A view from the Rhondda Valley

What is the difference between an environmentalist and an earth destroyer. I believe (I suspect all environmentalists believe this too) that we are not just a part of the natural world. We are the natural world. I think at times it’s as if we want to cut an umbilical cord to Earth and stand on our own feet. Full of pride we turn on her and try to destroy her. We in the environmental movement intrinsically know this. When we see our planet harmed it harms us too and we feel the pain. I have always felt this way.

I remember when I was a child of about five being fascinated by a picture of our Earth on a cover of a book, Earth was depicted with a human face. Continents were arranged to look like features. There was smoke stacks and aeroplanes flying. Ships sailing her seas. The Earth was smiling.  I have always felt deep inside me that Earth is a living organism and we are her Children. I’ve always felt protected by Earth. Even when we go through the darkest of times she gives. She protects and feeds every living creature on the planet. The sun is her heart.

A preconditioned notion of how living organisms should look and feel like blind us to the most incredible organism in our solar system. Maybe in our Galaxy. Our living breathing planet. We are not the most superior beings on Earth. We are beyond doubt the most destructive. I didn’t have to look at a cover of a book to feel this connection. It runs too deep in all of us.

I believe we can avert climate breakdown. Now I do thanks to Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg. Before XR I think inside I was giving up. Been too hard and long watching our planet destroyed. Too many petitions. Too many marches. All to no avail. Too much greed. I watched us become addicted to consumerism as we started shovelling food into the giant’s mouth. Earth has protected me all my life and when I die I will be with her again in her streams and trees.

I also believe the very best human traits come to the surface when we are at one with Earth. She speaks to us through music and poetry. Our songs are the birds and our symphonies are the oceans and the wind. These are Earths words and songs. We are conduits. Our planet speaking through us, she helps us transcend base emotions.

Billionaires spend hundreds of millions on Art that depict a beautiful natural scene and these same people hungrily destroy all the beauty in the World. We are a species that was born from Earth. The connection we have can only be pure if we live in harmony. If we don’t live the way we are supposed to live then we kill Earth, ourselves and all life. I think if we are to survive we will of at last learned to live in harmony and a new dawn will rise. We will have grown up and come home.

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We Have the Facts, We Will Have Climate Justice

In a world where governments care more about money than the environment, it has been left to the people to decide which shade of green we want for our planet! With an estimated 18 billion pounds of plastic waste entering the world oceans from coastal regions annually and Donald Trump looking to re-open coal mines in the USA, it is now down to the people to make the change. But we need the support of the government, we need them to wake up and take responsibility and write legally binding agreements to cap the global temperature rise by less than the tipping point! 2 degrees is not good enough, because at 2 degrees mountain glaciers and rivers will start to disappear, 10% of the world’s population will be displaced due to sea level rise and A THIRD OF ALL LIFE ON EARTH WILL FACE EXTINCTION! As a population we need to band together to pressure the officials to enforce a mandatory cap in temperature rise at 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels and become carbon neutral by 2030! Because by the time we reach 2050 it will be too late.

In 2014, just 5 countries accounted for 70% of global CO2 emissions, including: China, the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation and Japan. This sparked the launch of the “land mark agreement” to combat climate change in 2015 – COP 21, The Paris agreement, which THE USA HAS NOW PULLED OUT OF! China is so far the only country to make a major difference, announcing plans to invest over $3 Billion in renewable energy! Whist the EU’s aim is to become carbon neutral by 2050 and cut energy use by 20% below business-as-usual projections by 2020. This is NOT good enough! We are the 3rd largest contributor to CO2 emissions globally and our member states are among the wealthiest countries in the world. With these stats, there is NO EXCUSE for not making more of an effort to become carbon neutral! Because of our governments idleness we are now on track for a global temperature rise of 2.7 degrees C, 0.7 above the tipping point.

