The big picture is out of focus, distorted by irrationality and subterfuge, the small picture is unblurred, clear as a blue sky day, with the promise of clarity.
For five decades the impact of greenhouse gases on the Earth’s atmosphere has played havoc with the weather. That great big hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica is shrinking, but the scientists who study climate change are not getting excited about this discovery. What they are doing is worrying whether our weather will return to pre-ozone-hole conditions. The signs are that it won’t.
Scientists fear that continuing emissions of greenhouse gases will counter the effects of ozone recovery. In particular they fear that the jet stream, the high fast winds that start in the Antartic and determine regional weather patterns, will remain out of control. And that will mean no cessation of the rains and winds that continue to devastate parts of the planet.
When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in Berlin that greenhouse gas emissions had increased ‘more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than each of the three previous decades,’ hardly anyone gasped. The Earth’s atmosphere is now hotter than at any time in human history, and the increase is showing no signs of slowing. Despite the natural weather patterns that exist to control surface air temperature, the climatic equilibrium is being changed. Cloud height, ice and snow distribution, and atmospheric water vapour levels are feedback mechanisms. Ranged against them are greenhouse gases, dysfunctional ocean circulation and radiation from the sun.
Most of the sun’s energy goes into the oceans but it is gradually being released back into the atmosphere along with dissolved greenhouse gases, destroying an equilibrium 2.2 million years in existence. With dramatic shifts in the weather patterns, especially around sunlight-absorbing ice regions, the warming is continuous. Equilibrium now means a two degree rise in temperature, and a future that promises to be ‘nasty, brutish and hot’.
Resource depletion has been an issue for so long it is now almost dismissed as a science fiction fantasy. If you are worried about climate change and global warming, don’t be, say the environmentalists, resource depletion will get us first. If you are worried for the planet, don’t be, say the cynics, an asteroid will get it first.
Tell that to the bees and all the other species that face extinction as a direct consequence of human activity. We are responsible for climate change, habitat loss, intensive agriculture, pathogens, pollution and urbanisation but it is the loss of biodiversity caused by our methods of food production that is acute.
Then there is the pollution of the air and the water. After the ignorant dismissal of the toxic issue, one fact remains. More people suffer with respiratory episodes and illnesses than ever before. Air pollution is a major problem. It affects everyone and it contributes to climate change.
Now here’s the small picture. Very gradually people on all the continents are changing their lifestyle. Not in the same way they change their clothes, no, this is subtle. They are doing this by beginning to carefully manage their resources by moving away from the fuel-guzzling road and sky transportation onto sustainable integrated transport systems powered by non-polluting sources, by supporting local food production over environmentally harmful food imports, by encouraging the widespread growth of beneficial plant, shrub and tree species, by funding sustainable natural energy schemes, by educating the young in new ways to live, by changing the way they see the world through compassion and empathy, by becoming animistic and immanent.
Biodynamic seven-storey horticulture, companion planting, crop rotation, ecological engineering, eco-social practices, habitat creation and restoration, remedial sustainable practices and pollinator gardens are intricate snapshots of our future survival.
The small wild and wonderful picture – animism, bee education, community horticulture, immanence, integrated public transportation, natural energy creation, organic farming, sustainable food security, tree-planting, wilderness awareness, zero waste – is now in focus but we must do more to bring its clarity into the light.
THE NEW COMMANDMENTS
1 — If you own land, plant indigenous tree saplings.
2 — If you don’t own land, persuade your local authority with a gentle reminder that they own land that is marginal and suitable for small stands of mixed deciduous trees.
3 — If you own land, create wilderness areas by allowing existing areas to go wild, help out with saplings and seedlings and cuttings from bushes and shrups and vines. Once they are established do not touch them, they will go to seed and perpetuate. If you are a grower or a farmer plant saplings and seedings around the edges of your fields and the extent of your land.
4 — If you don’t own land, persuade your local authority with a gentle reminder that they own land that is marginal and suitable for wilderness areas.
5 —If you own land, build or buy a bee hive. You do not need to harvest the honey, the bees will take care of it.
6 — Whether or not you have access to land, you can acquire the seeds of plants like borage and comfrey and any other plants that produce blue, purple and yellow flowers and plant them in your windowbox, garden, verge and field edge.
7 — Encourage your companions, friends and workmates to follow your example – plant and sow, plant and sow, plant and sow.
8 — Send communications to your local authority to ask them to initiate a local farmers’ and local growers’ market with local artisanal food components or ask them to apply the ‘Ripple’ model to their existing markets.
9 — If you are a farmer, grow food that is indigenous and supply it to the local street market, raise animals that are adaptable to the local climate and do not need to be over-wintered and do not overgraze the land. Tell your national agriculture advisor that you want to know what their sustainable food security plan is and how you can implement it.
10 — Educate yourself on the wild plants of your area, find like-minded people, form into a group and begin to promote plants that are useful.
11 — Once you have become knowledgeable about indigenous plants, wild plants and useful plants, educate your children and tell them to share their new knowledge with their classmates.
12 — Change your diet. For a start eat food that has been produced locally and is sold at your local farmers / food market, try to avoid food that has been transported halfway round the world and is wrapped in plastic.
13 — Try to avoid food that has a high carbon footprint.
14 — Learn about your traditional food culture and the totality of food resources in your area, with a focus on indigenous food produce and artisanal food products.
15 — Recycle all your green-brown waste and avoid food waste. Green waste can be composted. Leftover food can be given to pets … or not leftover. If you live in the country put your green waste in a compost area or bin or box that will allow for the flow of air and the movement of animal, birds, insects and worms. If you live in the city ask your local authority to provide a suitable-sized bin for your green-brown waste.
16 — Sign a petition to ask your local supermarket to stop selling products wrapped in single-use plastics.
17 — Recycle everything!
18 — Tell your local authority you want to know what schemes they have in place for local horticulture in allotments, open spaces, roof tops and communal areas, and if they don’t tell them to launch suitable schemes.
19 — If you don’t have to drive a car DON’T, walk if you are able or cycle if you are able, use public transport.
20 — If your area is not served by public transport tell your local politician you want a transport stop within a reasonable walking distance of your home.
21 — For the next 25 years take your holiday or vacation or breakaway as close to home as possible, avoid airports and airplanes. If you have to travel, limit your air travel or take buses, trains and trams that are powered by electricity produced with clean technology.
22 —Collect and store rain water and tell your local authority to initiate large-scale rain-saving schemes.
23 — If you live in a land that generally has a dry climate during the summer months, make sure your local authority has a water system in place that can eradicate spontaneous fires at the source.
24 — If you live in a land that generally has a wet climate, ask your local authority to liaise with the national authority how you can help with mitigation schemes that will reduce flooding during heavy rainfall. If such schemes do not exist, ask why, your life might depend on it.
25 — Finally (for now) educate yourself about the following:–
Farmers’ / Local Food Markets.
Food Insecurity / Poverty.
Global / Local Pollution!
Local Food Production.
Loss of Biodiversity!
Plants For A Future.
Sustainable Food Security.
Sustainable Food Security Systems.