Terania 40 years on: the forest battle continues

Eve Jeffery

We did not seek permission to re-post but consider it ‘fair use’ to re-post in full and credit the original source. Please get in touch if you are the original author and would like the post altered or taken down -The Editors

Nan, Hugh & Terri Nicholson are still advocating for trees. Photo Tree Faerie.

In September 1974, a young couple, Hugh and Nan Nicholson, bought an abandoned farm at the end of Terania Creek Road adjoining Whian Whian State Forest, about 80 miles south of Brisbane, New South Wales.

They didn’t know what lay ahead. Their plan was to start a specialist rainforest nursery. They were pioneers in the propagation and extensive use of rainforest plants in gardens and in reforestation on degraded lands, and they had made The Channon their home.

The Nicholsons in 1979. Photo David Kemp.

Their dream was coming to fruition when in January 1975 they discovered the Forestry Commission planned to log the area within the next few years and convert the rainforest to a eucalypt plantation.

From then until January 1979 when it was announced that logging would commence within the next few months, Hugh and Nan spearheaded a movement to stop the destruction of the forest.

The Channon Residents’ Group became Terania Native Forest Action Group (TNFAG) and when their voices would not be heard, TNFAG commenced a media campaign. There were stories on Nationwide, in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.

The fight begins

In early August the Nicholsons made an appeal at the Channon Market to prevent the logging. Within the next five days 300 people were gathered at the Nicholsons’ property. Cars moved into position in the valley to begin peaceful vigilance. They planned to stop logging until an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) was in place.

On August 16, a bulldozer and two Forestry trucks arrived. The first bulldozer was met by 200 protesters singing and chanting, playing guitars, drums and other instruments. One hundred and twenty police were sent to maintain order.

The next day, tow trucks, five paddy wagons and 20 police cars with 108 police arrived. They started removing vehicles from the blockade. A bulldozer began clearing the old logging road into the forest.

There were 17 arrests, but the media coverage was unprecedented – the story was national news – and so began the end.

It’s too simple to say that was that – it wasn’t. A lot happened on both sides of the fight for months afterwards, and today there are still scars in the community and the town, the residue of what happened, but in the end the efforts of the protesters paid off, and after a prolonged fight on the right side of history, Premier Neville Wran called a halt to the logging on September 4, 1979.

He established a fact-finding committee with Len Webb (CSIRO), John Whitehouse, Marilyn Fox (National Herbarium) and Lorraine Cairns (NPWS) accompanying them on the visit.

The Committee recommended that logging be suspended and the rest, as they say, is history.

Terania Creek was a landmark environmental protest.

The protest was the first time citizens physically defended a rainforest by placing themselves in front of police and loggers, the dawn of an entire new generation of forest activists and environmental defenders. People have moved to the area just to be near this place of victory and hope.

Some say it was this fight that lit the fire in the belly of protesters on the Franklin and certainly during the Northern Rivers’ fight against CSG mining at Glenugie, Doubtful Creek and Bentley. Terania Creek was a beacon from the past guiding the battle from its place in history.

A forest to capture the imagination

In 1979 David Kemp, a keen amateur photographer, arrived in the area and was captivated by the beauty of the Terania forest. He was appalled at the possibility of it being lost, and determined to join the protest with his young family. David pulled out his camera and spent the best part of a month capturing images of an unfolding drama. David, who had moved to the area from South Australia, had an Olympus OM2 with a 200mm lens with a 2X converter.

“I was living at Coorabell and at that stage we could drive up from Mullum, through Huonbrook, up over what is now the Nightcap and down Mackays Road, so it was quite a quick drive to get over there.

I was doing the markets at The Channon at the time when Hugh got up to speak about the imminent logging. So I drove out and saw this incredible rainforest. Some of the trees were dated at 1200 years old. They were just giants, they should never have been logged.”

David says to take time out for his work and family was a big deal back then:

’To give up your life – it’s quite a big commitment, but heaps of people did it and just camped there. It was a seminal moment. It changed my life.

David says when he was taking the photos, he had no idea how important they would be.

David Kemp and Rhoda Roberts. Photo Tree Faerie.

‘It was just the only talent I had to offer. I had a good camera. I had very fast black and white film and I just snapped away. I got these wonderful shots. Intimate and personal shots. To someone from conservative Adelaide, it was such a mind blowing change to my comfort zone.

David says he was one of a group of photographers who pooled their resources:

“At the end of the day we handed in all our film and it was developed on-site up the valley and we were given more film. Of the 800 or so images, about 300 were mine.

I just did what I was good at and I eventually got tapped on the shoulder by Detective Sergeant Campbell.

I got arrested and taken into Lismore in the paddy wagon.”

