Environment, History & Traditions, Motivational

Sunday Sayings – Planting Trees

Toowoomba street and painted bird with lavender

“Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” ~Greek Proverb

Goodreads.com

The Chinese sages also appreciated their value:

Chines proverb about planting a tree in a voice bubble

Let us not forget the importance of creating nature; fostering and nurturing Mother Earth.

Trees provide so many benefits to our everyday lives. They filter clean air, provide fresh drinking water, help curb climate change, and create homes for thousands of species of plants and animals. Planting a Billion Trees can help save the Earth from deforestation.

Helping to Plant Trees

Depending on location, it costs between $1-$3 to plant a tree including ongoing maintenance and stewardship. Including organizational overheads, I see this as a real bargain, especially for something that might last 70 years!

The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees campaign is a major forest restoration effort with a goal of planting a billion trees across the planet.

So you don’t have the time or don’t want to get your hands dirty? I hear you, but you can still support the various organizations around the world depending on your preferred location.

Tree Planting Organizations

Landcare – Australia; (not for profit)

Greening Australia – 20 locations around Australia (also not for profit) 25 million plants established; 15,000 hectares of habitat restored; 150,000 tonnes of carbon sequestered per annum

Reforestnow – based in Byron Bay Austalia (not for profit) -planted  105,227 trees to restore rainforest in Australia on behalf of donors from around the world (as at 23 Mar 2021).  $5per tree.

Onetreeplanted – a global not for profit organization working against deforestation. $1 per tree.

Graph Source: One Tree Planted

Plant a billion trees initiative – South America, Africa and China

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Go Ahead.

Our planet depends on it.

flooding
Australia, Environment

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

river flood
Flooded creek near where I used to live. It is normally a tiny stream which often runs dry.

For several years, Australia has languished under extreme drought and water was severely rationed; last year we experienced bushfires on an epic scale that decimated the countryside. A year later, extreme rainfall and flooding on a Noah’s Ark scale!

This is the Australian climate.

Six months of rain fell in just one day and a half. Even by Australian standards, this is severe.

10 million Australians currently under a weather warning as two major systems collide.There have been hundreds of rescues and thousands across the state have faced evacuation orders as huge downfalls have caused rivers to overflow in recent days.The BOM said every mainland state and territory except Western Australia is impacted by the weather event.

https://www.9news.com.au/national/nsw-floods-rescue-operations-mid-north-coast-people-trapped-ses/58e50cdd-27b4-4b9c-9dc5-06568e5217b5

Streets in Brisbane city regularly go under with each and every summer storm, and housing close to riverfronts may be picturesque in the drier times, but remain extremely vulnerable in summer rains and excessive rainfall, such as we are experiencing now.

This is my former local shopping centre car park. Cars floated away with the water.

flooding

In the country, the land is extremely low and flat. The floodplain for a river can be a kilometre or more wide. So there will be problems. Emergency services are busy.

  • Around 15,000 people have been evacuated on the Mid North Coast
  • 3,000 people evacuated in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley region
  • Up to 38 regions have been declared natural disaster areas
  • Severe weather warnings issued for southern and western Queensland
  • Heavy rainfall is expected to continue
  • The equivalent of all the water contained in Sydney Harbour is pouring out the country’s rivers each day.

Luckily, we are safe, good rainfall is welcome, for the minute, because all too soon it will be dry again, Very dry.

Further south, particularly in New South Wales, they are in trouble. Big trouble. There are landslips, severed flooding and roads have been cut. Communities have been declared disaster zones and are isolated by floodwater. Farm animals left to fend for themselves as people have no alternative but to leave their homes.

Event the insects are evacuating seeking higher ground.

Another one in 100 year event, is a term I am hearing on an all too regular basis.

Yet another indication of the effects of climate change. Our planet needs help again.

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today technology
blogging, Environment

Reliance on Power and Technology

When the circuit breaker blew on our home’s power connection, my explanation to the then-teenager as to why nothing was working in the house, included telling her wide-scale electricity generation was not available in our area until the 1930- 40’s.

Furthermore, I explained, her own Grandmother remembered the introduction of what was referred to as, “the electric light.” On hearing this, my teenager responded with a pained, then incredulous look, before asking, “So you grew up without electricity?” (Certainly not, I retorted. I was born well after the war!)

Life before Cell Phones

The teen then continued to ask how our generations could possibly have managed social arrangements and meetings without even a mobile phone to help us! If no one turned up at the agreed time, what did you do? she asked. I explained how we’d:

  • wait or wander off nearby, feeling either disappointed and confused and come back to check a short while later
  • find a payphone and call the person, if we knew their home phone number, (which we often did), or if the phone book was in-situ, we could look the number up. [How long has it been since anyone saw a phone book in a payphone box?]
  • go to their house and find out what happened
  • give up and go home
history

The conversation made me acutely aware of how reliant modern society is on energy and information in the form of the world wide web and cell phones. I wondered:

Could we cope without cellular or internet connections?

