Friday, 19 February 2010

Gno to the gnostics - Third Sector
by Rosamund McCarthy

This is an article in Third Sector Magazine of 2nd February. I find it a compelling argument, rational, and very elegantly written. Anyone who despairs of understanding how evangelical missionaries etc can be deemed charitable should read. It's relevant to conservation, when the amount of charitable giving to conservation is compared with the amount given to faith organisation. Worth a read.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The God Delusion

Over a Christmas drink one of my neighbours, stimulated by seeing the faithful going to church on Christmas eve, made an interesting point, which distinguished 'believers' from 'non-believers'.

Non-believers often have very fulfilling lives, and at the end of their life can look back and think they may or may not have done something useful, creative or productive. But what about all those believers, from the pope downwards, who devote their lives to the service of what many of us think of as a delusion? If we are right and they are wrong, then a large part of their entire life has been wasted on a futile gesture (Even one hour a week in church adds up to the equivalent of about a year of ones life). At least the non-believers don't have this worry; doesn't this every bother them? And perhaps this is a major hindrance to wildlife conservation, and also why so many conservationists are non-believers (I include atheists, agnostics and anti-theists in this category). A Non-believer cannot just sit and pray that god will sort it all out, a non-believer is more likely to think that he or she must get on and do something. It would be an interesting area for reasearch.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Christmas is coming and the Goat is getting fat

Regular readers will know my views on goats, and will also know that there has been a massive drought and die off of domestic lo]ivestock in East Africa. Any details of what is happening, plus your views will be very welcome, as I am planning to write more on this subject.

Another week goes by....

My blogs are getting fewer and fewer. And for those that read them my apologies. However, the reason is that the World Land Trust is getting busier and busier. Despite the recession, we are getting more and more companies wanting to support us. I have mentioned this several times already, but it is still true. The current interest is clearly influence by the up and coming discussions in Copenhagen relating to Climate Change, and carbon offsetting. However, I think we are all missing one major issue, which is only faintly heard in the background. The 'elephant in the room' is the human population. Recent predictions indicate that the UK's population is going to grow to an unsustainable 70 million or more. But this is insignificant compared with the predictions for other parts of the world.

As far as I am concerned there are two over-riding priorities for conservation: first save as much of the world's natural habitats as possible, and second support any initiative that addresses the human population crisis. Everything else pales into insignificance by comparison. This is not to say that the myriad other conservation activities are not worthwhile, but without natural habitat in the future, captive breeding, research etc are all futile.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Copehagen and human population

The Copenhagen meetings did not focus on the one issue that drives our demand for fossil fuels and results in all the CO2. That is human population growth.

If I was trying to be controversial, I might suggest that far from trying to conserve energy and trying to develop renewable sources of energy we should be opposing these changes. Why? Because increasing the energy supply and keeping prices down will simply allow the human population to carry on increasing. How? Because cheap energy allows food to be grown in an otherwise unsustainable way, and that in turn will slow down the rate of human mortality from malnutrition (one estimate I read was that 18 million deaths a year are related to malnutrition, and that figure is probably rising). A cynical view, perhaps. But realistic from a biological perspective. Read Malthus if you are not convinced

However one looks at it, the human population cannot continue to increase indefinitely. Nor can economic growth be sustained indefinitely. History is bound to repeat itself, and in the past numerous civilizations have over-reached their resources, and crashed. It is bound to happen again. To me that is as certain as death and taxes. For millennia famine, disease and war have been a natural part of the human population control mechanism. And if they are repressed for too long then eventually they re-appear with catastrophic results. History teaches that very basic lesson, which Malthus understood all too clearly. And it will happen again, unless an alternative method of population control is implemented.

Britain is set to have a population of over 70 million, all squezzed into an area of less than 94,000 square miles, or just over 60 million acres. With large areas unsuitable for farming, and with so much of the prime agricultural land now covered with roads, buildings and other infrastructure, there is considerably less than a quarter of an acre per person for growing food. Clearly unsustainable -- and yet this is presumably the lifestyle that is being advocated for the so called less developed countries.

It is time for a wake-up call. The British government still subsidises children, millions of pounds are spent on infertility treatments, at a time when a significant decrease in the human population is essential in the medium term, if not in the short term. And in the long term, without population control, nature will intervene.

Meanwhile, every 11 seconds another person (net) is added to the population of the USA -- one of the most energy hungry nations in the world. That's nearly 3 million a year, all demanding economic growth and masses of cheap energy.

The politicians were certainly fiddling while Copehagen was burning.....

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Water, water everywhere

The Fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square was used by a student from Ipswich to highlight water awareness. Dressed as a toilet, he carried a placard stating that "water and sanitation are human rights". PR from Water Aid, the charity backing him claimed that 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation. Presumably this implies that everyone has a right to a flush toilet.

A great idea, But has anyone actually given any thought as to where all the water for this human right will come from? Or where all the toilet paper that will be flushed down these toilets will come from? Or where all the effluent will go? Like so many of the quick fix solutions to world poverty being inflicted on the less developed world, virtually no thought is given to the environmental impacts. I have tried to gather data on this topic, and would be really interested to see copies of any correspondence relating to EIAs [Environmental Impact Assessments]; I know for a fact that many aid charities do not carry them out, so it is always worth writing to charities to find out if they carry them out, and with what results. What is the Environmental impact of changing traditional farming methods to 'improved' western technology? What is the environmental impact of using artificial fertilisers, pesticides? What is the environmental impact of deep boreholes for water?

I do not have a problem with emergency aid, following natural or even man-made disasters, but long-term, so called development aid, is often ill thought out, with little or no thought about the long-term environmental consequences. And providing water for everyone to use with western style profligacy is one of the biggest potential disasters I can think of. Meanwhile, we at the World Land Trust are working with several of our partner NGOs, to conserve watersheds. They are just as important as the tropical forests that often grow around them.

Is a flush toilet a basic human right or is it a luxury?

Friday, 9 October 2009

Cats. Betes Noir & Wildlife

This says it all.

And the current issue of the American Bird Conservancy magazine says a bit more