Despite all these statistics, there has still been no legally binding agreement to combat climate change since 2009! And there are still countries refusing the latest agreement (Katowice 2018), including the USA, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Knowing this, how can we rely on governments who are not willing to make a sacrifice to save the planet? If the temperature continues to rise there will be no trade, there will be displacement of people and there will be extinction!

We have the facts. We have the power. We will have Climate Justice.

Works Cited

Howard , B. C., Gibbens , S., Zachos, E. & Parker, L., 2019. A running list of action on plastic pollution. [Online]
Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/07/ocean-plastic-pollution-solutions/
[Accessed 19th February 2019].

news, s., 2018. What Will Happen As The World Gets Warmer?. [Online]
Available at: https://news.sky.com/story/what-will-happen-as-the-world-gets-warmer-10336299
[Accessed 19th February 2019].

United states enviromental protection agency, n.d. Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data. [Online]
Available at: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data
[Accessed 19th February 2019].

 

 

 

 

Stop the clocks, planetary version

Stop all the clocks, put away your mobile phone

Take a good look at your loved ones

Silence the noise and think for a moment

Take heed of the fact, this world is done.

 

Note the aeroplanes with jetplumes,

Tracing white lines in a bright sky

The stars and the planets whose beauty belies

The fact our home will soon be gone.

 

It is our north, south, our east and west,

Our place of birth, our place of rest,

Your source of all eternity, and so much beauty

We thought the world would last forever: we were wrong.

 

The planet will not last long now, with what we’ve done

Behold the sun, the moon the stars,

We’ve poisoned the ocean and burned up the woods

And seize what chance to try to save what’s good.

IS IT ALREADY TOO LATE?

Despite the fact that ITV once broadcast a fly-on-the-wall documentary about me called Disasterman, I have always had a fairly positive outlook. Staying optimistic in light of the environmental bombshells published this week, however, is not easy. At times like this it is difficult not to wonder if, whatever action we take, we may already be doomed.

The first bombshell exploded at the weekend, when the results of a major new study (1) revealed that the global population of insects of all types was plunging by 2.5 percent a year. Should this rate of decline continue – and there is good reason to think it could even accelerate – then a quarter of all insects alive today will be gone in a decade. Before 2070, half will have vanished and none will survive to the end of the century. It is impossible to play down the scale of this blossoming catastrophe. Without insects we will starve. Full stop! This would be as near as it gets to an extinction event for the human race, and not one that happens in the dim and distant future, but one that will increasingly impact on our children and their children. As ever, this should not really come as a surprise. We know the cause – a conspiracy of climate change and industrial-scale intensive agriculture. The solutions too, are clear; a complete rethink of our diet, how we grow our food and how we manage our world – for the good of all life, not just our own.

On Tuesday, hard on the heels of the insectageddon bombshell came another, this one in the form of a new report by the UK’s Institute for Public Policy Research (2). This flagged up how the accelerating impacts of climate change and other environmental problems, threatens a collapse of the world’s social and economic systems. Once again, this is hardly news to those of us who have eyes and use them, but the report draws attention to a number of key points; not least the fact that mainstream political and policy debates utterly fail to recognise the problem. It is off the radar and kept there by Brexit, trade wars and comparable issues that pale into insignificance against climate breakdown and environmental degradation. Not only can most policy makers not see the elephant in the room, they are not even in the room.

These two reports are simply the latest in a near continuous torrent of bad news that acts to sap the will. In the face of this mind-numbing deluge, it would be all too easy to throw in the towel; to turn our backs on the environmental crisis that threatens our survival; to plead that it’s just too hard to tackle. But we can’t afford to do this. It is too late now to prevent dangerous, all-pervasive, climate change that will affect every one of us and make the lives of our children and theirs a real struggle. It is going to be tough anyway – that’s now a certainty – but the longer we delay and the slower we are to take serious action, the worse it will be. This is why Extinction Rebellion is calling for a net zero carbon world by 2025. However bad the news gets, this is still something worth fighting for. What choice do we have?

