Welcome to a baby born at 416ppm CO2 and overshoot

Welcome to a baby born at 416 ppm CO2 on the day of COP26 in Glasgow. This is the last chance to turn around runaway climate change. Mind you they said that last time and the time before.

Newborn baby

 

You were born on the first day of COP26 –the 1st of November, 2021. I am sorry to say this, but this is what you are likely to see during your lifetime.

If you live in Auckland, New Zealand the number of hot days in summer is increasing. And I guess you will be glad you are not in remote Oodnadatta, South Australia which spends its summers in the late 40s and has a record of 50.7 degrees. It’s impossible to go outside or work outside there. The maximum temperature if you were born in Death Valley, California was 54.4 degrees last July.

Or you might live in Brisbane which got up to 37 and 38 degrees in 2017 and 2018. You have to stay inside and have air conditioning. But don’t try living in a place vulnerable to sea rise. Those marinas house a lot of fancy houses and they will face bigger storms and higher seas. Maybe they will be gone by the time you are an adult. And you will see a lot of bush fires in your life. And your hail stones will be big. This year they had one in the Sunshine Coast that was 16 cm wide.

Overshoot

But life isn’t all about heat waves, bushfires, coastal erosion and extreme storms. Let’s talk about the economy, about buying things and having enough food and shelter and essentials of life.

You have been born in a time when the whole world has had a Covid-19 pandemic for nearly two years. It’s given the global economy a heart attack. Mind you the global economy was very vulnerable even before Covid.

The fact is we have had a just-in-time global supply chain where goods get shipped and trucks all over the world and it’s worked up till two years ago. But now things are different and there is little hope it can be fixed any time soon.

So when you are a child, countries and communities all over the world will be scrambling to manufacture essential goods as near home as possible. I hope they make clothes and grow good food near you. Please don’t waste good land grazing all those animals to feed. They use too much water and pollute it, as well as using too much land. Besides eating animal protein is no good for your health. I only just found that out when I was 80 but you might as well know now.

The other thing, sorry to say, you have been born as the world faces up to the fact that the flammable fossils we found in the ground 250 years ago have been harder to get. Yes, we used to call these fossil fuels –oil, natural gas and coal. In fact your state of Queensland has had a lot of high grade coal mines and up till a year ago you shipped it to China. But human beings have binged big-time on these flammable fossils. Sorry about that.

I don’t suppose you will get to see much of the coral reefs, but hopefully they will be around in some form for a few years.

The global economy

I mentioned before that oil, gas and coal have been used. They have helped your parents, grandparents and great great grandparents live in an age of huge expansion. We have used up the easy to get oil, gas and coal and now we are at the stage where it is taking so much energy to extract them that we don’t get the return we used to get a century ago.

We are digging more wells deeper into the sea and going for the oil sands and hard to extract stuff. Darn!! They were so useful. In fact they still are. When you were born, 84% of the energy used came from this magic stuff. We run our diesel trucks and ships on them and we rely on them.

But they also, when burnt for driving or heating furnaces, sent a huge amount of gases high up into the air and this blanket round the earth is making it warmer. That is causing all the storms, rising seas, melting ice, extra big hail, extra heavy rain, prolonged droughts and bushfires. Yes you will see so much of that and I am sorry I was part of a generation that was complicit in this awful situation.

Several scholars have written now that we have reached the peak of world oil extraction. Nate Hagens and White wrote in their 2021 book Reality Blind that the peak in oil extraction was in October 2018. That means there will be less every year now. Mind you the prices will still fluctuate but it is resulting in high inflation because we have relied on cheap oil for two centuries now.

And natural gas and coal are dearer too, resulting in power cuts in many places like China, Germany, US and UK. You will grow up with power cuts in Australia I am afraid because the solar and wind power won’t be regular and you will be frantically trying to buy enough metals to rebuild them before long.

And if you try using hydrogen you will soon learn you get less out of it than you put in and the plants will be abandoned. In fact if Morrison and his government stay in, they will put their faith in other unproved technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS) that are either going to make things worse or will waste money or both.

