Hot images just in from cool new blog: naturesdaydream
[NOTE TO READER: for some reason (possibly their revolutionary content) the great eco-corporate Sony has deemed these videos to be restricted access (nice move Sony, you assholes). To get the full effect open the tunes in a new window. : ) ]
The first CD album I ever bought was Emergency on Planet Earth the debut album of Jamiroquai. I was blown away, not just by the wicked tunes and musical groove but by the uncompromising, switched-on message. Undoubtably this album had a profound impact on my 13-year-old mind. There is an emergency on planet earth and these dudes have made a whole album about it!
Remember how good this one is:
Yeah baby! But wait a second… check out this mother… it’s even better!
This was in 1993! This cat was way ahead of his time! But then something went terribly wrong…
After becoming a multimillionaire popstar, Jay Kay was lured to the Darkside. In particular he became fascinated with the power of long dead organisms, released with fury in the internal combustion engines of his supercars. The fossil fuel fumes must have done something to his brain because since then he is often seen in London, off his nut, getting noticed for all the wrong reasons.
Jay Kay… what happened? Come back to planet earth! We need you now more than ever!
Coolest opening of any tune? Didgin’ Out (I used to repeat the first 5 seconds repeatedly)
For more sweet eco tunes… check out: http://ecohustler.co.uk/top-10-eco-tunes-of-all-time-ever-for-now/
Many thanks to Francesca and her team at The Green Belt Movement for sending in this update from Kenya in time for Valentine’s Day. Original article here. Please remember whatever you buy for V day has an impact on our world. If love is your main gift check yourself before you buy.
Red roses have become the quintessential symbol of love. This Valentine’s Day, boyfriends, husbands and lovers alike will flock to their local flower store to buy a dozen red roses – supposedly an embodiment of their love, passion and commitment.
Thousands of miles away, people in Kenya face a different reality on the 14th of February. It’s not one of e-cards and chocolates but an effect of globalization – a side effect of so called ‘free-market’ capitalism that many are not aware of.
One in three roses sold this Valentine’s Day in the UK will be from Kenya. Despite the 4,600 miles travel, Kenyan flowers are often the cheapest; a dozen Kenyan red roses are as little as £2.99 or £4.99. Yet these prices do not reflect the social and environmental costs.
Nearly 75% of Kenya’s horticultural exports are a product of the cut flower industry around Lake Naivasha. It is economically important for Kenya being the second largest export after tourism. Lake Navaisha was once a quiet community best known in the UK for being the home of naturalist and wildlife preservationist Joy Adamson who wrote Born Free about Elsa the lioness; for being one of the 10 best sites for bird watching in the world; and for its abundant plant and animal life – hippos, giraffes and zebras to name a few.
Today giant green houses occupy the banks of the lake, which has wrecked its aesthetic value as well as changed the local culture. While Maasai cattle may still be found roaming the area, private property rights and division of their traditional range lands have dramatically decreased the spaces that they can graze and access to the lake for water has become a source of conflict.
A new culture has been brought to the region that revolves around global capitalism and international trade. Lake Navaisha’s flower industry began in the 1980s and grew rapidly in the 1990s as European companies flew in to exploit the desirable growing conditions and year round temperate temperatures and seemingly abundant water supplies. The hundreds of thousands of pounds of flowers grown annually are picked in the morning and arrive in British shops by the evening.
The economic boom of the horticultural market has led to a dramatic increase in the local population. In 1969, 27,000 people lived in the surrounding areas and today that number has jumped to nearly 300,000. A direct result of Lake Naivasha’s industry is overcrowding of both people and businesses creating social and environmental instability.
Water levels in Lake Naivasha have fallen as a result of the flower industries that directly pump water from the lake to the green houses. The lake is currently being drained faster than it can be replenished. Erastus Mureithi, the chairman of the Kenya Flowers Council, says that small-scale flower farmers are likely to be banned from withdrawing water from the lake. Without the involvement of the major (non kenyan) flower companies, this move appears to be more of a public relations stunt than a solution to the environmental problems of Lake Navaisha.
Furthermore, the once clear waters of Lake Navaisha are now mucky and brown as a result of the rapid clearing of trees for agricultural production. This problem is not unique to Naivasha. Rapid removal of indigenous tree species around the country and particularly in water catchment areas has led to major siltation problems and has dried up rivers and threatened lakes.
Operating with these unsustainable methods will certainly result in the disappearance of Lake Naivasha and the further decline in the traditional livelihoods of the surrounding communities – a travesty that can be stopped.
In order to curb environmental degradation, organizations, such as the Green Belt Movement, are working at local, national and international levels. The Green Belt Movement has planted over 40 million trees in Kenya and works with communities who live in the uplands above Lake Naivasha to protect the watershed to empowers communities with the skills to think and act sustainably. However the issues surrounding the lake its self and access remain complex and sensitive.
Its founder, Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai, said in her keynote speech at the launch of the United Nations’ International Year of Forest on February 2nd that “It is not that we do not know. None of us can claim ignorance. We know what to do. Much information is out there.”
