Thursday, March 29, 2007

Welly

Im in wellington for the meat conference, I will be posting photos and news tomorrow and sat as to how everythings going. Last night was a mission to get down here, we left and six and arroved at four in the morning. Needless to say im rather incoherent.

Its fun down here, the activist community actually seems to exist down here compared to Auckland. We did an interview for indymedia on the Victoria uni radio station.

I will have a ton of photos over the next couple of days and probably a few new ideas.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"The Permaculture Concept"

This is part two of a six part documentary with permaculture cofounder Bill Mollisan. Its really worth watching. The whole series is on you tube.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Beliefs and tactics part two


The lifestyle enjoyed by westerners is unsustainable. Furthermore one cannot have the kind of lifestyle enjoyed by westerners without the large scale destruction of the planet. You can’t have a car without mines, we can’t have cheap food without oil and pesticides, we can’t have cheap clothes without sweatshops. Realistically we probably can’t consume above the level of an advanced agricultural society without permanently degrading the environment. All of this seems pretty obvious, grab the nearest thing to you and think about what was necessary to produce it. Take a look at what you are wearing and try and think about how our society would have to be structured if what you were wearing were to grown organically transported without fossil fuel emissions and sold in a completely sustainable store. And what if everyone that came into contact with the product was living sustainably, what would such a society have to look like?

Knowing how unsustainable our current society is it seems logical to start thinking about how to change our society so it no longer relies on things such as fossil fuels. But exactly the same people who claim to want to stop burning fossil fuels get mad when you start talking about how we are going to be forced to give up everything we take for granted if we are serious about stopping this destruction. They get mad when I say that because no one will willingly give up cheap food and cars we shouldn’t pretend that democracy will get it. Clearly there is a disconnect here, obviously people care about the environment but few seem to connect it to our day to day reality.

Furthermore few environmentalists seem to have a grasp of the grossly unsustainable nature of our society. Rarely is it mentioned that the carrying capacity of the planet is somewhere around 2 billion, not 6. When the food supply is talked about few realize that we are currently putting ten times more energy into producing it than we get from consuming it. Or that we are losing topsoil one hundred times faster than it can be naturally regenerated and that when it is gone our agricultural regions will collapse like those of the middle east.

If environmentalists realized or cared about these things they wouldn’t get angry when I suggest that a lot of people are going to die due to land degradation. And if they realized the web of destruction necessary to manufacture the simplest of items in our society they wouldn’t be upset when I say that I don’t want people in the west to be able to comsume on our current levels. If they were actually keen to halt environmental destruction they probably wouldn’t be arguing about which car is the best to buy.

So I think that most self declared environmentalists are not serious about what needs to happen to stop the destruction of the planet. I think most are still attatched to the notion that we have a right to be affluent. I think when the time for tough decisions comes that those in groups such as the greens will choose to continue grossly unsustainable acts rather than compromise our societys ability to continue in its current shape. I think that most left wing activists still believe it is the inherent right of humans to destroy whatever they want for their own gain.
Allmost all of our actions as environmentalists are approved of by the government and the police. Allmost all of our actions fail to question the right of humans to consume and destroy the environment. And almost all of our actions fail to in any way challenge the structures our industrial civilization needs to continue. All this leads me to believe that our environmental activism is just a release valve for discontent that builds up in our society, a reformist feel good all absorbing pursuit for activists that want to actually make a difference. These ideas aren’t anything new, its just I’m sick of being lied to by environmentalists about the effectiveness of any such reformist action.
Anti Smacking Rallys

Just did a ring round christian and right wing organisations and it looks like there is nothing planned in opposition of Sue Bradfords anti smacking legislation in Auckland at this stage. I was thinking a counter demonstration might be fun and get some good media but it looks like wellingtonians will be our best bet for a fun counter demo.
Beliefs and tactics part one


As activists we are generally fight for things which our society sympathizes with us on, things like war, coal mining or factory farming. We (logically) tend to fight these issues in a public friendly manner, seldom damaging property and emphasizing alternatives or less damaging methods rather than telling the public that they must give up their current lifestyle. And never question the right of the humans to permanently degrade the land and we refrain from challenging the right to consume.

