Archive for May, 2012

This is Green, different, but Green

I had one of my posts ‘liked’ Tuesday. Wee small hours, I noticed it and as always when someone likes my posts, I doddle off to see what they’re up to; occasionally I am surprised, sometimes I’m not and a few times I get a ‘ho hum.’  But, I was pleasantly surprised the click lead me to a great blog, a different blog, still a green blog, but different very very different.


It’s a story blog, not one that writes stories, but rather one that writes about stories, green stories, green stories for kids.

There’s a Hair in my Dirt, is the current first post.

Here’s the intro to the Synopsis:

“The story begins with a young worm sitting at the family table being served a customary meal of dirt. He is shocked to see a hair in his dirt. Already upset at being a worm, Junior lashes out at his family, complaining about his species’ lowly status on the food chain.”

But that’s not all, here’s an exerpt:

Father Worm sat back, stretching himself out to his full, glorious three and a half inches. “Take us worms, for example. We till, aerate, and enrich the earth’s soil, making it suitable for plants. No worms, no plants; and no plants, no so-called higher animals running around with their oh-so-precious backbones!”

He was really getting into it now. “Heck, we’re invertebrates, my boy! As a whole, we’re the movers and shakers on this planet! Spineless superheroes, that’s what we are!

Now if that hasn’t got your juices flowing, hasn’t whet your appetite…. go back to sleep.

The essence is understanding nature, not just paying lip service., not just appreciating, not just liking, but understanding.

If you are green, if you have kids, if you are trying to bring up your kids to be more than green, understanding nature, then you must visit this blog. It’s there for YOU! Click on the title link above.

For me, this is one of those gems that can be found in the blogosphere, they are there, but few and far between.

The blog is permanently linked on my sidebar.

Change the World Wednesday – 30th May


Up early.

Alarm clock suffered…

Need coffee!

I always need coffee. It has been suggested that I may well be addicted to the stuff; a charge that I deny.

I am merely a dedicated coffee drinker.

The aroma of freshly brewed Brazilian coffee wafting through the house can’t be surpassed at this ungodly hour of the morning.

Last week I resolved to fall in line with the challenge as far as possible. My week didn’t quite go as planned, but I did manage two days without cooking for lunch. Yesterday was supposed to be the third day, but I failed. I had a pack of cocktail sausages opened in the fridge and they had to be used. Another day and they could have become ‘food waste.’

However, I compensated for supper. I made a cheese board. I had some scraps of blue vein, Brie and a local cheese that I cut into cubes. That along with paper thin slices of cold roast pork from a scrag end drizzled with lemon juice accompanied by dry crackers. No cooking, and using left overs.

Oh, a can of beer too… (Didn’t cook that either) 🙂

So, I guess yesterday wasn’t such a failure after all.

The planned lunch didn’t eventuate, My students changed hours and it didn’t fit in with the plans. But rest assured, it will happen. I just love eating out.

Let’s see what Change the World Wednesday this week is all about…

This week, watch the following video. Then share it in some way … email it to a friend, share it on a social network, post it to your blog, etc. AND THEN … consider how you might affect change in your community. Of course … we want to hear all about it!

I have watched this before, in fact I think it was SF herself that Stumbled it.

It is poignant in many ways. Not only does it point out problems, it eloquently provides solutions.

The message is ‘community’ rather than the individual effort and while the individual can make small differences, once the community is involved the chances of meaningful changes increase exponentially.

It is this community spirit that we must foster. Once community efforts are spread around then the next step then the communities themselves can combine, and so on.

The message that I get from this is that it is very much directed at the corporations. It recognises that it is this corporatism that is destroying our world. The ideas generated are counter-corporation, returning to the ‘village concept,’ where the results of efforts are spent within the community rather than be sent off to some corporate headquarters where the 1% benefit.

This of course is the main gripe of of Occupy Wall Street, and why the movement should be supported.