On Friday the Lismore Regional Gallery opened the first exhibitions for the year – one of which is entitled The Terania Creek Protest

David approached the gallery in early 2018 about the exhibition saying he was interested in an exhibition in 2019, to coincide with the 40th Anniversary of the Terania Creek Protest. ‘The photographs are captivating and we well knew the local and national importance of this landmark event. We jumped at the chance,’ says Lismore Gallery curator Kezia Geddes.

Ms Geddes says that the Lismore Regional Gallery has done several exhibitions over the years that look at the history of the region. ‘We see them as crucial not only to celebrating the history of the region, but also in making sure these stories are told and research expanded on into the future,’ she says. ‘David Kemp has been very kind to donate his photographs in the exhibition to the gallery.

‘We are so grateful to him for providing us access to these images that capture the time and which are an important local, historical resource.

Kezia Geddes, curator at the Lismore Gallery says that the photos are crucial not only to celebrating the history of the region, but also in making sure these stories are told. Hilary McPherson translated to sign. Photo Tree Faerie

The opening of the exhibition was held last Friday and attracted a large and buoyant crowd. ‘There were three generations there; protestors, the children of protestors, and their children,’ said Kezia. ‘You always know an exhibition has touched a sweet spot when you get a crowd like that.

‘The Terania Veterans have always been brilliant networkers.

‘The protest began when word was spread at the Channon markets on 12 Aug 1979 to meet at the Nicholson’s property for a non-violent direct action to protect Terania from logging.

‘For the opening and exhibition, word was spread through Facebook, Instagram, email and good old-fashioned word of mouth, and the community came out to see the show.’ Kezia says it was brilliant to see so many people who were involved with the protest at the opening.

‘It is important to work with the community on an exhibition like this one and we collaborated with David Kemp, Hugh and Nan Nicholson, and Michael Murphy to bring this exhibition together.

‘They were so generous with their time and knowledge. All were very involved the protest, with the Nicholsons and Michael Murphy working to stop logging for five years – while also balancing the many other priorities of their lives.

‘Many people devoted time to the protest. There were letters, submissions, talks, appointments, phone calls, and expenses. Local Aboriginal custodians were approached as well as bureaucrats, scientists, politicians and media representatives.

‘The success of an exhibition like this is hinged on community consultation, so the story that is told is one that rings true to those who were involved and word about it is passed through this community.’

Rhoda Roberts. Photo Tree Faerie.

Don’t call them hippies

Local woman Rhoda Roberts opened the exhibition with a passionate speech about the people her father Frank Roberts Jnr, told her not to call ’hippies’. Rhoda says that when free selection occurred, a lot of the Bundjalung people stayed on and worked for the local farmers. ‘As the dairy industry decreased, we saw a lot of people coming into Nimbin, especially in the early 70s.’

Rhoda says her father would go out and greet them and talk with them and he realised they were very different. ‘Dad said the young people were really wanting to protect country and they understood the psychology that Aboriginal people had for the land.’

Rhoda says at the time her father (and now she herself) was very grateful for the part the Nicholsons and the other blockaders played in saving the forest. ‘That was how dad saw them. They were beside us. Side-by-side was dad’s thing.’

Rhoda says there is a special connection in having the photos and other memorabilia at the gallery. ‘Having the exhibition on this place here which was known as Tuckurimba, and knowing that our land had been protected by strangers, who wanted to work with us, and to take the children out there to see the rainforest remnants, I mean, it’s gold.’

Hugh and Nan still fighting for trees

Everyone was happy to see Hugh and Nan Nicholson at the opening. The couple who have lived in the area for forty-five years are often considered the mother and father of environmental protesting.

‘We didn’t expect to be recognised after 40 years, so that’s a good feeling,’ says Nan. ‘But we are so aware that we haven’t stopped fighting yet. This is just the start.’

Nan says that her fighting days are not yet over.

‘It was a great victory 40 years ago, but we are more in trouble now than we were then with our forests.

‘Even this week people are out in the forest stopping logging. It’s high conservation value koala habitat, recognised as old growth. It should be saved. People are on the line now trying to stop it from happening. You can never give up.

‘We will always get engaged. What’s really giving me courage now is that there are a lot more young people involved. It makes you think, ok, we can win this. But, gee it’s a hard road. After all this time I would have hoped that we would have been a bit more secure. I know a lot of things are getting reversed, but I feel like with a lot of new blood coming in, we’re really up for the battle. So, we’ll keep going.’

Nan

Hugh says that there are plenty of people to be thanked for their conservation efforts in the area. ’Terania Creek’s got the name, it was sort of the first fight, but it was the Mount Nardi fight a couple of years later, that’s when the government finally made changes and the rainforest policy came in.

‘So if it hadn’t been for Mount Nardi, we wouldn’t have gotten the national parks. The people who fought for that haven’t had the same recognition we’ve had, but they were vitally important.’

The Nicholsons are now looking toward the election for changes to be made. ’I think it’s a watershed moment and people are starting to grasp that climate change is here and you have to vote accordingly,’ says Nan. ‘You can’t muck around any more with people who think it’s not happening. I think there will be major changes this time.’

