Thursday, 9 June 2016

Natures Hazardous Waste Dumps

lately, thinking about the economic and ecological balance sheet, I had an idea that is old hat for some, but it really shocked me. We have been willfully turning our back on what has been patently obvious for about half my lifetime.

We as a species have chosen to exhume what was secreted away by nature, so our environment could take advantage of our planet's Goldilocks Zone. We evolved in it, because of it, and to fit it exactly. It was as perfect as a planet could be.

But the planet started with an atmosphere of  mainly carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Then, that CO2 was sequestered away over millions of years, by plants and seaweeds as oil, coal, peat, natural gas and trees, leaving our atmosphere in a balance that allowed us and all modern life to flourish and be in balance.

In this sense, coal and oil etc are Nature's Hazardous Waste Dumps and there they stayed, untouched through the whole evolution of modern plants and animals. So what have we done with those hazardous wasted dumps? Surely we would not be dumb enough to dig exhume them?

Would you believe, that  for a few years' worth of wealth for some, we have been willing to sacrifice it all. Big miners, and the politician recipients of their campaign funds, took that attitude that their wealth was more important than the sustainability of life on Planet Earth. Through their mouthpieces in the media and in politics, they have confused us into thinking there might be an easier choice. They tell us that what science tells us is a conspiracy and it is OK to keep digging into the hazardous waste dumps. "Listen to the grown-ups and trust us!"

The very wealthy can pay any price for anything, while the rest of us have to deal with their mess. For a few years of cheap electricity and fuel, we are trading away: Clean air, uncontaminated water, a consistent sea level, a benign atmosphere, plankton and the fisheries that rely on them, coral reefs,  and the list goes on.

Do we really want to wait until river deltas, that feed perhaps three billion people, are ruined by salt water ingress? Do we wait until so many cities that have taken a thousand years to build, become awash and empty out? Do we want to watch the whole of Bangladesh become uninhabitable?
Many Island states are already going nderwater.  Do we really need to keep breeding ourselves into poverty and conflict?

We know what we have to do,we have the technology to do it, but we do not have the wisdom to go that last mile and fix it. And it has to be done now!

Am I being alarmist? Not for a moment. But I believe in democracy and am searching for a political party that GETS IT?

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Frozen out?

Is this censorship or just a little power play?
We have been booking libraries and bookshops for the upcoming promotion tour since February, with expected success, generally achieving one appearance in each town.

But today, we find that Robinsons and QBD bookshops do not allow branches to accept even free author visits. All author visits are booked through HQ, after the book has been (my interpretation) discovered somehow, then vetted.

But wait, there is more. Then HQ approaches the Publisher who then informs the author that the above bookstore at wherever, has invited the author to appear at an event.  Who pays to get someone to an event hundreds of K's away unless they are a celebrity? My offer was free.

If one examines the minutiae of that for a minute, one can glean this very important message: "No author that is not already famous need apply to visit any of our bookshops!"
Luckily, the above retailers are now a relatively small player in book retail, and anyhow, Gulag is available at Booktopia (Australia) and Book Repository UK as paperback and I expect as an e-book at all the usuals and when Woodslane gets them out, in most retail bookshops except some who do not know what they missed. :-)

You just know my characters will get themselves into a heap of shit and this pair, Merpati and Tom McKinnon do not let us down.
Ask at your local bookstore too. It's good for me if a lot of people keep saying my name.

Cut to the chase.

Just yesterday I had a new thought. Well, it was for me. It was so profound, that it must have been through thousands of minds since we realised we had minds. However, as I have heard nobody say it in this way before, here it is. But first a preamble.

I was listening to our ABC Radio RN, as experts on Israeli-Palestinian relations were holding forth on the two-state solution that has evaded peace makers since the late 1940's, when Palestinians were displaced to make way for European Jews, decimated by the Nazi's and not really welcome to stay in Europe.

Even after Europe learned the extent of the evil visited upon the Jews, they were still not welcome en-masse, to stay in Europe.

So, how could the British fire upon them as they dragged their mad and sad families shore on the beaches of Palestine, to reclaim the land they were told God gave to Moses three thousand years before. I too read Leon Uris and was on their side.

Arafat and Rabin went close to coming to an agreement before the assassination of Rabin and the mysterious death of Arafat stopped the process. Despite efforts by many statesmen since, there seems to have been little to celebrate. Now I come to the radio story.

Opinion seems to be, that there is now no prospect of a two state solution. Israeli settlements creep further into the West Bank, walls have gone up, mistrust has become absolute and violence from outside and inside Israel is an everyday occurrence. Both groups have moved to a stage were peace is impossible and the only outcome will be an all-out war. Of course the Palestinians could never defeat the might of Israel alone, but if Iran also declared war on Israel and had the bomb....

Now, here is the thought: Anyone who has witnessed the before and afters of all the wars in their lifetime knows that the afters leave everyone much worse off than the befores. So much is destroyed, as destruction seems to pass unnoticed by the combatants in the pressure to not lose.

