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This Weeks Going Green Radio Show

 

 

Every Saturday 3-5 pm with special guests, interviews and green topics including:

Climate change, population, the Indian ocean, the Andaman Sea, consumer changes,

clean seas and local positive steps.

 

Phukets Live 89.5 FM

www.phuketliveradio.com

 

Saturday 2nd February 2012, 3 to 5 PM

Going Green 62

Greece…Athens goes up in Smoke

 

 

There are seven primary direct drivers of extinction and all are the result of human behavior:

  • habitat loss through deforestation,

  • takeover by invasive species,

  • air, sea and land pollution,

  • climate change,

  • over-exploitation of resources, and above all—the factors that magnifies all the others—

  • human overpopulation +

  • consumerisation.

 

A specter is haunting Greece. It leers over rooftops, invades lungs, and nearly glows in the night. It’s smoke. Smoke from fire used to warm the homes of Greek families too poor to afford heat any other way. Cut from the mountains surrounding Athens, charred in the stoves and fireplaces of middle class homes, and blown through their chimneys, the unnatural cloud hovering over the capital city has become a bleak metaphor for one of the worst economic depressions in modern European history. 

It is the smog of austerity. Greece is literally breathing in the fumes of its recession.

When the country discovered soon after the global financial crisis that it would not be able to pay back its debts, Greece threw itself at the mercy of Europe. In exchange for bailouts, the country agreed to cut its deficit from both ends. Government spending went down. And taxes went up — on income, on property, and on utilities. Combined with the higher cost of oil, these tax hikes pushed up heating costs by more than 40 percent at the start of Greece’s coldest month.

Greek unemployment is the highest in the developed world. The country’s GDP faces the worst peacetime contraction of any non-communist European country since the 19th century. Even workers with jobs often have to deal with delayed payments, furloughs, and lower take-home pay due to higher taxes. So, many families have made an understandable calculus: From now on, we’ll make out our own heat with wood, a match, and a fireplace.

Summer smog is common in Athens, when vehicle fumes collect in the hot, still air over the city. But this is the first incidence in recent memory of “winter smog” from families lighting fires to keep warm in January, when the temperature at night can drop into the low 40s.

“It is present everywhere in the wider area of Athens,” said Alexia Tsaroucha, an English teacher in Athens, in an email exchange. “The problem became particularly evident this year, since the number of people using stoves has increased dramatically.”

The phenomenon is reportedly worst in big cities like Athens, with more than four million inhabitants, and Thessaloniki to the North. But the “smog phenomenon,” as they’re calling it, has been also recorded in smaller Greek cities, as austerity has enacted its revenge on every corner of the country.

“The atmosphere has never been worse,” said Marianna Filipopoulou, a social-anthropologist who has lived in Athens for four years. “It’s getting more and more difficult to breathe. Even our eyes hurt because of the smog.” She said the blame lies, not with families, but with their deplorable circumstances: “There is no other way given the scarcity of money.”

A blogger for the site KeepTalkingGreece.com, who asked to remain anonymous, described to me the sensation of breathing in the smoke this way: 

“First time, the penetrating smell hit me right in the face was late November 2012. I had just opened the balcony door in the evening when I felt thousands of unknown and invisible particles entering my nostrils and my lungs. An unpleasant smell of gasoline and something else. A pressure on my chest

“Since the start of the phenomenon, there have been times that I could not open the balcony door at night even to bring my own firewood inside. Worst was the smog over the city, during the holiday season, when families and friends got together to celebrate Christmas and New Year, when temperatures were low and fireplaces and stoves were working in full power. I personally had felt like I was having a stone sitting on my chest and gauze was blocking my nose.”

BURN EVERYTHING

The Greek environmental ministry has warned families to not use their fireplaces as furnaces, but “families have lost workers and can barely make ends meet,” said Tsaroucha, who has lived in Athens since she was born. “The increase in the price of heating oil … and the increased amount of taxes that each household has to pay” have contributed to families’ decision to heat their homes with old-fashioned fire from practically anything that will burn — not only wood, but also lacquered furniture and old doors.

