Silent Spring By Rachel Carson
Greenpeace Australia “Victories” Page
Australia's 'angry summer' smashes unprecedented extreme weather records
THE DEBATE OF OUR TIME | Forgotten soil
This is the World Organic News for the week ending 3rd of April 2017.
Jon Moore reporting!
This week we are off on a tangent.
The Trump Administration’s reversal of the Obama Administration’s executive orders regarding coal, climate change and the EPA forced me to think about what is going on in this world.
Over my lifetime there have been many environmental battles. From the “No Dams” campaign in Tasmania which ran from 1976 to 1983 to actions on Roundup and GMOs we, on the side of Nature, have had some wins, many losses. The problem is we organise and effect change on single issues meanwhile the destruction of soil, of landscape, of the very atmosphere we breath continues as if the self repairing nature of complex systems will somehow save the day. That is if those doing the destruction even think there is a day to save.
I heard an argument in favour of one type of mining, kaolin mining. The point being that without this particular mineral, glossy magazines would not be glossy. For the wonder of fashion magazines, old style pornographic material and certain business cards, open cut mines rip the Earth bare to collect the kaolin. It is then processed to make it useful to the paper industry.
Anyone who has seen an open cut mine will be in doubt it does damage to the land being mined. Apart from the possible destruction of aquifers, the spoil from these mines has a tendency to leach into nearby waterways, the native flora and fauna are displaced at best, or destroyed at worst. All so we can images and text on glossy paper.
Certainly technological changes have led to less demand for the physical magazines but when I last checked a newsagency, the number of glossy magazines was still quite considerable.
“But if we are to stop this activity we will throw people out of work!”, I hear you say. True enough. Yet the whalers of the late 1970s converted into whale watch tour operators on the 21st century. Now I know miners are unlikely to find jobs in tourism but the point is other uses can be made of the resources and other forms of employment found for workers. The problem is, mining is a dangerous business. This led to it becoming unionised in many parts of the world. This in turn led to higher production costs to meet improved safety standards and higher wages for unionised miners. It is unlikely a tour guide’s income will match a miners. I’m not attacking miners in this piece nor any other worker, two of my great grandfathers were waterside workers and both of grandfathers unionised manual labourers in the scrap metal and brewery industries.
I understand the dignity of work and the soul destroying pointlessness of it too at times. What I’m getting at here is the dislocation which will occur when we finally make the change from extraction to circularity. That move though looks ever more distant.
“Capitalism” in air quotes, won the Cold War. Despite the fact the excesses of capitalism were kept in check by the counterbalancing forces of communism, once communism was overwhelmed by fax machines, food and computer technologies, capitalism returned to its pre 1917 preoccupations of monopoly formation and profit extraction.
We are, therefore, faced with not just a changing climate but a more militant and strident form of capitalism than the one which reacted to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring back in 1962. The continual doomsday predictions of GreenPeace, the Australian Conservation Foundation and others since the 1970s has got them to the same point of irrelevance as the boy who called wolf once too often.
To my mind these large activist organisations have become little better than the corporations and governments they “oppose” in air quotes. Full of well meaning individuals but caught up in the very system they are attempting to change. I’ll give you an example from the Greenpeace Australia “Victories” page:
May 2010. Sweet success for Kit Kat campaign: you asked, Nestlé has answered
Nestlé agrees to stop purchasing palm-oil from sources which destroy Indonesian rainforests.
You will note this has nothing to do with actually reforming the food system which makes the need for a Kit Kat possible. It is varying from where the fat in these snacks is sourced, or more accurately not sourced. Yes it may help orangutans but it doesn’t make much difference to the global food industry.
There are many such organisations, I’m particularly picking on Greenpeace. The problem is these organisations become a sort of ghost...