Lismore Galley and The Quad. Photo Tree Faerie.

A beautiful and moving exhibition

The Nicholsons say the exhibition is very beautiful and very moving. ‘I am so aware that if we hadn’t had David Kemp, the photographer, we would have basically had no record,’ says Nan. ‘It’s so different now when everyone has their phones, which is wonderful.

Nan and Hugh do have advice for the younger people coming up.

‘My advice is just get involved,’ says Nan. ‘It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the facts. The facts are so dire, but if you do nothing, then you’ve got low self esteem to cope with as well. If you get involved, you can at least feel ok about yourself if nothing else. And when you win the feeling is so euphoric it makes everything worthwhile. And even if you don’t win, it’s still worth doing anyway.

‘So I just say, cause trouble whenever you can, because it’s so important, and that’s the secret of joy.

Hugh also has advice for the would be protester. ‘Just don’t give up.’

‘I hope to be an example for all the people here that you can fight,’ says Nan. ‘You can win, and hopefully we will win this next battle because we are really heading into difficult times now.’

In January this year, the Terania Creek forest blockaders won the 2019 Australia Day Award for ‘Services in the Community (Group)’ for their pioneering efforts to save a pristine rainforest.

An exhibition of photographs by David and other photographers who documented the action – The Terania Creek Protest –  is on at the Lismore Regional Gallery until April 7, 2019.


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Extinction Rebellion isn’t about the Climate

Originally published in Medium.

Yes, yes, I know. The climate is breaking down. It’s urgent. An emergency. We’ve only got a few years left to ‘fix’ it.

Indeed, we won’t fix it. Weather patterns will become increasingly unstable and unpredictable, and the effects it will soon have on how humans around the world grow food will be devastating, likely causing harvests to fail across entire continents and food prices to sky-rocket. Millions have already suffered due to the amplified instability. We’re facing imminent societal collapse (whatever that means), both around the world and in the UK. All of our lives are soon going to radically change.

None of this is particularly controversial. When a bus is driving with a certain momentum towards a person, it gets clearer and clearer that it will hit the person. After a certain point, it’s inevitable. And that’s where we stand now, with regards to the momentum of climatic change. The bus is about to hit us. Our lives are about to change. It’s not clear whether or not we’ll survive (as a species). Many species have already been run over. Two hundred species each and every day go extinct.

I’ve been with Extinction Rebellion (XR) from the start. I was one of the 15 people in April 2018 who came together and made the collective decision to try to create the conditions that would initiate a rebellion. I was a coordinator of one of the original five working groups, and I’ve been organising with XR day-and-night since then (frugally living off my savings so I don’t have to work, having quit an industry that paid me £1000/week). And I’ve been in RisingUp (the organisation from which XR has emerged) since the first RisingUp action in November 2016. I’m a RisingUp Holding Group member, and a member of the XR Guardianship Team.

And for the sake of transparency: that previous paragraph is all about me ‘pulling rank’ — I’m trying to convince you to listen to what I have to say…

And I’m here to say that XR isn’t about the climate. You see, the climate’s breakdown is a symptom of a toxic system that has infected the ways we relate to each other as humans and to all life. This was exacerbated when European ‘civilisation’ was spread around the globe through cruelty and violence (especially) over the last 600 years of colonialism, although the roots of the infections go much further back.

As Europeans spread their toxicity around the world, they brought torture, genocide, carnage and suffering to the ends of the earth. Their cultural myths justified the horrors, such as the idea that indigenous people were animals (not humans), and therefore God had given us dominion over them. This was used to justify a multi-continent-wide genocide of tens of millions of people. The coming of the scientific era saw this intensify, as the world around us was increasingly seen as ‘dead’ matter — just sitting there waiting for us to exploit it and use it up. We’re now using it up faster than ever.

Euro-Americans violently imposed and taught dangerous delusions that they used to justify the exploitation and reinforced our dominance while silencing worldviews that differed or challenged them. The UK’s hand in this was enormous, as can be seen by the size of the former British empire, and the dominance of the English language around the world. There is stark evidence that everyday racial bias continues in Britain, now, today. It’s worth naming some of these constructed delusions that have been coded into societies and institutions around the world:

  • The delusion of white-supremacy centres whiteness and the experience of white people, constructing and perpetuating the myth that white people and their lives are somehow inherently better and more valuable than people of colour.
  • The delusion of patriarchy centres the male experience, and excludes/hinders female-assigned people from public life (reducing them to a possession or an object for ownership or consumption). Patriarchy teaches dominating and competitive behaviours, and emphasises the idea that the world is a place of scarcity, separation and powerlessness.
  • The delusions of Eurocentrism include the notion that Europeans know what is best for the world.
  • The delusions of hetero-sexism/heteronormativity propagate the idea that heterosexuality is ‘normal’ and that other expressions of sexuality are deviant.
  • The delusions of class hierarchy uphold the theory that the rich elite is better/smarter/nobler than the rest of us, and make therefore better decisions.