Let’s not claim ignorance this Valentine’s Day. Instead of playing a part in promoting the side effects of capitalism, think sustainably. Lets do as Wangari would do and plant a tree–a symbol of your love that will last for a very long time. As Wangari always likes to say:
“I cannot live without the green trees and nor can you”
Valentine’s Day is the culturally appointed moment when we affirm our love and appreciation for our partner. En mass we get amorous and consummate our passion. Naturally capitalism feasts on this kind of mass behaviour. In today’s world Valentine’s Day comes with a price tag and the costs are not just financial.
Many of the things marketed to us come with unpleasant impacts that we may not be aware of. By causing harm elsewhere these gifts dent our karma and unbeknownst to us muffle our mojo. Buying imported Kenyan roses, any kind of disposable tat or, god help us all, a diamond, actually reduces the total amount of love in the world. Is this what you want!? If it isn’t… avoid the dodge and go with the natural, free and sexy alternatives listed below.
The mile high club is for irresponsible yuppies. The cool kids are getting down and dirty 45m below sea level. A secret and fruity underground society has been spicing up European travel with sexy visits to the water closet while hurtling under the channel tunnel. Is our fast track to the world’s most romantic city fast becoming a giant Tunnel of Love?
The era of mass short haul air travel is coming to an end. Even if it were not for climate change the level of security has now made moving through airports almost as bad as a visit to Dubai. You have to give it a wide berth! Anyway, for us in the UK there really is no need to fly apart from the occasional long haul (if it is highly important).
The Channel Tunnel has opened up the whole of Europe to the British low carbon traveller. Within a day you can reach the slopes of the Alps, the beaches of the Mediterranean and all the other sweet things continental Europe has to offer. For the more adventurous a ferry from Marseille opens up North Africa.
People assume that flying will be quicker but actually the door-to-do time can be similar for trips to the Alps and the Med but the time is far better spent on a train. Reading a book, with the world rushing by outside the window is pure bliss. There is far more leg room and opportunities to stretch. The air is clean and at boarding there is far less standing around like a dejected farm animal awaiting castration.
Now that the UK’s young, aspirational intelligensia are making use of the Eurostar for romantic breaks to Paris (or further afield) it was only a matter of time before a select new club would form. You’ve done it in a plane, you’ve done it in the back of a church, you’ve done it at your Gran’s… now it’s time to do it hurtling at 200mph through the channel tunnel 45 metres below sea level.
EcoHustler is diligent about staying ahead of the curve and maintaining thorough research so that all information on this site is cutting edge and absolutely verifiable. We had to know if this mysterious club existed; what membership really entailed and any other grizzly details that could be uncovered. Return tickets to the not-so-gay Paris were purchased. A couple of nights booked in a sweet little hotel in Montmartre overlooking the red light district. Then I simply had to call on my trusty side kick, the beautiful and daring Ms A. Minx to come along for the ride.
It wasn’t until the yawning cavern of the Channel Tunnel approached that I began to explain the true nature of the mission to Ms A. Minx. She was stunned to learn of the 45 m underground club and shared my desire to find out more. I proposed an undercover research mission. Did she consent? Your damn right she did! The EcoHustler is now a member of both the mile high club and the 45 m underground club and I can tell you which one I am more proud of joining.
Occasionally life can get monotonous and we need thrills, spills and vacations. As Eurostar and this fruity little club are clearly revealing you can now get what your heart desires for a minimum carbon footprint. So the next time you need a romantic break head to Paris and join the 45 m undergrouns club. Any members are welcome to post word of their adventures below.
Here are some useful low carbon travel options:
How to travel by train or ship: Maybe you don’t like flying, or are concerned about air travel’s contribution to global warming. Or perhaps you just prefer real travel by train or ship, where the journey is part of the adventure… Either way, The Man in Seat Sixty-One will tell you how to travel overland comfortably & affordably where you might think that air was now the only option.
Eurostar: Join the 45 m Underground Club!
Lift Share: Find someone travelling your way so you can share your journey – saving money, cutting your carbon footprint and having fun!
What we buy and what we give has far more of an effect then we might think. Whilst all products have an ecological footprint impacting some part of the planet; some have dire, specific consequences for both ecological systems and people. Beef from the Amazon, palm oil products from South East Asia and farmed tropical prawns are well known examples. Less well known is that a massive surge in sales of cheap roses imported from Lake Naivasha in Kenya is ‘bleeding that country dry’ and drawing hundreds of thousands of people to the dusty edge of a rapidly retreating, once beautiful lake of regional ecological significance.
85% of all roses sold in the UK come from Kenya. Lake Naivasha’s cut flower industry amounts to nearly 75% of the countries horticultural exports. In 2008, 93,000 tonnes of flowers were exported. About 97% of exports are to the EU. The following year President Mwai Kibaki’s government warned that nearly 10 million people – more than a quarter of the population – were at risk from food shortages.
The rapid growth of this industry in a unique and biodiverse ecosystem has had disastrous consequences. The lake’s water level has dropped by three metres from its maximum and its surface area has shrunk to half its size. Precious wetlands have been degraded and wildlife no longer comes to drink at the crowded and polluted shores.