When we take an issue on we often seem to accept the responsibility for providing jobs for all those engaged in the destructive activity. Furthermore we often go out of our way to point out how people can maintain a materially high standard of living. Because of our weak position and our strict use of state sanctioned tactics we only request people change and tend to rely on rich western consumers choosing not to support whatever abuse we are campaigning against.

All of the above is logical and in most cases is necessary to win individual campaigns; and I’m not suggesting we begin fighting our campaigns specifically to piss of the public. What I’m interested in is not only how as activists we fight our campaigns this way but how these campaign tactics reflect the fact that for the most part our value systems reflect those of the dominant culture.

From birth we are taught our cultures values and beliefs - the value of private property, that land can be owned, that humans have a right to use and exploit nature. I think that we are fighting through a cultural lense which values humans and the wants of rich humans above the rest of the inhabitants of our culture.. I think our tactics reflect these beliefs.

The inability of the environmental movement (for pragmatic reasons or otherwise) to confront the destructive nature of western consumption leads to ridiculous situations where mainstream environmental groups spend their time trying to convince the public which car or which power company they should choose. Because these groups are unwilling to question the assumptions that this society is built on they are left making bigger and bigger compromises. We are working to make the destruction of our planet as efficient as possible. We are often working to spread unsustainable technologies across as many socioeconomic levels as possible.

If we do not question mans right to exploit land and mans right to have power, a car and a tv then we will never halt the destruction of the environment and the enslavement of non-humans. If we do not challenge the arrogant domination of our culture then we will forever be reformist arguing about whether the coal power plant or the dam is the better way to power our cities. We will forever be engaging in protest action which improves the efficiency of our destruction of the planet.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Upside of Down

Around the world there still exist in many places societies which are not tied to the global economic system. These societies can produce what they need to survive. They are not forced to prostitute themselves to the world market for the right to live or eat. Where these cultures have not been systematically destroyed and forced off their land and in many cases in spite of attempts to destroy them they are able to live far more sane and far more meaningful lives than our own. I think that gradually in western countries autonomous zones increasingly detached from global trade systems will soon be able to arise.

As sources of cheap energy begin to run out our current system will be unable to provide food cheaply and easily across the globe. Global trade links will gradually disintegrate and the worlds economy will be unable to deal with permanent recession. This will force people to once again produce their own food. As the current agricultural system uses ten times more energy than it produces a lot of people will have to get involved in food production. Energy decline and associated recession would also hit our institutions and industry hard.

As communities are forced to deal with the problems and opportunities posed by peak oil and peak food production the world’s militaries will probably be occupied fighting over the worlds oil fields. Police forces will probably become understaffed and under funded in any long term recession. This means that a bunch of hippies or anarchists ripping up the carpark of a long abandoned mall some frustrated neighbors digging up the local park to grow food on they will probably go unnoticed. And when weekly meetings in the school hall come to be the body where decisions are made the local council will have little power left to overrule these groups of neighbors.


I think the changes required by an energy descent are incredibly positive and I believe that organically new social systems will arise to replace our current system as communities and neighborhoods are forced to recognize their interdependence. Communities will be forced to band together to solve problems of food, unemployment and production of clothes, machinery tools etc.


All of this will necessitate a lot people learning new skills and a lot of changes in the way people get what they need to survive. I don’t think any such transition will be planned on a large scale and after a while there won’t be any way for the transition to be controlled. Instead of a government mandated program I think change will look like an unemployed husband working in the garden. Instead of green consumers I think it will look like people repairing their clothes because they cannot afford to buy more. Because these changes will be driven by need I think these changes will be far more meaningful and real than any vision put forward by radicals or governments.