Fifteen years ago, such a question would have been superfluous, but now I’m not sure. My older sons certainly act as if their jugular vein has been severed if the internet connection drops out, for more than a few minutes. (In Australia, this may be fairly commonplace). Without mobile phones towers operating, we are effectively shut off from technology and information.

Consider for a moment,  how really powerless and vulnerable the modern world is without the internet, cellular networks and electricity?

Years ago, we never knew any different, particularly in rural areas. Scores of people throughout the world still live this way. Would I now find it hard to go for or days without internet access or a few hours without a power source?

Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash

GOING OFFLINE and OFF GRID

Feeling determined to reject the confining chains of modern society, and re-acquaint with my inner hippie, I decided to experiment with a personal challenge to go OFFLINE and OFF-GRID – ie. voluntarily go with out power and technology for a day.

As soon as the challenge began, I was having problems.

I needed a phone number to call a tradesmen so instead of searching the net for the phone number, I tried to look it up in the phone book. No luck there as the hard copy of our phone book was not only out of date, it was buried in the darkest recesses of the junk cupboard, never to seen again.

Instead, I thought to do some holiday planning… Nope: that didn’t work as I needed to look up accommodation venues on the net.

I decided to continue with my genealogical research and reading, only I needed census information and names to cross-check details and dates.

Forget that –  I will make a nice meal/dessert if only the oven would work without power.

For food: I kept the refrigerator on but tried to eat food from the pantry that did not require refrigeration.

Make a cup of tea? – How would I do that?

Perhaps I could chat to the neighbour? No luck there either, as she’d gone out somewhere or was already asleep. This was not going well.

Watch some TV? Nope! Wasn’t possible.

Do some sewing/embroidery craft hobbies/ paint/fix something. Not enough light after 6pm.

Read a book or write in my journal?

YES!- I could do that – but it was night-time. And who can see by candlelight once you are past the age of 40?

Only one thing left for my other half and me to do, I guess. Go to sleep.

No wonder people had so many children before the advent of electricity.

Our reliance on energy and connectivity is obvious.

Could you take the challenge to go powerless for a day?

Earth Hour March 27

The Earth Hour initiative began in Sydney in 2007 by WWF and is now an annual worldwide environmental event.

Held every year on the last Saturday of March, Earth Hour engages millions of people in more than 180 countries and territories, switching off their lights to show support for our planet. 

But Earth Hour goes far beyond the symbolic action of switching off – it has become a catalyst for positive environmental impact, driving major legislative changes by harnessing the power of the people and collective action. 

Earth Hour is open-source and we welcome everyone, anyone, to take part and help amplify our mission to unite people to protect our planet.

https://www.earthhour.org/our-mission

Switch off your lights for an hour on Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 8:30 pm your local time.

Take up the challenge to Go OFFLINE and OFF GRID

For 12 hours:

  • Turn off your mobile phone
  • Turn off or refuse to use powered appliances.
  • Blog about your experience.

It is not as easy as you think.

#SwitchforNature

“Take part in the Digital switch off” in 2021

The Earth Hour global organizing team is recommending all individuals to take part digitally when possible, and to wear a mask and follow local guidelines if you are planning to be in a public space or are thinking of spending the ‘Hour,’ with friends and family, outside your home.

https://www.earthhour.org/take-part

 David Attenborough speaks on Climate Change

Watch Greta Thunberg introduce one of our biggest allies against climate change

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Akaroa
Environment, Motivational

How to Talk About Climate Change

Thanks largely to social media, much of the world already knows the basic facts – the planet is warming, carbon emissions are increasing, biodiversity is decreasing and all this and more threatens mankind’s existence on planet earth.

Martin Fredricks of IVWords was a recent guest at StPA, writing about how we talk about the climate crisis, and the reactions of others, in everyday conversations.

Do climate sceptics, or those in authority, want to hear more shocking statistics and dire warnings? Will it galvanise support for change and encourage the immediate action that is needed? Possibly. Possibly not.

More likely is that some will turn a deaf ear, place it in the too hard basket or choose not to believe it will happen, at least in their lifetime.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

Repeating facts, figures, and ghastly predictions is merely preaching to the choir, and can actually be counter-productive by provoking anxiety in those who already know the planet is in danger. We don’t need to reiterate that things are getting worse.

Endless and ongoing debate with climate deniers wastes time, precious time as it a sceptic’s own confirmation bias skews their perceptions and blinds them to any logical explanation.

So what might increase awareness and understanding of the climate crisis?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

Personally, I believe we need to focus on solutions. Hope for OUR future is in finding solutions to climate change and reversing environmental damage.

I want to hear ideas and suggestions of things the ordinary man and woman can do, or have already done, in their own corner of the world. Ideas, positive ones. Give us solutions and tips on how we might at least stabilize the environment deterioration, if not improve it.

Context and expert guidance on steps we can enact for ourselves or in collaboration with authorities and others, that is relevant to each individual area is vital.

“I have learned that you are never too small to make a difference.” Greta Thunberg

For it is when we sense that feeling of community, of connection and of common goals, we are more likely to succeed and others, even sceptics will join us in positive action and change.