There are other delusions. These delusions have become ingrained in all of us, taught to us from a very young age.

None of these delusions have ended, although some of the arguments that supported them (e.g. phrenology) have been dispelled. They continue to play out through each of us, in our ways of relating, regardless of our identity. The current pride in the history of the British empire, or the idea that the USA is on the side of ‘good’, continues to enable neo-colonialism in 2019, taking the form of palm-oil plantations, resources wars, and the parasitical financial sector, to name but a few. The task of Extinction Rebellion is to dispel these delusions. We need to cure the causes of the infection, not just alleviate the symptoms. To focus on the climate’s breakdown (the symptom) without focusing attention on these toxic delusions (the causes) is a form of denialism. Worse, it’s a racist and sexist form of denialism, that takes away from the necessary focus of the need for all of us to de-colonise our selves.

My ancestors are European, some of whom claimed to ‘own’ people as slaves. There are black people with the name Basden in the Americas, and I have begun to mobilise my (white) family to make contact in order to seek to pay reparations.

However, my own accountability cannot be fully paid through this. The insanity* of the mind of the coloniser continues today. It continues in the extraction of fossil fuels, minerals and water from the earth. It continues in deforestation and industrial agriculture. It continues in a callous culture of consumption, which intensifies each Christmas. It continues in evictions and deportations. It continues in the ways of relating to those around us that perpetuates separation and division.

The result is isolation, pain and suffering. The result can be felt at the individual level — in the endemic levels of loneliness and mental-health illness. It can be felt at the community level — in the theft of land for plunder and profit by largely-European-and-US-based banks and corporations. And it can be felt at the global level — in the polluting of our air and oceans.

So Extinction Rebellion isn’t about the climate. It’s not even about ‘climate justice’**, although that is also important. If we only talk about the climate, we’re missing the deeper problems plaguing our culture. And if we don’t excise the cause of the infection, we can never hope to heal from it.

This article is calling to all of those who are involved in XR who sometimes slip into saying it’s a climate movement. It’s a call to the American rebels who made a banner saying “CLIMATE extinction rebellion”. It’s a call to the XR Media & Messaging teams to never get sloppy with the messaging and ‘reduce’ it to climate issues. It’s a call to the XR community to never say we’re a climate movement. Because we’re not. We’re a Rebellion. And we’re rebelling to highlight and heal from the insanity that is leading to our extinction. Now tell the truth and act like it.

* I use the term ‘insanity’ carefully, with the intention of highlighting the need for healing. Indigenous First Nation people helpfully taught me to see the mindset of the coloniser as a sickness. In no way do I intend to marginalise or discredit the experience of people who have been labelled ‘insane’ by a normative system, nor who identify as being ‘insane’.

** Climate Justice refers to the injustice that those who are affected first and worst by extreme weather events (the people in the poorer countries, the majority of whom live in the Global South) are not likely to be the ones who caused the climate emissions (the people who consume the most, including the pathologically wasteful cultures of Europe and Turtle Island (aka North America), and the rich who live/travel around the world).

Getting the measure of wildfires in Australia

atmosphere.copernicus.eu

We did not seek permission to re-post but consider it ‘fair use’ to re-post in full and credit the original source. Please get in touch if you are the original author and would like the post altered or taken down -The Editors.


Devastating wildfires have been burning across large areas of Australia and Tasmania for several weeks. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) on behalf of the European Union, monitors emissions from such wildfires in order to estimate how dangerous they may be in terms of atmospheric pollution.

This January has been the warmest on record in Australia, and one of the driest compared to the 1981-2010 average. In addition, the country has suffered from record-breaking heatwaves.

Surface temperature anomaly - January
Surface air temperature anomaly for January 2019 relative to the January average for the period 1981-2010. Source: ERA-Interim. (Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service, ECMWF)

Throughout January, rainfall was below average for Australia as a whole; and the daily total Fire Radiative Power (FRP), a measure of heat output from wildfires, was much higher than usual for Western Australia. For several weeks from mid-January Tasmania experienced numerous fires with smoke plumes visible in satellite images crossing the Tasman Sea as far as New Zealand and beyond.

Plume of organic matter aerosol optical depth
The plume of organic matter aerosol optical depth from bushfires in Tasmania at 18UTC on 30 January 2019. (Credit: Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, ECMWF)

Although Tasmania avoided the extreme heat of mainland Australia, it still endured its warmest and driest January on record. Throughout the month, the Fire Weather Index, which takes into account numerous variables, including wind speed and precipitation, showed large areas of concern. Levels remained at moderate to extreme for the whole month across much of the state, and ignition sources such as dry lightning led to numerous bushfires, exacerbated by their remote locations and periods of strong winds.

