Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

Kiss the Hippo carbon negative

May 11, 2021

Since day one, sustainability has been at the core of everything we do. We never wanted to make empty gestures — we wanted to be pioneers, a brand that leads by example, encouraging bigger organisations to make positive changes in its wake. — Kiss the Hippo

Excellent news, Kiss the Hippo carbon negative.

Kiss the Hippo the only company in London to be recognised as carbon negative.

We hear much from companies that they are carbon neutral. Scratch away the greenwash and what we find is that they have planted a few trees as carbon offsets and are still emitting carbon.

Carbon neutral is not sufficient, we need carbon negative. We also need regenerative agriculture, to improve soil structure, carbon capture, grass-grazed herbivores. We also need rewilding, reforestation of our hills and water catchment areas, restoration of peat bogs, reintroduction of European beavers.

Kiss the Hippo is not only carbon negative, they are one of the top coffee roasteries in the country, supplying coffee beans and their Broad Street house blend in compostable coffee capsules.

Amazon under threat in Brazil

April 15, 2021

The Indigenous People of the Amazon are under attack.

President of Brazil Bolsonaro wants to open up some of the most fragile rainforest to predatory mining companies.

Bolsonaro says it’s his ‘dream’ to open up the Amazon rainforest for mining but for the Indigenous People who call it their home, it’s a nightmare.

Ripping up the land to mine for gold and diamonds will devastate the precious ecosystems and the Indigenous communities who have protected these sacred lands for years.

Thirty years ago Brazil’s constitution put these Indigenous lands out of bounds.

But ever since Bolsonaro came to power, mining giants and small-time prospectors have been clamouring to get their hands on the Amazon’s treasures. Unless we stand-up and stop Bolsonaro’s plan, this could be their golden ticket.

This attack on these Indigenous Peoples’ lands is an attack on all of us. Our survival depends on the Amazon rainforest, and the Indigenous People that nurture it.

Now those fighting on the frontlines, like our allies at the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil and the Pariri Indigenous Association need our help. Let’s stand with them in their hour of need.

Please sign the SumofUs petition calling on Members of the Chamber of Deputies to stop this destruction of the Amazon.

We call on you to vote against Bill 191/2020 and continue to uphold the ban on mining and water companies accessing constitutionally-protected Indigenous lands.

Contrast Brazil with Peru. In Peru, cooperation with indigenous communities, growing of coffee in the shade under the canopy of the trees is helping to protect the Amazon.

Gorongosa National Park Mozambique

March 17, 2021

When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and hope. — Wangari Maathai

I am always wary very wary of enterprises that claim to be helping others.

Tony’s Chocolonely, garish bars, branding exercise, poor quality industrial chocolate, FairTrade scam, chocolate produced by a company with links to slave plantations.

Recently launched Cauz Coffee, branding exercise by Cauz Clothing, buy our hyped coffee and we donate 50% of our profits to cancer.

But it does not have to be.  As we learn from conversation Emily Barker and Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood over a cup of coffee, it does not have to be.

Coffee grown at high altitude, in the shade of trees, the coffee cherries ripening slowly the beans sought after for high quality coffee. We need the trees, we need the trees to be protected, sale of the coffee beans brings money into the area and a reason not to destroy the trees.

In Ethiopia, a designated forest, protected status, sadly counts for nothing. A joint project, Kew Gardens and Union. Kew Gardens mapped the forest, Union offered to buy coffee beans collected from the forest. Now local people have a reason to protect their forest.  The forest is important internationally. Wide biodiversity, wild coffee trees, watershed protection.

In Peru, Mayni people are harvesting shade-grown coffee from under the canopy of mature trees, with huge benefits for wildlife and the community.

99 Plus reforested a degraded cattle ranch. Panama Geisha grows in the shade of the trees. The green beans highly sought after, micro-lots sell for very high price.

Conservation has to take account of people. If not, the conservation will fail.

Nelson Mandela

It is important for conservation and rural development to be combined. Conservationists must take account the needs of the people around the reserves.

Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique is working with local communities, supporting agriculture, health and education.

The growing of high quality arabica is bringing money into local hands, supports local projects.

