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Apr 2, 2017


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.

End quote.

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 corporation. Similar structures, legal arrangements and so on. The only difference is they measure their success not by dollar returns to shareholders but by publicity pages like the Greenpeace “Victories” page and the dollar amount of donations.

There have been wins but most of these are single issue wins. Meanwhile multinational corporations keep strip mining, clear felling, monocultural agricultural practices and poisoning water supplies, air and soil. The air pollution issues around the Beijing Olympics weren’t caused by organic smallholders but by industries operating without the environmental controls we take as the norm in the West. Without the legislated air and water quality standards we too would be experiencing the same levels of pollution. These laws impose costs on enterprises.

So we managed to reduce air and water pollution in industrialised counties after the damage had been done. Yet fish from Sydney Harbour cannot be eaten for fear of contamination levels from an old and now “rehabilitated” battery manufacturing site.

Things are not good. Things need to change. Large organisations become what they attempting to overcome. What’s to be done?

I’m afraid it’s going to come down to individuals. We are out there. We are doing what needs to be done and we are doing it without fanfare, without publicity, without recognition.

My hope is World Organic News is spreading the word. Spreading the word on two fronts. Highlighting those who are walking the talk and spreading the word on how to do what others are doing. We need a movement, we need a grassroots movement! And yes that pun is intended.

The first step we can make is with our consumption. Where we spend our money makes a difference. Don’t buy anything in a package, don’t buy anything with a health claim and then start growing your own. When this starts, don’t buy hybrid seeds. Only plant heirloom or heritage seeds because they are open pollinated and you can save the seeds to replant next season. In doing this you are selecting for plants adapted to your locale, your micro climate.

The great joy of growing your own is you will have a surplus. This means you can share with neighbours and friends. They taste the gloriousness of home grown and some will also start the process themselves. A movement indeed!

Despite the calls for the end of coal and oil based economies, where these meet the reality of climate change are not just in transport and energy production but in agriculture. Fossil fuels are used to create synthetic fertilisers, to move them to farms and gardens and, on larger production units using tractors, to distribute them across the landscape.

And this isn’t the point where they do most damage! It is in the soil that artificial fertilisers are most likely to influence climate change. By killing off soil biota they release soil carbon. The oceans have been doing a stellar job absorbing excess carbon but even they have limits.

A return to humus based agriculture and gardening will have a major effect on climate change by sucking carbon our of the atmosphere and locking into the soil where it belongs. Where it will grow better plants and hence animals.

The blog Forgotten soil posted back in august 2016 a piece entitled: THE DEBATE OF OUR TIME. It is all about humus and soil health. And yes whether we are to use humus or chemicals to feed our soils and hence our plants and thence ourselves should the debate of our time but, sadly, it is not.

So join the movement, do it quietly in your backyard, do it in a windowbox or in plant pots or across broadacres. Do it where you are now. We will find one another, we will feed ourselves, we will mitigate climate change and then we can reverse it but we must start. We must take our first faltering steps. Remember in each seed we plant is a revolution. A revolution in food, in health, in climate and in humanity!

And that brings us to the end of this week’s podcast.

If you’ve liked what you heard, please tell everyone you know any way you can! I’d also really appreciate a review on iTunes. This may or may not help others to find us but it gives this podcaster an enormous thrill! Thanks in advance!

Any suggestions, feedback or criticisms of the podcast or blog are most welcome. email me at

Thank you for listening and I'll be back in a week.



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