Please share in the comments below the positive initiatives happening in your corner of the world. Here is some initiatives in mine.

‘Green’ Environmental Initiatives in Moreton Bay, Australia

In my own little area I find:

  • Habitat protection on private properties – Grants for Land dedicated for Wildlife
  • Reforestation and mass tree plantings and maintenance with recycled water by active Bushcare groups
  • Glass recycled for re- use in the manufacture of new glass bottles and conversion to glass sand for use in asphalt, filtration, drainage, coating, resin and sandblasting applications.
  • Plastic collections for recycling by residents, as well as general recycling in Council kerbside collection
  • Walk to school days promoted to discourage use of petroleum driven vehicles
  • Over 75% uptake of solar power panels by new and established homes aided by Government subsidies and rebates
  • Innovative technology to convert landfill gas into green energy, providing alternative power generation. Generators at landfill sites are producing electricity to power over 4,000 homes in the local area each year, saving 75 million cubic metres of the greenhouse gas methane that has been converted to energy.
  • A municipal sustainability policy
  • Reduction of plastic straws, cups and disposable cutlery in cafes

What Positive Change is Happening in Your Corner of the World?

Please share this in the comments below.

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sea grass
blogging, Environment

“It’s Not Just a Crisis of Climate” – Guest Martin Fredricks IV

It’s Not Just a Crisis of Climate: by Martin C. Fredricks IV

Everything I need to know about the climate crisis and the need to speak positively about what can be done I’ve seen in my daughters’ eyes.

Martin C. Fredricks IV

One is 19 and the other is 13. Both, at different times, have had a slightly fearful but determined look in their eyes while telling me they don’t plan on having children. Each followed it up with, “Why would I….”

“The world’s going to be uninhabitable soon,” each has said in her own way. “Why would I bring kids into that.”

It’s not a question, but a statement of moral conviction. They don’t want it this way, but they’re looking to the future with eyes wide open. They reason it would be wrong to put any additional human beings through what looks likely to be coming.

But there’s no anger or disappointment from me. Just sadness. Not because my wife and I might never have grandchildren, but because our daughters and people their age around their world have to think this way. Theirs is the first generation forced to look at Armageddon not as some far-off, theoretical threat, but as a real possibility within their lifetimes.

I’m partially to blame. I talk, think and write about the climate crisis all the time; no doubt I’ve been too bitter and graphic about it too many times around the dinner table.

But in truth we all share some blame. We’ve enabled the politicians and governments that have their heads stuck deep into the sand, not to mention the lobbying slush funds of fossil-fuels companies. They’re blindly, happily and willfully ignorant of the damage we’re already experiencing.

Think about the power outages in Texas. The fires on the west coast of the USA, in the Amazon and across Australia. The flooding in Indonesia. Or the Covid-19 pandemic around the world. Scientists tell us this particular coronavirus strain was able to jump from animals to humans at least partly because of climate-related habitat loss.

Better still, read scientific reports like “Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°C” by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the “Fourth National Climate Assessment” by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. They paint a clear, fact-based picture of what’s coming if people do not curtail carbon emissions at least 45 percent by 2030 and down to net zero by 2050.

Yet we still hear officials say climate change is a deception, and we still see social media posts like this from our neighbors:

To which I always respond:

Fortunately, there are starting to be more that say things like:

Which is on the right track. The false debate about climate change’s existence is over.

It’s now time to act.

I’ve been doing what I can, and now, with my daughters’ eyes haunting me, I’m recommitted. That look is in my mind’s eye every time I write a post, march for climate action or attend a meeting about sustainability.

It’s also why I’ve started telling them the good news about the climate crisis –

If human beings start doing the right things right now, there’s still time. We can save our planet and ourselves by electing the right people, pressuring the wrong ones through peaceful protest, stopping financial support for corporations that fund fossil fuel extraction, and doing everything else we can in our own lives and communities.

Because, remember: what we say and what we do make a difference, especially to the people we love most.

So how are you talking about the climate crisis with the most important people in your life?

© 2021 Martin C. Fredricks IV

Every post on Martin’s blog, IV Words, is a foreword to what comes next with the climate crisis, environment, politics, progressive causes, social justice and “the way it is.”

Martin is also an avid photographer.

Check out Martin’s blog at IVWords.com.

blogging, Environment

Friendly Friday Blogging Challenge – Something Different

Friendly Friday Blogging Challenge

Sandy set a Friendly Friday challenge to come up with Something different and I was convinced I’d failed to find anything noteworthy until I read Ally Bean’s Rudolph Framework which she’s adapted from a marketing analysis by author Ann Handley.

reindeer encased in glass bubbles art
Not ‘Rudolph’ but quirky namesake

The Rudolph Marketing Framework

The Rudolph Framework “helps you understand the actual problem you and your business solve for your customers– not the one you *think* you solve.” Click HERE to be taken to her fun explanation of this framework.

thespectacledbean.com/2021/02/23/applying-a-business-framework-to-this-personal-blog-to-tell-a-tale/

Most know, or will quickly find out, I am no blog business guru and to be frank, StPA is purely self-expression via my own mindful meanderings covering a multitude of topics from the environment to photography.