We need to see Doughnut Economics Gorongosa, this would address poverty whilst at the same time sustaining the natural world on which we all depend.

The rain shadow side of the Andes was barren, nothing would grow. Non-native, trees, all that would grown in the environment were planted, these in turn protected native species, now a forest teeming with wildlife.

Wangari Maathai

It is the people who must save the environment. It is the people who must make their leaders change. And we cannot be intimidated. So we must stand up for what we believe in.

Founded in 1977 by Professor Wangari Maathai, the Green Belt Movement (GBM) has planted over 51 million trees in Kenya. GBM works at the grassroots, national, and international levels to promote environmental conservation; to build climate resilience and empower communities, especially women and girls; to foster democratic space and sustainable livelihoods.

In England we have heavy rain in the winter leading to saturated ground and flooding. Hard flood defences do not work, sends floodwater downstream. We need rewilding, agroforestry, grass-grazed agriculture.

Hyacinths

March 12, 2021

Yesterday,  whilst digging up potatoes for lunch, hyacinths in bud.

Today, different hyacinths in flower.

Hyacinths of yesterday close to bursting into flower.

Snowdrops that came info flowers last month are still in flower.  Crocuses in flower. Daffodils in bud, almost in flower.

snowdrops

February 17, 2021

It is that time of year, first sign of Spring, the snow melts away and snowdrops appear.

Digging in the garden. A short row every few days.

Today, harder work, tiring, trying to dig up nettles startling to grow.

Clay soil. Last year when I dug, hard clods of soil. I made the mistake a few weeks later, breaking the clods and raking the soil, which was then battered by the rain. What I should have done, and regretted I did not, let the weather erode down the clods.

This year I will leave, but what I have noticed, no longer the hard clods. The soil structure has improved. Maybe because I dug out one of the compost heaps, to rebuild, spreading the compost on the garden.

Leaving the soil, frost will also break down the clods.

Cold Moon

December 31, 2020

Last night, Eve of New Year’s Eve, Cold Moon, last full moon of the year, 13th full moon of the year.

A journey by river through the Balkans

August 16, 2020

A journey through the Balkans via a river, starting in Slovenia where the Sava River has its source at a waterfall.

Slovenia is roughly the size of Wales, with roughly the same population, but there the comparison ends.

The per capita income in Slovenia is higher than Wales. Slovenia is green, forested, the rivers are teeming with fish, the centre of the capital Ljubljana is traffic free, for those who need it, free transport via electric cart. Slovenia attracts quality tourists.

Other countries need to learn from Slovenia, move away from mass tourism that is trashing the planet, destroying local culture, pedestrianise cities, make traffic free, tables in the streets, develop post-pandemic doughnut economic recovery plans.

Cyprus has seen its tourist sector collapse. Dependency on tour companies, mass tourism is not the way forward as it brought little benefit to the local economy. Cyprus must seize the opportunity granted by coronavirus, attract direct bookings, longer stay, end the stranglehold tour companies have on the sector, outlaw all-inclusive hotels, attract quality tourists.

England has seen the hospitality sector not recover from lockdown, nor should we lump all hospitality together. Pubs, bars, binge drinking bars, coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, are not all the same and should not be all lumped together. It was a mistake to open pubs and the very least the binge drinking bars attracting drunken yobs should be closed and remain closed. Anecdotal evidence is that the Eat Out to Help Out, 50% discount if dine Monday Tuesday and Wednesday, has simply moved eating out to these three days at a massive cost to the taxpayer, the money could have been put to better use. We could have helped indie restaurants and coffee shops by closing streets, pedestrianise, tables in the streets, as they have successfully done in Soho and Covent Garden.

Doughnut Economics Cyprus

April 27, 2020

A couple of weeks ago the Cyprus finance minister opened himself up to ridicule when he claimed the Cyprus economy was going to shrink by about five percent.

The following week the figure had  been revised to ten per cent, which was at best wishful thinking.

With loss of the Cyprus tourist sector, and anyone who thinks Cyprus is going to see any tourists before the end of the season is living in la la land, the economic downturn is going to be far greater than ten per cent.

