29 Dec 2011

OCCUPY-where now?

I don't think we can pretend that the "Occupy" movement is analogous to the Arab Spring- although there are obvious common strands.Westerners in the UK and US are not being repressed by dictatorial and violent regimes- however loosely you define our present situation. Arabs in Egypt, Tunisia, Lybia etc were fired by hatred, fear and loathing of their rulers-and they had nothing to lose. "Occupy" supporters by and large have plenty to lose and don't have the massive popular support to rely on. So, whilst there may well be a majority who are angry at the greed of the banksters- this in itself doesn't provide a comprehensive enough agenda to base a long term campaign on. And, of course, the main protagonists are reluctant to widen or specify a larger manifesto for fear of dissipating support. But its hard to visualise Occupy maintaining momentum for much longer without a major new strategy.Like it or not, the media has a very short attention span- as does the average viewer, and once scenes of tents surrounding cathedrals or city parks have been aired a few times,with the occasional police intervention, the novelty wears off pretty quick.
Charles Eisenstein has suggested some possible ways forward-- http://www.realitysandwich.com/where_next_occupy   He suggests we need to think big first, then get practical. He also observes that none of us are merely victims of an unfair and broke system but we are also its perpetuators and enforcers. This latter characteristic is an important distinction from Arab Spring- yes, we have common enemies, but we, in the West cannot escape our burden of complicity. Charles suggests that one way forward for Occupy may be to "get active"- and perhaps "occupy" libraries and other symbols of civic support that are threatened with closure- this wouldn't be a squat- but an attempt to provide the social service that has been removed. Similarly, activists could collect waste food and distribute it and set up and operate local currencies.
I think Charles has a fair point- although I would add that many campaigners are already doing these very things. So I think Occupy needs to demonstrate both practical and philosophical involvement and make the connections. Politics in the UK and US has been represented by brain-deadening, unending coverage of party politics and a dearth of genuine consideration of the fundamental issues. Lets talk about the nature of money, the effects of globalisation on North and South, food security, meaningful work, land rights, and much much more. Occupy could fill a vital gap by providing meeting points for all of us to flesh out a "road map" out of our present crumbling society and towards a fairer system in balance with nature and genuinely sustainable.

15 Oct 2011


At one of the recent RECLAIM WALL STREET rallies Deepak Chopra was interviewed by an Aljazeera correspondent. I can't now find the clip but he rephrased Gandhi's words to say " We are the change". (At least, the saying "Be the change you want to see" is widely associated with Gandhi). It then occurred to me that perhaps this could be a useful banner under which each of us in our villages or towns could promote DM ideas and visions- eg We Are The Change- Feniton, We Are The Change- Bideford etc.One nice aspect of this logo is that you can put the emphasis either on the "Are" or on the "Change" to slant the meaning.

I recently attended a Buddhist meditation session during which a discussion of the concept of "the self-cherishing mind" was held. After the meeting had finished small groups remained outside the meeting room continuing the exchange of ideas.It occurred to me then that there seemed to be a wider thirst to air such ideas and thoughts but that no such opportunities existed- certainly few or none in rural areas.

Ultimately, we all have to accept that, regardless what rallies or demonstrations are held to protest against this government or that policy, the buck rests with each of us. Politicians will not solve the world's problems, no more than scientists or technology will solve climate change. That is not to say I am opposed to rallies or demos- they are vital to highlight issues, raise our morale and foster confidence amongst individuals and support networks etc. But we can't escape the responsibility that rests with each of us.

At a recent discussion on the poor record of treatment of the elderly in hospitals, Joan Bakewell lamented the decline of moral values that stressed the importance of love, kindness and empathy- which she had learned at Sunday School.and in her church. I don't want to see the return of such religions with all their implications but we do need to encourage wider individual spirituality. And this can only spring from the individual, and cannot be imposed by anyone or from anywhere else.

15 Aug 2011

Love and rioting in our times

Yesterday, in response to conversations (real and virtual) around the recent riots, I posted this on Facebook:
My girl, at 18 months, has had more love and guidance than some people ever get. We need to love, not fear, those people.
It sparked a debate which you may be interested in reading/adding to/continuing here. I'm Lunar Gaia Hine in non-business-mode on Facebook, and that's where you'll find it. https://www.facebook.com/lunarsolargaia
Would love to know what you're thinking about such things.

