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sick

I think I’m dying. My heart is beating too fast, I’m too weak to get out of bed most days, and some days I don’t even have the energy to eat. It’s been like this for years. It’s been getting gradually worse.

I haven’t read a book, taken a walk, watched a movie, visited a friend, or done anything useful in months. I can’t focus, can’t even think most of the time.

I’m not the only one. Many of my friends are also ill. I see the sickness all around me. Every year there are less fish in the sea, less birds in the trees, less insects. The air smells more toxic, the industrial noise is getting louder. Every day, 200 species become extinct. Most rivers no longer support any life. Around half of all human deaths are caused by pollution. We’re all dying of the sickness.

My own illness can be attributed to heavy metal and chemical toxicity, from mining, vaccines, vehicle exhaust, and all the chemicals I’m exposed to every day, indoors and out. They’re in my food, in the air, in the water I drink. I can’t get away from them. There’s no safe place left to go. I can’t get any better while these are still being made, being used, being disposed of into my body.

It’s not just chemicals, but electromagnetic fields, from powerlines, phones, wifi and cell phone towers. The food of industrial agriculture, grown in soils depleted of nutrients and becoming ever more poisoned, is all I can get. It barely provides me with the nutrients I need to survive, let alone recover. Let food be thy medicine, but when the food itself spreads the sickness, there’s not much hope for anyone.

When the soil life dies, the entire landscape becomes sick. The trees can’t provide for their inhabitants. They can’t hold the community of life together. The intricate food web, the web of relationships that holds us all, collapses.

Will I recover? With the constant assault of chemicals, electromagnetic fields, and noise, it seems unlikely. Will the living world recover, or will it die along with me, unable to withstand the violent industries that extract the lifeblood of rivers, forests, fish and earth, to convert them into a quick profit?

Western medicine can’t help me. All it can offer is more chemicals, more poisons. And new technology can’t help the land, the water, the soil. It only worsens the sickness.

If I am to heal, the living world must first be healed. The water, the food, the air and the land need to recover from the sickness, as they are the only medicine that can bring me back to health.

The machines need to be stopped. The mining, ploughing, fishing, felling, and manufacturing machines. The advertising, brainwashing and surveillance machines. The coal, oil, gas, nuclear and solar-powered machines. They are all spreading the sickness. It’s a cultural sickness, as well as a physical one. Our culture is so sick that it barely acknowledges the living world, and has us believe that images, ideas, identities and abstractions are all we need. It all needs to stop. The culture needs to recover, to repair.

I need your help. I can’t do this myself. I’m close to death. To those who are not yet sick, those who have the strength to stand with the living, and stop the sickness: I need you now. Not just for me, but for everyone. For those close to extinction, those who still have some chance of recovery. We all need you.

Today is the last day on Earth for many species of plants and animals. Every day, the sickness consumes a few more of us. If I didn’t have friends and family looking after me, I wouldn’t be alive today. When the whole community becomes sick, there is no-one left to take care. This is how extinction happens.

It doesn’t have to happen. It can be stopped. Some people, mostly those in the worst affected areas, are taking on the sickness, fighting because they know their lives depend on it. They see the root cause of the affliction, not just the symptoms. They are taking down oil rigs, derailing coal trains, and sabotaging pipelines and mining equipment. They’re blockading ports, forests, mine sites and power stations, and doing everything they can to stop the sickness spreading further. They are few, and they get little thanks. They need all the help they can get. With a collective effort, the sickness can be eradicated, and we can all recover our health.

Philippines Infotour

Read stories from my speaking tour of the Philippines here.

The Infotour took place in February 2014. Speakers from Mobile Anarchist School and Deep Green Resistance travelled to Manila, Davao, Tacloban and Marinduque to share skills and ideas with a range of audiences.

The aims of the tour were to build international solidarity, learn from each other, disseminate radical ideas more widely, and strengthen our activist movements.

We presented to activist collectives, high school students, farmers, college students, and neighbours of the infoshops.

We spoke on permaculture, autonomous response to disaster, ecological crises, connecting with the natural world, civilization and resistance.

We travelled to Manila, Davao, Leyte and Marinduque.

