400 ppm

Via Dolorosa.

Not a happy story. Not good news. Not a single thing here that we humans can be proud of, unless you’re proud of how we have screwed up this beautiful planet of ours.

What can we do about it? Well, there are only 2 things to do in my opinion. 1. Double, if not treble our actions to minimise our carbon footprint and reliance upon fossil fuels, and that’s for those doing something about it. For those that aren’t, it’s time to start (actually it’s well past time but can’t change that now). Number 2, Batten down the hatches. Climate change IS coming. Our climate WILL change and there is nothing we can do to change that now.

Be prepared.

I found hope for the future

I watched a TED talk this morning. It was sent to me from a site I receive regular emails from, The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia and I’ve come across some interesting articles covering a very wide range of topics, all related to permaculture and sustainability and gardening/agriculture or the environment in general. Many of the articles don’t appeal or I don’t find relevant for where we are at personally, which is not to say they’re not brilliant. But this one, appealed for some reason. I’ve been recommended TED talks in the past and I’ve come across some fascinating talks, from the value of silence to ways to combat climate change. You can follow the link to see others on topics of your choosing and listen to some remarkable speakers. šŸ™‚ This particular TED talk talks about dessertification, the process by which grassland is turned into dessert, a HUGE problem around our world. I’ve been saving this one up for a few days until I had the bandwidth available which, now that we have phone and internet connected (HOORAY) I now have access to the needed bandwidth (it’s not huge but it’s more than I was prepared to use on my pre-paid Ā internet dongle doovy. šŸ™‚

This speaker, Allan Savory, brought me to despair with his words but finished off on such a huge high note that I was in tears and applauding along with the rest of the audience. I think my kids thought I was nuts (I think they really KNOW I’m nuts to be honest šŸ˜‰ ) and I wanted to share his words with you. There are some that are a little scary and some that are heartbreaking. He has been to the depths and risen to the dizzying heights in his research and I think he may have found the way to literally save our planet if those to whom this is directly relevant see and hear and follow. So, once you’ve watched this, if you believe and agree, please forward it on, share it around and encourage people to see and listen.

The link is here.

If the end was nigh, how would you survive.

Picture the world as it is. Modern conveniences, easy access to food at supermarkets, toilet paper on hand, petrol with which to drive your car(s), flick the switch and on goes a light. It’s pretty cushy hey. Cold? Ok, turn on the heater, crank up the thermostat and welcome the warmth. Too hot? Switch on that air conditioner or go and dive into the swimming pool for a swim. Bored? Lonely? At a loose end? Stick on the telly or computer and check out Facebook, read some blogs or play a game.




Picture that same world in a few years when petrol and electricity have reached prices that only the wealthy can afford. You can still go to the supermarket… IF you have the money for the fuel for your car or if you live close enough to ride a bike or walk there. Take your own bags though as there will be no more plastic ones.

Once you get there the shelves may well be bare and you may well be shopping in the dark. Imagine long queues to line up for a few cans of food, some stale bread and maybe a few cups of rice because the supermarket is rationing what they have as there is no fuel to ship the food over from China and no diesel to drive it from our farming communities or for the trucks to drive it from the docks, then to the supermarkets.

It’s mid winter and the electricity brown or black outs mean there is no power to switch on the heater. Or a 40C day and the air con needs power to run and the pool is green from lack of adequate filtration. That boredom and loneliness will Ā not go away with online access either. No power remember?

Take it further. How will you cook that last can of baked beans you’ve managed to find? Power is out and gas is either too pricey to use or run out too. How will you heat water for a shower? How will you prevent food from going off?



Where will your clean water come from?

It’s Springtime and it’s time to plant a garden. Have you got seeds to plant? What will you grow? Where will you grow it? Suppose you have the seeds, the space to grow some food and kind weather. How will you keep that bumper crop of tomatoes and corn? The fridge and freezer are unreliable at best (remember the brownouts?).

And most scary of all, how will you prevent others from taking your food from you should things reach that point.

Ok, so that’s all pretty extreme I know and a long way from the world in which we currently live. But does it make you stop and think? I mean we’ve all seen those post apocalyptic films and tv shows. Mad Max II, Waterworld, Tank Girl, Dark Angel, the list goes on I’m sure. But have we ever stopped and thought what would happen to us if we had to survive in those situations.

I know many have lived through similar conditions after the disasters that have struck. Cyclones, hurricanes and tornadoes, tsunamis and earthquakes, bushfires, floods and other catastrophic events that render us unable to access the amenities we can normally take for granted. I salute those who have survived these situations. I have no idea how I would manage. How would I cope?

How prepared is my family?

