Tag Archives: Tim Flannery

Rivers

I’ve just been swimming in a chemically-treated, lightly-perfumed, over-lit indoor pool in Oviedo, Asturias, Spain. I loved it. On my way to the pool I pass this fountain.

Oviedo fountain fireworks – waterworks doesn’t quite describe the uplift and spray, does it?

It’s the centre piece of a roundabout which illustrates the cycle of water showering through it every minute. Round and round we go. Up and down, through the pipes, over and over again. Humans have used water, in more or less elaborate ways, to enhance our lives as long as we’ve been drinking liquid to survive. You do know you’re soaking in it? In my time in Spain I’ve seen fountains in plazas, roundabouts and parks. I’ve also seen viaducts.

Segovia viaduct built with no mortar

As I’ve said before, imagine having to work in a frock and sandals to make this big old drain run from mountain to castle for your Roman leaders.

There’s plenty of sculptures too, like this one in the city of Valencia, remembering the river that used to run through it.

Valencia remembers their river with a colossus striding over water

One of the most amazing things about Valencia is that for the last thousand years a group of Spanish farmers, or their representatives, meet, every week, on the steps of the Valencia Cathedral; the tribunal de las aguas. They’re there to debate water; who gets how much, when. You can see them on a Thursday. They don’t keep records and their decisions are final.

Tour guide in Valencia explains the democratic nature of water decisions on the steps of the Cathedral

Compare that to negotiations around the Murray Darling basin in Australia. Irrigation is the largest user of water from the Murray/Darling rivers. Admittedly white farmers haven’t been there for a thousand years yet but they are certainly having trouble working out equitable ways to share the water and keep a healthy river. Couple of Aussie blokes made a tv series about it, if you’re inclined to view a cruise down a river?

The farmers downstream in South Australia do not stand a chance against the farmers upstream in New South Wales and Victoria. There are regular scandals on the border of Queensland and NSW.

Cubbie Station, a Japanese and Chinese owned cotton empire, has a dam described as the same size as Sydney Harbour. Down the other end of the river in SA, Goolwa’s water sometimes slows to a trickle. There’s no regular meeting to solve this ongoing crisis. Just earnest attempts, bitter blaming and ecological desperation.

Back in Spain, Valencia went so far as to move their river away from the city.

Old Valencia river bed is now a running track

Now a lovely park featuring running tracks, modern architecture and playgrounds, the river bed flooded too often and the civic powers showed the flow who was boss and shoved it out the back somewhere.

Valencia tamed their river beds and turned their minds to the future

The same thing happened in Seville. The Gualdaquiver, once a bustling shipping artery, was split to control potential flooding.

Seville’s quiet backwaters

I suppose in Spain climate change may be working for humans because there’s been less rain than normal for many years.

El Torre de Oro – The Tower of Gold – built in the 13th Century – across the river Gualdaquiver

 

The public face of the river in Seville

On the other side of the Iberian Peninsula, I lived last year on the border of two provinces, Barcelona and Girona, in Catalunya. The border was a river, La Tordera.

Standing on the bridge looking out to the sea and the railway bridge on one side and up to the township of Tordera on the other

In the summer La Tordera dried up. You could walk across it. In the winter it was a full, flowing river. I used to take a photo every time I walked home. There’s no sound track on the following slide show. Do you want to listen to Al Green while you check out the pretty Spanish river?

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In the beginning of my little compilation, you can see the mouth of the river at Blanes beach. In the summer, the mouth is closed. As the waters build up through the cooler months, they breach the sand. Water will find a way.

With my back to Blanes beach, here’s the mouth of La Tordera in cooler days.

Also, the nearby city of Girona features a river bed dry and bare in the summer. The winter rains and their outpourings created marvellous reflections for tourist photos.

Girona quiet waters in autumn – not a marvellous tourist photo

This year I work in the Valle de Nalón in Asturias. When I arrived, El Rio Nalón was a mere trickle.