If one castes ones mind back to 1970+/- there was a brilliant book written by Desmond Morris, The Naked Ape. One of the precepts of this book was that man is a tribal animal and we’re trying to live in a ‘super-tribal’ scenario. It doesn’t work. We don’t have the capabilities (social, character, disposition, etc) to live in communities beyond the size of the village. I have often harped on this point, because it reflects not only environmental survival, but all the social evils like stressful lifestyle, violence, respect for property, the need for policing, government intervention, etc, too many to cite here.

To demonstrate the point I am making, think of the city in which you live, now think of a small community/town nearby (No more than 2,000 people). Now look at the violence, theft, policing and political interference in each. The smaller community has less police/capita, the small community has no rape (or almost), the small community has no theft (or very little) and the lifestyle is far more relaxed. The biggest difference between the two is the community spirit; the neighbours in the small community know each other, the business people know everybody, people know the people across town, they interact with each other and the local politicians are part of the community. This doesn’t happen in the cities! Need I say more? I think not.

All this is the underlying tone of the video. A return to a social unit that is manageable for our own benefit, not that of the greedy bastards who are syphoning off everything the village produces; remember those holes in the bucket?

Because once the wealth (not just money, but work, energy and vitality all inc) is lost through those holes, it never returns. It’s gone!

The proposal is that we create smaller community divisions within the evils of the corporate sodden cities, to keep our wealth within reach, to return our labour to those around us as those around us return their labour to us.

Brazil, where football is religion, the church is a past-time and carnival is a fever but they still have no idea what real beer is

The ‘doing something about it’ is a little difficult because of my geographical dislocation from my native land. I am an ex-pat living in Brazil. I am not Brazilian and do not think like one; I still think like a first-worlder. So communication is often a problem. Oh, I speak Portuguese effectively, I make a few grammatical mistakes, I can swear effectively and I understand and use many colloquialisms; my grasp of the language surprises many. But, I don’t think like a Brazilian and that hampers communication, especially at a community level.

However, on a personal level, I continue in my own small way. I point out the follies and foibles of the Brazilian psyche, and try to get them to see that there are better ways.

But, I am also very mindful of the fact, that if Brazilians adopted western ways, they wouldn’t be Brazilians any more and that is one of the reasons I am here – they are Brazilians and they are not bad people.

Many communities have sewerage flowing in the street and that includes the marvelous city of Rio

Brazilians are too worried about becoming first-worlders. They haven’t a hope in hades of achieving it. This is a country where 50% of the people don’t have basic sanitation, 50% don’t have access to drinking water, 50% don’t have adequate health care or education. A country where 66% of the federal and local governments are either convicted and appealing, under suspicion or investigation of theft, fraud and corruption.

They want to be first world. But are missing the point. If they are missing the point, then other less important issues are beyond their comprehension.

I have my hands tied. I am, however, not beyond knowing the issues and while Brazilians may be beyond redemption, there are others in the world who read my blogs.

Legacy of the Silent Spring

Rachel Carson and the legacy of Silent Spring

Fifty years after the publication of the book that laid the foundations for the environmental movement, what have we learned from the biologist who saw the need for science to work with nature?

Rachel Carson and her family in woods near her Maryland home in 1962, the year in which Silent Spring was published. Photograph: Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Near a brook in south-east England, the bird-spotter JA Baker stumbled on a grim little scene in 1961. “A heron lay in frozen stubble. Its wings were stuck to the ground by frost. Its eyes were open and living, the rest of it was dead. As I approached, I could see its whole body craving into flight. But it could not fly. I gave it peace and saw the agonised sunlight of its eyes slowly heal with cloud.”

The bird’s plight was clearly unnatural. Nor was its fate unique. That year, large numbers of dead birds were found strewn across the countryside. On the royal estate in Sandringham, for example, the toll included thrushes, skylarks, moorhens, goldfinches, sparrowhawks, chaffinches, hooded crows, partridges, pheasants, and wood pigeons. Nationally, more than 6,000 dead birds were reported to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, a massive leap on previous years. “We were inundated,” says the RSPB’s conservation director, Martin Harper.