Fire Weather Indices
Fire Weather Indices from 4 January and 29 January, showing fire activity. (Credit:  Copernicus Emergency Management Service)

The island state experienced ongoing devastation and threat of fire for many days, clearly shown in the chart below, which compares the daily total FRP throughout the month with the 2003-2018 average daily total for the same dates.

Time series of daily total Fire Radiative Power (FRP)
Time series of daily total Fire Radiative Power (FRP) from fires in Tasmania in January and February 2019. (Credit: Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, ECMWF)

Fire forecasting can be complicated, as there are many variables to take into consideration. For example, regions which are experiencing drought, low humidity and high wind speed score highly on the Fire Weather Index. However, there is no global system providing associated information on vegetation; if there is no fuel, there can be no fire. Currently, local knowledge helps identify regions at risk.

While wildfires themselves cause relatively short-term levels of danger, the effects of smoke pollution can have serious long-term effects. CAMS Senior Scientist Mark Parrington, who researches wildfire emissions and their impacts, says:

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of land across Tasmania have been affected by these fires and the resulting smoke contains pollutants. CAMS forecasts the spread of these emissions, which can have serious impacts on health as well as on atmospheric composition.”

Australia is relatively isolated, so the effects have only been felt locally. However, smoke plumes from wildfires in other areas of the globe, such as Siberia, have been seen to spread across the globe. More information can be found through the CAMS Global Fire Assimilation System (GFAS) webpage.

First the bad news, then the good news

bbc.co.uk

Jamie Anderson donates prize money to environmental group

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Jamie Anderson and Gian-Franco Kasper
Anderson expressed her disappointment at FIS president Kasper’s “ignorant opinions”

American snowboarder Jamie Anderson has donated her World Championship prize money to an environmental campaign group.

The donation comes after the president of the International Ski Federation (FIS), Gian-Franco Kasper said there was no proof of climate change.

Anderson, 28, said Kasper should:

“not share his unconstitutional ignorant opinions”.

Kasper, the head of the FIS for more than 20 years, has since apologised.

In the interview with Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, Kasper also said he preferred countries run by dictators to host competitions as they:

“can organize [big] events… without asking the people’s permission”.

Anderson, who is the Olympic slopestyle champion, expressed her disappointment in an Instagram post:

“For him to be so reckless with his words, ignorant and such a negative influence breaks my heart.

Instead, he should practice being a leader for a positive future.

I thought of dropping out of The World Championships, but realized I’d rather share my thoughts with the media and fans and use my platform to share a more positive message.”

More details of this story are available...

Shifting Baseline Syndrome

oceana.org

Daniel Pauly and George Monbiot in conversation about “shifting baselines syndrome”

We did not seek permission to re-post but consider it ‘fair use’ to re-post in full and credit the original source. Please get in touch if you are the original author and would like the post altered or taken down -The Editors.

Allison Guy


Why is it that a young fisherman views his catch of a few scrawny sardines as natural, while an old-timer sees it as the sad scraps of an ocean once brimming with giant wildlife? Two decades ago, renowned fisheries expert Daniel Pauly introduced “shifting baselines syndrome” to explain our generational blindness to environmental destruction. In recent years the idea has found a particular advocate in George Monbiot, a respected environmental writer. Oceana spoke with Monbiot and Pauly to learn how much we’ve lost, and what it will take to make abundance the ocean’s new baseline.

Dr. Daniel Pauly (left) and George Monbiot (right).

Oceana: How did “shifting baselines” get its start? 

Pauly:  In 1995, I got an email from the editor of Trends in Ecology and Evolution asking me if I could help out. Somebody had failed to deliver a one-page script. They wanted an essay, anything, to fill in the space. I quickly wrote this thing based on what was floating in my head at the time.

Oceana: Since then, why has “shifting baselines” gained traction in so many disciplines? 

Monbiot:  It’s incredibly useful both in the immediate sense, in that it explains our attitudes to ecosystems and our failure to perceive the way in which they’ve changed, but also as an analogy, a metaphor, a homology for stuff that’s going on elsewhere.

I’ve used it in the political sense to say:

“Why do people accept tyranny and despotism and the erosion of democracy? It’s because you normalize whatever surrounds you.”

Shifting baselines has helped me to greatly understand the problem in my home country, the U.K. Conservation in this country has become indistinguishable from destruction, because what we’re conserving is an ecocidal system of sheep ranching. Sheep eat everything, and as a result there’s no birds, no insects. We’ve lost almost everything, and yet we regard that as normal and natural. This is a tremendous example of shifting baseline syndrome.

Pauly: I would like to make a point about what George just said. It is an anecdote about the shifting baseline syndrome, and anecdotes are important. If you want to fight the loss of memory and knowledge about the past, you have to rely on past information. But past information is viewed by many fisheries scientists as anecdotal. There is no knowledge in the past, however secure, however sound, that they are willing to consider because it is not couched in the verbiage that is currently fashionable.