Therefore, you might, as I initially did, think this Rudolph exercise holds little relevance in the blogging world and is akin to writing one of those verbose, but glib ‘mission statements.’ [Groan]

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Those two words, ‘mission statement,’ is enough for me to tune out and yet, reading further, I quickly realized that I did want to know where I might be headed blog-wise, and that a little blogging self-examination may indeed be useful, at least to me. Add to that, Ally mentioned that she was curious to see where the framework would take other bloggers. Thus, I’d dive right in. I may have taken it in a tangent way off the original intention, but it IS an experiment so who knows where we will end up.

Following are the Framework questions. One fills in the blanks for how it pertains to your blog. Like one of those grammar exercises back in school. Easy, right?

Something to Ponder About Blog’s Rudolph Framework

  1. Once upon a time, there was a blog focused on information important enough to share with others that promoted open, independent discussion called Something to Ponder About.
  2. It has the capacity to question, to inform, to frustrate and possibly to validate aspects of environmental change, in addition to various other topics.
  3. Some people doubt it because they’re sure technology will be the saviour in any environmental disaster and the blogosphere is merely filled with rank amateurs who not only ignore contradictory information and opinions, but seem hell-bent on locking up the planet, subverting business progress or fixate on their own capitalistic endeavours. [which is incorrect].
  4. But one day, the earth shouts at ALL its people so loudly that heads turn and deaf ears and closed eyes open.
  5. Which means that more folks become interested in environmental change and start to connect with bloggers and others who recognize we all live on one heavenly body.
  6. To help the awareness of planetary health and survival for all sentient beings.
  7. And that matters because the global population needs access to independent information and different opinions, from many diverse sources which results in an informed global community, who might be more proactive about positive change, mindful of equity and respectful of differences.
  8. In the process, you help coalesce a community of global cohesiveness and egalitarian understanding with blogs being one small catalyst.
  9. The Planet gets a kiss!

Applying the Rudolph Framework to Your Own Blog

If you wish to try this writing experiment with your own blog, check in with Ally. Blogger etiquette would suggest you cite Ann Handley and include a pingback to The Spectacled Bean.

reflecion in glass ball
Something Different

If you wish to join in with the Friendly Friday Challenge, check the instructions, or visit Sandy’s Friendly Friday post.

I will be back with another Friendly Friday challenge theme on Friday 12th March, 2021.

Amanda

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beach
Environment

Can We Defeat Climate Change?

Our parents and grandparents say,

“Why blame us for global warming?”

They point out they never had all our cars, air conditioning, computers and devices.

That is true.

Ron Mueck
Ron Mueck Sculptures

However, it is not the damage of past generations so much as the story of the last thirty years and the speed of increase is concerning, as David Wallace-Wells points out:

Half of the all the emissions that have ever been produced from the burning of fossil fuels, in the entire history of humanity, have been produced in just the last thirty years.

More than in all the centuries and millennia before.

D.Wallace Wells

Wallace-Wells believes we are on the brink of catastrophe. He states this is not the work of our ancestors, it is more so the work of a single generation – his. [Despite this we are all responsible for the future.]

He also points out that it is a reflection of how much power we wield over this planet, so we can do something to help.

The obstacles may be enormous, but the main driver of global warming is human action and how much carbon we put into the atmosphere. And we can do something about that!

Because –

We will be writing the climate change story whether we like it or not.

Inaction is not a choice. I prefer alternatives and solutions.

Environmental Emissions Problems and Solutions

Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash

Problem: 2/3 of the carbon emissions can be attributed to the burning of fossil fuels!

Solution: Employ solar arrays or increase uptake of renewable energy sources. A sliver of Sahara Desert can absorb enough solar energy to power the world’s energy needs.

Problem: 2/3 of power generation is lost to waste heat so a new electric grid is needed.

Solution: Renewables is the cheaper default for energy needs and are now cheaper than fossil fuels

350.org/why-a-managed-shift-away-from-fossil-fuels-is-essential-and-urgent-including-for-petrostates/

Problem: The fuel companies have political and lobbying power ans influence over policy and stocks and shares are invested heavily in coal and fossil fuel companies.

Solution: – Divest from fossil fuels eg. Was Macht Mein.De

Problem: Methane and Carbon emissions from agriculture.

Solution:Turn cattle producing farms into carbon sinks and feed cattle seaweed which will gives a 90% reduction of methane

Problem: Rising sea levels from Global warming melting polar ice caps

Solution: Build seawalls and levies to protect coastal areas

Problem: An alternative type of air travel that doesn’t produce carbon is needed.

Solution: ? Unknown

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

We hold the future of planet in our hands.

We won’t beat climate change – but we can modulate and live with it. The only obstacles to that are human ones.

Do YOU believe you can make a difference?

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surf beach with waves australia
Environment

The Future – the Facts

Photo by Trace Hudson on Pexels.com

What the future will be like is a contentious issue, as it is not about what has been, but what might happen.