The UK was not alone. For years, reports in the US indicated that numbers of birds, including America’s national bird, the bald eagle, were dropping alarmingly. Ornithologists also noted eggs were often not being laid while many that were laid did not hatch. Something was happening to the birds of the western world.

Several causes were proposed – poisons, viruses or other disease agents – but no one had a definitive answer or seemed sure of the cause – with one exception: the biologist Rachel Carson. For most of 1961, she had locked herself in her cottage in Colesville, Maryland, to complete her book, Silent Spring. It would provide an unequivocal identification of the bird killers. Powerful synthetic insecticides such as DDT were poisoning food chains, from insects upwards.

“Sprays, dusts and aerosols are now applied almost universally to farms, gardens, forests and homes – non-selective chemicals that have the power to kill every insect, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’, to still the song of the birds and the leaping of fish in the streams, to coat the leaves with a deadly film and to linger on in the soil – all this though the intended target may be only a few weeds or insects,” she wrote. One or two authors had previously suggested modern pesticides posed dangers. None wrote with the eloquence of Carson.

Published in 1962 it remains as pertinent today as then

Serialised in the New Yorker during the summer of 1962, Silent Spring was published that September. It remains one of the most effective denunciations of industrial malpractice ever written and is widely credited with triggering popular ecological awareness in the US and Europe. Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace trace their origins directly to Silent Spring. “In the 60s, we were only just waking up to the power that we had to damage the natural world,” says Jonathon Porritt, a former director of Friends of the Earth. “Rachel Carson was the first to give voice to that concern in way that came through loud and clear to society.” Or as Doris Lessing put it: “Carson was the originator of ecological concerns.”

We have much to thank Carson for: a powerful green movement, an awareness that we cannot punish our wildlife indiscriminately and an understanding of the fragility of nature’s food chain. But is the environment in better shape today? Have we saved the planet? Or is it in greater peril than ever? Fifty years after Silent Spring was published, as the world warms, sea levels rise and coral reefs crumble, these questions have acquired a new and urgent relevance.

Source: The Guardian Read more to find out the horrors that we have inflicted on the world and the persistence of farmers and industries to main the horrors and the dedication of one courageous woman, one voice crying in the wilderness. How her book can be traced as the source of all today’s environmental organisations. Rachel Carson exposes the experts to public scrutiny and makes it clear that at best they had not done their homework and at worst they had withheld the truth

Nature Ramble

Late again, I know it’s Monday, but life goes on.

I wanted to finish my new “Sunday Nature Ramble” design for the post, somewhat egoistic I know.

But there you have it.

If you were to go on a nature ramble in England today, there’s something you won’t find.

Bombus subterraneus

Yes, they’re AWOL from the British scene.

Queen B. subterraneus – Nikki Gammans

Oh, you want to know what a Bombus subterraneus  is…

The Short-haired Bumble Bee.

They’re extinct in the British Isles.

But they’re about to make a comeback, there are efforts to import queens from Sweden to re-establish them.

“The short-haired bumblebee, Bombus subterraneus, was once widespread across the south of England, occurring as far north as Humberside, but post-1950’s its population distribution became isolated and patchy. This bee was last recorded in the UK in 1988 near to Dungeness, Kent and officially declared extinct in 2000. ” – Hymettus

So hopefully ramblers in the future will be able to find them.

But it raises the question, why did they disappear?

Monday Moaning

Preamble: I know this one will upset the veges and vegans, but that’s not the purpose. The reason behind this post is the incredible waste of food in a world that is crying food shortages.

British veal poised for an ‘ethical’ comeback

TV chef Jimmy Doherty at his farm in Suffolk.  Photograph: Nick Sinclair/Alamy

TV farmer Jimmy Doherty promotes revival of rose veal to prevent ‘useless’ male dairy calves being shot at birth

As far as reputation goes, it’s up there with foie gras and shark’s fin. But a decade after furious protests on the streets of Britain brought a ban on both the controversial live export of calves and on the rearing-in-crates system – veal is back.