The world is heading into economic meltdown far worse than the Great Depression, international trade already down by 30%. IMF has warned the global recession is likely to be worse than the Great Depression, and has urged countries to spend, spend, then spend some more, which is an amazing about turn for the IMF.

To put the Cypriot figures in context, the UK economy is expected to shrink by anywhere between 13 per cent and 30 per cent depending on which model, the assumptions fed into the model. The Treasury has forecast April May June the economy may shrink by 30 per cent.

We can not go back to normal as normal was not normal, it was destroying the planet.

We have been able to hear birdsong, our streets traffic free, our cites pollution free, the skies free of planes. A world few of us will have seen in our lifetimes. In India they are able to see in the far distance the snow covered Himalayas, a sight last seen over thirty years ago,

We were told we could not cut carbon emissions within the timescale required for zero carbon 2035, it was impossible, impractical, and yet we have achieved massive reductions overnight.

Politics is not a race, two or more corrupt  political parties in a race as to decide who gets the opportunity to do the bidding of oligarchs.

Politics is who does what to whom.

We have seen capitalism put into suspended animation.  We are in a postcapitalist world, we have been since 2008. Who decides what the future will look look like once we are through the coronavirus pandemic?

If we look to the UK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak  has made billions of pounds available, to furlough workers with the government providing 80% of salary, a week later for the self employed, grants, soft loans to small businesses, all to keep businesses in hibernation,  ready to be woken up.

In the covid-19 pandemic we are living in another now. What we have to do is create our own another now, an alternative reality, a vision of how we wish the world to be. We failed in 2008, we cannot fail again in 2020, we cannot return to what was the norm, as the norm was not normal.

EU failed to deliver on eurobonds, offered loans that put the southern vassal states in debt bondage with austerity to follow.

We have seen post-WWII relentless rise in GDP, or at least up to the 2008, but this rise is not normal, it has been at huge environmental cost, and the increase in GDP has not been fairly distributed, it has been shared with the rich.

If I ask a bank for $100,000 to safeguard an ancient forest, I will probably not get very far. If I ask for $1 million to cut down the forest sell the timber they will happily give me the money.

If I ask a bank for 100 million euros to destroy pristine coastline for a hotel development, bring in dredged sand to create a beach, destroy bamboo groves habitat of  a rare endangered snail, show I will have guaranteed contracts with a big tour company to bring in all-inclusive guests, I will of course not tell them no benefit to the local economy, the bank will hand me the money, or at least they would have pre-coronavirus pandemic.

Destruction of a forest, of a pristine coastline, is not without costs, soil erosion, floods, loss of a carbon sink, species loss, degradation of water supply, loss of inshore fishing and fish breading grounds, which then feeds into ocean acidification, warming climate, rising sea levels, forest degradation, loss of coastline, further loss of fisheries. These costs are dismissed as externalities (a polite way of saying someone else problem).

The standard economic model showing monetary flows between households and businesses, together with flows of capital and goods and services, sometimes expanded to include the role of banks and government, is too simplified, it takes no account of the economy is embedded within society, which in turn is embedded within Gaia.

Never confuse a model with reality, even worse distort reality to reflect the model.

Kate Raworth has drawn a model, that incorporates what went before, but also includes the commons, the flow of energy, flow of materials, and thus more accurately reflects reality.

We therefore have to devise a new economic system, one that sees the poor are not left behind, are not  reliant on food banks, homeless are not living on our streets, whilst at the same time we do not exceed our planetary limits and what we do produce is fair and  equitable.

One such system is doughnut economics. How do we apply it to Cyprus, to the island, to municipalities, to sectors?

Look to Amsterdam, where the city is working with Kate Raworth to devise doughnut economics for the city, a 21st century economic system.

One of the largest sectors in Cyprus is tourism, it cannot be a return to mass tourism which not only is destroying the planet is destroying Cyprus, it brings in the dregs of the tourist industry, all-inclusive hotels with no benefit for the local economy.

Does Cyprus need an easyJet flight every day, sometimes two a day, would not two or three a week suffice, assuming easyJet is in business and will not run out of money by August?