Gavin Webber from The Greening of Gavin has posted about exactly this (inspiring 100% of this post) and has linked in a wonderful calculator to help you assess just how ready you truly and actually are. Click here to see Gavin’s post and follow the links. My family report card brings home a score of B. There are some areas that we are in a great position and others we are seriously lacking. I have an afternoon of research ahead of me. I strongly urge you to think about this and to read this post. How will you survive when the end of the world as we know it is nigh?

Is growth the solution or the problem?

Big Ideas - Full program podcastMartin enjoys hanging out the washing. No, I don’t make him do it. šŸ˜‰ He offers… For the 20 minutes or more of uninterrupted(except by mosquitoes) peace and quiet. He gets to be alone. He gets to listen to the radio if he likes. He gets to listen to Radio National, his station of choice. I prefer background music to talking so he loves this quiet time in our garden in the twilight after the kids are in bed where he gets to enjoy the peace at the end of a long day.

The other evening whilst he was hanging out the washing he comes in with his little hand heldĀ transistorĀ and tells me I would LOVE this talk. I’m thinking “no, not really” until I heard the topic of discussion. Continue reading

Makes you stop and think seriously… Or if it doesn’t, it should.

I don’t like using the word “should” as it’s me telling you what I think your mind needs to believe. It’s imposing ones thoughts and beliefs upon another. You should eat more/less. You should get more sleep. I mean, who am I to judge what you should or shouldn’t do? But in this case I feel strongly enough to tell you that I think you should read this post. It should make you stop and think. It should make you take check of your lifestyle and how you use fossil fuels. That’s a strong place to be and between you and me it makes me nervous to be dictating my beliefs. But unless we share what we believe strongly about we are not going to get the message we wish to share, across to anyone. Be it your religious beliefs or other lifestyle choices – vegetarianism, veganism, walking not driving, Commodore vs Ford (that’s for my brother the pro Ford king) or any other stand or stance you take on anything at all – we all have things we believe strongly in, passions we live, eat and breathe or values we would die for. Well, this is something I believe strongly enough in to tell you I believe you should read this. It’s facts, not a diatribe. It’s information, not a sermon. It’s data that allows you to come to your own conclusions. And if it’s enough to make me feel deeply sorry for a snake, me the ophidiophobe, then hey, it’s powerful stuff.

PLEASE read this. šŸ™‚

Warmest decade on record brings record temperatures and weather extremes.Ā It made me think of the film Day after Tomorrow as there are many any similarities in what happened in the film and what happened in real life. Ok, not to the extremes of Hollywood but the jet stream activity sounds very familiar to fans of the film.

Again I ask, please read it.

Climate change and changing to suit the climate

Climate change.

Controvertial, no?

Is it real or is it just a hoax?

If it IS a hoax, what is the reason behind the hoax and who does it benefit?

If it is real, how do we sort the truth from the lies? How serious is it? Is it too late?

I only wish I knew the answers but I believe climate change, brought about by man, is real. If it is a hoax it benefits no-one that I can think of bar a few comparatively small companies producing environmentally friendly goods. If we believe it is a hoax however, I can think of a few industries that will reap the rewards (think of mining and drilling).

When I think back to what started my green journey I find it really hard to pin point any particular thing. I remember hassling my mum once about buying bleach and she ended up buying vinegar instead. I remember in grade 6 I think it was, doing an in class assignment where you answered multiple choice questions and it predicted a future scenario for you. Even then I preferred a large house in a small country town with an eco lifestyle. Ok, so I no longer want a large house (cleaning the house never entered my 12 yo mind šŸ˜‰ ) but the rest of the scenario has pretty much played out to be true. I’ve also had that dream of living on a small acreage in the country for as long as I can remember, interspersed with eco dreams too. For as long as I can remember there has always been some level of environmental sustainability or homesteading about my dreams.

So what kicked it all into high gear then? I’ve already mentioned some of my journey of how it’s not easy to be green but it was probably the film The Day after Tomorrow that really prompted me to start making changes. Now, do I think that there will be 3 big storms to plunge the world into a new ice age? No. Do I think that the film is very over-dramatised? Yes. Do I think that the film makes a good point though? Yes. It got me thinking long and hard about climate change and our precious planet. It got me thinking about the impact that my choices and decisions have upon the planet and although it doesn’t touch on even half of the issues out there (deforestation of our jungles, over fishing, landfill, fossil fuel usage and so on) but at least for me it got me thinking. It got me processing. It made me realise that there is a LOT more to the world than just my little piece of it.