British rose veal has already won the ethical stamp of approval from the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) but it remains a niche market in the UK, just 0.1% of the meat we consume each year.

Now TV farmer Jimmy Doherty, as part of a new series starting on Channel 4 this week, has persuaded Tesco to start stocking the veal in the hope that it will catch on with British meat-eaters.

Doherty and other campaigners claim that persuading British consumers to start eating rose veal – so called because the meat is pink instead of the traditional milk-fed white veal – will go some way to address the “hidden scandal” of our love of milk that sees an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 male dairy calves shot within hours of birth.

Dairy cows are kept constantly pregnant to feed our milk and cheese habit but while female calves can go on to replace their mothers in the dairy system, there is no market for the male calves of dairy breeds which aren’t considered good for beef.

“Rose veal can offer an alternative,” said Doherty. “Crates and all that stuff have given veal a bad name but things are very different now. And it’s not about eating day-old baby cows – if you think that we slaughter chickens when they are 42 days old, lamb at five to six months, and pigs at five months – then at six to eight months, rose veal is the oldest of the lot. No one talks about that side of things.

“Dairy calves are being shot at 24 to 48 hours old and if we drink milk we all have to share in this instead of leaving the burden of it to the farmers. Eating rose veal is utilising those calves and solving a problem,” said Doherty, who is raising veal calves on his own farm.

“The veal being produced in Europe and imported into the UK isn’t meeting anything like our welfare standards. The calves have restricted milk diets to keep the meat white. Our rose veal is slightly pink and has a lovely, lovely flavour and it’s full of protein. I’d love to see more people eating it. It’s not the cheapest so for a lot of people it would have to be a once-a-week special. Tesco has been selling imported German veal so I’m really pleased they are looking at stocking British rose veal.

“It’s time to grow up and face our responsibilities: this is just younger beef.”

Source: The Guardian Read more


Rose Veal Steaks, just smaller

100,000 – 150,000 animals destroyed because they have no purpose; and that’s only in the United Kingdom. When you add the rest of the world into the equation that is a tremendous loss/waste of food.

Admittedly in the past the raising of this product was abhorrent, enough to create a political furore.

However, times have changed, and so have the methods; at least in the UK, although some European countries do not adhere to the same standards. They need to be brought into line.

Brazil President Rousseff vetoes parts of forest law

Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said the vetoes would protect the environment

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has vetoed parts of a controversial bill which regulates how much land farmers must preserve as forest.

Among the 12 articles which President Rousseff rejected is an amnesty for illegal loggers.

Brazil’s farmers’ lobby had argued that an easing of environmental restrictions would promote food production.

Environmentalists oppose the law, which the say will lead to further destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

The bill was approved by the Brazilian Congress a month ago. Environmentalists had urged President Rousseff to veto the entire bill.

President Rousseff rejected 12 articles from the bill and made 32 modifications to the text.

The exact details of the revised document have not yet been made public, but Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said the government wanted to avoid diminishing protected areas of the Amazon and other sensitive ecosystems.

The version of the bill passed by the Brazilian Congress last month would have allowed for huge areas of the country, which had been illegally logged before July 2008, to be opened up to farming.

It would also have allowed farming closer to riverbanks, which are especially vulnerable to erosion if trees are chopped down.

Officials said Ms Rousseff had rejected the article dealing with the riverbanks, ensuring their continued protection.

At a news conference, the ministers for the environment, agriculture and development said the president had struck a balance between preservation and sustainable development.

Source: BBC News Read more


Dilma Rousseff has shown a presence of mind over this matter. The proposed legislation was indeed dangerous, totally flawed, totally unreasonable. There were many direct threats contained it that endangered the Amazon. The destroyers must be held accountable.

Hopefully, the revised law will be accepted by the government.

The battle is not over yet.