A proposal for a doughnut economy for Cyprus, a broad brush to be expanded upon.

Doughnut economics was developed by Oxford economist Kate Raworth as an antidote to conventional economics which does not reflect the real world and has not served us well.

What is the economy for? Until we can answer that question, how do we know what to measure, how do we measure success?

Economies need to be distributive, regenerative.

Visualise a doughnut. In the centre nothing, this is where resides abuse of human rights, poverty, malnutrition, homelessness, food banks, it is where we should not be. The body of the doughnut is where we wish to be, a circular economy, everyone’s needs met, living within the limits of the planet. Beyond the doughnut, again where we should not be, global warming, species loss, habitat destruction, acidification of our oceans, pollution, rising sea levels.

Kate Raworth has developed a doughnut economics model for Amsterdam, working with the city. Something that should be studied, adapted to Cyprus, but no two places are the same.

For Cyprus we need a doughnut model for the island and for each and every municipality and sector, and the people involved in developing it.

The largest sector in Cyprus is tourism, but it is not in a healthy state, has not been for years, and looking at crude tourist numbers is about as helpful as focusing on GDP to measure economic well being.

One only had to wander through Protaras last year at the height of the tourist season to see all was not well.  During the day, mid-afternoon, empty sunbeds, watersports siting idle. At night, during the evening, bars and restaurants empty.

The last few years many local businesses have gone bust. They finished last season in very poor shape, and many more would not have survived another season.

Tourism has to benefit society with minimum impact on the environment.

Mass tourism is bad for the planet, bad for Cyprus, it is not sustainable.

There is an over-reliance on tour companies, on mass tourism, on all-inclusive hotels.

Cyprus has become the dustbin for the dregs of the tourist industry, all-inclusive attracts the dregs, little if any money flows into the local economy.

Cyprus is not going to see tourists this year, therefore time to reflect, seize the opportunity for radical change and innovation.

Rewind the tourist sector to thirty years ago when Cyprus was a quality destination, attracted quality tourists, when hoteliers took a pride in their hotels, restaurateurs in their restaurants.

Cyprus needs far fewer tourists, quality tourists. There should be no all-inclusive hotels, tour companies should be no more than 20% of hotel bookings (no single tour operator more than 10%), pay promptly at the end of the month (with penalty for late payment).

Encourage long stay, fourteen days and longer, discourage short stay, short breaks, seven days and shorter. Fewer flights for the same hotel occupancy.

The noisy bars bulldoze to the ground.  Restaurants in an attempt to compete with all-inclusive hotels are in a race to the bottom, a race to the bottom no one can win.

What passes as coffee shops is laughable, Cyprus is infamous for bad coffee, coffee shops serving drinkable coffee could count on one hand.

Replace noisy bars with traditional tavernas and coffee shops. It would be difficult to find good examples without visiting Plaka in Athens. Paul’s Coffee Roasters and Lazaris (though not for coffee) near St Lazarus Church in the back streets of Larnaca set high standards, take a pride in what they do, as does Nick’s Coffee Bike outside Larnaca Marina, but these are the rare exceptions, not the norm, oasis amidst the dross. Once the norm in Cyprus, until a race to the bottom to attract custom from all-inclusive hotels, a race no one can win.

For restaurants slow food not fast food, local cuisine using fresh local seasonal produce.  Sea food restaurants overlooking the sea, fresh caught fish, for example Spartiatis overlooking Konnos Bay and Demetrion beside Liopetri River overlooking the sea.

Tourism is more than hotels, it is bars, coffee shops, restaurants, car hire, boat trips, water sports. All of which have suffered in recent years thanks to all-inclusive hotels.

There is a need to improve standards within the tourist sector, hotels, restaurants, bars, coffee shops. How to measure standards?

TripAdvisor is worthless, fake reviews and trolls. Google Maps marginally better. Proposal to tender a contract to assess standards  seriously flawed in a country where everyone knows everyone, someones cousin friend went to school with.

Create an open source open coop collaborate commons platform Booking Cyprus. Charge a small fee to generate a surplus to maintain and improve the platform and fund local community green projects.