(1) Worldwide decline of entomofauna: a review of its drivers

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006320718313636

(2) This is a crisis: facing up to the age of environmental breakdown

https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/age-of-environmental-breakdown

 

Bill McGuire is Professor Emeritus of Geophysical & Climate Hazards at UCL and author of Waking the Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanic Eruptions. He was a contributor to the IPCC 2012 report on Climate Change & Extreme Events and Disasters.

In Support of Life

As we prepare to tackle the issue of global warming let us resolve to genuinely fix this problem.  The consequences of inaction or wrong action are dire.  Effective and prompt action is needed.  Towards this end, let us keep in mind that global warming is a symptom of our culture. Thus, if we want to effectively address the issue of global warming, we must address its root causes.

Global warming is not the first instance in which our culture has disregarded the needs of the natural world.  A cursory look at the state of the forests, oceans, prairies, rivers, and lakes will tell us that we have a history of being irresponsible and destructive citizens of the Earth.  Indeed, this history portrays us as a greedy, self-absorbed culture that cares little for life besides our own.  And even with our survival on the line, only time will tell whether we will act responsibly.

In any case, I propose that if we wish to adequately address the climate crisis then we need to examine the principles that drive our culture.  I will begin by proposing some principles that should be at the heart of a healthy culture.  I have five such principles.  To the extent that you agree with these principles, you might agree with my further analysis.

First, we should support life.  After all, we are nothing if not for life.  This is pretty simple.

Second, we should support Mother Nature.  Our lives are utterly dependent upon the ways of Mother Nature.  The food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe are all circumstances that are intricately entwined in the ways of Mother Nature.

Third, we should support honesty and integrity.  Without integrity, the systems of life on Earth fall apart.  Without honesty, we are told by those who destroy the ecosystem that they are supporting the ecosystem.

Fourth, we should help each other out.  We are all alive today because of the help of others in our lives.  We would not survive our infant years but for the help we receive from our parents and caregivers.  Our communities sustain us.

Fifth, we should support dignity in life.  None of us wishes to live without dignity.  We should support life with dignity for all.

To the extent that we all support any one of these principles, we should ensure that the institutions and rules of our culture support that principle. And here is the rub.  Our culture, along with its rules and institutions, lays waste to each of these five principles.  Life is on its way out.  Mother Nature has been disregarded for millennia by western culture.  Honesty and integrity are but hollow promises in our halls of government and on our media airwaves.  The homelessness in our streets attests to the facts that neither do we help each other out, nor do we ensure the dignity of life for people in our culture.

Of all the people I know personally, I don’t know anyone who wishes to get rid of life on Earth.  I know no one who thinks that the ways of Mother Nature can be disregarded.  No one thinks I should lie to them, or refuse to help my fellow neighbor, or deny dignity to anyone.  We are a culture of well-intentioned people who have taken a wrong turn and are heading down the path of destruction.  Where have we gone astray?

I suggest that we are a culture preoccupied with the pursuit of power and wealth.  In fact, it is this pursuit of power and wealth that drives decisions that go against each of the five principles I have named.  It is this pursuit of power and wealth that is driving us into the climate crisis.

The pursuit of power and wealth is ingrained into the fabric of our culture to the extent that most of us equate the pursuit of power and wealth with the pursuit of life itself.  I think that it is time for this confusion to stop.  It is plain to see that when the wealthy among us are pursuing power and wealth they are no longer pursuing life.  Any multimillionaire alive today has all that they need in order to live in our culture.  It is deeply ironic that the rules and institutions of our culture are being used to increase the wealth and power of those who need no more wealth and power.  It is clear to see that for the wealthy; the pursuit of power and wealth should not be confused with the pursuit of life.

Furthermore, let us recognize that money has no intrinsic value.  You cannot eat money.  You do not build a house out of money.  Money does not warm you on a cold winter night or move you from home to work on Monday morning.  Money itself does not support life.  Money is a thing in our culture solely because we agree that it is a thing.