Once links to the global economic system begin to disintegrate people will adapt and make whatever changes are necessary to feed themselves and their families. Many practical skills are no longer commonplace but with motivation people will find and create alternatives that work for them. People working on a small scale in local communities probably won’t manufacture toxic chemicals, and if the global system were to run out of any key component then it would be impossible to continue the current scale of destruction for long.

No matter what happens people will want to heat their homes and will want to keep many of the comforts provided by our society. People will still want electricity and if coal is the easiest way to get it I’m sure they will burn it. But I think destruction will be on a smaller, more localized scale. People will want jobs and will want money and if they can keep the local factory running they will. This is natural and I think that the return to a completely agrarian society is likely to take at least one hundred years.

I think that large scale change will occur within the next 5 – 25 years and that one of the most important things we can do is prepare and educate for these changes. I think that there is a huge upside to the decline of the current global capitalist system and I believe we will soon see evidence that the current system is fighting for its very survival. I think energy decline no matter when it occurs will pose our best opportunity to get rid of governments and promote community control.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Just browsing through my documents and I came across something I wrote a while ago:

The worlds ecosystems have been under a sustained attack for the past ten thousand years, Countless trees have been felled – for houses – fuel, ships etc, countless fish have been pulled from the ocean. Countless species systematically exterminated because they interfered with mans ability to profit. This destruction has snowballed – from a few hundred thousand people building villages and city’s through a few million to around six and a half billion people. And things are not getting any better, indeed they are only getting worse.

On top of runaway environmental destruction we have built a civilisation that is reliant on a few resources – both renewable and nonrenewable have been hyper exploited to the point where they are about to disappear permanently. Our current way of life rests upon a very fragile tower of cards and it will collapse.

A report I saw summarized the other day says that half the worlds surface will be in permanent drought by 2100 – a third of the worlds surface will be so dry nothing will be able to grow. Another report says our oceans will be emptied of fish within my lifetime and that we will all have to switch to eating jellyfish. Yet another report points to the peak and decline of the worlds oil supply’s.

Clearly things cannot continue like this much longer, the world cannot take another 20 years of growth – it cannot even take another 20 years of abuse at this level. Things must change and they will whether we like it or not. We have two choices – we can continue to use our resources to grow and grow or we can attempt to change to a more sustainable way of living.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Protest Against Superfund Investments

Yesterday around 30 students and members of the public marched from Auckland University to the New Zealand Superfund. The protest was in opposition to the New Zealand superannuation fund’s investment in several weapons manufacturers and Freeport McMoRan a mining company aiding the occupation of west Papua. The march attracted considerable public and police attention on the way and blocked traffic on several normally busy streets. Upon reaching the superfund students moved into and occupied the lobby of the Quay Tower at the bottom of town. Ringed by police and security guards the students chanted and disrupted the normal flow of business. The leader of the march then negotiated the occupying students withdrawal in exchange for him and another member of the protest being allowed to go up to the superfund and express their opposition to its investments.

After several minutes of negations in which it was constantly stressed this was a “peaceful and nonviolent protest” The leader was escorted by several police and security up to the superfund offices. The students meanwhile conducted a picket outside the offices with several speeches given. Upon return we were informed that the superfund was undergoing a “review process” and that our concerns were noted.

At one point during negotiations between the leader of the protest and police I began a chant only to be angrily confronted by another protest for potentially endangering the negotiations saying "dont you want him to be able to meet them" to which I replied "not really" when I asked her how it would make any differene I was told "its the personal connection that matters you know, that umm talking personally". Well I dont think the personal connection makes any difference and thought we may have traded away our occupation for a disempowering snob by an official. I dont think talking to the government will change anything and when you need to get 30 people to occupy a lobby and a police escort to talk to a minor official then I think we are in a bad way indeed.

While the turn out was small most of the people there were new. I'm glad that anti war events are occuring outside of the typical march but hope actions are more effective in future. For anyone wanting to visit the superfund personally they are on the 12th floor of the quay street towers Auckland City.