Now as I sit here today it’s a predicted high of 38C degrees (about 29 inside at the moment). It’s still November! The average maximum temperatures for Melbourne in November is 22C although the highest on record is 40.9 on November 27 1894 (info found here). It’s a total fire ban in both the Mallee and Wimera regions of Victoria too – the far north and west of the state where it’s already at severe fire danger (info found here). This is unusual for November in Victoria in my memory at least and I suspect that the odd rumours I’ve heard of a long hot summer may well turn out to be true. And after what Ballan locals have said was a long cold winter… Well it just seems to me, in my very unscientific opinion, that things are changing.

I believe things are reaching some pretty critical levels as far as climate change goes. I mean, from a cursory glance at my dear friend Dr Google, it seems the average temperature of the earth has risen less than a degree C which sounds negligible… But is it? I know the last few years here in Melbourne we’ve had some stinking hot days. I remember the new years we waved farewell to 2007 and hello to 2008 it was still a balmy 35C or 95F at midnight. Just over 13 months later on February 7th 2009 and we saw our hottest day on record, now known as Black Saturday because of the horrific bushfires that raged across our state. It changed our hottest ever recorded Victorian temperature to a whopping 48.8C (that’s 120F) recorded at Hopetown (stats taken from here). Melbourne reached 46.4C Ā or 115.5F (stats taken from here). Even without counting the fires in, it was a pretty rotten day here. Including the devastating fires, it was horrendous.

What melting polar ice?

The point is, the climate is changing and we are going to have to change along with it.Ā I read a wonderful comment this morning on Narf77’s blogĀ The Road to SerendipityĀ about adaption. “I LOVE the positivity of permacultureā€¦no sitting around whinging about how we wonā€™t have citrus trees soon and isnā€™t it terribleā€¦just straight away looking at the possibilities and adapting. Thatā€™s what I prizeā€¦adaptation and the ability to look on the bright side. Thatā€™s what is noble about the human raceā€¦” and it struck a chord. Even if we stopped burning each and every fossil fuel today and set everything right in one fell swoop I don’t believe the climate trend will change overnight. Things have gone too far for that. Arctic ice melting is a prime example. From what I’ve read it works like this. When there is a large amount of arctic ice it reflects back the heat of the sun a lot more, being white it’s reflective, notĀ absorptive. However, when it gets hotter the polar ice melts and then there is less white reflective ice and more absorptive dark coloured ocean to contain the heat from the sun. This in turn melts more of the ice, which in its turn provides more dark ocean to absorb more heat and so on. I’m not sure how that is supposed to stop to be honest because it’s self perpetuating. The melting of the polar ice brings with it warmer temperatures, more water (the melting water surely has to go somewhere although I can’t seem to find anything but arguments about rising sea levels on Dr Google).

Tagasaste or tree lucerne

We MUST take more responsibility for the environment and try to stop the global warming trend but in correlation with this we need to adapt. I for one am glad we will be raising our elevation from about 17m above sea level to much closer to 500m… Just in case. I also plan to try to grow some plants that are not considered suitable for the Ballan climate – Tagasaste (Chamaecytisus palmensis) or tree lucerne is one such tree. It’s a dry climate plant initially from the Canary islands and doesn’t like waterlogged soil but I am hoping by growing it in a raised bed in the chook pen that it will thrive and help provide food for the chickens. I am also going to try growing sweet potatoes next year. They’re not good in cold climates and not so great in temperate climates either (I tried to grow them a few years back) but I reckon it’s worth giving them a crack inside the greenhouse. I’ll probably also try ginger and turmeric too. The Tropical Hippy, a friend in both the blogosphere and real world who lives in tropical climes is giving sweet potatoes a go now if you’re keen to try them.

For me that adaption is to try and grow things locally so that I can reduce our food carbon miles. If I can’t grow it locally (bananas, mangoes, pineapples and other tropical fruits for starters) I need to weigh up the value of having access to these foods (bananas would be a big loss to my kids) versus their mileage. With many of our tropical fruits coming from Queensland they’re not as bad as they could be, but dates (which we use in cooking and as snacks – a huge loss to me) may well come from Iran or other local countries so their mileage is huge. I guess for me if I can localise as much as possible then buying some things with carbon miles isn’t so bad. I hope that the miles our tomatoes will travel will be about 20 metres from the veggie garden to the kitchen via shanks pony. šŸ™‚ They will then be bottled which will use some gas or electricity in the processing but it’s much less than buying a can of imported tomatoes.

Anyway, this is becoming a bit of an incoherent ramble which I’m going to blame on the heat frying my brain (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it šŸ˜‰ ) so it’s time to sign off. We’re having a tv day here in the interests of keeping the kids calm whilst being locked inside away from the sun (not my favourite kind of day but needs must).