Tiny little Nalón in autumn

Nalón in the Winter

Now spring is here and the snows are melting in the nearby mountains.

Nalón in spring

Churning white waters fleck the brown flood that chunders down the river bed.

Rivers come and go as seen in two stories in the Guardian today. When Nature’s had enough https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/01/argentina-new-river-soya-beans and farmers have taken all the deep-rooted trees away from the water table, is it surprising that nature will take her own course?

But more achingly important is this story about giving nature a right to exist; https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/apr/01/its-only-natural-the-push-to-give-rivers-mountains-and-forests-legal-rights

The idea of giving a river legal personhood is pleasantly close to finding Naiad or a River God swimming along the Yarra, or the Thames or the Seine. But remember, “No river, no people, no life.”

They know that in Cape Town, they know it in Los Angeles. Around the world it’s estimated 1.1 billion people don’t have access to clean water.

I don’t have to tell you, do I, that we’re all part of nature!

There’s a lot of charities about clean water; the tap project, charity; water, lifewater, water.com

The Source of the river Aube, one of the tributaries of the Seine, in the Haute-Marne region of France

When I stayed near Auberive, Champagne-Ardenne, France, I was fortunate to visit the Source of the river Aube, set in mysterious forest and retaining an atmosphere of magic. For about twenty metres around this area, the ground is wet and the steady seepage from below begins a flow that ends up joining the Seine. Here was a place it was easy to imagine a Naiad living.

Would we be more interested in protecting water if we returned to the days of worshipping? Would that be enough for us to form a human shield against the likes of Nestlé and Coca Cola? Remembering corporations already carry their own personhood, like Deities!

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, hydro-electricity is looking a lot greener these days. And rivers are so beautiful that Don McGlashan wrote a song about them. Made famous by singer Hollie Smith, here’s a version featuring the composer, a casual rehearsal to swim in.

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Thanks for getting into this river of thought. What, and where, are your favourite rivers? Have you been involved in any water charities? Let me know in the comments section below!

Oh, I love a good book club!

And, as I’ve mentioned before, the first evs Ceres Bookclub was a GOOD bookclub! CERES is a sustainability centre in the suburbs of Melbourne. There’s a cafe, nursery and education about renewable energies. What a cool place to get reading!

http://ceres.org.au/tamil-feasts/

http://ceres.org.au/tamil-feasts/

Our bookgroup centred around a feast, much intense, amused discussion and lots of inspiration. Three books were featured, Atmosphere of Hope by Tim Flannery, The Future, by Al Gore, and Don’t Even Think About It by George Marshall. Tim was there in person with his reflective book and his science mind all filled with notions of mitigation. Of course, the mirror-like quality of his cover is supposed to reflect YOU – you are the hope for the atmosphere.

https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/atmosphere-of-hope

https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/atmosphere-of-hope

Each of these books were presented by smart, highly qualified speakers, experts in climate change, education and entertaining in their own rights. After an able introduction from the bookgroup organiser, Lorna Pettifer, Tim Flannery spoke about Hope, describing technical and scientific suggestions to prevent serious damage from climate change.

https://www.algore.com/library/the-future-six-drivers-of-global-change

https://www.algore.com/library/the-future-six-drivers-of-global-change

The second tome was Gore’s vision of The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change and Sarah Houseman was kind enough to distill that enormous amount of research into a digestible titbit.

http://www.climateconviction.org/

http://www.climateconviction.org/

The final book was the only one I’d had time to read properly (it being shorter!). Kirsty Costa presented Don’t even think about it, Why our brains are wired to ignore climate change.

http://www.climateaccess.org/blog/don%E2%80%99t-even-think-about-it

http://www.climateaccess.org/blog/don%E2%80%99t-even-think-about-it

As George Marshall was unable to join us in Melbourne (he lives in Wales) he created an affable video, welcoming us to the bookgroup and introducing the major themes of his book. As we munched our delicious Tamil fare we warmed to his main theme, which I think was ‘share’. Here’s a basic primer:

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George is far more sophisticated than that, proposing tangible strategies for activists. He’s all about cooperation and converting the UNCONVERTED in a non-threatening manner. He took a tea caddy to a parley with the Tea Party in Texas.

https://in.pinterest.com/pin/419749627748518988/

https://in.pinterest.com/pin/419749627748518988/

He sat and chatted with a gun-toting woman, her family and friends for hours. He visited with survivors of a wild fire and toured New Orleans with survivors of Katrina to discover that the last thing survivors of disasters want to think about is climate change. As a general rule, folk don’t want to think about climate change at all. He notes that climate change is described by various thinkers as a ‘perfect’ or ‘wicked’ problem, in that there are so many reasons us human beings find it difficult to come to terms with.

George collects contrary thinkers. He discovered that denying climate change doesn’t mean denying all possible threats to the planet.

http://whyfiles.org/106asteroid/3.html

http://whyfiles.org/106asteroid/3.html

One of the biggest funders of an Information Centre warning of potential collisions with meteors or asteroids is a global warming denialist, Benny Peiser. This particular fellow even has an asteroid named after him, 7107 Peiser, officially listed on NASA’s website. ‘Peiser’s own website, meanwhile, routinely savages NASA’s climate scientists.’ (Interestingly, I can’t find Peiser on NASA’s website.)

George Marshall also examines funding difficulties faced by museums.

Smithsonian: David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins www.washingtonpost.com

Smithsonian: David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins www.washingtonpost.com

The Smithsonian is the biggest museum in the world. Its exhibition exploring climate change through time is ‘directly funded by those nefarious Koch brothers‘. That’s ‘twenty million dollars for the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins.’ The Science Museum in London has an Atmosphere Gallery. The primary sponser is Shell Oil.

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-12/03/science-museum-climate-change

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-12/03/science-museum-climate-change

Mr Marshall observes that writer Michael Crichton was invited to present scientific evidence at a US Senate Committee hearing, resulting from his eco-terrorist novel, State of Fear. Dr Crichton held a Bachelor in Science and he was a medical doctor. Hard to know his qualifications in atmospheric science. Certainly knew how to create a page turner and make a PILE of money!

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Michael_Crichton#/media/File:MichaelCrichton.jpg

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Michael_Crichton#/media/File:MichaelCrichton.jpg

Don’t even think about it is such an interesting book, I really encourage you to find it in your library. George writes about interviewing young folk at the coz play convention, Comic Con. He assumed these kids would be tech savvy, informed and interested. He asked them what they imagined for their future. He points out that we all knew what the future held when we were kids 50 years ago – it was Tomorrowland! But youngsters today? Go on, ask some for yourself.

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/a-special-edition-of-the-current-for-november-30-2-degrees-1.3343179/our-brains-are-wired-to-ignore-climate-change-says-george-marshall-1.3343261

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/a-special-edition-of-the-current-for-november-30-2-degrees-1.3343179/our-brains-are-wired-to-ignore-climate-change-says-george-marshall-1.3343261

Another aspect he explores in the book is personal culpability. Are YOU to blame for climate change? Did you DRIVE to work? FLY across the world for a HOLIDAY? Take a good long hard look at yourself (in Tim’s book perhaps!) George Marshall points out that conservatives particularly HATE being told what to do, particularly by governments and ideologues and GREENIES – conservatives REALLY hate environmentalists – BAH to turning off water! HUMBUG to switching light globes!

http://www.theguardian.com/profile/george-marshall

http://www.theguardian.com/profile/george-marshall

Don’t even think about it is an easy, entertaining and persuasive read. If nothing else, herein you will find strategies for dealing with rich Uncle Dan over the port after Chrissie dinner. George suggests listening to Uncle, trying to understand what his fears are, sympathising with his grief and stress co-operation rather than unity. Be prepared to learn from religions – they’ve managed to keep followers for centuries. Drop over-used environmentalist culture such as polar bears and Save-the-Planet type slogans. Mr Marshall describes his surprise when he recognised the Tea Party Activists had much in common with his own tribe of environmental colleagues.