Two protesters escorted up to superfund offices

Monday, March 19, 2007

Fungi Disrupt Co2 plans

Taken from infoshop news

If this is the case for ecosystems globally then the situation appears grim. I have long thought that increasing the amount of Organic Matter in the soil would both lck up some Co2 and improve the health of our agricultural systems. I hadn't thought through the effects of increased Co2 concentrations on micro-organisms though....

As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise, scientists have counted on the ground beneath our feet to soak up some of this greenhouse gas. But fungi living in the soil could throw a wrench into that plan, according to a new study, which finds that the microbes could actually cause soil to lose carbon to the atmosphere.

Plants grow faster as CO2 levels increase, taking up more carbon from the air. Scientists have suggested that this might in turn cause soils to soak up excess carbon as well by accumulating more root matter.

To test this idea, a team of microbial ecologists and plant physiologists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland, subjected a scrub oak ecosystem in Florida to twice the current level of atmospheric carbon dioxide for 6 years. The team was surprised to find that in spite of increased plant growth, the soils were losing carbon rather than taking up more. In fact, the soil was releasing more than half the amount of carbon dioxide that the plants were taking up.

The problem appears to be fungi. When the researchers compared the soil in the CO2-enriched environment to a similar plot that had been exposed to ambient CO2 for 6 years, they found that the high-CO2 plot had more fungi. Soil fungi are good at decomposing tough organic materials, explains team leader Karen Carney, in part by producing carbon-degrading enzymes. So increasing the amount of fungi boosts the decomposition of organic matter in the soil, releasing the stored carbon into the atmosphere through respiration. The findings appear online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Police Response to Protest in Auckland.

In Auckland over the past few years the police have been consistently unable to predict when splinter groups will carry out actions around major marches in Auckland. This sporadic use of swarming means the police have to divert 20+ officers to many marche's in Auckland to attempt to try and prevent anything unauthorised from occuring. Now because they are never sure whats going to happen and who is responsible they have for a long time been videoing and taking high resolution photos of everyone that looks like a potential trouble maker on march's. By now the police are likely to have several thousand pictures of hundreds of different people and dozens of hours of videos. All this of people participating in peaceful protest normally against war.

As a response to their suveillance I have taken to getting close up photos of every officer on the march, particularly the police photographers. They find this rather frustrating and yesterday the police photographer ran round trying to get photos of me for quite a while after I got some close ups of her. I have also been threatened with arrest as a response of this tactic. So I was wondering if anyone knew what information such as photos we could access under the official information act? Does anyone know how to draft the questions properly?


Even cops don't like having their photos taken

I dont think these police tactics are justfied and I'm not conviced that these photos and profiling of activists will be used responsibly - particularly if New Zealand ever started to use counter terrorism legislation. A government that feels so threatened that it must monitor any protest activity and identify everyone participating in it is not a government I trust.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Ungdomshuset

Just a wee bit of riot porn to brighten up your day.



Saturday, March 17, 2007

March Against War


Today 300 people marched against the ongoing war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Highlighted during the march was the important role war plays in maintaining our current empire.























Thursday, March 15, 2007

Great Post

Just found this over on contradiction, I hope they dont mind me quoting almost the entire text but I think it says it all

"Two things struck me on my way into Melbourne yesterday. The first was seeing the great coal power station at Sale. It is the most polluting power plant in the entire developed world. I’ve seen it from the ground, but in the air it was even more impressive, as you could see the clouds of CO2 heavy smoke drag out for miles. It was intense and beautiful at the same time.

I hitchhiked into central Melbourne, which was also an eye opener. The great thing about hitching is that you see things you’re unlikely to see otherwise, and often get taken outside your comfort zone. In this case I was taken via Footscray, past the freight distribution centre for much of Australia. It really struck me how intensely this country relies on fossil fuels to generate economic activity. The other thing that couldn’t be missed was how brown and dry the city is, much more so than the last time I was here. While the drought cannot be definitively attributed to climate change, the prospect of severe and sustained weather events is being dramatically increased. Unlike New Zealand, somewhat anachronisticly dependent on an agrinomic economy, this place is invested in resource and energy intensive activities for it’s prosperity. Agriculture still plays a significant part, but in many places on the point of collapse. One of the world’s major grain sources is almost dead. I probably don’t need to express what emotion that evokes.