The Buzzards are in Parliament

Stop this mad move to capture buzzards and destroy their nests

The government has no responsibility to protect pheasant shoots from our native wildlife, so why is Defra pushing a plan that will damage a protected species?

The wildlife minister Richard Benyon’s department is to spend £375,000 on capturing buzzards, above, to stop them hunting young pheasants. Photograph: David Chapman /Alamy

David Cameron must have been having a laugh when he made Richard Benyon his minister for wildlife and biodiversity. In a previous post I explained what appears to be a crashing conflict of interest. Last year, Benyon, inheritor of a vast stately home and a 20,000-acre walled estate in the south of England, as well as properties elsewhere, managed to get planning permission for a sand and gravel quarry. It was fiercely opposed by conservation groups, on the grounds that it will damage wildlife and biodiversity.

Benyon has also shown a spectacular ignorance of the natural world he is charged with protecting. First, on a Channel 4 programme, he was unable to identify the common fish species for whose survival he is responsible (he is also minister for fisheries). Then he announced that he would wage war on people who let ragwort grow. As ecologists were quick to point out, ragwort is a native plant critical to the survival of other species.

But his latest act suggests something even worse: that he is using his department’s budget to subsidise the class and culture to which he belongs, at the expense of both taxpayers and birds of prey.

Pheasants, which are an exotic species in the UK, are bred here in large numbers to be shot, generally by and for some of the richest people in the country. They are reared in pens, then released into the countryside. People then pay a fortune to line up in a field, armed with shotguns, while an army of beaters works its way through the woods towards them, driving the pheasants into the air and over their heads. This activity is classified as “sport”.

Source: BBC News Read more


Guns blazing to decimate a flock of birds; this is ‘sport’

This is not about the blood ‘sport’ of pheasant shooting (that’s another issue), but rather the duplicity of government and the ignorance of a crown minister about his portfolio.

David Cameron, Prime Minister of England, made Richard Benyon  Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Defra

This sad twat knows absolutely nothing about the environment and wildlife, so why was he put in this position of power?

How did this sad twat get planning permission for a quarry that threatened wildlife habitats? Oh, if you are in parliament, you can do anything; leap tall buildings, stop speeding locomotives, get planning permission for stupid projects.

Now we come to the ‘whisky soaked’ anecdotes that buzzards kill almost half the poults (young pheasant) thereby reducing the thrills of the ‘sport’.

Bear in mind that the buzzard is an endangered species, not critically endangered… yet.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds makes the following observation:

“An independent study carried out by ADAS (an independent consultant), commissioned by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, found that on average, 1-2% of pheasant poults released were taken by birds of prey. It found 45% of poults released were shot, with the remainder dying as a result of other factors, such as road collision and disease, or surviving to join the feral population. The study therefore concluded that losses to birds of prey were negligible compared to other much greater causes of loss. It found the financial cost of “average” bird of prey predation to a shoot releasing 1,000 poults per year, would be just £30.”” – from the BBC article.

In fact ALL birds of prey are responsible for 1 – 2% of poult deaths, not just buzzards. So there is no need for another study, it’s already there. I would bet heavily on the fact that any study carried out at the behest of Benyon would be heavily biased in his favour.

“It looks to me as if Richard Benyon is using public money to provide services for his aristocratic friends.” – BBC

All of which brings me to the penultimate and poignant paragraph of the BCC article:

“Has there, with the possible exception of Nicholas Ridley (another scion of an aristocratic family with vast estates), ever been a worse minister with responsibility for the environment in this country? Has there ever been a clearer sign that the “greenest government ever” couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss for the environment? Can David Cameron claim even a shred of green credibility while Richard Benyon remains in his post?”

Cameron’s claim to be ‘the greenest government ever’ is a crock of shit!

Make you Fink on Friday

Street lights ‘changing ecology on the ground’

The study could have big implications for a shifting of the ecology in urban and suburban areas

The presence of street lights substantially changes the ecology of ground-dwelling invertebrates and insects, research suggests.