The second symbol of the economic crisis in Greece, after the smog, might be the denuded forests. Greece’s environmental ministry estimates more than 13,000 tons of wood was harvested illegallyin 2012. The environment ministry has reportedly seized ”more than 13,000 tons of illegally cut trees” as families scramble to find something, anything, that will make a fire and heat a room.

“This new plague appears to be democratic,” Greek commenter Nikos Konstandaras wrote, “but the veneer of universality is thin — again it is the poor who suffer most: They live on lower floors, where the toxins congregate, they are forced to burn whatever they find, huddling around open fires and buckets of embers.”

Perhaps you’ve heard of the “Environmental Kuznets Curve.” It’s the basic theory that, although the initial burst of industrialization often degrades the environment (look at Beijing), the wealthiest societies tend to have the healthiest environments, as they develop sustainable living and cleaner, more expensive technologies (look at San Francisco). 

But “Greece is regressing,” said Iain Murray, vice president for strategy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “As it becomes poorer, its environment suffers more.” Between 1961 and 1998, the concentration of particulates in London fell from an average of 160 micrograms per cubic meter to less than 20. That’s what coming down the curve looks like. “The current levels in Greece are reaching 300 micrograms per cubic meter,” Murray wrote. That’s what going back up the curve looks like.

One Greek blogger compared the scene in Athens to a passage from Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, dramatizing the fact that Greece faces a truly pre-industrial crisis in post-industrial country: “Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun … Fog everywhere …”

Tsaroucha says families feel they have no choice but to harvest trees, tear wood from their walls, and throw furniture into their fires to burn it into the sky. They face the dilemma of “either saving the environment or keeping their households warm,” she said.

In January, the Wall Street Journal reported a familiar scene in the woods surrounding the Greek capital. An environmentalist named Grigoris Gourdomichalis had caught an unemployed father of four illegally hacking away at a tree in the mountains. They had a confrontation. The property was government-owned, as Gourdomichalis told reporters Nektaria Stamouli and Stelios Bouras. But finally, the environmentalist relented. After the father began to cry, he let him walk back to his house to burn the wood from the tree.

The Atlantic

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/01/the-fog-of-austerity-this-smoke-cloud-is-the-ultimate-symbol-of-greeces-depression/272626/#.UQs1ezdTQPU.twitter

 

Dark Ecology
Searching for truth in a post-green world
PAUL KINGSNORTH
Published in the January/February 2013 issue of Orion magazine

(excerpt) What does the near future look like? I’d put my bets on a strange and unworldly combination of ongoing collapse, which will continue to fragment both nature and culture, and a new wave of techno-green “solutions” being unveiled in a doomed attempt to prevent it. I don’t believe now that anything can break this cycle, barring some kind of reset: the kind that we have seen many times before in human history. Some kind of fall back down to a lower level of civilizational complexity. Something like the storm that is now visibly brewing all around us.
If you don’t like any of this, but you know you can’t stop it, where does it leave you? The answer is that it leaves you with an obligation to be honest about where you are in history’s great cycle, and what you have the power to do and what you don’t. If you think you can magic us out of the progress trap with new ideas or new technologies, you are wasting your time. If you think that the usual “campaigning” behavior is going to work today where it didn’t work yesterday, you will be wasting your time. If you think the machine can be reformed, tamed, or defanged, you will be wasting your time. If you draw up a great big plan for a better world based on science and rational argument, you will be wasting your time. If you try to live in the past, you will be wasting your time. If you romanticize hunting and gathering you will be wasting your time.
And so I ask myself: what, at this moment in history, would not be a waste of my time? And I arrive at five tentative answers:

One: Withdrawing. If you do this, a lot of people will call you a “defeatist” or a “doomer,” or claim you are “burnt out.” They will tell you that you have an obligation to work for climate justice or world peace or the end of bad things everywhere, and that “fighting” is always better than “quitting.” Ignore them, and take part in a very ancient practical and spiritual tradition: withdrawing from the fray. Withdraw not with cynicism, but with a questing mind. Withdraw so that you can allow yourself to sit back quietly and feel, intuit, work out what is right for you and what nature might need from you. Withdraw because refusing to help the machine advance—refusing to tighten the ratchet further—is a deeply moral position. Withdraw because action is not always more effective than inaction. Withdraw to examine your worldview: the cosmology, the paradigm, the assumptions, the direction of travel. All real change starts with withdrawal.

Two: Preserving nonhuman life. The revisionists will continue to tell us that wildness is dead, nature is for people, and Progress is God, and they will continue to be wrong. There is still much remaining of the earth’s wild diversity, but it may not remain for much longer. The human empire is the greatest threat to what remains of life on earth, and you are part of it. What can you do—really do, at a practical level—about this? Maybe you can buy up some land and rewild it; maybe you can let your garden run free; maybe you can work for a conservation group or set one up yourself; maybe you can put your body in the way of a bulldozer; maybe you can use your skills to prevent the destruction of yet another wild place. How can you create or protect a space for nonhuman nature to breathe easier; how can you give something that isn’t us a chance to survive our appetites?

Three: Getting your hands dirty. Root yourself in something: some practical work, some place, some way of doing. Pick up your scythe or your equivalent and get out there and do physical work in clean air surrounded by things you cannot control. Get away from your laptop and throw away your smartphone, if you have one. Ground yourself in things and places, learn or practice human-scale convivial skills. Only by doing that, rather than just talking about it, do you learn what is real and what’s not, and what makes sense and what is so much hot air.

Four: Insisting that nature has a value beyond utility. And telling everyone. Remember that you are one life-form among many and understand that everything has intrinsic value. If you want to call this “ecocentrism” or “deep ecology,” do it. If you want to call it something else, do that. If you want to look to tribal societies for your inspiration, do it. If that seems too gooey, just look up into the sky. Sit on the grass, touch a tree trunk, walk into the hills, dig in the garden, look at what you find in the soil, marvel at what the hell this thing called life could possibly be. Value it for what it is, try to understand what it is, and have nothing but pity or contempt for people who tell you that its only value is in what they can extract from it.

Five: Building refuges. The coming decades are likely to challenge much of what we think we know about what progress is, and about who we are in relation to the rest of nature. Advanced technologies will challenge our sense of what it means to be human at the same time as the tide of extinction rolls on. The ongoing collapse of social and economic infrastructures, and of the web of life itself, will kill off much of what we value. In this context, ask yourself: what power do you have to preserve what is of value—creatures, skills, things, places? Can you work, with others or alone, to create places or networks that act as refuges from the unfolding storm? Can you think, or act, like the librarian of a monastery through the Dark Ages, guarding the old books as empires rise and fall outside?

It will be apparent by now that in these last five paragraphs I have been talking to myself. These are the things that make sense to me right now when I think about what is coming and what I can do, still, with some joy and determination. If you don’t feel despair, in times like these, you are not fully alive. But there has to be something beyond despair too; or rather, something that accompanies it, like a companion on the road. This is my approach, right now. It is, I suppose, the development of a personal philosophy for a dark time: a dark ecology. None of it is going to save the world—but then there is no saving the world, and the ones who say there is are the ones you need to save it from.

 

LOCAL NEWS

SEEK has been working on the Compass indicators N nature E economy S society W wellbeing and its interesting every week to view the newspaper articles in reference to these issues.

www.myseek.org

www.thephuketnews.com

 

Phuket Green Island : Alert

Phuket’s high season is upon us, yet a litter and trash crisis persists with increasing waste volumes.

The Promotion of Phuket Green island with the goals of a sustainable, low carbon island strengthened in 2012 as local government, private businesses and individuals worked together to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

We are facing a crisis of over capacity and many decades of over exploitation, natural area degradation and need to aggressively pursue short and long term goals to ensure Phuket is sustainable long term.