There are those who choose to deny it, who find it overwhelming or depressing, who stick their heads in the sand and conversely, those who are moved to agitate about it. Which ever side of the Climate Change debate you sit upon, certain things cannot be denied and are fact.

Facts on Climate Change

  • Rising global temperatures due to Industrialization are destabilizing weather systems
  • Ice shields in Greenland and Antartica are melting and destabilizing weather systems
  • Sea levels are rising and threatening coastal and island communities
  • Extreme weather events of all varieties are rapidly increasing
  • Deforestation and habitat loss is causing a mass extinction of animal and plant species at an unprecedented level since the Dinosaur era.

Before any climate change denier or sceptic raises the point that climate change isn’t real and it’s nature doing what it normally does, global climate does, without doubt vary from year to year, decade to decade; global warming and cooling does occur naturally, but it is the UNPRECEDENTED INCREASE IN RATE of CLIMATE CHANGE that is directly attributed to ADVERSE human activity and is not sustainable.

The world as we know it could not and will not sustain more than a 2 degree rise in global temperature without dire climatic consequences.

But there is hope.

Not the faint-hearted ostrich like mentality that technology will inevitably safe us from ourselves and our environmental problems if only we wait and recycle our goods more, but hope that we can come together in an effective and collaborative global response to this human-caused threat.

Hope based on Action.

Once we act, hope is everywhere.

Greta Thunberg

Because it is a problem, caused by humans. By us. So we can fix this.

Communicating Climate Facts to the Public

The Hollywood Mad Max type future portrayed in some apocalyptic movies generates only fear, guilt, anger despair, is not at all helpful and can result in many turning a deaf ear to conversations on action or acknowledgement of climate change.

Instead, as Rebecca Huntley believes, it is inspiring to read and to see stories of hope, of action, of people overcoming odds and succeeding in small ways to making changes at a local level changing their lifestyle and damaging habits. Renewal of ecosystems, caring and nurturing animal and plant species and systems, environmentally friendly options and products, less emphasis on fossil fuels and their products.

According to Per Espen Stoknes educating people is a good first step, but it may never be enough. Presenting facts on global warming has so far not sufficiently convinced policymakers and journalists of the scale of the problem, nor the sense of urgency around it.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

Climate Science

Part of the problem is that this issue is conceptually complex and the descriptions reflect a potential and somewhat vague future, not a tangible, direct event that people can see and identify.

Climate Scientists have known about these predictions since 1979 and lament that the physics and conversations have not changed, that they are simply updating the data. Yet nothing was done by Governments.

University Science students, like me, were lectured on global warming back in the 1980’s and yet, no one in the community or Government was interested in listening.

it no longer seems rational to assume that humanity, encountering an existential threat, will behave rationally.”

Nat Rich (Journalist)

To me that is a concern. A grave concern.

Are you concerned?

Do you tune out on the issue of Climate change?

Do you have hope?

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Australia, Community, Environment, Mental Health

Corona Fallout

When I looked at the stats for countries being hit with this pandemic, it struck me as surprising that the number of cases/deaths due to Covid 19, in some places, did not correlate proportionately with the level of population.

It would be easy to assume hygiene levels and santization practices might be lower in underdeveloped countries, as compared to say, Australia. And that spread of disease would be faster. In countries with higher levels of health care, the contagion might have been anticipated to be slower. This does not appear to be the cases if you look at the current statistics. Places like Malaysia and Thailand, are doing remarkably well, with a small number of Covid 19 cases, in regions with populations far greater than others. Why? Is it their level of preventative measures?

Here are the current stats country by country, if you are interested.

Why is Covid-19 so prevalent in Italy?

Then there is Italy – why do they have so many Covid cases? Some suggest that many Chinese and other businessmen, have been visiting the north of Italy, in greater numbers of recent times.

Starting in Codogno, a small town in southern Lombardy, one of the wealthiest, most densely populated, and most globalized areas in Europe, the coronavirus circulated very fast and easily…. The Codogno economic district hosts large companies and multinationals – making it a hub for production and international trade. Workers, salesmen, managers, and consultants of all sorts travel daily to their workplace, many of them commuting to nearby cities. International partners visit from abroad. And of course, Milan is a mere 70 kilometer drive from Codogno. Although “patient zero” has not been found yet, it looks increasingly likely that the virus had been circulating in Europe weeks before “patient one” was identified in late February.

https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/covid-19-hits-italy-a-test-for-china-ties/
singapore

Singapore

Singapore, to its immense credit, appears to be managing the crisis well. They were well prepared, quickly instituting pro-active measures after having previously learnt valuable lessons in pandemic management, during the SARS outbreak.

A New World Order?

The current crisis highlights just how connected and how vulnerable we, as a society are. Our financial and business sectors, recreation and travel mean a contagion can and does travel fast and far, throughout the entire world. Not even in a small village in Iceland are you safe, from this virus. Whether we care to admit it or night, we do live in a global village. We can no longer live and conduct affairs without considering the rest of the world.

iceland

The economies of the Western developed countries are suffering, just as China is beginning to recover. Many Western democracies, including mine, will inevitably head into a deep economic recession, in coming months. We need to have in place new and different strategies and policies for business, health care, education and technology in order to appropriately respond to this contagion.