The cost for the people is terrible too. The international companies that extract the water (and money) and grow the roses have been repeatedly slammed for failing to protect workers. Hundreds at a time are sacked for trying to protect their rights. Workers are exposed to extremely harsh conditions but so many job seekers come in from the surrounding parched landscape that workers who complain are simply sacked and replaced. Finally the evil was exposed for what it was with the murder of a celebrated (68 year old, female) environmentalist, Joan Root, who tried to make a stand.
In the mean time, the international companies operating there extract ever more water, diverting it from agricultural production and its ecological purpose of sustaining the land. University of Leicester biologist and Earthwatch scientist Dr David Harper who has conducted research for over 25 years at Lake Naivasha: “Roses that come cheap are grown by companies that have no concern for the environment, who cut corners and avoid legislation, who sell their flowers into the auction in Amsterdam so that all the buyer knows is the flowers ‘come from Holland’. In reality, they have come from Kenya where the industry is – literally – draining that country dry.”
Food & Water Watch, in their report, Lake Naivasha: Withering under the Assault of International Flower Vendors, write: “I witnessed chemical spraying while people working nearby wore no protective gear…The pesticides applied on the farms and in the greenhouses eventually end up in Lake Naivasha and in the groundwater, threatening people and wildlife.”
This is scorched earth capitalism of the worst kind. These flower companies are making vast amounts of money, the majority of which will not return to Kenya, whist degrading the land. Once the lake is gone they will simply move to similar ecosystems in Ethiopia or elsewhere. They will leave a parched dust bowel reminiscent of the Aral Sea catastrophe, surrounded by dead animals and starving people staggering over the dying land.
The people who defend the import of roses from Kenya do so because they say it provides money and jobs to the local people. Floriculture is estimated to employ over 50,000 directly. However, the benefits are transient and superficial. The flower industry lobbyists are using a timescale so short as to be historically insignificant. At current rates of extraction the lake will be gone in 10 years. What will happen then to the 300,000 people who have been drawn to the shores? When the natural systems that support us goes, everything goes; including the economy. People will die. The economy that should be built around Lake Naivasha is a sustainable local one. By focusing on growing indigenous crops which require low levels of water people can be fed for generations and the lake can remain intact.
The evolution of capitalism has transformed us from beings to consumers. Working for money, and then spending it, is now central to our lives. Our transformation from life form to hungry ghost, mechanized consumers is writ large in the modern manifestation of our festivals. Pre- Christian Christmas celebrated nature by bringing a tree into the home. Then it was a celebration of the birth of Christ. Now it is the biggest consumer event of the year.
Many corporations now depend on the spending patterns of these festivals to exist. As such, much effort is exerted to compel consumers to conform to the requisite behaviours and spending patterns. This Valentine’s Day, as last, millions of brainwashed, randy young (mostly) men will obediently trot to their local supermarket and hand over hard earned cash to get the requisite 12 cheap, imported roses to prove their love to their target mate. Harmless fun you might think. Unfortunately not, as with all mindless consumption there is a cost born by the biosphere and externalized to another part of the world.
“This Valentine’s Day, it’s important that we finally stop these international operations from depleting the lake’s waters, poisoning the surrounding environment with pesticides, and exploiting workers. Unless we end this, these industrial floriculture factories will continue sowing the seeds of poverty, water deprivation, and environmental carnage.”
Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians
Inhabiting our vast megacities nature is far removed. Yet its resources are needed to supply our voracious, over-stimulated appetites. Our excessive consumption requires that in distant parts of the world forests are felled, lakes are drained and mountaintops removed. We can stroll in comfort on mahogany decking while the mighty forests of the world burn. As mass consumption becomes the norm around the world companies reach further and dig deeper to transform nature into products. The result is that natural systems everywhere are collapsing. Our eyes are blind to the fact that it is our pounds spent, our vote from the wallet that is destroying the natural world.
Ten thousand tons of roses bought in Britain for Valentine’s Day are imported from Lake Naivasha in Kenya. If your lover gives you roses you have to wonder whether the gift comes bundled with the blood of Africans and the death of an ecosystem.
It is no longer possible for educated people to claim ignorance; despite the media’s vested interest in helping to maintain the normal man and woman as obedient consumers. Stories constantly come through to us of extinctions, habitat loss and a dying biosphere. The penny must drop. The lines must connect. The neurones must grow between the synapses. It is us. We are doing this. We are harming the biosphere every time we buy something that is forced from nature. There is only one solution and that is to stop buying unessential consumer products. First stop; do not buy cheap imported roses on Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day does not have to be a consumerist nightmare with grave ecological and humanitarian consequences. Here are some sustainable gift alternatives for your lover:
Remember, we grow magnificent roses in this country. You just have to wait for the right season. So give your lover some other gift now and this summer you can stick a bunch of roses in her face, fill the bath with petals and generally live the rose scented dream. Just not in February and not with roses flown in from Kenya.