the birds and raccoons loved them last year!
Fantastic. Looks like you and Dr. D were in the same nightmare.
v. arnold wonderful limerick!
Amen on the krill problem. We can’t engineer a solution without creating new problems. That is how we inevitably get into trouble unfortunately.
I agree that the whole shebang will have to come down first which is not a great illustration of our capacity as a species. I hear some people expressing fear about what will replace our current existence but I am far more concerned about the damage being inflicted by the current system.
Truly heart-breaking what we are doing to life on earth. I see almost no willingness to stop the pillage.
Yes oxymoron we have joked about harvesting grape-fed wild turkeys. At least we know the quality of the inputs. I just read a meta study concluding that none of the scare tactics work long term including ultrasonic because the animals eventually habituate. My next thought is solar powered electric fencing that we would have to move around the orchard as various types of fruit are ripening. We did not plant in a totally mixed fruit configuration in some areas and these are really the only areas we can protect. We are in Canada and so far water issues have not been as severe for us in our region.
oxymoron I totally hear you on issues related to wildlife eating fruit etc. Our mixed orchard is in a hay field surrounded by forest home to all manner of wildlife. We have gotten some yield off our plants but wildlife has a significant impact. We continue to experiment but have not yet resorted to lethal means. One thing I have looked at is a gidjet that makes ultrasonic noise that apparently animals hate. I am just waiting to hear that it causes brain cancer or some other awful thing.
I first saw Nicole’s presentation in a community centre in downtown Ottawa. People were playing soccer in the gym next door and so the presentation was punctuated by the sound of the ball hitting the wall. I went home that night and told my husband that I had heard a presentation that was a game changer. Thanks to you both and Happy Birthday!
I saw a comment on ZH mentioning the massive energy footprint of cryptocurrency. Is the suggestion that the benefits of this currency to humanity outweigh its necessary harmful impacts on the rest of the planet?
My sincere3 sympathies on the passing of your Mother.
“There’s a lot of political interest in downplaying the danger ebola poses. There’s even more economic interest in doing that, but then the two are Siamese twins. As of today in America, and last week in continental Europe, that attitude has become a threat to potentially millions of people.”
On the contrary, there remain people who are experts in the health and infectious disease field who have nothing to gain financially from over-playing or downplaying the risk of ebola who are on the record as saying that for the western world this is not a significant threat but that it is a serious threat in West Africa. If anything, these people suggest that TPTB have much more to be gained from fear-mongering, to gain public support for the production of ever more pharmaceuticals.
Additionally, the threat represented by ebola is not equal in all areas in the world and this needs to be acknowledged in the analysis of this threat in order for people living in different areas to properly assess the risk it represents to them. I am not suggesting that people living in less-affected areas should not provide support for those where the illness is hitting hard.
Here are links to articles written by alternative health leaders who subscribe to this position.