Tag Archives: conservation

Saving the planet

When I hear people talking about saving the planet, I worry. Certainly there’s a great deal that must be changed if we are to survive as a species and not take even more of our fellow creatures down with us. However, we do not need to save the plant. We need to stop harming the planet. For me, it’s an important difference.

Imagine a scenario in which you have left a person tied up inside a building you have set fire to. You run back in time to ‘save’ them. This is the kind of ‘saving’ we are talking about when we talk about saving the planet. We urgently need to recognise that we are the ones who have caused the problems in the first place. If we stopped tying life to metaphorical chairs and setting fire to our actual home and habitat, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

We’re good at taking human agency out of the conversation. We talk about pollution, not the fact that humans are polluting the earth, air and water. We talk about extinction, not the fact that human activity is directly responsible for killing many of our fellow life forms. Terms like environmental degradation, habitat loss, deforestation, climate change, conservation, emissions – these words and many others like them all have one thing in common. There’s no direct reference to human activity here. We talk about all of these things as though they are things that are happening, not things we are causing. This in turn helps us ignore our personal and collective responsibility.

It would be nice to save the planet, wouldn’t it? But we’re not superheroes, we can’t ask huge things like that of ourselves and actually expect it to work.

If we talked instead about stopping trashing the planet, we might notice our own involvement in what’s wrong. Stop causing pollution. Stop cutting down trees. Stop killing other creatures. Stop dumping our crap in the oceans. It all has a very different ring to it – one that foregrounds the harm we do and our responsibility to do differently.

We need to stop talking about saving the planet, and start speaking in a way that recognises exactly what’s causing the problems in the first place.


Vote for the Conservation of the Glorieta Stream

© Jesús Ortiz

Guest blog by Adam Brough, a member of CEN   CEN is an association in Tarragona, Spain working for the conservation and improvement of habitats and biodiversity.

One of our projects is the conservation of the Glorieta Stream, which became a finalist in the category of Alpine projects, and could receive support from EOCA. But this depends on a public vote accessible to anyone over the Internet.   The aim of CEN’s proposal for the Glorieta “is to guarantee the long term conservation of the Glorieta stream headwaters. The site is protected by the Natura 2000 Network of the Prades Mountains. The deep pools, long waterfalls, and turquoise waters are admired by thousands every year, including those that come specifically to hike and canyon. The area is rich in endangered species such as the white clawed crayfish, red tailed barbell and white throated dipper. The main threats are the increasing numbers of visitors, litter, graffiti and damage caused by visitors, and exotic invasive plant and animal species. Through CEN, this project will organise several clean up events, remove invasive species and raise awareness amongst local schools and businesses about the importance of the area. It will also negotiate with groups to regulate canyoning and fence off the most sensitive areas and highlight ‘safe’ routes and responsible behaviour.”

To vote for and get more information about the Glorieta stream visit this page: http://www.assoc-cen.org/Glorieta_eng.php

To get more people voting we ask that you pass this on to friends, family and other contacts through email, social networking sights, blogs, etc.. Thanks!

About EOCA’s project voting: http://outdoorconservation.eu/project-info.cfm?pageid=19   About CEN: “The association for the Conservation of Natural Ecosystems (CEN) is a non-profit organisation, whose objective is to work for the improvement and conservation of habitats and biodiversity. “…the CEN association develops projects to study and conserve natural ecosystems and makes a serious effort to raise the awareness of citizens of the necessity to respect the environment.” More information can be found on their website, in English here: http://www.assoc-cen.org/index_eng.php   Adam Brough is a British expat living in Spain. He’s always been interested in nature conservation from a young age, studying it in Sussex, England. As well as being a volunteer and board member of CEN, he lives and works in a private ecological project, Biosfera2030. He is a member of OBOD, studies psychosynthesis and ecopsychology, and regularly writes about his life and reflection in his blog, Druid in Training: http://www.druidintraining.wordpress.com/

 

If you are able to reblog this, please do as there aren’t many days left to get the word around.


Floating Madness

Last week there was a blog on Autumn Barlow’s site about the things British Waterways do around boat licensing. I live on a boat, and I’ve spent the last week wondering how much to say openly. So here goes…  I do not like what I see when it comes to BW and their attitude to people who live on boats and I do not think they interpret the law fairly. I also believe that there is a conflict of interests issue here, and that people who benefit financially from a system should not be allowed to police said system as well.

My situation is this. I am paying for a permanent mooring for my boat because British Waterways have told me that I must do so to comply with the laws. I have always moved my boat in accordance with the law, but the rules are vague, and their interpretation is not the same as mine. However, if I used the mooring I’ve been obliged to pay for, I would be breaking the law.

Let me explain. There are no available moorings on this canal that have planning permission to be used residentially. All we have are leisure moorings where people can leave hobby boats when not in use. You can live on residential moorings, legally, all the time, you pay council tax and everything. But we don’t have any of those. So in essence I have been told that I am legally required to pay for something that I cannot use, and do not want.

The only way to go up against this, would be to refuse to take a permanent mooring and wait for British Waterways to take me to court, and then slog it out. Or in other words, my only other option is to gamble with my home, because if I lost, I would lose my home. As I have a child, there is no way I am going to risk his physical or emotional security, so I’m paying up.

I do wonder what’s going to happen when British Waterways becomes The Canal and River Trust. British Waterways has made people homeless in the past and, to my knowledge, has threatened a lot more people with homelessness, threatened to take boats out of the water, and encouraged people who live on boats to seek council housing instead. These are people who own their boats and who live far more independently than they would in a council house scenario, at a time when the system is over burdened anyway. Making that entirely crazy.

In these hard financial times, are people going to put their hands into their pockets to support a charity that spends time and money taking people to court, and making them homeless? To my mind, that is absolutely in conflict with the nature of charity. I’d bet I won’t be alone in thinking that.

With my Druid hat on, the whole scenario raises a lot of issues for me. The Canal and River Trust will be responsible for canals and rivers. That’s a great deal of our water supply and watery infrastructure. It’s a huge environmental consideration as well as covering a lot of heritage and history. For me, there’s a spiritual aspect to the rivers as well. These are things I want to see protected, and things I care about passionately. Personal issues aside, there’s a huge moral dilemma for me here. I want to support the environmental and heritage angle of the Canals and Rivers Trust. But at the same time, I also care about human rights issues. I’m conscious that by speaking up about the treatment of boaters, if I succeed in drawing attention, I will be undermining a charity that should be doing work I believe in. But I want to support a charity that spends money on restoration and conservation, not one that pays people to monitor the movement of boats, and spends money on harassing people, no matter what the legal justification is. To the best of my knowledge, the enforcement department at British Waterways is talking like it expects to be part of the charitable trust.

Laws should be fair and reasonable, complying with one should not push you into breaking another. No one should have to pay for something that they cannot use, that’s just nuts. The breaking of laws and the enforcement of laws is, in my opinion, the business of the police, and not the proper work of a charity. Those who benefit financially if allowed to interpret the laws unchecked, should never be given the power to police the system. There should be no victimless crimes, and how far a boat moves really makes no difference to anyone so long as it moves often and far enough not to violate planning laws. Under no circumstances should a charity be working to make a person homeless. The whole system needs cleaning up.