In other disciplines, for example astronomy, they will use the position of a star or an eclipse that was found in old documents in Sumerian or in Chinese. But fishery scientists would not accept a record of a fish that was bigger than at present, or a record of abundance that is not compatible with the present. They will say these are anecdotes; we cannot use that. But these are data. We have to get rid of this notion that the past is a provider of anecdotes and the present is a provider of knowledge.

Taken around 1950, this photo illustrates the size and abundance of smalltooth sawfish in Florida. They are now critically endangered. Source: State Library and Archives of Florida

Oceana: How have you see shifting baselines syndrome play out in your own research?   

Pauly: My catch reconstruction project indicates that the world’s fish catch is bigger than reported — in hindsight, that’s almost obvious. In the process we discovered another kind of bias that I was not aware of: I would call it the “presentist bias.” When the UN Food and Agriculture Organization records global fish catch, it corrects for missing data in the present, but not in the past. And so we have the impression that everything is fine, while in fact the catches that we extract from the sea are in free fall.

Monbiot: There’s a classic example of that here in the North Sea, where the baseline is 1970. And they say: Look, we’re doing great because we’re almost back up to the natural condition of stocks. But by 1970 there had been over a hundred years of mechanized fishing, which had been absolutely devastating.

Pauly: This is also the case for the U.S. The U.S. requires that stocks be rebuilt, but they usually use the ‘80s as a baseline. But in the ‘80s there were huge foreign fishing fleets along the U.S. coastline. Stocks were overexploited. Some had collapsed. To use the ‘80s as a rebuilding goal is completely ludicrous if you think about it.

Monbiot: What I think is so often missed is that the natural world, in its natural state, is a system of almost unbelievable abundance. Almost all ecosystems everywhere on earth, on land and at sea, were once dominated by enormous animals. Whales were everywhere, great sharks were everywhere. If you go back to the last interglacial period, Britain was dominated by the straight-tusked elephant, a beast so massive that it makes the African elephant look like a ballet dancer.

Oceana: Can we restore ecosystems to this ancient state of abundance? 

Pauly: I don’t think it’s likely that we can restore pre-contact, pre-human ecosystems. As soon as humans appear on the scene the large megafauna is annihilated, no matter if it is in Australia or North America. So, these animals are toast regardless. But we started the industrial age, in fisheries at least, as late as 1880. 1880 is an important date because it’s the first time we used fossil energy to go after fish. That’s when the first trawler was deployed around England. Even then, there was still a huge megafauna in the sea.

Industrialization, at least in Europe and in Russia, is well-documented. We don’t know about marine ecosystems 10,000, 20,000 years ago. But we sure know about 120 years ago. I think these are politically defensible reconstructions of biomass that one can push. We should use these reconstructions at least as aspirational goals.

Monbiot: My only concern with that is when you read the accounts of the first European arrivals on the eastern seaboard of North America they encountered extraordinary marine life — these vast lobsters just there for the taking in the rock pools, these huge shoals of sturgeon moving up the rivers. If you go back far enough in Britain, it’s the same thing. 

Pauly: I’m just being pragmatic about it. For my catch reconstruction project I chose to start in 1950, because industrial countries had just been through WWII, and most other countries had not yet begun to industrialize their fisheries. This gives a nice contrast. But ultimately, it will always be an arbitrary decision.

Currently, there are around 19,000 Eastern Pacific gray whales (top). Before whaling, there were between 60,000 and 120,000. The Western Pacific population (bottom) now numbers less than 100 individuals. Humans hunted Atlantic gray whales to extinction sometime in the 1700s. Source: New York Public Library and the American Museum of Natural History

Oceana: So, is it enough to choose a set point in the past and aim for that?

Monbiot: I would say that recognizing a baseline is itself not a policy, but it is something which can inform. We can use our understanding of paleoecology to guide us how far we can go towards that ideal. And in marine ecosystems, there is a very good compromise that can be struck, which is to create large marine reserves in which no commercial extractive activity takes place. It’s one of those rare situations where large-scale conservation of resources is going to benefit everyone, even in the short term. It’s a genuine win-win.

Take sea angling here in the UK. Even with our greatly depleted seas, and even though angling is a pretty dispiriting experience because there’s so little to catch, it still brings in more income and employs more people than commercial fishing activities. It generates loads of economic activity that stays in the community: the bed and breakfasts, the cafes, the tackle shops. And on top of that you’ve got all the other things that you get from a pristine marine environment. You’ve got the dolphin watching, you’ve got the snorkeling and the diving.

Pauly: In British Columbia, there was a whaling industry that operated from shore stations until the ‘60s. They killed all the humpback and gray whales that were there. But now we have a whale-watching industry that makes more money than the whaling industry ever made. We even have Japanese tourists coming to see our whales! And the benefits are spread all along the coast, whereas before they only went into the pockets of the owners of the whaling industry. If you were to rewild Britain and other places, you would have all kind of tourist-based economies that now don’t exist.