Scientists trapped nearly 1,200 of the animals in areas under and between street lights in Helston in Cornwall.

They report in Biology Letters that invertebrate predators and scavengers were more common near the lights, even during the day.

That suggests street lights influence ecology more than previously thought.

Much work in recent years has gone into addressing the effects that street lights can have on local, transient populations of bugs – particularly those that can fly and have significant ranges of exploration.

But the effects of street lights on the vast communities of invertebrates on the ground remained unaddressed.

Source: BBC News Read more


There, just another example of man’s guilt at changing the nature of things.

Everything man does, has an adverse effect on the environment.

Bugs under street light photo time-lapse photography

Now, on the surface, we may not think that altering the habitats of ‘bugs’ is that important. But what if a particular ‘bug’ was required to prey on another particular ‘bug’ and one was and the other wasn’t attracted to light. Then the ‘bug’ that was controlled is now free of predators to swarm and multiply so that it becomes a noxious pest, possibly to the detriment of mankind.

There exist also possibilities of street lights being the cause of extinction. Fireflies, for example, prefer street lights to sex, because the street lights are brighter than the signal light for sex from their own species.

Diet what….

Change the World Wednesday – 23rd May

My mind is blank.

So blank that I left a Post-it note to remind me.

Today, it was work at 7am. Home at 10:30am (work done for the day)

Turn on PC, read e-mails, put all in the ‘pending tray’, check stats.

Indispensable nap.

Woke at 12:00.

It is now 2pm, I am coffeeless, bleary eyed and disorientated. I have a vague recollection that it’s Wednesday and that something always happens on Wednesdays…

Need coffee!


Rectified coffeelessness…

On with Change the World Wednesday.

This week’s challenge:

This week make every lunch a waste-free lunch. If you pack a lunch for yourself or your children, use reusable bags or lunch boxes, reusable food containers & utensils, avoid single-serve items (pudding cups, chips, etc.), use cloth napkins, etc. Think about food choices and preparation. Eliminate any waste associated with the process (compost scraps, serve leftovers, etc.). If you typically go out for lunch, try fixing your own food or choose a restaurant which doesn’t use disposable cups, plates, etc. and one which cooks with local foods. The idea here is to eliminate any waste associated with lunch.

Or …

If your lunches are already waste-free, let’s kick it up a notch. This week, make at least one lunch from local foods … if you can do a week, that’s even better. Let’s define “local” as foods produced within a 100-mile radius of your home.

Or …

If your lunches are already waste-free and you always “eat local”, then let’s elevate this challenge one more step. This week try “raw” lunches. Prepare at least one lunch which uses no cooking energy to prepare.

Hmmm, a three stage challenge.

I don’t ‘do’ lunches to eat out, but…

I like the restaurant idea. I have planned to have a restaurant lunch tomorrow. It will be at Sabores do Brasíl (Brazilian flavours, the link is in Portuguese, but nice photos), not far from work, about 2+kms along Cachamorra highway. I have already planned to walk hobble leisurely on my walking stick because I do need more exercise. So that saves a bus fare too.

They do not have disposable anything (apart from serviettes, aaarrrgggghhh!). Their veges and stuff are local, although meat comes from further afield. Rio de Janeiro is a big city and from here in three directions a 160kms (100 miles) and you are still in the greater city. So there is not the farmland to raise beef, etc. But there are plenty of dishes, whereby I could go vege for the event. That combines ideas one and two.

For the rest of the week, I will go for idea three no cooking and make salads with cold meats, providing the weather holds up, for lunch. Remember we are well into autumn (fall for our American cousins) and the weather is unpredictable. Lovely sunny day today though, which is nice since we have just had a week of cold and wet.

Saturday, I will have a hiatus. The kids are coming for the weekend and I promised them a pizza night, but the side dish for Sunday lunch will be salad.

I am just entering into the spirit of this challenge, because to guarantee that produce comes from within 160km radius, is nigh on impossible. But I do intend to make changes to fall in line as far as possible.



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