What have we in common?

If nothing else, I’m guessing we ALL love a good BOOKCLUB!!

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ceres


Corroboree!!

I COULD NOT PASS THIS UP!! A Southern Corroboree Frog! Rob!

Melbourne Arts Centre Sunday Markets Fundraising Efforts

Not sure if you can read the sign? It encourages by-passers to kiss and or hug the large stuffed frog for the chance to donate money. Who would not want to kiss this gorgeous creature?

Here are the organisers and I was remiss in that I did not find out their names. I’m very sorry for they were devoted to their task. They told me they had raised over a hundred dollars! That’s pretty good going for 50 cents a pop. The frog is somewhat bigger than the real creature but that’s okay. Look at their cheery faces!!

The Three Frog Fans!

As readers of Man of Clay will know, Chapter 14 is imbued with the corroboree frog and what a delightful little creature it is. The colours and pattern influence Connie’s party platter. But my main relationship with a corroboree frog is in Ektek. Bash, a determined pilot, is one of these fancy chaps. (See, party platter? Bash? All about the corroboree, eh!)

http://www.corroboreefrog.com.au/corroboree-frog

http://www.corroboreefrog.com.au/corroboree-frog

Tim Flannery has a new book. It’s called Atmosphere of Hope; searching for solutions to the climate crisis. I’ll have a bit more to say about this next time because I went to a Book Club where the man himself spoke and it is full of interesting hopeful ideas. However, this quote is worth noting:

‘There is one facet of the sixth extinction where climate change is not the sole culprit. Among the most dismal catastrophes to have struck the natural world in recent decades is the disappearance of many species of frogs and toads. About one third of all known 4740 species of frogs and toads are under threat, and in 2010 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature red list reported 486 species as critically endangered. Up to 122 species are likely to have become extinct since 1980. Back in 2005 the cause of this calamity was unclear. Today, courtesy of new research, we know the spread of the chitrid fungus, which attacks the skins of amphibians, was the primary cause of many, but not all, amphibian declines. In The Weather Makers, I said that the extinction of Costa Rica’s golden toad (Bufo periglenes) resulted from climate change. The latest studies support this, indicating ‘medium confidence’ (better than even chance) that climate change was the prime cause in this instance.’ pg 54

Couple of things about this quote. The uncertainty of science is a language matter. For Tim Flannery to talk about an ‘even chance’ does not mean there’s much debate about it at all. In fact, according to my research, the fact that chitrid spread so quickly is not only due to a feral species being introduced to waterways – probably a frog commonly used for human pregnancy testing – but also the conditions were nice and warm for the fungus to grow. So, we can trace frog disappearances back to humans which ever road we choose.

Of course, for the corroboree frog, it’s climate change that will get the survivors now. They are mountaineers, nestling into spagnum moss, needing snow and ice for their lifecycle to keep spinning. A few of them have gone because of ski resorts but that whole global warming thing, well, doesn’t bear thinking about it, does it.

As far as EKTEK goes, you can find it on Amazon. Thank you to the very kind readers who have supplied reviews. I am so grateful for your feedback. I’m working on the print version – the cover might have an issue so I’m waiting for a proof copy from Createspace before it’s clear for you to buy. While you wait, however, Bash has a number of adventures in his short life. Here’s an exerpt from ‘Out of Spite, Out of Mind’ you might like:

Gidday, Bashy boy, came a deep, greasy voice from the dim low shadows of the tunnel—Long way from home, aren’t you? All alone in the dark, poor little creature… It was Spill, the diamond python. Spill was large for his size and Bash stared into his glittering eyes as though he’d been pinned to the ground. Bash wasn’t scared of many things but pythons were up there with the most scary things of all. Well up there. Pythons were never conducive to a frog’s feeling of good health, especially when that frog had recently been staring into a dark pit of despair. Suddenly Bash’s pit seemed very deep and very dark and there was absolutely no way out—Hi, Spill, didn’t see you there, in the dark… How have you been? How’s the family? Busy?