Oceana: If we manage to restore or “rewild” the ocean, what do we gain beyond economic benefits?

Pauly: The system becomes more resilient to change. That will be important with global warming intensifying. If there are more animals, there are more interactions, and it’s the long-term stability of this interaction that prevents rapid change from happening.

To pick an example, in Tasmania, Australia, there is an invasion of sea urchins from the Sydney, in the north, because marine animals are moving towards the poles. These sea urchins eat all the kelp. But if the kelp-eating sea urchins arrive in an intact marine reserve, they get eaten by the large fish, and the kelp is still standing. Whereas in areas where there are no large fish the sea urchins can eat the kelp and devastate the entire ecosystem.

Oceana: Are there any emotional or spiritual gains from a rewilded ocean?  

Monbiot: Wonder, enchantment, a discovery of hidden aspects of ourselves, insight into living processes of the kind that is impossible in managed and degraded ecosystems, and the knowledge that we are not the only species to benefit from this transition.

But above all it gives us something even more endangered than Patagonian toothfish: hope. A positive environmental vision, with rewilding at its heart, is an essential antidote to the endless stream of depressing news about what’s happening to the living world.

Large marine parks and other policy efforts can restore abundant oceans.

For more information, please see Daniel Pauly’s short video (about 9 minutes) on Shifting Baseline Syndrome on youtube.

Daniel Pauly

Dr. Daniel Pauly is one of the most prolific and widely cited fisheries biologists in the world. Born in France and raised in Switzerland, Daniel Pauly acquired a doctorate in fisheries biology in 1979 from the University of Kiel. After working in the Philippines through the 1980s and early 1990s, Pauly became a professor at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre in 1994, and was its director from 2003 to 2008. In 1999, Pauly founded, and since leads, Sea Around Us, a large research project devoted to identifying and quantifying global fisheries trends. He is the author or co-author of over 1,000 articles, books and book chapters on fish and fisheries.

George Monbiot

George Monbiot studied zoology at Oxford and has spent his career as a journalist and environmentalist. His celebrated Guardian columns are syndicated all over the world. He is the author of the bestselling books Captive State, The Age of Consent, Bring on the Apocalypse and Heat, as well as the investigative travel books Poisoned Arrows, Amazon Watershed and No Man’s Land. His 2014 book, Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life, won the Orion Book Award, the Society of Biology Book Award and the Zoological Society of London’s Thomson Reuters Award. He has won the United Nations Global 500 award for outstanding environmental achievement, presented to him by Nelson Mandela. His most recent project is a concept album, written with the musician Ewan McLennan, called Breaking the Spell of Loneliness.

The Evolution Of Language

This was going to be a fairly straightforward re-post of a story in Cambridge about a new word. Then it started to get more complicated and to go beyond a single word. The use of language to explain why the system needs to change and the motives and reasoning to underpin that change are evolving.

We did not seek permission to re-post but consider it ‘fair use’ to re-post in full and credit the original source. Please get in touch if you are the original author and would like the post altered or taken down -The Editors.

This is a reprint, published on 1st February, 2019, by Mike Scialom mike.scialom@iliffemedia.co.uk:

‘Nepocide’ coined by Cambridge Professor

https://www.cambridgeindependent.co.uk/news/nepocide-coined-by-cambridge-professor-9060783/


Extinction Rebellion on Parker's Piece. Picture: Finlay Cox
Extinction Rebellion on Parker’s Piece. Picture: Finlay Cox

A new word to describe the willingness of the current generation to sacrifice the wellbeing and even survival of future generations has been coined by Professor Tony Booth, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Commonwealth Education at the University of Cambridge.

“Nepocide” takes the word “nepotism”, which is defined as “any favour granted to relatives in various fields, including business, politics, entertainment, sports, religion and other activities” and splices it with genocide, which is described in Article Two of the UN Convention on Genocide as “acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”.

“Nepocide is the conscious willingness to sacrifice future generations for current convenience.”

“I originally started thinking about the dynamics of cross-generational responsibility during the Thatcher era. Back then I called it ‘grandchild murder’ – the conscious willingness to sacrifice future generations to poverty, but with climate change it’s become literally a reality for everyone, so I coined a name for it.”

Professor Tony Booth, speaking at an Extinction Rebellion event outside Parkside police station on January 31st, 2019

Extinction Rebellion is a movement which began in October, 2018. Its aim is to galvanise governments and councils to declare a climate emergency. Some UK councils have already done so, including Cornwall.

A petition to request that Cambridge City Council declares a state of climate emergency is due to be handed in this month.

The protest at Parkside police station centred on campaigner Ms Angela Ditchfield (twitter @GreenKingsHedgs), who belongs to King’s Hedges Green Party. Ms Ditchfield was requested to attend Parkside in connection with events at Shire Hall last month when graffiti was sprayed on a wall.

