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  • Debbie 12:36 pm on February 28, 2018 Permalink  

    The Unintended Consequences of Unbridled Development 

    We live in a time of childish greed, where human creativity and the pace of technological change coupled with the assumptions that formulate the so-called wisdom of economics (i.e. that humans have unlimited wants) are now the greatest risk to the continued survival of our own, and many other species, on planet earth.

    Technological advances rapidly alter the way we humans interact with each other and the natural environment. And while there are many benefits to these advances, they are not without negative consequences, to the ‘natural world’ and our own health. As technology continues to erode the significance of national borders and the limitations that distance once posed, making more and more resources available at an ever-increasing pace, (to help meet the ever expanding unlimited wants and needs of the 7 billion plus humans now inhabiting the planet), one has to ask them self – is all this childish aspiration to fulfill our unlimited wants worth the cost?

    WE need to be vigilant in the protection of the viability of the natural systems we have been gifted as a consequence of evolution. The simple and fundamental requirements for clean water, clean air, fertile and uncontaminated soil for health giving food are all too easily lost sight of when society relies on a capitalist economic philosophy to provide for all the human needs. Given access to an unlimited supply of sweet, most children would gorge themselves to an early death courtesy of diabetes, fatty liver disease, obesity or heart failure. Children need guidance, limits, boundaries, and so do capitalists.

    Without wise, science-led intervention in naive market economics, humans will gorge themselves to death consuming their unlimited wants! We need strong, wise intervention in markets and the economy through the guardianship of government, creating boundaries to economic activity, we need regulations to ensure there are common sense limits to what we will do for a dollar. I’m all for a free society and I love the opportunities available in modern western democratic societies, but we must have rules in place to limit the liberties that people may take in the pursuit of short sighted business outcomes.

    That’s why environmental science is important! We must set limits! For example, on the use of chemicals in industry and mining, and we must have wise, qualified science professionals empowered by governments to help identify and remedy the damage done by unbridled capitalist aspirations, and adequately resourced regulating bodies empowered to make sure everyone is adhering to the rules.

    Take a look at the example of plastic waste. Just last night I was watching the news and saw a story came on about how the beaches in Bali were completely covered with plastic bags and bottles, and how tourists were disgusted and being turned off the once popular beaches because of the unbelievable mess being washed into the beaches every high tide. Meanwhile an under-resourced army of volunteer peasants, totally reliant on the tourist trade, were trying in vain to deal with the pollution by getting up early every morning to try and clear the trash from the beach. And yet we still have under resourced recycling programs because advances in the use of chemicals in plastic production make recycling “not economically viable.” Insanity!

    Stories like this are a harsh reminder of the consequences of not dealing with environmental challenges before the thoughtless consequences of our unbridled desire for profits and convenience destroy our eco-systems.

    Another story that has stayed with me from watching the news last year was how people in communities all over Australia were unwittingly drinking contaminated water on country properties adjacent to former and current defence force facilities, where the powers that be had inappropriately disposed of fire retardants decades before, allowing them to degrade into the water table, exposing ordinary families to a much higher risk of cancer. Another similar story was how in various suburbs around Adelaide where the industrial solvent trichloroethene (TCE) was disposed of by pouring it into the ground, allowing it to seep into the groundwater. Now homes are being evacuated and demolished because of the fumes leaching into them, many years after the contamination incidents took place and at varying distances from the original sites.


    And yet another story that has stayed with me from last year, of how people living nearby the landfill areas in Queensland that have been regularly catching fire and filling the surrounding areas with toxic fumes. The incidents of exposure to toxic contaminants are many and varied.

    At best we could call it the unintended consequences of unbridled development, at worst we can call it criminal negligence. Even in developed countries like Australia, we still have problems with adequate environmental protection. The EPA in Victoria is under resourced. And we have seen a succession of conservative governments winding back environmental protections or finding ways to talk about, but never implement long overdue safeguards like the simple banning of plastic shopping bags!