It appears to me that Australia is faced with a choice. On one hand going further down a path of destruction and resource extraction and risking collapse should agriculture fail and easily usable energy supplies dry up. The other is unwinding from that, and moving to a system that only uses as much as it can sustain indefinitely. I know the eternal optimists will argue that there are always substitutes, and the human ingenuity conquers all, but given our history of destroying systems necessary for life, I’d like for humans to take a much more cautious approach."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cool Text.

Picture taken on wellesly street by Lena.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The standardization of reality.

It hit me today how standardized our reality has become, that through assembly line style processes we become numbed and used to mechanistic repetitive tasks. I believe this has a profound effect on or psychology and how we experience the world. I guess the process really takes hold during school, as a child’s day is arbitrarily broken up into tasks which have little variation and can be counted on from one day to the next. But this standardized existence seems ubiquitous in our society, houses exactly the same, with the same TV’s inside playing the same tv programs to children attending the same schools with the same lessons. Adults doing jobs which require no creativity, driving the same route every day to do the same thing every day. Lives and routines which are identical no matter where in the west one goes.

I think these standardized lives are wrong for several reasons, one of which is how little of our capacity these lives require, how unfulfilling and numbing this existence is. This aspect of modern life has been explored in fields as disparate as pop cultures American Beauty and the Unabomber’s manifesto. What really stands out for me though is how this routine filled existence creates a disconnect between our actions and reality. Because it is impossible to try and find meaning flipping burgers or filling out paperwork to try and force meaning out of these jobs would lead to existential angst and depression.

Because we can’t look for meaning in our day to day lives and still stay sane our ability to notice meaning and the bigger picture behind our actions eventually disappears. This is reinforced by the disconnect I have talked about earlier between humans and nature. I believe that eventually we become capable of committing gross atrocities because of this dulling. That the assemble line nature of our lives forces us to objectify everything and that to both the car assembly line worker and the slaughter house worker they are both just dealing with objects, that they have both divorced any meaning from the work that they are doing. That both the slaughterhouse worker and say a CEO of an oil company have both divorced the effects of their actions on other from the work that they are doing.

I think that this process of divorcing meaning from actions is probably a result of our conditioning and that it’s probably deliberate. I also think that this divorcement of meaning from action makes it impossible to rely on humans to be responsible for their actions. That because of this disconnection no one is able to conceive the results of their actions. This is reinforced by mass media which deliberately tries to mask the links between climate change and the ads for Oil Company’s that they play in the breaks.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What drugs are the socialists on?
(and why don't they share?)


Recently a lot of socialists have been talking about major cuts in carbon emissions, firgures like 50% or even 90%. While cuts like these would be nice I am quite confused by what they say next. For example these are taken from readingthemaps.blogspot.com in response to climactions recent street party.

"In reality, the cause of global warming is global capitalism, not the bloke filling up his Holden at the Swanson BP"

"It is big capitalist firms who pollute. The fact that we consume the energy (for example) that they produce does not in any way argue for reduced consumption. It demands the profits of these big companies be spent on improving the quality of their production and distribution, creating more jobs, as well as safer and cleaner production. Furthermore it points out that capitalism is unable to do this, that only the socialist transformation of society, the rational, democratic and scientific planning of production will allow such a development.

While capitalism continues pollution will get worse and so will their contribution to climate change, with all the attendant destruction and devastation that brings with it. We will all pay the price but will not enjoy improved living standards as a result. The capitalist class will improve its profits at our expense, with no concern for the wages and conditions of the workforce, or the destruction of the environment. Far from arguing for limiting consumption, we do indeed believe in a society of superabundance, but point out too that this can only be achieved by the pooling and planning of the world's resources."

