Just don’t call him an environmentalist

I was recently in Queensland visiting family and caught up with my Dad and step-mum for a few days. My Dad’s a straight-talking feller. He’ll tell you in no short terms that he doesn’t agree with those environmentalists and greenies. He doesn’t really like them much…

While we were there he reminded me how the three large water tanks they have on site provide all the water they need, year round pretty much. He complained that he was still having to pay council for “the pipes that run past my front door”, as he’s now off the grid for water supply.

Whenever we go fishing he’s very careful to make sure our catch meets the size limits set by government. If something is even close to undersize, it goes back in. He laments the big fishers’ impact on his local fishing grounds, and gets antsy when he spots local fisherman flaunting the rules. He’s friendly with the local patrols, while quietly cursing the Government for introducing Marine Protected Areas.

He’ll often suggest we go for a drive in his Toyota 4WD (on it’s third engine rebuild) around the local area (the Redlands Shire) and talk us through the changes he’s seen as this once rural farming area, with rich, volcanic red soil, is converted into suburban estates, townhouses and apartments. He’ll tell you about the farmers of the area, past and present, and how this productive, now peri-urban, land is being lost to developers. (He’ll also quip that they can’t afford to run the car as much as they used too…)

We’ll walk around his property and he’ll show us with (justifiable) pride the vegetable plot, the fruit trees, the mangoes coming into season, the massive avocado trees, the pineapples, the strawberries. Each season he notes he doesn’t have enough friends with which to share the abundant produce that comes off the land. (Thinking about this I’m lamenting not taking more photos when we were there…)

He shares an anecdote about how a friend got the water in the local creek, which runs through the bushland to the back of his property, tested for pollution and sent the results to his local member. He’ll mention how the recently released government report failed to mention his creek in it’s “report card” and how he and his friend took it to the local media resulting in pressure being applied and the figures being followed up by the local member.

While we’re sitting watching (his 80″ LCD behemoth1 of a) TV he’ll explain how they turn everything off of standby using a remote switch device, and explain with pride how efficient the consultant found their kettle. He explains how they’ve saved a lot on their energy bill (which is about 1/3rd what is being touted in the mainstream press as an “average” bill).

He demonstrated the in-home energy monitor that helps them to work out where their energy usage has gone. He’ll lament how the compact fluoros he installed don’t dim, and how the Government’s impending ban on new electric hot water heaters has forced him to go out and buy one now for when this one reaches its end of life. And don’t get him started on that carbon tax.

My life partner Angela ascribes many of my aspirations and environmental awareness to my Dad’s influence. I have to agree (and something that I’m proud to say). My Dad has more “environmentally friendly” features to his property than I could even dream of achieving. And, as is probably apparent, he’s full of contradictions (as we all are).

Just don’t call him an environmentalist. Or a greenie. He just wouldn’t stand for it…

  1. I actually don’t know what size it is, but it’s bloody huge…

Organic vs. Local

Newsvine poses an interesting question:

If given a choice between purchasing either organic produce that has been grown in another country or non-organic produce which has been grown locally, which choice would you make and why?

You can submit your answers before 12am Pacific US time (not sure when that is exactly).

My initial reaction is buy local over organic – but it depends on a few things… Unfortunately I don’t have time to think about a full response.

Band news

Been busy working on material with my new band the last few weeks. We’ve got a guitarist on board and so far the fit seems pretty good – it’s certainly been fun jamming.

And I think I’m starting to get comfortable working with a band in terms of writing stuff on the computer – how to take a live jam and pull together the sequenced stuff around it.

I’m hoping that we can finalise a few tracks (2-3) to record a demo in the next few weeks. I’ll be sure to post the results if the come up ok. Once we’ve got that we’ll start pimpin for some gigs around town.

In related news, I’m jamming with Centipede on Wednesday night to see if I might fit the bass chair. I love their first CD, so I’m stoked to be invited. Thanks Baz for the big nudge 😉

I really wanted to see if I could find a purely bass gig after I got the new band up and running. This opportunity came up a bit sooner than I would have planned, but I’m very excited all the same. Hopefully the jam will go well. Fingers crossed…

Op-ed on GM

Miranda Divine: We must cotton on to the green con.

Interesting alternative take on GM crops in Australia, if you can get past the language: calling opposition to GM crops “idiocy” isn’t the best way to put forward an argument, particularly given the types of concerns being raised are grounded in both experience and research.

Her points contradict information I have read about the use of poly-cultures and organic farming techniques to reduce pesticide use dramatically (if not entirely), and also fly in the face of our collective experience about “miracle” products such as DDT etc. in the past. This, I think, is probably a big part of the consumer concern.

Although I’m sure some greenies may be asking for a blanket ban, I think most are saying “the jury is still out – we need more information from long-term trials in controlled environments”. Certainly that’s my take on things. That’s a far cry from the “a Luddite scare campaign” that Miranda claims.

There is also a big concern about labelling and separation of crops. The concerns are that a) labelling laws won’t give consumers the information required to make an informed choice; and b) if GM crops are not planted in controlled environments, that even farmers that choose not to grow GM crops will not be able to guarantee they are GM free. One of the big concerns about GM canola is the plan to allow crops to be planted with an “isolation zone” of 50 metres of non-GM canola, and notice is only to be given to land owners within a 400 metre radius. This seems too close to ensure adequate separation, particularly when I recall figures in the range of kilometres cited in the past (although I can’t remember exactly where).

And it’s not just green groups – the Australian Democrats have been critical of the government regulator’s handling of the issue as well.

GM crops to be released

It seems GM crops soon to get the green light in the UK.

Unfortunately there was one key thing that was missing from the trials that Acre’s decision rests upon – organic crops. The article mentions that

“Jules Pretty, the committee’s deputy chairman, said one of the most important results to come out of the trials was the extent to which modern agriculture of all types damaged the environment.”

Advocates for organic growing claim this as one of the benefits of going organic – by using organic processes, reducing pesticide use, and looking after the land the impact on the environment is lessened. Lets hope the next study includes organics as an option.

GM crops in Oz

And again, commenting on the government’s approval of GM modified canola crops: GM canola decision based on incomplete assessment.

“ìThe Science Review Report has warned that ëwe must be cautious in drawing general conclusions as these observations were based on relatively few field experiments.í

ìYet, this is effectively what Australia has done. The Democrats support a more cautious approach of the ëprecautionary principleí, as no corners should be cut when we are dealing with the issues of the food we eat and the environment in which we live. ” (Senator John Cherry)