Then, often suddenly, as both sides stagger toward exhaustion, and there is no longer appetite for it and peace negotiations begin. Agreements are signed and everyone goes back to face the destruction.
Restoring the built environment sucks up vast amount of wealth and energy. Some economies never recover and even those that do could have used those resources to build onto, rather than replace. Then there is the human cost of lives lost, maimed to care for and even a gap in education of those who come next. All that is known and irrefutable.

So, what madness is it that prevents us from cutting out the middle bit? We are in the 'before', we know the issues. We know solutions are found after every war. But, historically, they have been found only after both sides have exhausted their economies and sacrificed their youth. So why must we always go straight to the violence?

My thoughts go to the idea that perhaps, most of us are still children. When it comes to dealing with a threat, we do not have negotiating skills. When a sibling wrests away a toy, we run to Daddy, and wonder be! We do the same when we are all grown up. And there always seems to be a Daddy ready to 'Shirtfront Mr Putin', 'Make America strong again','establish and Islamic state' - in other words: 'Leave it to me. Give me control of your freedom, your money, your youth and I'll take care of it.'

How's it been working so far?

Images googled from the web.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Being conned

I feel I have been conned.

It seems we are expected to all take for granted the wisdom of Economic Growth and not look at the cost. The Conservative parties are running their current election campaign on the mantra: 'Jobs and growth' and we are expected to not question its deeper implications.

Dick Smith, said it on One Plus One (ABC TV program): "We are already using one and a half times the resources of the planet and every step toward growth increases the environmental debt."
Then I read, and I wish I could claim this as mine: "I used to live in a community, but I now live in an economy".

It does not take a lot of deductive power to work out who benefits from 'Economic Growth'. The whole economy is wealthier in money term, as we whittle away at our sustainability, but it is corporations that really benefit. A corporation needs to grow so that its shares rise in value. That is what investors are looking for, and the game is set up to benefit them, offering tax breaks for the gamblers but not for those in it for the dividend.Gamblers are the wasted spaces who steal value from our enterprises and add nothing. It might be instructive to ask why we are shown the stock market report every TV news bulletin, but there is no corresponding index of CO2 rise, or sustainability index to give is the full picture, that is, real costs to the global community of Growth.

Of course, living in Australia, we tend to presume that our standard of living,with good public schools, medical facilities, power that rarely fails, water we can drink from the tap, sewerage systems, adequate pensions for all, public transport that might be tight in the cities, but compared with just about anywhere else, is reliable and safe, is deserved.

But we are in for a bit of a shock. Well, we are already in the shock, but are being shielded by governments that have not produced men or women that can be both brave and truthful enough to tell it like it is and really lead.

When I read Brave New World and '1984' in 1956, we all thought automation would reduce our working hours and our main problem would be finding something to do. I am still waiting.
It seems that those who have jobs of consequence work longer hours than ever, while others, for many reasons, are struggling to find any work at all while we try to create new industries to absorb them.

Yesterday at the bank, which I rarely visit, this time to deposit a cheque, I was advised that I can deposit cheques at any ATM. My insistence on seeing a real person was received with the sort of smile one reserves for the village idiot and maybe that is what it deserved in our Brave New World..

Anyway, back to Economic Growth. I admit we need it if we are to 'remain competitive' and we need it to create more jobs to replace those lost as we automate banks, supermarket checkouts, railway ticketing, train driving, create music, art and literature with computers, have university lecture halls where five hundred students watch a video of a lecture. We are told these create 'efficiencies' in the economy and are therefor automatically good, but are they?

Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me that having a meaningful job, supporting oneself and family, comes naturally and is necessary for for human health. So, solving problems for oneself,even if that means doing things the hard way,making mistakes and learning, leads us to a better place than surrendering totally to the economic mantra of never-ending growth, that is leading us to where extinction is probable.

This week or the next, we reach 400PPM of CO2. We have known this was coming at least forty years ago, but as I said in CULL: 'We know the problem, we have the technology to fix it, but we lack the wisdom to apply it.'

We have an election in a few weeks but there is nobody standing that gives me confidence in their ability to at least articulate the big picture. Then again, anyone who does will not be elected. We really are still the lotus eaters and because we choose ignorance over engagement, deserve what is coming. In desperation, I will again vote Green.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Taking risks

Play equipment will never again be as much fun. We are so risk adverse these days, that I wonder why we seem to ignore the really big killers and maimers of children while we fuss over them and stop them from doing most of the things that made their grandparents resilient.
Perhaps it is because we feel we need to be able to control SOMETHING as individuals.

But what comes up when we compare the number of children who were once killed or maimed by playground equipment, with these modern maimers and killers?
Lead in gasoline.
Guns in the house.
Denial of medical facts, such as benefits of immunisation and of fluoride in water.
Domestic violence.
Climate change.
Driving dangerously.
Sexualisation of infants.