Which of course leads me to my next question what drugs are these socialists taking that make them think we can continue our current level of consumption without killing the planet? How on earth does our current unsustainable life argue for socialism? Cuba, one of their socialist utopias has been through the sorts of cuts we need to see, and their entire population fell in weight a few kilos because of food shortages. A large percentage of their population had to move back out to the country and their cities only have water and power for a few hours a day. I plan to visit Cuba and I think they have a lot of ideas we can copy, however the changes hurt, they were significant, and even their socialism didnt save them from cuts in consumption.

Our consumption levels are unsustainable and we need to deindustrialise. A socialist revolution that has at its heart increasing productivity and industrial growth will kill the planet just as efficiently as a capitalist system. While our society is fixated on growth and consumption it doesnt matter who is in charge.

To be fair readingthemaps goes on to say "In other words, the solution to ecological problems like global warming is not a change in consumption choices by individual workers but a change of economic and social system. Cars are not to blame for global warming; nor are their drivers" I agree with this, we need to destroy the industrial system which is systematically killing ecosystems to further consumption in the west. We need to destroy this system which values human life above the rest of the natural world. We must come to live in balance with the limits of this planet. We need to take down the current system if we want to stop climate change, this means losing all the things this system provides such as cheap energy and high levels of consumption.

All of this will require a transformation in the way we live, it will require increasing community control, it will require the end to all sectors of the econmomy which involve extracting resources and it will require an end to all industrys which require that extraction. It will mean living in an agrarian society not an industrial society.

Socialists can't have their cake and eat it too. They cannot claim to want to halt climate change and still want high standards of consumption in the west. Their is a choice that has to be made: to continue living as we currently do until our ecosystems collapse or to begin a voluntary transformation to a sustainable way of living.

Blaming corporations for global waming without facing the fact that almost everything we currently take for granted must go to prevent climate change is at worst deception and at best ill informed. Yes climate change needs to be stopped, but so does industrial civilisation. I don't particularly care whether it is a socialist coal power plant or a capitalist coal power plant, that power plant needs to be destroyed. I dont care whether its a capitalist mine or a socialist mine that mining needs to stop.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Horizon Gardens


These are some photos I took yesteray at Horizon gardens. Horizon gardens is a community garden which provides an opportunity for people affected by physical and mental disabilities to garden in a judgment free, supportive environment. It also provides allotments for members of the community who pay a small fee and get an allotment for a year. The gardens are about to be significantly reduced in size to provide extra car parking and room for CCS who own the gardens. It’s a really beautiful place and has a remarkable sense of calm and tranquility which will soon be interrupted by diggers and heavy machinery.

The gardens have a new manager who is plannint to run a series of gardening workshops and who is full of plans to develop the site as a demonstation permaculture garden. The green fingered message is to be combined with a social justice message, and a wider focus on what is wrong with our current society. It is envisaged that through intensive use of land and careful planning that even with a significant reduction in size the site will maintain or improve its current productivity. I’m really excited about the opportunity’s the redevelopment will present and am glad for the chance to work in such a beautiful place.

There is far too much to write about in one go so I will gradually post pictures and information as I work there. I will also post more photos of my own garden which im getting cranking in anticipation of some winter veggies.

Old chook house, surrounded by a fig tree and clump of bananas. This is to be cleared.


Mountain Pawpaw flowers, the Pawpaws push out and develop in size.


Part of the well established orchard which is to be destroyed.

Bed of spinach plants, with a sporadic mix of vegies at the back
North facing slope, The site is sheltered from winds and has some of the richest soil I have seen.
An allotment, mulched with corn stalks and leaves, the path is made of wood chips. The mulch will hold moisture in provide organic matter and allow worms to come to the surface without drying out..
An area primarily covered with tamarillo trees and weeds which is to be developed into a mini food forest.

To find out more about how you can help out at Horizon Gardens or if you have any queries about gardening in Auckland just leave your email in the comments.