    Jobs and economic development are important. But at what cost? Rushing development or industry without proper due diligence and environmental management, exposing people to unknown risks and society to the much higher cost of environmental remediation after the fact, or worse still, a permanently degraded environment, is just plain dumb! Our air, water and soils and the ecosystems that help sustain them are priceless! And the ever-increasing costs, both in terms of finances and human health of ignoring this fact flies in the face of common sense. Are we short sighted, plain dumb, or is there some conspiracy place where the majority of people over twenty trade caring about the environment for the mundane economic rationality that flies in the face of common sense!

     
  • Debbie 3:03 am on February 24, 2015 Permalink  

    Participating in a Healthy Environment 

    How do we become the agents of change in the world that we want to be? How do we make that difference? There are, after all, only so many hours in the day and so many of them are already accounted for; work, kids, housework, sleep and so on. The most simple answer to this question is to make work, where most of us spend the majority of our time be an expression of our passion and our broader vision.

    So how might that look?

    Well depending on where you are in your career and how much flexibility you have with your current life and work arrangements, there are a variety of ways you can make a shift towards greater fulfillment within your working life. The most dramatic shift would be to embark on a new career perhaps in environmental science or conservation. There are many people who spend their working day in a role within the environmental consulting sector and it is no doubt an exciting and fulfilling way to be engaged. There are many and varied roles within this growing sector so if you are looking for a tree change then this may be worth further investigation. You may even like to talk to an environmental consultant or two, working in a variety of fields to get more of an idea.

    environmental-consultants-solutions

    On the other end of the scale are the small shifts, the most easy to achieve. One example of that may be changing to a reusable coffee cup. While it may seem trivial, if enough of us make such a small gesture as this, the end result in terms of resources diverted away from landfill is significant. Disposable coffee cups from office blocks and large  centres  is reported to be twenty percent of waste. If you think about how many coffees we have a day, if not you, then all of the people in your workplace collectively, imagine how much waste you could eliminate by simply converting your team mates to using a reusable mug!

    Then there’s somewhere in between. Did you know if you work in a large office building or shopping complex that you can make a difference to the environment and save your employers bottom line by doing so? Waste minimisation is a strategy employed by these larger buildings or even a single office within one of these buildings. What they do is called a waste audit (definitely a job you want to leave to the professionals) and then devise and implement a strategy to radically reduce how much ends up going to landfill; saving the environment significantly and also saving greatly on the cost of waste removal, so you can wear a halo for the environment and be in your employers good books; a win-win!

    No doubt there’s an endless array of things we can do to bring our whole conscious being to everything we do in life, and each thing we implement can build momentum for the next, inspiring others in the process. Whatever it is you decide to take on next, be sure to enjoy the process and you won’t look back.

     

     

     

     
  • Debbie 11:31 am on February 16, 2015 Permalink  

    Sowelu 

    What is Sowelu about? Sowelu is an ancient word that means wholeness, not merely completion – but rather the acquisition of a true conscious awareness of all aspects of oneself. Sowelu is about being more deeply connected to all that you are and expanding that consciousness out to extend beyond the confines of what you would in ‘normal consciousness’ think of as the limits of you. Is the body your limit? What about your personal relationships? Your possessions? Where do you stop and another begin? How useful is it to think like this anyway?

    environmental wholenessWe believe that in being connected to the interconnectedness of us all, the planet and all of its inhabitants, the ‘normal’, everyday worries and stresses fade and are replaced by an awareness that is beyond everyday but can give meaning and purpose to the everyday choices and activities we engage in. In a word that awareness is love. Not the misunderstanding of love we can have, characterised as limiting and possessive, love that is tainted and twisted by fear, but the true essence of love. The kind that appreciates what it sees and can’t help but flow out in warmth, in generosity and upliftment. The kind that gives and feels nothing but joy in the giving. The kind that can’t tell who is receiving more, the one receiving or the one giving. What is it like if we perceive the challenges we face in our modern way of life and in the world as a whole through this kind of awareness? What alters? That is the question we are asking, and what we have found personally in answer to that question, is that new realms of possibility open up from which we can live and contribute to the world around us. It is an unfolding and never ending adventure of consciousness to be thoroughly enjoyed, every last bit.

    environmental wood

    In summary, it is our awareness and our focus that gives us the world as we experience it, and only a shift in our awareness can transform the challenges we face, both personally and collectively.

     
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