Episode 328. Adapted to Current Conditions

This is The ChangeUnderground for the 20th of February 2023.

I’m your host, Jon Moore

Decarbonise the Air, Recarbonise the Soil!

Ukrainian Orchardist

I heard a great podcast clip today and I recommend you have a listen, link in the show notes. It was an interview with a Ukrainian orchardist. Asked about how he was doing his response was a laconic: We have adapted to current conditions.

When probed a little further these ‘current conditions’ were as follows.

They work in the orchard until they hear an air raid warning when they pile into their bunkers. Once the raid is over a local military detachment inspects the orchard for unexploded ordnance. If none, back to work, if not clear, a UXO team comes in, detonates the material in a safe manner and work resumes.

Now this sounds like an unpleasant way to farm but wow. It turns out these air raids can occur every couple of weeks or several times a day. 

I’m not sure about you, listener, but my life is pretty good by comparison. People have a way dealing with whatever is thrown at them in ways that never cease to amaze me. And as the interviewee said on the clip, they have to keep working the orchard even though they didn’t harvest any fruit this year and let it be known anyone could help themselves, they have to stay in business as they are the only employer in their district. 

I think it will be that human spirit that gets us through the next couple of decades as we work through a decarbonising world. Things are going to get worse, even with a 1.5 degree rise in global temperatures. People are going to have their lives upended as farming practices change, either by choice or mandate, over the coming years. 

Need for a Different Approach

I heard another interview this week and I just can’t find the podcast I was listening to but if I do I’ll update the show notes. In this interview the guest was talking about how the word “anthropocene” was just any way for people to think the climate crisis was their own personal responsibility when the real culprits were governments and corporations. 

Not a Marxist interpretation, thankfully, I lived through most of the Cold War and listened to, because it was unlike anything else I could listen to, the Cultural Revolution of a late relative’s huge, old, valve driven, shortwave radio. The gist of that experience reminds of much of the rhetoric coming from the other end of the political spectrum nowadays. Cycles I guess. 

Anyway, this fella was suggesting that governments receiving donations from corporations to ensure legislative frameworks for those corporations to continue doing what they have been means no amount of recycling, purchases of organic produce or refusal to use single use plastic will make a jot of a difference to the Climate Crisis. His argument was that we need to redirect corporate aims from shareholder value to, to paraphrase: decarbonising the air and recarbonising the soil.

Government Shennaigans

This isn’t going to be easy, even in societies where citizens can express their democratic will. But he argues it can be done. The eight hour day was going to ruin business, ending child labour likewise and yet here we are. Make no mistake, those who are threatened will retaliate. We had a “super profits” tax introduced here in Oz during the mining boom of the late naughties and the billionaire miners unleashed hell on the governing party to such an extent they buckled, were eventually replaced by a rabid conservative government, a member of whom brought a lump of coal into the parliament to show how “safe” it was. It got worse, that clown ended up as Prime Minister just the most severe consequences, so far, of burning coal hit the country during the Black Summer bushfires. You’ll not be surprised to learn that that particular PM decided he should take a holiday with his family in Hawaii during that time. He then threw money at his corporate mates and donors during the COVID thing whilst leaving Universities to sack staff. When we finally voted the bum out, he decided he’d give his first speech after losing in a landslide to Margaret Court’s prosperity gospel church where he stated, and I couldn’t make this up, he stated: I’ve never believed in government. Apparently we end up with the politicians we deserve but really???

You see the difficulty we face when attempting to drive change through a parliament. The replacement government, the left of centre Labor Party, is beholden to the coal mining, well, all mining unions for both funding and historical reasons.

Things have improved, as in, this current government recognises there is a climate crisis but things move slowly too slowly. How any change is possible under authoritarian regimes is almost beyond me.

As ever, my go to move is to grow our own food and encourage everyone else to do so too. As weather events are likely to spiral into greater extremes than we have experienced in the last 100 years or so and to do this with increasing frequency, we need to build safety nets into our lives, our communities, our districts and our countries. 

Avian Flu

As we discussed back in Episode 310. Avian Flu and Food Security, there appears to be a rise in the number of Avian Flu cases around Europe. Worryingly, sea lions, that is a mammal species, have also tested positive. The good news is they appear to have become infected by eating sick birds rather than transmission from mammal to mammal but let’s remember that’s just a matter of mutation and sufficient exposure to a susceptible population to have us heading into another pandemic. And flu was the one most governments had done their modelling on. 

Safety Net

Have a safety net people, as much you possibly can. 2019 to the present have provided ample examples of Black Swan events, to the point where a month where nothing seems to happen has me a little on edge. Stay resilient, open minded and ride the waves, or the turbulence or the corners, whichever speaks to you.

The ChangeUnderground Academy no-dig gardening course is still available. Link in the show notes. Please tell your friends! 

Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!

Thank you all for listening and I’ll be back, all things being equal, next week.



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Episode 310. Avian Flu and Food Security


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