In San Miguel, Leyte (a village close to Tacloban) we ran activities for the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda. This was the third mission that MAS has done in this village.

 

maps.htm_txt_PhilMap

In general, people in the Philippines are well aware of environmental issues. For them, environmentalism is not a choice, but a matter of life and death. They are totally dependent on the land and sea for their food and livelihood, so any harm caused—by mining, plantations, industry, development, commercial fishing and tourism—impacts them directly.

When I spoke about the industrial system in its entirety as the cause of the current environmental crisis, rather than individual industries and lifestyle choices, people understood this already. No-one ever argued in favour of technofixes, development and sustainability.

This document has more details about the environmental issues in the Philippines, and resistance movements defending land and indigenous rights.

A Sustainable Population

A sustainable population ensures that the population of all other species who share the land where they live is also sustained.  A population that causes the extinction of another species is not sustainable.  Earth’s current human population causes the extinction of 200 species per day.

A sustainable population can endure indefinitely.  This is the definition of sustainability.  The number of people that can truthfully be called “a sustainable population” is not something that can be decided by popular vote, by argument, by economics, or by force.  It is decided by the carrying capacity of the land on which it lives.

Ninety per cent of large fish in the ocean are gone.  Ninety nine per cent of old growth forests, gone.  That’s ninety nine per cent of the habitat that can sustain a human population.  This means that as of now, a sustainable population of humans on this planet is one per cent of the population that a pre-industrial planet has sustained.

The civilization that most humans currently live in is not a sustainable habitat, as it requires stealing from the surrounding land to maintain itself.  And as the civilized area grows to take over everything, and the land left available to steal from therefore shrinks to nothing, the whole project inevitably dies.

And the maximum possible population for any piece of land is not desirable for that population, as there is no chance for that population to survive in the face of disaster, environmental change, flood, or drought.  An optimal population allows for some redundancies in providing for its needs.  A population below carrying capacity will also be more peaceful, as it has everything it needs, and some to spare for others travelling or migrating.  An optimal population doesn’t need to be constantly on guard to defend its landbase.  Although this is conditional on the populations of surrounding areas also being optimal for their own landbases, rather than expanding and colonising.

A population’s ability to sustain itself isn’t a function of the number of people, but the relationship between the people and the land they live on.  If the people exploit the land, taking more from it than they give in return, then regardless of the number of people, they will soon reach a point where the land no longer sustains them, and they either move on or starve to death.  And in the present world, moving on means forcefully invading the land of others.  Causing them to starve to death.

A population that has reciprocal relationships with the land, plants and animals that provide for their needs, and takes responsibility for the wellbeing of these others, may not even need to consider the question of population, or population may be regulated by an intuitive understanding of these relationships.

In the current context of global population overshoot, any strategy that addresses population as an isolated issue is bound to fail.  Putting the cart before the horse.

It isn’t possible for a government that exists within the paradigm of economic growth to effectively address the issue of population.

Economic growth leads population growth.  More people buy more stuff.  Even if economic growth is possible without population growth, the economy still undermines its own foundations (quite literally in the case of mining taking over agricultural land) and will lead to whole populations of humans collapsing, regardless of the number of people.

So to see population as an issue that needs addressing is to miss the point.

Sustainability is not an abstract concept, or an optional extra for rich people to feel good about.  Sustainability is by definition the capacity to continue to exist.  If something is not sustainable, it will soon cease to exist.  Any policy or argument that claims sustainability as a virtue without understanding this core meaning will benefit no-one, and only lead to a more chaotic collapse.

Often at policy discussions, someone will mention population and use the phrase “the elephant in the room” as if they’ve said something terribly clever and important, and done their bit to address the issue.  I’ve never heard a proposal for any real action to either reduce global population or stop it from growing.  Here’s some policy options: mass murder, forced sterilisation, a deadly virus, one-child policy, withhold food so that people starve.  I can’t imagine anyone wanting to be on the receiving end of any of these, although there may be willingness to accept a one-child policy.

Stopping population growth is not in the interest of any government, especially not one elected on four-year term.  Governments want as many people as possible – to grow their economy, fight their wars, work their industries, buy products, pay taxes.

