Looking after the planet is everyone’s responsibility

  • And that means you, and I, and everyone we know!
  • Is global warming a thing? It’s a moot point! Because what IS undisputed is that we must look after the planet better than we are right now. The earth’s resources, in their current state, are not limitless! That’s a no brainer. For example, hands up anyone who doesn’t think air pollution, poor water quality, increasing mountains of plastic and other non-biodegradable rubbish, over-consumption and planned obsolescence aren’t issues that urgently need addressing? Anyone? I don’t think so! (Space junk is also a nasty elephant in the room – hopefully it will get the attention it deserves, soon.)
  • This means that all 7.9 billion of us need to put more effort in to looking after the planet better – on a personal, local, individual basis. I am NOT talking about clicking to sign online petitions, ticking the ‘carbon offset’ box when we fly, spending money with businesses that say they will ‘plant a tree’ (anyone ever check up on these kinds of claims?), or self-indulgent crowd-funding to attend overseas gab fests. BILLIONS of dollars and an untold amount of time and energy has been squandered on debating whether or not ‘global warming’ is real.
  • Instead this vast amount of money, time and energy could have made a massive difference to management of the earth’s resources by investing in ALREADY EXISTING education projects, technology, infrastructure and techniques. Instead there’s just more and more yapping on wheel-reinventing and shiny new fanciful fixes, instead of action using exisiting tried & tested means. A lot of the gabbing has been driven by vested interests seeking to maximise personal profits, eg via carbon trading schemes, renewable energy projects and public funding grants.
  • Over the last 3 decades farmers have become an increasingly popular target for finger pointers. Ranging from extraordinary claims about how much water it takes to produce a kilogram of steak (single-use water, anyone?), to plant diets being ‘better for the environment’ than omnivorous diets (Australian pastoral rangelands are full of native plants & animals, cropping country is not, by necessity, and requires significant artificial inputs), to simplistic food mile proselytising (ignoring the efficiencies of large scale production and benefits of farming in optimal growing conditions, vs produce growing in unsuitable areas, requiring much higher artificial inputs). Recently there’s been many headlines stating that ‘agriculture is responsible for a huge percentage of emissions’. This is infuriatingly unhelpful. After air then water, food is the THIRD most vital thing humans require to survive. So hello, food production has always required a lot of energy and resources, it’s the world’s most important activity! We’re lucky to have Fiona Simson as President of the National Farmer’s Federation. She sums it the situation well in this Farmonline story. Adapting to changing circumstances has always been a way of life for farmers. Smart governments support farmers to do what they do best. Smart public respect the people they depend on for their food, and smart farmers respect their customers.

So – enough finger pointing and politicking. What can you do in your house? In your backyard? And what better choices can you make when you are buying food and other goods, and services?

Nobody has to rush out and buy an electric car. There’s a myriad of simple but positive choices and actions each one of us can make on a daily basis. Some examples that are so simple but I’ve discovered are infuriatingly uncommon, since moving to an urban environment:

  • Maximising the efficiency of transportation use. EG amalgamating tasks so that one shopping run is done instead of many. Kids riding bikes or walking to school. Your kids will also live longer and be healthier. Yes there’s been studies on that, better health is more likely than being abducted by aliens.
  • Food – all scraps (that cannot be eaten in an omlette!) either composted, fed to chooks or the family pooch. Speaking of pets, how many do you need? Any more than 2, and perhaps you should instead be spending the extra money on a practical environmental or social cause.
  • Backyards – what are you growing? You may not have the climate, soil, time or skills to do a Costa and grow food on your nature strip. But if your backyard if full of imported plants instead of native species that enable local birds & animals to flourish; if it is not mulched with what falls off your own trees, and watered carefully (no sprinklers in the middle of the day, or you will be shot for wasting water) – or worse still, it’s all lawn, pool, pavers and concrete – then you need a swift kick (or many) into action. Every person who points a finger at a farmer for being imperfect, who isn’t managing their own home plot as best as possible, is a very large hypocrite. Caring for the planet is like charity, it begins at home.
  • Clothing – if you’re not buying 100% natural fibres (you’re excused when it comes to togs), then why not? And don’t think sending masses off to Vinnies annually absolves you of over-consumption issues. It does not. The only way to go is to minimise purchases and buy quality that lasts. The world doesn’t need your cast off clothes.
  • There’s 101 other ways individuals can make a positive difference, the above is just the basics that I see not being observed by more than 95% of urban Australians. I grew up on a farm and planet-friendly habits were accidentally ingrained – the thoughtful purchase of quality and then looking after it; re-using, recycling, composting, careful water use, pest and weed management. Habits that applied both to the home and garden front and to the farm business. These basic, formerly standard habits, need to come back into fashion.

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