—Not as busy as you, Bash, from all accounts. I hear you’ve been very busy, Bashy boy. You’ve been up to some particularly interesting dealings, young Mr Frog, haven’t you, hmmmmm?

Bash nodded, following Spill’s every head sway, every movement, gently hypnotised into staying put while Spill slid just that little bit closer … —I admit, I did make a banner to encourage everyone to vote for the corroboree frog. We’ve got a lot of friends and I thought I could do my bit for the family but I haven’t done anything else, I swear, just the banner and I know that wasn’t right but corroboree frogs are in with a good chance, don’t you …

—What did I hear? Old growth forests, wasn’t it? Pulped? Was that you, Bashy? Pulping habitat. Ummm … That’s a naughty no-no, isn’t it. I would have thought you’d know better … Spill moved closer to the little frog who, in turn, moved back hard into the wall of the cave. So hard he could feel grit cutting into his thin frog skin. Spill was so close, Bash could feel the breath puffing out of his mouth. He turned his mouth to the side to suck clean air into his froggy lungs—Nothing to do with me, Spill. I swear …

—Swearing’s a nasty habit. Those poor little whales. I really feel for them. Gone for munchies. Makes me hungry just thinking about them. All I’d need would be one little morsel, maybe a little dorsal morsal, and I’d be satisfied …

—You were listening …

—Hey, froggie, the walls have ears around here. You should know that. Just happened to be passing. Fascinating the titbits that fall in one’s path, ain’t it.

Bash swallowed hard.

The things you learn, continued Spill—Makes you think, don’t it. Makes me think; that’s for sure, about all sorts of things; like, you. I’ve been thinking about you, Bash, ol’Basheola, Bashy boy; do you think you deserve to live? Or would you say I deserve a snack? A little Bashy-nashy snack?

—Spill, I didn’t do it, I really didn’t do it, whatever you’ve heard, Spill, honestly, it’s all lies. Bash became louder and louder as Spill got closer and closer. Bash was shouting for his life—Really. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s complete fabrication and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to ruin me like this. I’ve never done anything to hurt anybody …

Who is to say what might have happened if, suddenly, like super heroes, Torque and Spark had not flown down the tunnel towards Bash and Spill at that very moment with Bash stuck, hard and squealing, in Spill’s hypnotising eye beam.

Hi-ya there, Bash, all right, then? said Torque cheerfully—Evening, Spill. How’s it hanging?

Come to see you home, Bash, said Spark—Need a lift?

Without waiting for discussion, Torque and Spark flew down to either side of the little frog and lifted an arm of black and yellow each. They flapped their flight wings as hard as they could and, before the amphibian had any idea of what was happening, got purchase and winged that little black-and-yellow corroboree frog out of there as fast as they could carry him.

Spill slid round and watched the bizarre trio fly erratically down the hallway. He sneered and had a quiet little chuckle deep down in his long scaly throat before moving quietly on his way.

Quote

Is cruelty part of our relationship with animals? Any animals?

I’m a big fan of Tim Flannery.

Tim Flannery wearing a hat

image from Guardian

 

He’s incredibly clever, learned and wise. He speaks, and writes, a lot of sense.

BUT

not this:

‘The fact is that animal rights issues, such as opposition to the culling of feral species, can sometimes get in the way of environmental stewardship, and concerns about animal suffering need to be treated separately.’ page 48 Tim Flannery, After the future: Australia’s new extinction crisis, Quarterly Essay Issue 48 2012

Suffering by any species of animal is part of the equation. If human attitudes towards nature allows any part of nature to suffer, then that attitude is questionable. Until we fix human attitudes to each individual creature, then, I got to tell you, Tim, environmental stewardship will go hang.