 If I was a kid now, I doubt I would rather play on modern (bland) playground equipment than do something a bit more daring for my adrenaline rush, like search the house for the gun we know is hidden somewhere, or watch that video Dad would not let us see, or see what happens when we take these pills.

Let kids find their limits, learn that a fall hurts, and why it happened.

PS. Well, Paris was a start. But, the language of reductions will not save us. Now we must stop talking about emission reduction and start talking about ZERO NET EMISSIONS, because every little bit of greenhouse gas we produce (above what is being removed naturally), raises greenhouse gas levels and the temperature keeps rising. Then there are hidden problems that must be factored in to get to ZERO NET, and here is one.

 In the paper this morning:
Methane from livestock produces 15% of global emissions.  
Our people in Paris are parting, 
All saying, they really are starting, 
To change their positions 
On greenhouse emissions. 
But who'll stop cattle from farting? 

If you liked this, you might also like this: 

PPS. Please visit other poets and writers at

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

There cannot be one person in the connected world who was not moved by images of that toddler dead on the beach. However, I wonder if we can imagine similar toddlers (and women and men) killed and maimed by air strikes in Syria. Nobody imagines that bombing Syria will end ISIL barbarism, so I ask would the money we spend on bombs, planes and all that goes with that, be better spent on supporting Syrian (and Iraqi) refugees in Lebanon and Jordan?
Of course, that would not help the hate and scare mongers get elected and re-elected.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Into the tropics and now engine trouble!

Here are a couple of pics of the tour. The first is at Readers Companion, a bookshop in Armidale NSW where it was really cold outside, but inside we had a great time- lots of laughs and sales too.
Spent a well earned hour at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery, where we tasted four different rums then went back to the A-Van for a nap.
Here we find, in a small park just north of Bundy, a set of exercise apparatii. I did try them all, but the lovely thing bout this pic is that the people of this little village took the trouble to put these devices there where any passer-by can tone up the muscles a little.
Right now, stuck in Gladstone with radiator trouble (if that is what it is). Everything closes in Gladdy over the weekend, so it looks like we don't get even a diagnosis until Monday which will put a serious dent in the itinerary!

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Nice oddities

Sorry, no pictures but important none the less. This last week saw me getting stuff fixed, and I was in for some surprises.

Surprise 1. My smart phone was going flat at an alarming rate so I took it to Battery World Tamworth, expecting to have to shell out for a new battery at sixty or seventy dollars. The young man at the counter took out the battery and tested it, to announce that the battery was fine. He then showed me how to open up the apps to see what was running in the background and how to turn them off and on. That young man saved me a new battery and the inconvenience of the battery going flat always at an inconvenient time.

Surprise 2. The new (second hand) 4 wheel drive I bought to pull the caravan (trailer) was using about 2 litres (a quart) of coolant every 5,000 Km (3,000 miles). I took it to a radiator specialist in Tweed Heads South for a pressure test, expecting a leaky hose at least, or a cracked head at worst. Within five minutes I had the truck back. The problem was a faulty radiator cap. All-up cost? $15.

Surprise 3. Two years ago when we bought the caravan, we also bought a 12 to 240V inverter. A few days ago, it decided to not work, and to announce its demise, it continued to emit an ear-splitting squark when it was plugged in. I took it to Jaycar at South Tweed, where it was replaced by a new inverter, free of charge. What I did not know was that it had a two year warranty, and completely unknowingly, its warranty was due to run out on the following day. I guess that was luck, but because it had been bought at a different franchise, strictly speaking, I should have had to return it to the shop where it was purchased. Unfortunately, that shop is now about 1,200 km away. I'd say Human nature is not all bad, in fact this week has convinced me that honesty and generosity are alive and well... at least here in the north. Having a great time on the road, wish you were here!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Jo doing what she does best.

Into the second week of the trip and loving it. This morning at Historic Wollombi, it is a bit nippy, so the crew have expressed their intentions for the day.

Attendances at talks have been better than expected so with some media coverage, we should improve as we go.
Wednesday morning we are at the ABC Bookshop at 11am. Thursday morning at 10 we are at ABC Radio Northwest at the Country Music Capital, Tamworth, to talk to the on air Book Club, and at Readers' Companion at Armidale on Thursday afternoon, 4pm. More later!

Chloe, keen to go hunting.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Channeling Grandma.

Mornings, I’m equipped for a sojourn to the brook,
With fold-up seat and a jolly good book.
But ‘fore I leave the inside,
Ready for the outside,
Is my hat and my bag and my brolly on a hook.

Madly rehearsing Sarabande for the Batemans Bay Writers Festival where we (Paul Baker and Sarah Leaver and me), will be plying live Muzak for the cognoscenti. I know it's a big word, but it is late at night here and I have had a nice glass of Pinot Gris.

Thanks you Tess for encouraging we scribblers to aspire to higher things. .