Attempts to influence governments to instate policies on population are unlikely to be effective.  Governments need to act in the interests of their corporate investors (or employers, or shareholders, depending on how you look at it).  To influence a government requires influencing the corporations that control it.

A corporation has profit-making as its core business.  No matter how convincing an argument may be, a corporation won’t act on it if its not profitable.  And reducing population, the market for their products, can never be profitable.

Corporations can’t be challenged by legal means, as they have power over the legal system.  So anyone wanting to challenge a corporation can only do so illegally.

By thinking strategically, and having the goal of preventing a corporation from doing business, its not all that hard to bring it down.

A corporation is a vulnerable thing.  It can’t work without electricity, internet, phone connections, transport systems, workers, and money.  If the supply of any one of these things is cut off, business stops.

By refusing to acknowledge the underlying causes of population growth, the debate on population is feeding and breeding the metaphorical elephants it so loves to talk about.

What I see is an overpopulation of elephants in the room.

Letter to Resurgence/Ecologist

I wrote this letter to the editor of Resurgence/Ecologist magazine.  It wouldn’t surprise me if it doesn’t get published, since it picks holes in the editor’s arguments.

isimg_276I agree with Satish Kumar (in the editorial for the Jan/Feb issue) that caring for our environment is a moral imperative.  However, there are many flaws in the arguments that follow.

He claims that “Our task now is to show that ecology and economy are not in contradiction to each other.”  The industrial economy is powered by the extraction, destruction and consumption of the natural world.  It is fundamentally opposed to ecology.  The economy treats the planet as a resource to be used, which will soon end with the destruction of every living thing.

He then states “environment and employment can – and do – complement each other.”  Yet there is no form of employment that benefits the environment.  There is no money to be made in protecting and regenerating the land.  The majority of those working in the environmental field are employed by those who profit from destroying it, so are – despite their best intentions – merely placing a “green” façade over the harm being caused.

He claims we can harvest our energy from the sun, wind and rain, which is true if we harvest this energy directly, but if we place solar panels, wind turbines or dams in the way, we are responsible for the mining, pollution, waste and demise of living rivers that these technologies cause.  This will never be sustainable.  And anything that can’t be sustained will surely come to a halt.

Kumar claims that “the western world is not in an economic crisis. The banks have vast reserves of finance.”  However, in 2011, the Bank of England told the chief executives of Britain’s largest banks that there was a serious chance that the whole financial system would collapse before Christmas.

“The land is still producing food” is next, while farmland becomes desert, honeybees are on the verge of extinction, aquifers are collapsing, soil is eroded and depleted, urban sprawl takes over the land, and corporations and machinery control the entire global food system, which could collapse at any moment.  The UN predicts a global famine this year.

And then “We have been endangering the lives of millions of creatures”.  Every day, 200 species become extinct.  80 per cent of the world’s rivers no longer support life.  98 per cent of old growth forests have been destroyed.  This is not endangering lives, it is ecocide.

If the industrial economy is allowed to continue, there is likely to be no life on the planet 40 years from now.  No animals, no plants, no microbes.

Now is not a time for denial, or hope.  It is a time for action.  If we do not act now to stop the whole industrial system in its tracks, there will be no environment left to care for.

And, to echo Kumar’s closing words, it is as simple as that.

Link to the editorial,   The Great Challenge.

Reconciliation. A letter to empire.

I’m not sure how I feel about writing this in the first person.  I’m taking the voice of those who have experienced things I’ll never know, and twisting it for my own ends.  I could write it from the other side, but that voice is in every news story and history book.

This is not my story.  It was told to me by a voice that demands to be heard.

So you want reconciliation?  You really think we can make this relationship work? After all you’ve done?

You came here, onto my land, into my home, you were never invited.  Do you know how important it is here to be invited before going onto someone else’s land?  No, of course you don’t.  You never asked.

You stole everything I have.  My food, my homeland, my family.  My traditions, which have been honoured since the beginning of time.  Even my name.  You destroyed it all.

You raped me, beat me, massacred my people.  You took me as a slave.  You took my children away.  You severed me from the spirits of my ancestors.

You took away my singing, my dancing, my dreaming.  My everything.

You wanted me dead.  Not just dead, extinct.  You wanted all my wisdom, all my history, to be forgotten, forever.

You destroyed my home.  You said it was no good, you’d make me a new one.  Then you made me pay for it.  This is no home, it’s an empty shell.  There is no life, no feeling in it.

And you are always here.

And now you want reconciliation.  You want me to say everything is fine, of course you can stay.  You want me to forgive.  You won’t even acknowledge what you’ve done.  You say you’re sorry, but I know you don’t mean it.  If you were sorry, you’d give back everything you’ve stolen.  If you were sorry, you’d leave.

You abuse me still.  To you it’s normal, it’s the way you are, the way life is.  You don’t hear my cries.  You don’t care at all.

I never chose this relationship.  I never wanted you in my life.  I fought you all the way.  But you were always stronger, more violent.  You had all the weapons.  You took mine away.

I will not reconcile with you.  I will make you leave.  Enough of my people have been killed.  Now it’s your turn.  Leave this land or you will die in it.

Leave this land or you will die in it.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Who am I, as someone who was born into, and continues to live in the colonist culture, to speak for those abused by this culture?

Yet, who am I, as someone who has heard the stories and views of many indigenous people, to keep these to myself?  They need to be spoken far and wide.

And who am I to silence the voice that told me this story?  This is a voice that demands to be heard.

The twin sides of the fossil-fuel coin – climate change and energy decline

Guy McPherson presents some projections for an economic crash, peak oil effects and climate change impacts in the near future.  Total economic collapse is expected within months, and climate change expected to lead to the extinction of all sea and land life (yes, that does include you) and leave the planet without oxygen, by 2050.

Resistance to global power structures is the only strategy available to us that could save at least some living beings from this annihilation.  Sustainable living, renewable energy, nonviolent protest, or a few cans of beans in the pantry, won’t help anyone.  Guy doesn’t say this.  He says plant a radish.  I don’t reckon a radish would be at all useful in the face of total global destruction.  Let’s start thinking outside the vegie garden box.

from Nature Bats Last

Making rapid progress toward a crash

By the end of the century, the planet we live on will likely be uninhabitable by humans, mammals, and nearly all living things.  And yet nothing has been done to avert this disaster.  How is it that I never knew about this before?  Why is no-one talking about this?  This claim comes from the UK government chief scientist.  It was published in a prominent newspaper.  Is it just too much for people to comprehend, so we collectively ignore it?  Are our delusions so large that we cannot accept that we require a living planet?  Does this information just not fit in the conversations we have about the way we live?

I feel like I’m in a speeding car.  It’s only metres away from hitting a brick wall.  The driver has his foot full on the accelerator.  Maybe he doesn’t see the wall, or maybe he doesn’t want to see it.  Acceleration is the whole of his identity.  His identity is more important to him than his life.  In his world, speeding is all there is. In his world, speeding is what everyone wants, what everyone needs.  Solid walls that will destroy him, his car, and his passengers, cannot be seen.  The millions of living beings he’s running down with the car, they too cannot be seen.  Economic growth at all costs.

Next to him, the shotgun passenger is suggesting easing off the acceleration.  He sees the wall, but doesn’t understand the effect of hitting it at speed.  He can’t grasp that it’s a solid object.  He’s not suggesting slowing, or stopping, but continuing at a steady speed.  In his world, the wall might disappear into the distance, maybe it can be driven away with some new technology, or if we think about it differently.  Sustainability.  Steady state economy.

Behind him, another passenger sees the wall.  He knows we can’t continue at this speed.  He suggests slowing.  Degrowth.  Transition.  Energy descent.

I’m sitting behind the driver.  I can see that the only way to survive the crash is to stop as soon as possible.  A gentle deceleration will be too little, too late.  And even if it were a good idea, it would require convincing the driver, who refuses to hear.  Voices from the back seat are a threat to his identity.  I suggest we passengers kill him, and slam on the brakes. He’s clearly not going to stop the car himself, as he values his identity more than his life.  Resistance.

The other two are shocked.  You can’t stop the car, they say.  That would stop our progress.  How can you not want progress?  And you can’t kill him, they say.  He’ll lose control of the car.  And how dare you not be grateful to him for driving us all this way?

He’s driving us into a wall, I say.  He’s already out of control.  How can I be grateful? 

You can’t kill him, they say.  That would be violent.  You don’t want to be violent.

He’s killing all of us, and everyone in his path, I say.  If I kill him, I’m stopping the violence.  They don’t want to hear.  They don’t want to stop. 

I lean forward.  I put my hands around the driver’s throat.  I kill him.  I slam on the brakes.  The car jolts.  The brakes scream.  The windscreen shatters.

The crash is inevitable.  Some may survive.

 

 Image

Image credit  Top choice from an image search for “economic crash”.  There are a disturbing number of books with titles like “how you can profit from an economic crash”.

Four minute shower

I was taking a shower, thinking about saving water, and shower timers, and the idea that a four-minute shower is the solution to the problem of wasting water.  And how this can only make sense when a five-minute shower and a four-minute shower are the only possible options.  This solution makes no sense at all if any other factors are taken into account.  Factors like the possibility of taking a three-minute shower, or a bath, or not showering at all, or flushing the toilet, or collecting rainwater, or using shower water on the garden, or using shower water to flush the toilet. Or mining industries that use billions of times the amount of water any one person could ever use at home.  Billions of times the amount that all the people in the world could ever use at home.  If everyone in the world cut back showering time, the amount of water being wasted would hardly change. In a world where irrigators deliberately waste water so as to use their whole allocation, and not lose their allocation for next year, a concern about showering time seems misplaced.

Then there’s all the larger factors: the infrastructure required to make showering possible. The dams, pipes, pumps, sewers, chemical treatment, electricity, mining and pollution that showering could never happen without.  Damming a river destroys whole natural communities, living beings both upstream and downstream, and impacts on the livelihoods of everyone who depends on the river.  Reducing showering time has no effect on any of this.

Most of our water use happens not in the shower, but as embodied water – the water used to produce the things we buy.  A 200mL glass of milk requires 200L of water to produce, a hamburger 2400L, an egg 135L, an A4 sheet of paper 10L.  How much water in a round of golf?

You could install a low-flow showerhead, which is claimed to save 16 000 litres of water a year.  This happens to be the same amount of water it takes to produce one kilogram of beef.  The showerhead advocates don’t say how much water it takes to produce the showerhead.

Are our cultural beliefs around showering and access to unlimited water more important than the lives of those who depend on the rivers we are stealing from?  How long can we sustain our beliefs before either these others fight back, or we disrupt natural processes to the extent that this water is no longer available?  I was going to include “until we poison our water supply so badly that its no longer safe to shower in it” but then realised this is already the case.  Here is South Australia our water supply contains pesticides at well above the safe level recommended by World Health Organisation, but this doesn’t make news.  I’m literally being showered in toxic chemicals.

Even if none of these factors are taken into account, a four-minute shower, rather than being the solution to water waste, is still wasting four-fifths as much water as a five-minute shower.  So for this solution to make sense, you’d need to not only ignore all other factors, you’d need to first make these assumptions:

  1. showering every day is essential for everyone
  2. showering requires at least four minutes
  3. showering is always done using mains water
  4. shower water must go into the sewer
  5. stealing water from other watersheds is a human right
  6. polluting water and dumping it in the water supply of others is essential
  7. none of these assumptions can be acknowledged or challenged.

I thought all this through while I was in the shower for somewhere between four and five minutes, which, if I was to make the above assumptions, would leave me somewhere between being the solution and the cause of the problem.

Waste water and energy! Install this completely unnecessary shower timer, which required more water and energy to manufacture than you could use in months of showering! Only $275!

The magical thinking of Richard Heinberg

I heard Richard Heinberg speak last night in Adelaide, and was amazed at the extent of his delusions.  He spoke about the end of growth – the combination of energy, debt and climate as factors in the demise of the industrial system.  He was going well until he started on solutions.  His conclusions did not follow from his arguments.

Is acknowledging the implications of the end of growth a taboo topic, that no one dares speak of?  Or are we all so well educated to the myth of growth and progress that we are not capable of imagining an alternative?  Or is it just that books that offer simple but impractical solutions to all the world’s problems sell better than honesty?  I suspect the second, but all three are possible.

I find it odd that people who claim to oppose growth still promote it as the only option.

It makes no sense to say that it’s growth in consumption that is causing a problem, and the solution is to maintain consumption at a steady rate.  Consumption requires destruction of the earth that feeds us. If we want to survive, we can’t afford any consumption.  The very concept that the earth is a resource to be consumed, rather than a living community to be a part of, is not sustainable.

The same with population.  To suggest stabilising the population as a solution is ridiculous.

Population is already in overshoot.  A population that eats from its land faster than the land can regenerate will very soon starve to death, and destroy every living thing on the land in the process.  Hardly sustainable.

Right now is not a good time for this magical thinking.  We’re at a point where 99 per cent of old growth forests are gone, and the arctic ice cap is only a few years away from disappearing completely.  There’s nothing left to consume.  Any more destruction will catalyse a sudden collapse of the biosphere.  It’s not just an easily expendable economy that’s at stake here.  It’s all of life on Earth.

With this flawed logic, I can say that if I drive a car at a steady speed of 100km/h, I’m not consuming any fuel, and will never run out of gas.  My driving is sustainable.  I can go on like this forever.  It’s only if I continuously accelerate, and double my speed every hour, that I will have to consider the possibility of the gas tank becoming empty.

The earth is not infinite.  A car’s fuel tank does not have an infinite capacity.  The only way to avoid coming to a sudden halt a long way from home is to not drive the car.

This analogy could be quite useful.  Let’s stretch it further.  Is a car (a global economy, a large population) a useful way to get anywhere?  Where are we going with this anyway?  Are we even looking where we are going?  Why are we so keen to go anywhere?  Why are we so scared of home?  The myth of progress decries any steps towards home, to the forest, to community and connection, as backwards, unthinkable.

Most of those who challenge the story of growth and progress advocate for maintaining the existing structures of power and consumption.  Keep the car going.  No-one dares call for going home.  Just slow it down a little.

Let’s turn the car around.  I want to go home.  I don’t want to spend my whole life in a speeding machine.  I want to live in the world.

 

He mentioned during the Q&A session that he aims to save the earth and civilization, as if it were possible to have both.  Civilization in its very nature destroys living communities.  Choosing to save civilization will lead to the death of everything, which will mean the death of civilization.  It’s not worth the bother.  Civilization doesn’t benefit anyone, I reckon we’d all be better off without it.

 

Here’s my notes from Richard’s talk.

Economic growth has only been going on for a few decades.  It’s not the way the world has always been.

Growth requires constantly increasing consumption, which means increasing energy consumption.

The CSIRO has predicted that the global industrial system will collapse partway through the 21st century.

There are three factors that are relevant to the end of growth: energy, debt and climate.

 Energy

The amount of work embodied in a litre of oil is the equivalent of one month of hard labour for a person.  A litre of oil costs around $1.50.

The discovery of new oil peaked in the US in the 1930s, and globally in 1964.  Very few new oil fields have been discovered since 1980.

A price of around $100/barrel is required for it to be worthwhile to develop production of new oil fields.  A price of $100/barrel is also likely to trigger a recession.  That’s checkmate on extracting more oil.

Debt

After WWII, the excess production from factories required buyers, and this led to advertising and planned obsolescence.  Then consumer credit (debt) became the tool to get people to buy more stuff.

Outsourcing labour to the global south made production cheaper.

A factory worker’s wage now is the same as it was in 1973, so this worker does not have an ever expanding wage to feed the ever expanding economy.  The economy deals with this by giving the worker an ever expanding debt.

Consumer spending is 70% of the economy.

Debt is growing at three times the rate of the economy.  Debt feeds the growth of the financial industry.

In the 2008 global financial crisis, trillions of dollars disappeared.  Bailouts were seen as the only option to prevent the economy from imploding.  $16trillion was pumped into the global economy by the US.  This is larger than the US annual GDP.

US deficit spending is now $100billion/month.

We have hit a limit to debt.

Climate

Drought has decimated the US Midwest corn and soy crops this year.

Polar ice caps are melting, and are likely to be gone completely by 2020, and possibly as early as 2016.

This will lead to a positive feedback loop, of ever expanding climate chaos.

Climate will impact our capacity to grow the economy.

 

China is currently experiencing economic growth of 7-10%pa, which gives the economy a doubling time of seven years.  So every seven years, China’s economy doubles in size.  China is currently using half the world’s coal.  China exports to Europe and North America, and as those economies collapse, China will have no buyers for it’s products, so will itself collapse.  As China is the primary customer of Australia’s mining industry, the Australian economy will soon collapse too.  It’s a domino effect, and once it has started, nothing can stop the collapse.

 

These are Mr Heinberg’s tips for getting off growth.

Develop indicators of wellbeing other than GDP, such as Bhutan’s gross happiness index.

Alternative currencies.

Worker ownership of industries.

Population reduction.

Halt the growth of consumption, ie keep consuming at the rate we are now.

Develop renewable energy industries.

Probably a few other things I didn’t write down because I was trying to make sense of the last two.

 

What I’ve written is probably not an accurate representation of what he said, and may not make much sense on it’s own.  Read The End of Growth to get the real story.  I’m not promoting the book, I haven’t read it, just guessing it might explain my notes in more detail.

 

 

Food Skills Day

Snails, wine, sundried olives, yogurt, weeds, sauerkraut, green smoothies, paneer and sourdough.  All in a Saturday afternoon.

Ferment, cook, eat, share, experiment, learn, enjoy and play!

Elise and I organised a food skills day to share skills, recipes and ideas with anyone who would care to join us.

On the invitation, the event was declared to be a self-organising, DIO (do it ourselves) event.
I took a chance on the idea of collaborative learning, and asking participants to bring recipes they had never tried before, so we can all learn how to do it together.  Bringing tried and tested recipes was welcome too.
Here’s a couple of recipes that were new to me.

Escargot

I gathered a few snails from my garden and front verge.  Regular garden snails are the same as the ones in the fancy French restaurants.  They are nocturnal, so easier to find and collect when they are out at night.  After rain is a good time.  They develop a lip on the front of the shell when they are mature.  Gather only mature snails.

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Letting them out to play before they are cooked is entirely unnecessary.  They seemed in a playful mood as they came out of the jar, and the water took a few minutes to boil, so we released them onto the playground.

Before cooking, give the snails a rinse.  Then throw them in a pot of boiling water and let them simmer for 15 minutes.  Skim off the foam that forms on the surface of the water.

Take the snails out of the pot, and out of their shells.  A fork and a twist should do it.

Give them another rinse.

Fry ’em up in garlic butter.  We served them with pasta and spinach because it was available, but bread and salad could be good too.

This recipe is a composite of several found on the internet.  I knew nothing about cooking snails before this, and had never thought to eat them.

Paneer

Paneer is Indian-style cottage cheese that is really easy to make, it needs no fancy ingredients or equipment.  The whole process takes 15 minutes.

Bring 1 litre of full-cream milk to the boil.  Add lemon juice or vinegar and turn the heat to low.  The quantity of lemon juice required varies from half a teaspoon to half a cup in the recipes I’ve read, and apparently depends on the type of lemon, as some are more acidic than others.  I guess use the amount of juice that causes the milk to separate.

Stir continuously as the milk curdles.  It should take about two minutes for the milk to separate into curds (the solids) and whey (a clear yellowish liquid).

Place a muslin cloth in a colander, which is over a large bowl.  Strain the mixture through the cloth, then hang it above a bowl for a few minutes to let all the liquid drain out.

Place the cloth full of cheese between two dinner plates, with something heavy on top.  This will squeeze out any remaining moisture, and form the paneer into a firm block.

Paneer is traditionally used in Indian recipes, both curries and desserts.  We fried it in butter and ate it with salt.  It should keep for a few days in the fridge.