Because of this agreement, it is hard to live without earning money.  Food and housing and transportation have all been folded into our economy in such a way that those of us who are successful at the wealth and power game have an easy time getting needs met while those of us who are not successful suffer.  And thus, people who are not wealthy need to earn money in order to live.  We conflate the pursuit of money with the pursuit of life because the rules of our culture demand that we make money in order to eat and put a roof over our heads.

But is it not time to stop pretending that this economic system is helping us out.  Who among us really feels fulfilled in the work that they do to make money? Most of us work at jobs aimed first and foremost at lining the pockets of those who need no more money.  The success of every company and industry and corporation depends upon the profit that it brings its owners, not the benefit it brings to life on the Earth.

Our economy is designed to transfer power to those at the top of the economic pyramid.  It does this at the expense of people and life.  While we must acknowledge that most people must earn money in order to create “value” and thus live in our culture, we also should acknowledge that the system itself is destructive.  The “value” that we are creating is in many cases not valuable.  This system values consumption at the expense of life, profit at the expense of community.  This is the system that has ushered in global warming.

The people of America spoke at Standing Rock demanding that oil pipelines not be built from the fracking fields.  The pipelines were built anyway at the behest of the oil corporations looking for profit.  The people of the world have gathered in the streets at the climate talks calling for real solutions to global warming.  Meanwhile, the rich and powerful in control of the talks have ensured that corporate profits get priority over real solutions.

In western culture, we play the game of who can gain the most power and wealth.  In this game, the winners win because they cut costs and exploit resources.  If you try to run a business ethically, without cutting costs and exploiting resources, you lose out to those in the industry willing to cut costs and exploit resources.

In this game, the winners work on Wall Street while the losers lose their farms.  The winners sit in the boardrooms of corporations while the losers work overtime in order to afford food and housing and health care.  The winners decide monetary policy while the losers drown in debt.

Our economy, by the very nature of the rules of western society, will destroy life.  We are seeing this take place in front of our eyes.  Most of us are caught up in this system even though we disagree with the outcomes.  We are forced to chase wealth because those are the rules of our culture.  People who gain wealth, be it ethically or not, get to buy food.  People who don’t suffer.

It is time to do away with our allegiance to the principle that people should pursue power and wealth.  It is time to stop letting this corrupt principle drive decisions in our culture.

 

George Palen is an educator from California. 

Rainbow Grey

Snow blind?

No, snow kind

snow softs

wafts gentle in overnight

transforms my world –

no, not with white

(too stark, too bright)

 

the landscape’s stilled by

innumerable flakes of small

an infinite, invisible fall

away from noise

from angry reds,

grassroot greens and rusty blues –

all turn to grey and yet retain

a trace of all these hues

 

my vision IS for system change

but how?

today it takes an awestruck bow

to nature

wonders if we could witness a gentle miracle –

immense but no less radical

can I relinquish all the safety of my past belief

allow snow melt to wipe out grief

and find a vision grey drawn from this sky

which blankets all the bleak of ‘’will we live or die’?

to find the colour in the snow

leave space for many miracles to land

in that expanse which lives in ‘I don’t know’

 

it may be a fairy tale at best

but grief responds to this immediate request

and effects an inner system change

gruesome future stories rearrange

themselves and drop into a humble silence

which allows for being at peace

as the metaphor of many flecks of grey

prompts release

of the thought that many tiny unseen actions hold the power to change the view

for some cold feathered one – for me or you:

 

receive this muff of grey which wraps itself around the sun

embracing system change which dignifies and includes every one.

IT’S CHRYSALIS TIME

Lee Camp crystalized the nature of our predicament with one tweet:

“If you don’t like change, — You’re going to hate extinction!”

We are now in a phase of extreme pressure to evolve into a radically different society. If this were the lifecycle of a butterfly, we must now enter the chrysalis. This will only seem impossible to those who have not grasped the severity of our crisis. Failure amounts to an act of collective suicide. There is no guarantee of success, so everyone needs to engage. Evolve or die. #extinctionrebellion