 

N Nature

E Economy

S Society

W Wellbeing

INTERNATIONAL GREEN NEWS

DOLPHINS

Dolphin hunters this week slaughtered nearly 150 Risso dolphins and pilot whales in the Cove at Taijii following 60 slaughtered last Friday. The dolphins put up an incredible fight and ended up herded, exhausted, frightened and worse about to be imprisoned or slaughtered. Stop the slaughter and captivity of dolphins.

 

Nearly 1,000 cetaceans have been driven into the Cove since Sept. 1, as part of an established season quota of 2,089 animals.

 

David Attenborough

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/oct/25/climate-change-david-attenborough?intcmp=122

Japanese Whaling Fleet

The Australian government said it has lodged a protest with Tokyo after part of the Japanese whaling fleet entered its exclusive economic zone in the Southern Ocean near Macquarie Island.

Canberra is strongly opposed to whaling and launched legal action challenging the basis of Japan’s so-called “scientific” hunt in December 2010.

The Japanese fleet left for the Southern Ocean in late December, planning to catch up to 935 Antarctic minke whales and up to 50 fin whales and the Shonan Maru No.2 has strayed into Australian territory.

“The government strongly objects to whaling vessels passing through Australian territorial seas or our exclusive economic zone,” Environment Minister Tony Burke said late Thursday.

“Australia has made it clear to Japan on a number of occasions that vessels associated with its whaling programme are not welcome in Australia’s exclusive economic zone or territorial sea.

“Our embassy in Tokyo has conveyed these sentiments directly to the Japanese government,” he added.

Japan claims it conducts vital scientific research using a loophole in an international ban on whaling, but makes no secret of the fact that the animals ultimately end up on dinner plates.

Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd is again tracking the Japanese fleet, with the militant environmentalist’s ships having left from Australia.

On Wednesday, Sea Shepherd said it had located the harpoon ship Yushin Maru No. 3 at a relatively northern latitude and they were tailing the fleet.

Bob Brown, the founder of Australia’s Greens party who assumed leadership of the anti-whaling campaign from fugitive Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson earlier this month, praised Canberra for raising the incursion with Tokyo.

“This vessel has armed personnel aboard,” Brown said in a statement.

“It is an affront to Australia that it is entering our territorial waters surrounding the World Heritage-listed Macquarie Island, which is part of Tasmania.”

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asia/333775/japan-blasted-after-whaling-ship-enters-australian-waters

First steps…..

THE FIRST STEP

  • BE AWARE

STEP TWO: ACTION

  • Reflect, think about your actions, refuse single use plastic bags, straws & polystyrene

  • Reduce, your waste, reduce energy use

  • Reuse what you can, including composting

  • Recycle as much of what’s left

  • Responsibility, to our planet

 

STEP THREE: FIND YOUR VOICE

  • Re-tweet, tell others

 

Our world is at a fork in the road, at a crossroads and is for you to decide.

The loss of the enormous contribution of fossil fuels means that the total amount of energy available to humanity by the end of the century may be less than one fifth of the amount we use now, and less that one sixth the amount we will use at our energy peak a decade from now…

The advance of science has enabled us to measure our impact upon the planet with increasing precision, so why are we ignoring all the science? Will our intelligence in the end count for nothing? Are we destined — like the elephants, tigers, and rhinos — for extinction? Are we to become the ultimate victim of our own success? And, if so, when the last human falls, centuries or millennia hence, will there be anyone there to hear it?

SURVIVAL

 

EXTINCTION

 

SEEK, for a better world.

www.myseek.org

 

NEWS reviewed in the show were from retweets by indigonick

 

Nick Anthony

nick@indigoRE.com

 

All information is used as reference only and sources identified as above.

All news items featured on the show are retweets taken from Twitter, under user name indigonick or view at www.myseek.org in the twitter box.

 

 

 

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