There is a need to diversify within the tourist sector.

Diversify away from tourism based on a handful of coastal resorts.

Encourage rural tourism, bookings through FairBnB not AirBnB. AirBnB destroys local communitiesFairBnB works with and supports local communities.

Encourage cultural tourism.

An example would be a week of tango at Grecian Park, not organised by the hotel, they host a week organised by two dancers well known within the world of tango.

A green new deal, use it to kick start the economy. 

Look to what DiEM25 is proposing for Europe. EU needs to issue eurobonds, €500 billion a year to finance a Green New Deal for Europe.

Implement a tree planting programme. Start by planting trees at bus stops for the 101 / 102 bus service Paralimni Protaras Ayia Napa to provide much needed shade.

Pedestrianise the sea front at Larnaca and extend the pedestrianised area into the back streets around St Lazaris Church. Provide an electric shuttle bus service from, Larnaca Marina to Mackenzie Beach.

Cyprus is over-reliant on oil imports, which is crazy in a country with abundant sunshine. Install roof top solar, feed into local community owned and controlled local grids, paid a fair price, consumers pay a fair price, surplus generation fed to other local grids via a publicly owned national grid, any ‘profit’ fed back into the local grid or used to fund local community projects.

The proposed Paphos Marina with facilities for cruise ships should be scrapped. Cruise ships are floating environmental disasters.  Floating all-inclusive hotels that bring no benefits to local economies.

The project in Paphos to create a marina for 1,000 boats plus cruise ships is an example of the insanity that is destroying Cyprus. It should be scrapped.

Cruise ships are nothing more than glorified floating all-inclusive hotels, that cause horrendous damage wherever they dock, with little benefit to the local economy.

The streets of Athens, especially areas like Plaka and Acropli, are clogged whenever a cruse ship docks, causing a problem for both locals and visitors, and they do not spend any money. The tour buses ferrying them around, traffic congestion, noise and pollution.

Venice is being destroyed by cruise ships.

Cruise shop are major greenhouse gas emitters, plus passenger fly to start and end of trip. Cruise ships dump their sewerage and garbage overboard, including plastic.

Will there even be cruise ships? As we have seen floating hell when covid-19 spreads through the ship and nowhere will permit a plague ship to dock.

These floating all-inclusive hotels are now all rapidly returning to port, discharging their passengers and being mothballed. The industry has not just been devastated, it has ceased to function altogether. For it, coronavirus has been the perfect storm. It has gone from being an industry worth $46 billion (£37 billion) a year, with 26 million passengers per annum, to an almost total standstill overnight. The only destination for cruise ships, the scrap yard.

Art and culture should be part of our doughnut.

Art and culture would seem an oxymoron when said in the same breath as Ayia Napa, and yet Ayia Napa has an excellent International Sculpture Park on a hillside overlooking the sea and hosts an excellent Medieval Festival.

How many visitors are aware of the open air theatre during the summer in the grounds of Larnaca Castle?

Cyprus has a democratic deficit which should be addressed. Not only open municipalities to the public, open to public participation, live stream all meetings.

A doughnut may appear to be a simple concept, but appearances can be deceptive. Its power lies in its simplicity.

A lower social bound bellow which we should not fall. An upper planetary bound which we should not exceed. It is also circular, symbolises not only money flowing around the economy, but also symbolises mutual cooperation, collaborative commons.

A simple example will suffice. On changing money in a car hire, we are recommended to take a boat trip. The boat trip recommends a restaurant. The restaurant recommends a vineyard from where they source their wine. To visit the vineyard, we return to the car hire to hire a car. We pass through a lovely little village, learn of a house available through fairbnb should we be tempted to return. At the vineyard, we learn they are renting out a beautiful studio apartment with incredible views of the sea. We find a coffee shop which we have been recommended, and as is the nature of coffee shops, interesting conversations ensue with the owner and barista and fellow coffee drinkers, we learn of many cultural events, an out of the way fish restaurant overlooking the sea and of a taverna  overlooking the sea. We learn Cyprus has much to offer, which we would never have learnt of from tour guides at an all-inclusive hotel. And the local economy has benefited. And maybe we will return one day to explore further.

