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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
Carbon dioxide may not be the culprit.

Submitted: May 12, 2019

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Submitted: May 12, 2019



Back in the late fifties, the history we were taught was mainly British history rather than our own. Anything about our own country began with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, as if there wasn’t any history before that. I didn’t think much about it then, but the law of our land was a carbon copy of British law, which is why we were taught how the laws came about. It was unfortunate that our own early history was sanitised, a reflection of British colonialism and the idea of your own country being ‘right’. What I remember most about law changes in Britain was that politicians enjoyed the status quo and any changes were fought for and forced on them through agitation from students and artisans. At the time I didn’t really know what an artisan was and I thought the students would be school kids, but it was university students and trades people who were the thinkers of the day who stood up for political emancipation and worker rights.

In the same way, young people mobilised and have recently marched on a global climate strike. It’s good to see today’s young standing up to effect change. Young Americans also marched in opposition of the lack of firearm control, but they will need to keep be determined and up the momentum because the government has no desire for change and will quickly sweep the issue under the carpet. The idea is to keep showing the mood of the up and coming generation because they will have the power of a vote soon, and an intelligent government will know that.

The current wave of unrest among young people at present is in response to the widespread concern of climate change, and the realisation that legislators aren’t doing enough to mitigate it. The debate is confusing with a lot of faith placed on computer models which may or may not be accurate, my cynical nature would have it that by selecting the data you input, you end up with the answer you’re looking for - either way. There is no doubt that our planet is in danger and therefore our young should be concerned, but the culprit is our way of life, our attitude and the pollution it creates, rather than carbon dioxide. Nobody really wants to address our way of life or our scandalous attitude to pollution. But in tackling these problems, we have to be aware, that whatever changes we make to mitigate anything to do with climate, pollution or our way of life, will have consequences. Banning all fossil fuels for instance would t impact on jobs and families, the same goes for banning the use of all plastics.

Allow me to take you back to my childhood. I used to bath and wash my hair once a week on Sunday evenings. During the week if my knees were muddy from playing rugby, they were washed. I don’t think deodorant or even smelly soap was invented for men, none was in our house anyway. My mother used Mum very sparingly because it was expensive and my sisters used perfumed talcum powder – talc came from ground up rock. My mother washed our clothes and bedsheets on Monday mornings, and we wore the same school clothes all week changing into ‘work’ clothes after school, which were also worn for the week. We didn’t notice any smells, maybe we did pong, but nobody else noticed because we were all in the same boat. If I had a sweater for going out that was coloured, I was lucky, few could afford to be fashionable.

So there’s something positive to do about pollution, lessen the use of the chemicals we use and wear to smell nice, all of which ends up in our waterways and into the atmosphere as pollution. Some of us shower twice a day! The same goes for the laundry detergent and fabric softer, because these days, most families launder their clothes daily. All those chemicals flow down our drains ending up in waterways, each of those fragrances, cosmetics, soaps and cleaning products combine to make a toxic soup. Imagine a whale taking a gulp of that! Even the containers that the products come in constitute rubbish and have to be disposed of, each with residue chemical in them. All will grace a landfill! We see Greenies march against the use of glyphosate and the chemical company, but you don’t see anyone marching against fragrance, or the companies that hide behind the term, ‘fragrance’.

Ah yes, landfill… One of the most detrimental things modern man has inflicted upon our habitat is food waste! Depending on who you listen to thirty to fifty percent of all food produced is wasted, with most of the waste ending up in landfills. Rotting food releases methane which is a far worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide will ever be! If food waste was a country, it would rate third behind China and USA as a world polluter. But that’s only the tip! No pun intended. The energy, resources and labour consumed in creating this waste another huge waste! This too is something all of us can alter, because we are all responsible, and hey if we eliminated food waste, our food bill would be halved!

Since my move into town, I walk around the neighbourhood and without thinking I see things – oh I smell every second house flushing their shampoo and shower gel into the water ways too! Anyway, we’ve there… The dream is different today, but in this fair land, the dream of every family was to own a house on a quarter acre section. The house was usually plonked in the centre of the plot and in the front part, a flower garden was established. The back area was for a lawn, a place for kids to play on and for a vegetable garden. Most had a vege garden! Today the quarter acre sections are still there, but few have flower gardens, with their demise, the insects have gone too. Instead of the flower garden there are easy-care stones or lawn, the lawn clippings are dumped in corners brewing methane. The vegetable garden at the back has been converted into lawn too, very few back yard vegetables are grown these days! Instead there are heaps of festering lawn clippings. Remaining fruit trees are surrounded by fallen, rotting fruit – my mother would have preserved it! Growing your own vegetable is a sustainable activity.

I recall my grandmother admonishing me as I entertained myself by switching a light on and off a few times. She told me that each time I flicked the switch, bang, there goes another shilling onto her bill! How many room are left unattended with a light on? Nowadays nearly everyone has access to a handheld device, many of which are used purely for entertainment. A cellphone uses about the same amount of energy in a year, as the average motor car uses in an hour, and there are an awful lot of handheld devices worldwide. It all equates to two percent of the world’s total energy production going to technology and communications, about the same amount as the world’s airline industry. Sobering? The heat generated by technology and communications industry is simply wasted, unrecoverable energy and where does it go?

Yes there is much more waste, much more pollution and many more questions with not enough answers.  The young people who marched have but scratched the surface, perhaps even barked up the wrong tree. Our system is one of profit above people and nature, a system that is unsustainable. To keep it habitable, we need to learn to live with the planet, not just on it.

© Copyright 2019 moa rider. All rights reserved.

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