Some Chinese communities are questioning whether they should move back to China, from their new bases in Italy. What effect would this have?

“About 100,000 people from Wenzhou, and another 100,000 from nearby Qingtian county, live in Italy, according to official Chinese data, with Milan also hosting a sizable Chinese community. “We definitely feel safer in China. The government is more efficient … Hospitals here can treat patients well, but the government’s ability to respond to an emergency is not ideal,” Wu said.”

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3073987/stay-or-go-tough-call-chinese-italy-coronavirus-crisis-hits

The social fallout from this virus also highlights the disparity between European countries, with high levels of health care against the economic might of America, who has almost no universal health care. [Let me know if this is wrong].

I wonder why Universities and Schools are only now moving to E-learning in response to the viral threat. Why didn’t the education facilities, fully implement this mode of delivery, earlier? Can I attribute the reason to their penchant for keeping a social interactive community on university campuses alive? Wouldn’t E-learning be far more profitable to them?

Climate Conspiracy?

If I believed in conspiracy theories, which I don’t, my cynical self would also suggest that the release of the virus, if it was deliberate, is a discrete way to circumvent and divert debate and action, on action against climate change.

Continuing and ever increasing school strikes successfully highlighted issues of climate change. Now that schools are closed in many countries, except Australia, the strikes cannot happen.

Moreover, we cannot gather in groups of more than 100 in Australia. Some countries ban gatherings of less than 50, and in Portugal, gatherings must be less than 5 persons.

Food and Job Security

Adding to this, is the issue of global food security. The shops across the world are emptying, and people are staying home, for the most part. Food is becoming harder to obtain. If transport is halted, how do we all access food?

Many have already lost their employment or will lose it in coming months. Many will become homeless or develop mental health issues.

How Fragile is our existing World Order?

leaves

A Positive Effect

If there is one postive to be found in self-imposed isolation or government quarantine and in business shut-down and potential failure, it is that some parts of the planet and nature, get a break from human intervention and destruction.

  • Global rainforests may not get burnt this week.
  • Fewer carbon emissions from reduced transport services.
  • That precious koala habitat may not get cleared/logged this week.
  • Industries may refraim from discharging their poisonous effluent into the sea this week, due to shutdowns.
  • The lake near my Home by the Sea might not have pieces of plastic litter from building supplies contaminating it this week. {we are on track so far}
  • People may re-discover making ends meet – growing their own food, cooking for themselves, entertaining at home, chatting with family.

In short: we get a chance to pause and breathe too.

lady mountain view
Australia, Community, Motivational, Philosophy

The Future of Australia

This is Australia, a continent not ravaged by war, disease or famine.

A country rich in resources and a friendly open public.

It should be a vanguard for a successful democracy, shouldn’t it?

distortion effect

Australia in 2020

A wobbly renewable energy sector,

Over-reliance of exports of raw materials,

A powerful and corrupt financial sector,

A struggling research and tech industry.

Environmental devastation from natural disasters,

Bushfire, drought and cheap imports.

Declining export markets and competitiveness.

Decreasing full time unemployment and

increasing casualization of the workforce.

It all sounds like a bit like a third world country, but it isn’t.

This is Australia!

And it might be a recipe for economic and environmental disaster.

The Tyranny of Distance

rural australia

Many companies find trading in Australia logistically difficult, due to the ‘tyranny of distance’. We are, after all, stuck right down the bottom of the planet, on the way to nowhere except perhaps New Zealand and Antarctica, and not too many companies head to the southern continent. (No offence there to my Kiwi rellies intended).

In order to stay competitive, Australian companies might decide to decrease production costs, and one popular method of achieving this is reducing staff. Any profits made via increased productivity, is then divided up amongst shareholders. So there is not much incentive to hold onto staff.

Offshore Corporate Relocation

Companies that formerly hired Australians in varying sectors of the economy have, in the last decade, moved company operations off-shore, to a cheaper labour market in Asia, Bangladesh or India.

The result: Lower quality control, poorer reliability and worst of all: – less jobs in Australia! Not only is there less job vacancies, there are less permanent full time jobs – with the end result being a workforce that is highly casualized and contractual. That sure doesn’t help economic stability.

The solar energy industry and the Green movements are not to blame, yet that seems to be the mantra from conservative politicians and mining companies magnates. The country has became so very much dependant on them, that it is their voices that now carry weight over any others.

Agricultural Industry

The agriculture and animal farming industries are in constant decline too, with perhaps the worst, yet to be experienced, as we feel the full brunt of the aftermath of the bushfires and the Chinese slowdown.

Sheep Merino wool Mt Cook
splitting the mob

Australia grew up on the “sheep’s back.” That is, we sold wool and wheat to the world. But as the third world develops along western lines, Australian products have become far too expensive, and we have to add in long and expensive hours of transport, from this corner of the planet. Thus, Aussie products are no longer selling well, and there is nothing yet to replace that.

