By Guy Dauncey
There are massive forest fires in Siberia. Greenland’s melting is accelerating. Record heatwaves are roasting Europe. The world’s insects are dying off. The scary news keeps accumulating.
We are living on the edge of an emergency that is just getting started, and climate is only the half of it. There’s also an ecological emergency. How are we to respond? It’s easy to slip into complacency, or to be overcome by fear, followed by a sense of impotence. You know the crises are real, but the children are coming to visit, there’s a holiday to plan, and don’t get me started on the problems we’re having at work.
The first step to end complacency and neutralize fear is to put the crisis on your weekly to-do list:
- Weed the garden
- Visit your friend in hospital
- Sign the kids up for karate/soccer/piano/dancing lessons
- Do something to tackle the climate and ecological crises
Continue reading The Climate and Ecological Emergencies – What Can We Do?
by Guy Dauncey
In September 2018, the Paris-based Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) published a report on An agro-ecological Europe by 2050: Multifunctional Agriculture for Healthy Eating, in which the authors found that a fully agro-ecological Europe could sustainably feed 530 million Europeans by 2050.
In his fascinating new book Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food, Timothy Wise, who is senior research at the Small Planet Institute, comes to very similar conclusions for countries like Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.
I have captured the possibility of an agro-ecological future and compared it to the current reality in these two diagrams. They are too big to display, so click on each phrase below to see the full diagrams:
by Guy Dauncey
June 2019. The summer days bring exquisite shades of green. The bees are out, the ants rush around, and the wind rustles quietly in the tops of the trees. A fresh-baked rhubarb sponge cake sits on the kitchen counter. Life is sensuous, beautiful, and quite frankly, exquisite. Tiny mauve butterflies flit in and out of the flowers.
And then Cassandra arrives, she of the noble Greek ancestry, admired by the god Apollo, she with the golden locks and the long white flowing dress, reading from her list of warnings:
“One million species facing extinction, UN Report finds.”
“Plummeting insect numbers threaten collapse of nature.”
“By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s the oceans.”
“Do you need more?” she asks, then continues. Her eyes carry sorrow. Continue reading The Tears of Cassandra
For 200 years, students have been urged to learn the 3 R’s of reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. In recent years, thinkers of various political persuasions have proposed adding a fourth R including running, relationships, religion, race, rithms (for algorithms), respect, road safety, ritalin, rifle-shooting, revolvers and (appropriately) resuscitation.
There is another 4th R that is even more essential if we are to survive the 21st century. It is the knowledge of ecology, of how our planet works, and how to regenerate healthy ecosystems from the atmosphere and the rainforests to the microbiomes in our own guts.
Profound ecological ignorance
Continue reading Reading, Riting, Rithmetic – and Regeneration
It cools us in the summer, it warms our hearts all year,
It provides a home for owls and flowers, for herons, cedars, fir.
It shapes the landscape, painting peace, away from the urban rush,
It protects our water all year round, surrendering it clear and fresh.
In Japanese, the word shinrin means forest and yoku means bath, so shinrin-yoku means ‘forest bath’: being immersed in the forest with all our senses. Listening to its quietness, seeing the variety of trees, mosses, lichens and rocks, tasting the air as you breathe in deeply, touching the rough Douglas fir and the smooth red arbutus, going barefoot across the earth, dipping your feet in a forest stream, lying down to gaze up at its beauty. Such bathing brings healing to the body, heart, mind and soul. Continue reading Protecting the Coastal Douglas Fir Forest: Seven Practical Solutions
by Guy Dauncey, February 2nd, 2018
If you want to see what this EcoRenaissance looks like on the ground, click HERE.
Until a thing has a name, it doesn’t really exist
I can feel this future. I have written a novel about it. I love its colour and vibrancy, its harmony with Nature. But what is its name?
One of the realities of the spoken language is that until a thing has a name, it doesn’t really exist. When we want to create something, we name it.
The feeling that comes to mind is one of Renaissance – the birth of a new vision, the promise of a new future. The Renaissance that was seeded in the 13th century and blossomed into glory in the 15th and sixteenth centuries filled people’s hearts, souls and minds with art, imagination and ideas. It took inspiration from the rediscovered science, art and philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome. It made souls take flight, washing away the dull dogmatism and cruel muddy feudalism of a world where nothing much changed except by disease, disorder and death.
Continue reading Let Us Create An EcoRenaissance
To dam, or not to dam: that is the question,
whether tis nobler to suffer
the loss of farmland and First Nations rights by powerful flooding,
or, by solar, wind and conservation, geothermal too,
to craft another path to the energy we’ll need
and save the land for growing food and flowing water,
under the peaceful sky.
– Guy Dauncey, January 2018
Sometimes it seems as if those who care about Nature stand on guard around the edge of a huge circular Blob known as ‘The Economy’, which keeps growing and encroaching onto Nature. We organize to prevent its advance against creeks, rivers, forests and wetlands. We try to stop it from shooting out new pipelines, digging new coalmines, pouring more carbon into the atmosphere and introducing new chemicals into our food.
Sometimes we are successful and The Blob backs off, which happened with the proposed Raven coalmine near Courtenay. But just as often we are not, as the ecological wreckage of the private forest lands on the Island shows, and when The Blob assaults Nature in a distant country such as Indonesia, destroying native hardwood forests, home for millions of years to families of orangutans and other creatures, replacing them with palm oil trees for the global biofuel market.
Continue reading The Blob: Can We Change its Heart, Before it Destroys Us All?
by Guy Dauncey
Growing up in southern England and Wales, we always lived close to the woods, streams, and hills of the nearby countryside. The towns were built to be dense and tight, so it was relatively easy to walk out of the buildings and away from traffic into a land of kingfishers, beech trees, and marsh marigolds. It was “smart growth” before anyone had invented the term.
Today, I live in a clearing with a small, organic nursery in a recovering, second-growth forest, just north of Victoria. On a typical winter day, we see ravens, tree frogs, a Cooper’s hawk, hummingbirds, blue jays, and woodpeckers, as well as worms, spiders, and a host of smaller birds. And, of course, the forest.
In the August 6 2005 issue of New Scientist, Joan Maloof, a biology professor at Salisbury University in Maryland, describes how the Japanese have a word to describe the particular air of a forest. They call it “wood-air bathing.” Maloof writes: “Japanese researchers have discovered that when diabetic patients walk through the forest, their blood sugar drops to healthier levels. Entire symposiums have been held on the benefits of wood-air bathing and walking.”
I’m able to enjoy shinrin-yoku all the time, but for those who live in concrete canyons, amidst a soundscape of car alarms and sirens, instead of the croak of frogs and the wind, it has become a distant experience. Continue reading Healing in the Natural World