“The tree breathes what we exhale. When the tree exhales, we need what the tree exhales. So. We have a common destiny with the tree.” — Oren R. Lyons 

Wiser words have never been spoken. I think we need to really start listening to these people. Science will never be able to invent a more beautiful, efficient or sustainable oxygen factory… as the humble tree. That’s why I agree that we should all plant more trees (and also avoid cutting down any to begin with). It was also a reccommendation of the book “small is beautiful”.

If we were living on Mars…

I’d like to remind people of two things:

1. Would Mars colonists be doing things the same way that we are here and now? For example, would they be mowing grass if and when they manage to get it to grow under their domed little base stations?

I think not. Not very sustainable, is it? Using up petrol and mower parts all for what? To keep the grass shorter and produce less oxygen? (at least that’s the excuse I give now for only mowing 9/10 of our backyard rather than the whole darn lot) Why do we cut grass anyway? Those are the sorts of questions humanity ought to be asking itself.

2. Just imagine if all of 7.4 billion of us humans were *already* living on Mars (indoors) and we just happened to “find” Earth in the ‘state’ that it is in now, except with no people…

Do you think we would stay on the planet Mars? Where do you think we would move to? That’s right, we’d move right over to the planet Earth, where you can breathe freely… where the essential things like oxygen and rain are still free… where dirt is *almost* free (right now it costs $10,000,000 to launch a tonne of dirt into outer space). The planet with the deep oceans and millions of species already there. The planet that doesn’t need terraforming because its already terraformed.

So now knowing these two things.

Why the hell would we want to even consider moving away from here? Why would we want to cut down more forests here, if next-generation colonists wouldn’t do it on another planet in future? Otherwise, we’re just going to make the same mistakes on planet #2.

Here’s a simple thought experiment. Why aren’t we simply pretending to be living on a new colony already? That way we don’t even have to waste resources getting there.

Of course, getting other people to change is very, very difficult. All I can do is change myself. So what if I pretend that I am living on the planet Mars. What would I do if I was living over there? I would plant trees, not cut them down. I’d grow more forests that I cut down.

What else would I do? Why, I’d use my own urine as liquid fertiliser instead of going to the store and buying something that was obtained from a phosphate mine, wouldn’t I?

I think a lot of people on Earth have lost hope and they think that it’s almost like a “lost cause”. And I say: “fuck that”. I’d like to remind everyone that it’s FAR easier to get ourselves back on the right track here than to start from scratch over on Mars…

I hope this has given a few of you some much-needed inspiration!

LOCAL PETITION: Save Spring Gully from development, Royal National Park.

The federal heritage listed Royal National Park is the world’s oldest purpose dedicated National Park.

Upon dedication, in 1879, it was simply named “The National Park”. The “Royal” designation was added after the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1954. It is the birthplace of the National Park movement in Australia. If we can’t protect the Royal National Park and if we can’t protect threatened species and ecological communities within National Parks, what can we protect?


Bundeena Landscaping and clearing – my comments PART1
Bundeena development approval – my comments PART2
Bundeena recreational facility – my comments PART3

The land clearing will significantly impact the dense Bloodwood mallee which has been cited as supporting the scientific justification for a world heritage listing of the Royal. It is habitat to threatened species and supports a local sugar glider population which extensively feed on the sugary sap of the trees that comprise this dense woodland.

There are over 1,500 trees in the before drawing on the left that are missing from the after drawing on the right. Can you find them all? Read about the trick that has been used in the development application to hide the true extent of tree and canopy removal! They only show the tree canopies with trunks larger than 15cm. Trees with trunks smaller than this are just marked with a small brown circle that is almost invisible.

These diagrams substantially misrepresent the amount of existing tree canopy to be removed. 

These drawings only show the trees in and around the proposed inner asset protection zone. Hundreds more trees will be cleared in the outer asset protection zone not shown in these drawings.

Detailed data has only been provided for the largest 237 trees to be removed or pruned, including 34 large, mature, potentially hollow bearing, angophoras (important fauna habitat) that will be pruned to leave only 31% of their current canopy. The amount of canopy to be removed from these 237 trees alone is 8,687 square metres. The other 1,300 odd trees to be removed appear on the drawing provided but without details of how much canopy loss they represent.

Many hundreds more trees, possibly another 1,500, will be destroyed in the Outer Asset Protection Zone. An accurate estimate cannot be provided because most of this area has been omitted from the tree removal plan provided (appendix 16). See diagram below for location of outer asset protection zone.

The entire Bloodwood woodland along the top, southern side of the gully will be decimated. Every tree in this dense woodland bears scars from sugar glider feeding. The gliders chew through the soft bark to release the sap below. These unique stands of bloodwood growing in the deep sands at the base of the Jibbon Hill relic cliff dune have been cited as supporting the scientific justification for the world heritage listing of the Royal National Park. They demonstrate scleromorphic adaptation in response to the unique local geomorphology that developed in this area as the sea level began to rise some 10,000 years ago and the coast receded, pushing the relic cliff dunes, including Jibbon Hill, to their present location.

Sutherland Shire Council has recommended the former Scout land be acquired for addition to the Royal National Park.

On 10 November 2014, Council resolved to write to local state and federal parliamentarians asking them to support the acquisition of the former Scout land by the state government for addition to the surrounding Royal National Park.

What this scientist thinks of NASA’s 2035 mission to Mars…

The 2035 Mars space mission is said to cost an estimated US$1.5 trillion.

What are my thoughts on this? That sounds like an aweful lot of money to me — to keep four to six people alive on another planet— in my view it’s money that could be put to far better things, like keeping 7 or 8 billion alive on this one.

To put things into perspective, it’s the equivalent of spending 94% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product… for what? A dozen or so people to have the trip of a lifetime… at the most? That’s one hell of an expensive postcard!

If I personally had US$1.5 trillion dollars to play with and I wanted to ENSURE the future surivial of the human race, why, do you know what I’d do? I’d buy up all the wilderness areas up in poorer countries. I’d abandon that silly space mission. That’s what I’d do. And this is coming from someone that liked reading Carl Sagan’s cosmos… [Read more…]

The solution to climate change?

I was recently asked my opionion about this article on LinkedIn.

What are my thoughts? Well, I think it is citizens that have to change. Citizens are the ones using energy from coal. Citizens are the ones using oil. Citizens are the ones filling their tanks with petrol. How can you expect government to change when it is really all the people in society that cause the demand for such things?

I think we can change without our government’s help. I don’t think there is a technical solution. I think the real solution lies in being happier with less. I think we’re going to have to simply be happier with less. I think we should drive cars less. Use less water. Less electricity.

Hopefully this year I plan on powering my computer with a small off grid solar setup. But even the semiconductors used in solar panels have to come from somewhere… and the inverter. And the batteries. But at least it is clean energy with no constant emissions once it has been made.

I think it’s actually far better for the environment to make do with less. It’s the obvious solution, but it’s the one that people just don’t want to hear. People want to have their cake and to eat it too. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Because even if we start making eco cars, if we have to make 50 billion eco cars (or whatever), we’re still going to have to chop down trees in the Amazon basin to make new plantations for the eco fibres.

I think if we don’t all start changing soon, we’re all going to start becoming even more depressed than we are now. Depression is partly caused by dilemmas. And we’re in the midst of a really big fat one