Except mining.

This gives the mining companies so much power to influence public policy and push their own agenda, to politicians.

We have a non- existent manufacturing sector – what we did have already disappeared overseas. The banks and mines and perhaps, housing construction are the only thing keeping our economy going and thus, our current standard of living.

Is this enough to maintain our current standard of living into the future?

“… the old cargo cult mentality of Australia that she’ll be right.

Paul Keating Former P.M and Treasurer

Education in the form of mostly Asian fee-paying students, is the only other small growth area in the economy, and wholly depends on Australia’s immigration policy towards foreigner students.

Universal Compulsory Voting

The outlook seems bleak, and even more so, as the majority of people do not realize the long term implications for our country. They appear easily swayed by sweet talking politicians.

Politicians with a complex and well thought through economic plan did not seem to find favor in the electorate at the last election.

Franking Credit Scheme

The Government pays out an enormous amount of money on public schooling in Australia, and an equivalent amount, is paid out by the Government to shareholder investors, in the form of franking credits for shares. The shareholders get paid a second time by the Government on top of the dividend itself, and the proposed scheme to rein this in, was complex.

Dividends are paid out of profits which have already been subject to Australian company tax which is currently 30%. This means that shareholders receive a rebate for the tax paid by the company on profits distributed as dividends.You are entitled to receive a credit for any tax the company has paid. If your top tax rate is less than the company’s tax rate, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) will refund you the difference.

http://www.commsec.com.au/education/learn/managing-investments/how-do-franking-credits-work.html

With the Opposition not being able to communicate this properly to the electorate at the last election, meant the incumbent Government hoodwinked voters into believing money was going to be taken off their investments and another new tax imposed!

Emissions Initiatives

Suggestions of introducing Emissions trading schemes have ended many a politician’s career on both sides of politics. The media and oppositions have turned these suggestions in to the popular and false threat of a “new tax,” and the Australia public runs scared.

Voting in Australia

Compulsory voting means these folks who are ill-informed, or who might hear a mere headline or snippet of news from a tabloid source, vote with a knee-jerk reaction. In key electorates, this can make or break a good policy and Government, even though the majority of voters see through this charade.

Photo Credit: i.guim.co.uk

Another example of voter ignorance was the suggestion of introducing a subsidized Electric Car Initiatives to tackle Climate Change and Emissions, which was scoffed at by conservatives who believed, quite incorrectly, that if elected, the party with the Electric car proposal would destroy the Aussie weekend culture, that centres around activities, in the ‘Ute” – (pickup truck)

Solar Power Generation

A country bathed in perpetual sunlight should be the solar powerhouse of the world. We should have our own solar panels in endless production, but instead we import solar panels from colder countries like Canada, Germany and China.

Why?

Because Australia has alway relied heavily on Coal fired power. Dirty Coal. The current Prime Minister loves it so much he brought some into parliament. What a joke!

Apparently it is cheaper to pollute the planet, than support Australian jobs and industry. In fact, the coal mining lobby is so widespread and so powerful, it spreads so many lies and falsehoods about solar power generation, it is scandalous. And the naive voters lap this up and spit it back at backyard barbeques to other ignorant constituents, who don’t know any better. Closed minds and closed hearts. And these folks vote.

An initial scheme to subsidize the introduction of solar panels in residential homes was SO successful, the government put a stop to it, as the coal industry was feeling the financial pinch and the government was losing royalties paid by mining companies.

Notwithstanding a solution is urgently needed to dispose of used solar panels, why on earth would you not want free, clean, non-polluting energy, I ask?

I’m irritated by the incumbent government and the future of my country. I now question universal suffrage and the abilities of the opposition parties to communicate their policies with the electorate.

Is this where democracy is flawed?

The public votes for short term gains, and not long term benefits for all?

Australia – become informed and think about where your vote goes.

Australia, Community, Environment

Where are you going, Australia?

Australia Day 2020

Today is Australia Day, or if you are a First Nation person, you might call it Invasion Day. Back in 1788, the “First Fleet.” of British ships arrived on Australia’s eastern coast and began establishing a British colony.

The British considered the Australian continent unoccupied – as the indigenous peoples were not considered as a nation in themselves. However wrong this was at the time, it happened and today we still celebrate this day with a public holiday.

pool
We never wore sun protective sun shirts like these kids did!

January 26 in Australia, marks the end of the long summer holidays and that means lots of folks travelling on the roads and lots of pool parties and barbeques.

At a time when the dude from Top Gear is making egotistical comments about Australia, Boris Johnson comments on our ‘resilient spirit.’

Is our country still resilient? When many of us support dirty coal fired power generation? Or deny climate change?

Not all Aussies fully comprehend the gravity of the planet’s situation as they only hear what the media here tells them. The media often fails to give a balanced view!

So,
What can you do, when those who are ignorant or closed to new ideas vote in ignorant fools, because they read and listen to tabloid tripe? It’s a little depressing.