You see we have an economic system that is reliant on having more energy. It can’t grow without more energy every year and it is set up to grow. That way it works. If it doesn’t grow there are employment problems that have to be solved So you will grow up in an age of contraction of the world economy and because it will be unplanned, it will be fast and steep. You won’t be able to buy everything you want. There will be shortages. It will be the age of resourcefulness.

So make friends with lots of skills. Train as an electrician, a plumber, an organic farmer, a person who mend things, a person who is practical. Surround yourself with people who know things and can help each other and the community around them. Surround yourself with people who don’t drain you of energy. Make friends with kind, compassionate people, people who understand how nature works and that human beings are a vulnerable species with huge potential for compassion, innovation and heroism.

You will see a lot of sadness. Tragedies will be common.

Now suppose you are my great grandchild. Challenges will abound, but you are bred for it. Your grandfather has been skilled with his hands all his life and has made do with little. Your great grandfather John was a doctor and his father was a fabulous gardener. John’s grandfather was a skilled bricklayer. His grandmother and great aunts were humorous and alert, always aware of who is doing what.

On our side you get me, then my mother who cooked, sewed, knitted and gardened to care for her six daughters. . My father was a minister on a small salary who learned things from books and was wise. My grandfather and grandmother came to New Zealand with three little children. When my grandmother was young, she wheeled her pram into town with a toddler in front and bought stuff for her meals every day because they didn’t have a fridge and were poor. 

I am sure your mother will fill you in with her side of the family and then there is all your father’s side to enquire about. Find out about their lives and how they struggled. You will struggle, but in a different economy and a different climate completely.  So remember all these people came before you. Think about them. 

Food

Don’t expect to live in a city all your life. There will be many more going to the country to grow food and live in small communities. Be a leader in a small community.

Eat vegetables, fruit, grains, beans
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Climate, Women and the Feminine

Is it too late for the Great Mother archetype?

Over recent weeks I have been watching over 50 interviews on Post-Doom on YouTube. Michael Dowd has interviewed climate scientists, young leaders in the eco-anxiety space, systems thinkers, journalists, ecologists, spiritual leaders, authors and researchers of all descriptions. Many have degrees in up to three disciplines and almost all can think across disciplines. Between them they have studied books about the collapse of civilisations, abrupt climate change, consciousness, peak oil, energy and environmentalism.

All are facing up to the reality of our current global predicament. They are not taken in by the happy chapter at the end of Al Gore’s film or any number of dissertations after describing the mess we have got ourselves into as a species. They don’t blindly obey the cultural imperative to be optimistic and not scare the punters.

I was delighted to listen to Barbara Cecil, a woman who has coached women leaders. She commented that, at the time of the 50 minute interview (2019), there were four trends. First there is the movement towards totalitarianism; second the desecration of the Earth and a headlong rush into an unliveable planet.  Third was the subjugation of women. She noted that in India in 2019, 5 million women had joined in a protest across the nation against violence, and the United Nations was using the new word, femicide. (think of the pain in today’s Afghanistan). Fourth was the genocide of indigenous rainforest.

She noted that the resistance against this these issues was not working. From there she said what we need is an amplified vibration the type that can break a glass with the singing of Ella Fitzgerald or can break up a kidney stone. She asked, “Where is the source of the feminine energetic?”

  1. There must be a deep listening for the interior impulse.
  2. They must be right placement. By that she means a relationship to others being the right distance from each other and Inbetweeners these fields are where the deep feminine is.
  3. There must be attention paid to and respect for cycles. You must do beginning is born out of silence and do endings at the appropriate time you must tune into the natural cycle and be patient.

There is power when enough people doing it. She said the feminine creative universal force is badly needed. And she left it there.

This led me to thinking about money systems and the writings of the late Bernard Lietaer. You may think this is a strange transition but in my mind I recalled a lot of writing about the worship of the goddess in different ages. Lietaer had studied the Black Madonna and had concluded that the worship of a Great Mother happened to coincide several times in history with a just and sustainable society. He attributed this successful and sustainable society to the fact that there were dual currencies operating at the time, a yin currency and a yang currency. The yin was abundant, the yang scarce. There was no monetary monoculture as there is today.