28 May 2011

Real Sustainability

Humanity's use of planetary non renewable resources should be between 600,000 and 9 million times less than current usage, if we are serious about our use of the word “sustainability”.

Our current society-view of sustainability (and the oxymoronic “sustainable development”) is coloured by the desire to maintain the myth of progress.

This is why the often quoted Brundtland definition has been so popular:
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. ... Pretty woolly eh?

One definition I like - which is clearer than the Brundtland Definition - is ...

Real sustainability is when we use up no more resources than are naturally replenished by the earth. And we throw away no more waste than is naturally absorbed by the earth.

Even this definition begs the question; “does the human species have an inalienable right to exploit these resources in any case”?

The key question is; “how do we measure the resources that we can use up under the rubric of real sustainability”? It will of course be different for each resource, but we could start off by looking at fossil fuels about which we know quite a lot.

The coal, oil and gas that we are using up now was created by the crushing of animals and plants laid down mainly during the Carboniferous Period, between 354 million and 290 million years ago.

We have been exploiting coal, oil and gas significantly for about 250 years ago. The easily extracted fossil fuels have now been used up. We have - if we are lucky - about another 250 years worth of the fossil fuels left under the ground, although the future exploitation period is very much dependent upon the energy cost and monetary cost of extraction.

To summarise then - in just 500 years we will have used up all the fossil fuel resources created over at least a 300 million year period. It could be argued therefore that we are using up fossil fuels at a rate 600,000 times faster that we should do, in order to meet our requirement of “using up no more resources than are naturally replenished by the earth”.

So - to be truly sustainable - our use of fossil fuels should be 600,000 times less.

But what about other minerals; bauxite, iron ore, molybdenum, gold, diamonds, copper etc?

Well, amazingly, we will see all these materials disappear over the same 500 year period that fossil fuels will be used up. However, these materials were naturally created over a period way before the carboniferous period, stretching back to when the planet was first formed; 4.54 billion years ago. Fossil fuels are the most recently formed resources.

Therefore the sustainability overuse ranges between 600,000 and 9 million.

Thus we need to use non renewable resources between 600,000 and 9 million times less, if we are really serious about our use of the word “sustainability”.

i.e. our use should be virtually zero. ... Now that’s what I call real sustainability!

1 May 2011

Sick Civilisation Syndrome

What kind of sick civilisation has regular displays of opulent ostentation, whilst more than 2 billion of its population struggle to find a meal every day?

What kind of sick civilisation has an economic growth system that requires that finite resources be exponentially exploited, with no regard to the needs of future generations?

What kind of sick civilisation eradicates species, destroys soil, acidifies oceans, pollutes rivers and creates swathes of toxic wasteland ... in effect destroying the very life support system it relies on for its survival?

What kind of sick civilisation eliminates indigenous tribes and rips out essential biosystems in order to extract minerals required to keeps its industrial system hyperactive?

What kind of sick civilisation, knowing that it is dangerously heating up the planet, continues to do so but at an accelerating rate, whilst making vain attempts to convince itself that it is acting?

What kind of sick civilisation perpetuates violence and war year after year, and fails to invest in creating the conditions for peaceable living?

What kind of sick civilisation is in constant denial about the onslaught it is wreaking on a defenceless natural world?

A sick civilisation on its final deathbed. A civilisation in terminal decline. A civilisation that will almost certainly sputter out sometime in the 22nd century.

In his book; “Endgame”; Derrick Jensen asks the question “Do you believe that our culture will undergo a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living? The answers range from emphatic nos to laughter. One fellow at one talk did raise his hand, then said, sheepishly, “Oh voluntary? No, of course not”.

We are a privileged generation. For we have the opportunity to witness the demise of our civilisation, and to lay the foundation stones for a sane and genuinely sustainable way of living.

It is what the Dark Mountain is all about. Every human being should be be engaged in this amazing and exciting adventure.

It is a joy to be alive at this time.