Whilst European economics has its problems, at least they are aiming for better air to breathe, and a better country for their children.

We seem to be taking a longer time to understand the problem.

Great Ocean Road
Port Fairy, South Eastern Victoria, Australia

This Australia Day – take up my challenge and show that Australians can:

  • Read more widely – especially those opinions that you don’t at first agree with – they may have a point of view that resonates somewhere. It can’t hurt you even if you don’t change your opinion – you will just be better informed.
  • Seek out facts to substantiate your opinion. The Radio and TV commentators might be and often are misinformed or wrong.
  • Discuss this with your friends and listen to feedback.
  • Challenge long held beliefs – the world is changing.
schnauzer dog reading
Even my Schnauzer was interested in books

Don’t get left behind, Australia.

stpa logo
Community, Environment

The Future of Australia


Recently I had a discussion with another blogger and it highlighted to me how the bulk of Australian public opinion appears to differ greatly from the rest of the First World in the North.

Coal and Renewable Energy Sources

Australia could, and should be, a solar energy powerhouse of the world with our almost constant sunlight and extreme lack of rainfall, right?

It is not.

As India and China, the major markets for purchasing Australian coal, move towards solar and renewable energy sources, it makes good economic sense in the long term to utilize a raw material is FREE and infinite.

Early morning sunrise photography

Surely there must be a tipping point at which the Australia coal industry no longer becomes viable, yet some companies and politicians still support expansion of coal fired power generation. Will we see subsidized fossil fuel generation as a way to prop up employment?

Why? When there are alternatives.

The baseload power needed to support solar energy argument doesn’t make sense when it is solar that is putting more energy into the grid at times of peak demand. I am happy to hear otherwise along with hard evidence. Enlighten me.

For decades the coal industry has supplied power to Australian homes and so many jobs, towns and industry are heavily reliant on it. Past and present governments have been reluctant to invest in solar, due to vested interests who benefit from coal making large political donations.

Is it such a good idea to penalise those folk who choose to invest money in solar by making them pay for infrastructure? Infrastructure that actual makes power companies money by tax relief?

photo editing

I would love to see coal industries leading the charge to investing and promoting/converting to solar. Why not? Currently, we import solar cells from countries like – wait for it – Canada, Italy China and Germany! Canada and Germany are not exactly renowned as warm weather countries are they?

What madness is this?

Prior to moving to our Home by the Sea, we had a wonderful solar system with German solar panels, and Italian inverter and expertly installed by an Australian small business – providing jobs to Australia.

Original colour photo

Five years later, that same company had to close its doors and sack workers because the government initiated moves that caused extreme business uncertainty for companies in the Solar and Renewable energy sector, by reducing the incentives to Australian solar energy customers, thereby assisting the coal industry to further entrench reliance on itself by the energy grid and the monopoly they have enjoyed for years.

monochrome

Pariochial Thinking and Media Control

Foreigners often direct criticism at Americans for having “blinkers” and closed thinking. Meaning that they seem to have a lack of awareness of external issues, due to their media focus on internal matters. However Australians may also be guilty of inward thinking and thus, are far removed from the levels of environmental awareness and action found in the many parts of Europe, where using dirty coal is regarded with much derision. For example: Finland

Yet our Prime Minister seems certain burning coal is still kosher!

Be a leader!

Be Bold, Mr Morrison, P.M of Australia.

Have a vision for your country moving forward for the sake of your children!

Stand up to the Media Moghuls and radio shock jocks who claim they dictate Australian public policy and public opinion!

“We are striking because we have done our homework, and they have not.” – Greta Thunberg

Climate protest in Hamburg, Germany, 1 March 2019

I hear vehement criticism of Greta Thunberg in the hair salons and in the cafes and even by Australians, at backyard barbeques. It utterly shocks me that many Australians think she is some kind of spoilt child throwing an environmentally themed tantrum.

What has happened to my countrymen that they can be so narrow-minded as to criticize and poke fun at a child with a wish for a better future?

Time magazine didn’t think she was a climate brat; they nominated her as their person of the year for 2019.

Australians who deride Greta Thunberg, a child with a vision and the guts to speak out, disgust me, but then I think perhaps they have not had an opportunity to hear another opinion and don’t have the smarts to listen to information sources that are not mainstream.

bank climate change

How does one get through to this sector of the population if the media is so regulated by powerful self-serving interests?

The ageing population here is a hard line conservative group who favour stoic right wing governing with a touch of xenophobia. Compounding this and disappointingly, there seems to be a political swing away from the green movement by the middle income, middle aged voting cohorts. And this is happening when the young folk are much more environmentally aware than any of my peers.

Employment

Is it uncertainty over job security that drives this? Australia has always been so reliant on exporting its raw materials, that is has no manufacturing base to speak of. Research and the IT industry was beginning to develop until it was all but destroyed by government cutbacks.

computer
CC0 Creative Commons

I am unsure why.

On our final day of this decade, open your minds to new possibilities and new solutions, and cast away the hard line thinking of the past.

Happy New Year World.

A New Dawn is approaching.