“They watched while the spray painting happened and didn’t arrest me. They then contacted me a couple of days later to ask me in for a chat and I had an interview under caution. Accepting a caution means accepting criminal guilt and that didn’t happen. They’ve called me back in to charge me.”

Ms Ditchfield, speaking to the Cambridge Independent before entering the police station.
Angela Ditchfield of King's Hedges Green Party with Professor Tony Booth. Picture: Mike Scialom
Angela Ditchfield of King’s Hedges Green Party with Professor Tony Booth. Picture: Mike Scialom

“Criminal damage against property is a crime, but what about criminal damage against the planet – who can I talk to about that?”

Ms Ditchfield spoke to the Police Officier on the front desk, accompanied by a group of campaigners who also enquired as to who else would be arrested for criminal damage.

The officer replied: “I agree with a lot of what you’re saying but this isn’t the platform to express those views.”

“We would like to plead guilty to criminally damaging the world by living a privileged western lifestyle involving flying and driving, eating the products of the meat and diary industry, using plastic products and consumer electronics and buying unsustainable supermarket products.

All of these practices have caused irreparable damage to the world’s ecology. The glittering wealth grown in Britain’s economy is built on the extraction and theft of resources from countries in the global south.

It is built on the endless extraction of fossil fuels, a resource for which we have hideously violated human rights, started brutal wars, and killed millions.

The wealth and privilege has caused loss of life and irreparable damage to the world’s ecology, and we have benefited from it. We have enjoyed the fruits of the destruction of others.

Charge us with all of that.”

Read out to the Police Officer by one of the group

The officer explained that there would be no charges. “We’ve just taken in a lot of people and it’s full now.”

Extinction Rebellion campaigner reads statement at Parkside police station. Picture: Finlay Cox
Extinction Rebellion campaigner reads statement at Parkside police station. Picture: Finlay Cox

“Can we come back later?” the spokesperson asked.

“No.”

Another officer then asked: “Why don’t I just have a chat with two of you?”

“Well we’re all guilty,” was the response.

“OK,” the officer replied, “but if there’s two of you who you trust I can listen to them.”

Two campaigners then stepped forward and were taken through.

The officer later reported that the chat went “very well”

“I thought they were going to charge me but they’re doing it in a different way. Technically I’ve not been charged yet but I’ve just been notified that I’ve been reported to be charged.”

Ms Angela Ditchfield

Ms Ditchfield awaits postal confirmation of the next stage of the case.

Angela Ditchfield's homemade armband. Picture: Mike Scialom
Ms Angela Ditchfield’s homemade armband. Picture: Mike Scialom

You can find a personal account by one of those attending the police station here.

Evolution, as one by one everyone in the country turns up at their local Police Station to hand themselves in like good citizens.


Teach-In Week at Manchester Uni announced to raise awareness over climate change

We did not seek permission to re-post but consider it ‘fair use’ to re-post in full and credit the original source. Please get in touch if you are the original author and would like the post altered or taken down -The Editors.

 

A new initiative aimed towards expanding students’ understanding of climate and sustainability issues is set to take place between the 18th and 22nd of February.

Promotional material distributed to advertise the cause stresses the need to demand ‘climate justice’ and ‘take back our education’.

The four-day movement aims to encourage teaching on climate change-related matters, through a collaboration between academics and students.

Teach-In Week encourages a refusal of the current university curriculum, attempting to encourage a discussion over putting more powers into the hands of students in determining the content of their studies.

Organisers of the event claim that the intention is not to disrupt courses and lecture content, but rather provoke a meaningful debate over the true purpose of a university education.

Lizzy Haughton, the Activities and Development Officer at the SU, who is behind the cause, pointed to the Youth Strike 4 Climate campaign in Switzerland and Germany, that saw over 30,000 students strike over the failure of their degree programmes to adequately educate themselves and their peers over the planet’s future.

In an email explaining the cause, Haughton argued that students had to be ‘shown the way’ in regards to such issues. Identifying a 12-year estimate for dealing with climate breakdown before facing human extinction, Haughton was clear that the issue was not whether “they [students] care enough”, but “telling them that they have to care”.

Haughton herself is involved in the Extinction Rebellion movement, that seeks to achieve radical change and sometimes controversial methods, including the welcoming of arrest.

The objective of overhauling government and economic policy in regards to environmental issues has developed a new branch as it enters grassroots involvement in university education, with possibly transformative effects.

For those looking to get involved with Teach-In Week, there are weekly information sessions up until the event itself, held every Tuesday from 3-4pm in room 1.3 of the SU.

Those interested are also encouraged to contact Lizzy Haughton at elizabeth.haughton@manchester.ac.uk, or alternatively, Ryan Woods, at ryan.woods@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk.