Monthly Archives: May 2014

How much is enough?

It occurred to me just now… how much is really enough to make us happy?  I guess that must mean different things to different people – with quite some variation considering:

    • the culture in which we grew up, including:
      o   our family, friends, broader community and our relationships with them

      o   our global location

      o   our global position, eg. First World, New World, Third World, Fourth World

      o   the access we have to the natural environment to connect with nature (cities mean less access, rural areas more)

      o   our education

      o   our embodied health and the healthcare available at our global location

      o   our religion, if applicable

      o   our financial status

      o   our social standing

    • our primary caregivers (usually our parents) and their attitudes, bias, general outlook and happiness
    • the order of our birth and our siblings (and their individual characters and our relationship with them)
    • whether we have endured tragedy in our generation and/or whether we carry the tragedy/ trauma of our forbears

    Our own unique version of happiness is for each of us to decide.  How we choose to live our lives is defined by the decisions we make and the actions we connect with.  Our beliefs need no backup from popular culture (which has been corrupted by the corporatocracy) as we each know intuitively what is right and just.  We may think the problems of the world are too big and that we can’t do anything to bring about change – this isn’t true.  We are part of the corporatocracy because we participate in the “market economy“.  Peter Joseph has done some really insightful lectures on what the market economy is, how it impacts our daily lives and it’s future.  He seems to be saying in this lecture that there is NO future for this system (read “idea”). Please make sure you watch all three of his main movies – links in the sidebar.

    Other highlights: 7:17, 45:51, don’t miss the end!

    For me, I’m happy.  I’m having a great life – wonderful family, enough to eat, a roof over our heads and meaningful work.  And fun.  And the internet!  Then I feel guilty 🙁

    Check out these ideas:

    First World privilege – Wikipedia

    First World problem – Wikipedia

    Sometimes I think these feelings of guilt hobble my action or does it encourage my in-action?  I feel guilty because I think that sharing more means my family will get less.  That figures right?  Well, I guess it does in a very linear fashion.  Now that we know the paradigm is no longer linear / analogue then we must know we now also have different options.  Every human alive has choices.  Our current structures mean that we can marginalise different groups or  countries and  reduce the impact of their human choices – in fact in some global locations humans fight for the most basic type of survival in the physical realm.

    So, what we’re left with is the market-economy-rich locations in the world self perpetuating their own idea of what’s fun and not really giving much consideration to anything or anyone else.  The First World is a teenager.  As we know, teenagers don’t really turn into adults.  They become young or pre adult for another 10 years or so and develop further.  We’ve stunted our First World teenager now rather than encouraging them to explore their reality and to find their creative place in it- along with the rest of the world’s humans because we are all the same.  That is, to contribute their best abilities for the good of all.  Sounds a bit grandiose, I know.  The creativity I’m talking about is brain synapses crackling as they discover new ways to think.  New ways to creatively solve the problems of the world.  We’re there.  Just need a bit of a plan now to avoid Prabaker’s shocks.

    Can’t be summed up any better than this at 3:45 on this TED talk (worth watching the whole piece if you have time and are interested in education of our young people for the future 🙂

    You know – it’s ok to evolve out of one paradigm and into the next. It’s what we’ve always done since we came down from the trees. We are creative by our nature – we have ideas that we share and if they resonate with our communities the ideas are adopted. When the idea is superceded by the next idea we welcome it as an innovation – not a slight on the humans who have participated in the train of thought that got us to the latest incarnation. There is no blame.

Bees

Start with watching this (8:17 mins):

At 8:05 the man (John Miller?) says “we’re almost able to fix it” and grins.  This clip was published on 20 February 2014 so I’m wondering whether we’ve started fixing the problem yet or whether we’re waiting for something to happen first.  I asked the question and posted in the comments.  Nothing back as of today.

He says we’re losing a third of our bees year on year.  That is a problem in itself for the pollination service they supply to our human food chain – but more so for me – the bees are the canary.  Rudolf Steiner reckoned that humans have 4 years from the time the bees die until we do.  Crikey!  That’s not much time, is it?  So, if we go with bees are the canary then what I see is that once the bees are gone – so are we.  Sure there’s other pollinators but by the time the bees are finished they will be already toast.

We keep bees here at our place.  We love our bees.  We’re on the local bee list.  This came through:

REF: Neonicotinoids in Australia (about 1/3 down the page- red is my emphasis)


As far as I have been able to find, there are no field test results on bee contamination/IMIDACLOPRID for public viewing in Australia. The APVMA has issued a recent change to labelling warning of high toxicity to bees. You can purchase NEONICS in Bunnings, Woolworths, Coles, the local hardware and Rural Co Operatives, Elders and Landmark, Cotton Seed Merchants, most other seed merchants and the like. Usage requires no licence. When asked about the amount of canola seed that was treated with GAUCHO at Landmark Tamworth, the Seed Merchant replied ‘Almost all of the canola seed is now being seed treated with GAUCHO {IMIDACLOPRID} and a fair bit of the pasture seed as well’. The employee was sympathetic and largely unaware of any potential danger to bees, I would like to think that farmers also would show concern, if they thought that they might be hurting your bees. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the USA, some of these NEONIC sprays have a half-life of up to nineteen years in heavy soils and are soluble in water.


Seems like the beekeepers need to talk to their clients (farmers) and say they won’t do the pollination deals unless they can show NEONICS has not been used – or a solid plan that it will be phased out.  The farmers can’t do it without the beekeepers.  The beekeepers have the power in this situation.  Is there an alternative chemical to  NEONICS that is safe for bees?  What should the beekeepers advise to use instead?  Is there another supplier of a safe chemical pesticide the farmers can use immediately to remove NEONICS from the market?

This issue seems so cut and dried but there’s something else going on.  Like the chemical company wants to get rid of the current chemical first instead of just chucking it out (crikey – how do u dispose of a haul like that thoughtfully?)  Or they’re too lazy to come up with a new and safe pesticide for the crops that don’t affect the bees?  Lol.  Is that possible?  We were recommended pyrethrum for the green ants on our hive so I’m guessing that doesn’t affect the bees so much but does affect the green ants?  A deterrent rather than kill?  My feeling is that pyrethrum wouldn’t be strong enough to conquer with the GM bugs that are rising up in monocultures around the world in increasing numbers as each generation of pesticide fails (similar to antibiotics, I guess?).  Then we get into that whole “monoculture” idea which kinda sucks in its own right. I wonder what the largest monocultures in the world are?  Something snack food related – like cheap filler food products.  Or canola for feeding beef and cooking for fast food chains? A quick glance in Google looks like animal feed crops – so that’s a serious meat eating culture!  So, to save the bees the “first world” needs to stop eating so much meat.  Probably should be anyways – the stats say there’s increases in bowel cancer, heart disease, etc… diet related illnesses.  Even with all that going on – still seems cut and dried to me.  Not eating so much meat doesn’t mean that we will die.  Really?  What about the snack foods and fast foods – we’ve got to have a bit more respect for our bodies (and our children’s) than to do that – surely?

And / or, there’s a whole bunch of crops that are wind pollinated and so the bee health aren’t high on the priority of the farmers?  Colony Collapse Disorder doesn’t affect them?  Or the picture isn’t big enough?

Just looking closer at NEONICS on Wikipedia (worth a click to scan the article):

Imidacloprid is currently the most widely used insecticide in the world. (REF:  WIKIPEDIA – don’t forget to donate when Jimmy Wales puts the word out 🙂

Ok. So, if not Imidacloprid, what can we use?  Is there an immediate alternative?  If yes – then let’s get it out there.  I’m picking the answer is no 🙁

This is what we use it for, click here to  read the list  of ‘Authorized Uses’ – even our dogs cop it as a pest control.

From Bayer’s point of view they are making the most widely used insecticide in the world.  Life is good – ahem – from a corporation’s point of view.  I’m not sure what percentage of farmer’s don’t need bee pollination – I might try to work on a list.  I’m guessing all the “grass” type crops – wheat, canola, maize, barley, etc are wind pollinated.  That would follow that those farmer’s don’t really have concern about the bee situation.  Presumably that is the bees on adjoining farms that are being affected?  Drift or do the bees forage on the wind pollinated crops also?

Some excellent reading here:

Imidacloprid Wikipedia entry

Bayer – CN website

Monocultures article (http://www.carbontradewatch.org/issues/monoculture.html)

US Staple Crop System Failing from GM and Monoculture – scroll down to the bottom of the page for the conclusion – read the whole article if you can stick it out (http://permaculturenews.org/2013/07/11/us-staple-crop-system-failing-from-gm-and-monoculture/)

Honeybees and Monoculture: Nothing to Dance About (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2013/06/07/honey-bees-and-monoculture-nothing-to-dance-about/)

Monoculture diets and honey bee health (http://www.honeybeesuite.com/monoculture-diets-and-honey-bee-health/)

Monsanto Wikipedia entry

Syngenta Wikipedia entry

Entry into force of EU restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid
insecticides imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin – Greenpeace media release  Nov 2013

List of most valuable crops – Wikipedia

Pollination management > Number of hives needed per unit area of crop pollination – Wikipedia

Later… I found that we are actually phasing into NEONICS now!  Eeeecccct.  Read this link and check out the first paragraph.  “The neonicotinoids are the newest class and are gradually replacing the organophosphates and methylcarbamates.”  So this is our best technology being used so widely in all aspects of our lives – from treating our pets for fleas, to pesticides used on most (?) of our crops, termite control in our homes and sprays we buy from Bunnings to put on the food we are growing in our gardens.  We better get a wriggle on and figure out what the next thing is because this isn’t going to cut it.  I don’t know what was paid for the patent but maybe they should get their money back?  We shouldn’t have to live with it until it’s earn’t it’s keep.   Should we?  Humans are smarter than this… in fact that professor looks like he can push on and get the next class that will not affect the bees.  If you follow the logic along though… if humans are ingesting and living in and around this toxin and it affects the bees brains then what the heck is it doing to ours?

Here is a paper from 2001 – click here to scan through it (pesticide.org).  Definitely read all the bold bits at the top.  Interesting reading from the studies that have been done and the  conclusions that were made 13 years ago!  A cautionary tale.

Ok – so if we accept that the probability of developing a “safe pesticide for bees” and other beneficial pollinating insects is highly unlikely let’s look to what the solutions might be.  Well, it looks like “non-crop margins” are the solution.  We have to pull out some of the monoculture bits to create corridors for the bees to forage a variety of plants to complete their diet and ensure their health.  Probably also set the maximum monoculture size plots to something a lot less to create more bio-diversity.  

Click here to read the full article At the bottom of the page is this:

“A potential solution that is relatively simple is the idea of having ‘non-crop margins’ interspersed in large agricultural regions. The margins would managed to have native wildflower species to supplement the monoculture diet.”

Later again… I guess the tricky part is acknowledging our past and those brilliant humans who have got us this far.  The actual people who invented these chemicals – not just the neonicotinoids but all the pesticides that preceded it – were just trying to help.  They were using the best technology at hand to create a solution to a pest problem we had as we were trying to feed the world.  It was logical to use it on the crops to control particular “non-beneficial” insects.  The picture was on the smallish side it’s true (only in hindsight).  Maybe something about our discovery and subsequent study of micro-organisms blindsided  us for three hundred years and we waged war on a small scale with chemical warfare instead of recognising that only imbalance can be corrected by understanding the true nature of it.  This really just means there are no weeds – only plants in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Same with bug blooms – they are an imbalance in our natural environment because we’ve not set it up to ensure diversity and in doing that all the bugs work together and live happily ever after.  And we do too.

 

Public Education

I remember that I loved school.  I remember making the connection that I would have to “go to school” for 12 years of my life and that I may as well make the most of it and enjoy it!  What’s not to enjoy though – really?  Hanging out with your peers, making new neural connections in your brain to enable you to see the world around you a different way, a sense  of achievement and wonder when you master a new task/ skill/ process and problem solving.  Truth be told – school was easy for me.  I picked everything up in the right time and had my parent’s support for my times tables, spelling, reading, etc.  I guess it’s not so much fun for a student that struggles to keep up with the fast paced curriculum.  I know for sure that all children are smart and capable of learning.  I’ve seen it.  So, I have to come to the conclusion that maybe we need to work on delivery.

It seems to me the new National Curriculum is a good idea.  It will allow families to move more freely around Australia and standardise the learning stages of young people in a meaningful way.  We now know so much more than we did 50 years ago… or 30 years ago when I was at school.  Our children will know so much more in their lifetime with their unprecedented access to the Internet.  And how fast they are capable of processing new information with the correct delivery!  Wow.  Check out this vsauce content for amazing “train of thought” processing!

Creative learning and thinking is brought about by child-centred versus system-centred learning. A true-believer-friend of ours recommended Ken Robinson’s TED talk – worth watching start to finish if you’re at all interested in the education of our young people.  See you when you get back…. I really enjoyed the bit where he relays the story of a young girl who was distracted in class and couldn’t sit still.  His observation of the young girl’s story was challenging on so many levels.  It brings about a lot of BIG STATEMENTS for me like:

– Our individual expertise is valued equally – no matter whether we end up contributing to society as a Postie or a Teacher or a Politician or a Farmer or a [enter vocation].

– We must be passionate about the things  we do in our lives to be fulfilled and happy and to positively affect those around us

– Our cultures / societies have a responsibility to us (their citizens) to provide a safe and nurturing environment for all world citizens to be the best they can be and fulfill their life’s work – whatever that looks like  (because of course this is different for everyone – as it goes).

– I just read a  quote from another TED talk that said: “Babies and young children are like the R&D division of the human species,” says psychologist Alison Gopnik.  Link here for that talk.

I like that.  It’s true.  Each generation we have new ideas about everything from the meaning of life to commerce to education to food production and the list goes on.  We have the benefit of our stored history, our brilliant and creative human brain and a fresh palette on which to paint our future. Providing a safe and nurturing learning environment to bring the creativity back to our children and to encourage and guide them to imagine and create the future is our responsibility as middle and older generations.  We offer the structures under which they will conduct their lives and have influence in that regard.  We all operate within the structures of our cultures / societies, for example the banking system, government system, education system, real estate system, legal system, media system, etc.  Unfortunately there is now so much corruption in our systems, where corruption means that the act / action / system is no longer helping the people.

Just because it is… doesn’t mean that it must continue to be. Change is practical and possible when systems become dysfunctional.  In fact – change is inevitable.  Afterall, systems are made by of a bunch of humans making decisions. Everyday decisions in all walks of life.  They are the managers of corporations and businesses, the caretakers of the people (non-popularist politicians / government), code writers of the next generation of software, the documentary makers exploring the truth of our world, etc.  Systems are, and of themselves, fluid and changeable.  They are merely ideas about the world the we have been attracted to because it serves us.  If we take that to be true, then this must also be true:  when the system no longer serves us we can change it.

Public Education in my mind is one of the most vital components in our societies.  Education must be free and as good as we can make it.  It must be heavily resourced with people who are passionate about teaching young people and encouraging them to find their place in the world.  And to creatively solve the problems in our world in this generation and the others that will follow.

Footnote: this is another brilliant talk from Ken Robinson in a most digestible style.