The interview finished on the theme that the feminine creative universal force is badly needed at a time when we have seen the Earth our Mother as an “it” to be exploited rather than a Goddess to be worshipped.

Bernard Lietaer and Stephen Belgium in their 2005 book New Money for a New World explain that Jung’s four archetypes, warrior, sovereign, magician and lover needed a fifth. They suggested the missing archetype is the Great Mother.

“The Great Mother was honoured and active over tens of thousands of years and over vast geographic areas. Her presence has been documented from the earliest times of human consciousness. Image has been carved in mammoth ivory, in reindeer antlers, and on stone at the entrance of sacred caves. Great Mother effigies were the most common figures of the upper-Paleolithic period  (30,000 to 9,000 BC).  Her predominant importance in ancient times is illustrated by the fact that four times more feminine than masculine prehistoric figurines have been uncovered.”

“Archeologist Marija Gimbuta’s Great Mother is the symbol of unity of all life in nature. The power was in water in stone into tomb and cave in animals and birds snakes in fish hills trees and flowers hence the holistic perception of the sacredness industry of all that is on Earth.”

The Great Mother archetype maybe what has been missing from our civilisation. But is it just too late? If so, it must surely be part of the culture of any civilisation that emerges from the Sixth Extinction.

As transition engineer Nathan Surendran recently wrote on an email group, “To me, our job is to ready people for the consequences of not having found a “route to a peaceful but profound transition” in 40 plus years of ‘trying’. We’re so far into overshoot that it is a wholly unrealistic and naively idealistic aim to suggest we can plan for anything other than civilisation ending collapse. Resource depletion and environmental effects are the two blades of the scissors that Gaia will use to castrate our ambitions to avert this logical, fact based and data supported conclusion.”

It is therefore no coincidence that those who have worked on finding ways to reverse climate change like the huge team of Paul Hawken’s Drawdown Project has done, put the education of women and family planning at numbers 3 and 6 in order of importance. Paul Hawken has in a 17 September 2021 lecture, concluded that when you put these two together, “empowerment of women and girls is the number one solution to climate change.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Time to halt privatisation of high country

Although about a fifth of the South Island high country is owned by Government and leased out to runholders, this is changing. Since 1992 the Government has allowed the privatisation of leasehold land. Called “tenure review” it involves an unusual deal and the government loses. The runholders because of their input into the farm claim the improvements belong to them. They end up getting part of the farm for a song. No I am wrong – they sometimes make money on the deal by a strange mechanism. And then they flip it on, making millions in the process. The less valuable land is kept for conservation. There is something strange about the land valuation process.

So why on earth does the public purse lose? To retire the pastoral rights, the Crown paid runholders $36 million (or $656/hectare). That is ridiculous. It is all explained by Dr Brower in April 2107 here and the Environment Court at that stage made a case for stopping freeholding of land in the McKenzie Basin.

The picture above from Stuff shows this week’s protest by Greenpeace about a farm near Twizel where the farmer wants to run 15,000 cows. Many local farmers and even Fonterra joined Greenpeace in opposing this dairy conversion.

All the figures and stories are given in her post and she ends by saying “The best, easiest, and cheapest thing New Zealand could do for the land and water of the South Island is to stop high country tenure review. Better late than never.”

As Charlie Mitchell from Stuff points out, the best land stays in pastoral use and the deal is skewed towards the wrong side. “You might assume that ownership rights to valuable land would be worth more than occupation rights to less valuable land. But the Crown believes the opposite, so it has purposely lost money through these deals.”

More recently we saw the headline “Flipped. From zero to $17.5 million.” This involved a lakeside property on Lake Hawea. Previously under tenure review the farmer had been paid $2.2 million by the crown and had paid nothing in return. Then he onsold it for $17.5million. Flipped from zero to $17.5 million by Charlie Mitchell. An earlier article is one on McKenzie country

Of course after privatisation the owner can subdivide so by April 2017 what used to be about 120 leaseholds is nearly 4000 parcels of freehold land.

The Minister of Lands Hon Eugenie Sage has her work cut out to change this situation.

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