Salient points of a doughnut economy:

  • GDP is not a useful measure. We cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet. Obsession with GDP has destroyed the planet whilst at the same time creating obscene levels of  inequality. The top richest 1% have accrued more  wealth than the poorest 99%. Uncontrolled growth has a name, cancer.
  • Create, innovate, value human development. With rare exceptions there is a lack of innovation in Cyprus. One bar owner opens a bar with white seats, overpriced drinks, moronic music thudding out. Then more bars open with white seats, overpriced drinks, moronic music thudding out. Those that follow, do not bother to check the first bar always empty.
  • Understand the power of networks, how feedback systems operate.
  • An economic system must be distributive. All must share in the wealth created.
  • Transactions within an economy are not simply financial, nor are the players only government and private sector. The economy also has to include open coops, collaborate commons, each working in loose partnership with each other.
  • Economy has to be regenerative. It is a necessary but not sufficient condition to merely protect the natural world from harm.

The Cypriot economy is moribund if not in free fall, no tourists anytime soon.  The time should be put to productive use to implement a doughnut economy.

It is important public information, in Greek and English, to keep everyone informed, not only locals but also visitors. Then network and share with other municipalities, not only across Cyprus, across Europe.

Australia first country to commit Climate Suicide

January 5, 2020

Australia will go down in history as the first country to commit Climate Suicide, assuming there is anyone left to write the history books.

As Paul Mason succinctly notes, this is the fossil fuel elite’s Chernobyl.

Australia together with pariah states like Saudi Arabia has over the years done its best to sabotage climate talks, digs up coal, elected a corrupt fascist in the pocket of Big Coal as their prime minster, absorbs mind rotting fake news from Murdoch, and now is reaping the benefits.

As Australia burns, the prime minister in the pocket of Big Coal sabotaged COP25 climate talks in Madrid, then went on holiday.

This is the moron who once walked walked into Parliament with a lump of coal to pass around.

Last week fascist PM visited a burnt out town. The local residents told him to fuck off. This was their Ceaușescu moment, when Nicolae Ceaușescu stood before a crowd and was booed.

What we are seeing is an Apocalypse of Biblical proportions, and this is only the beginning.

A bookstore in the fire-ravaged village of Cobargo, New South Wales, has a new sign outside that reads:

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction has been moved to Current Affairs

The carbon released by the bush fires into the atmosphere will accelerate towards the climate tipping point, the point of no return.

Smoke from the fires has engulfed New Zealand, turned the glaciers brown, accelerating the melting of the glaciers.

The extent of the fires is such it is generating its own weather system. The temperatures hot enough to cause the metal of cars to melt.

Already over twenty people have died in the fires, the count is mounting daily, more bodies will be found when people return to burnt out towns. But as nothing to the tens of thousands who will die as a result of breathing in the toxic smoke. And it beggars belief the imbecile mayor of Sydney went ahead with New Year fireworks to add to the toxic mix.

Mass destruction of wildlife. Wildlife not burnt alive, dying due to the high temperatures.

Any politician who accepts dirty money from coal is a climate criminal and should be in prison.

Under the fascist Prime Minister, a crack down on unions, civic organisations and journalists. Legislation pending in Tasmania, and expected to be copied across Australia, environmental protesters now face up to 21 years in jail for demonstrating. This is what we are seeing from the Fascist regimes in Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Egypt, India, Bolivia and Brazil.

When the fires are finally put out, Australians need to rise up, remove their prime minister from office, topple the government,  and take direct action, whatever it takes, to shut down the coal industry. And to boycott the poisonous toxic crap from Murdoch and his ilk.

2025: The Long Hot Winter

December 25, 2019

Christmas 2025, the future.

Brian Eno narrates this fictional documentary set in the year 2025, interviewing Londoners about their first Christmas heatwave.

A terrifying missive from the near future.

Though do we even have to look that far ahead?

Fires in California, Chile, Siberia, Australia. Floods in England, floods across Europe. Melting polar ice caps, disappearing glaciers.


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