Wild Inspiration Reading List: The Sacred Balance.

One of my very favourites for an inspiration-less day is David Suzuki’s The Sacred Balance. Where many environmental themed books are dull and saddening this is uplifting and joyful. Something I really need for time to time. I took away from this book of feeling of connection and conversely feeling like such a small speck in the universe, but in a really good way. When it all feels like too much, this is a good one to open at random and take in.

The Scared Balance

The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature

This special 10th anniversary edition re-examines our place in the natural world in light of the sweeping environmental changes and the recent advances in scientific knowledge.

Since its first publication, Sacred Balance has sold over 100,000 copies. In the meantime, global warming has become a major issue as glaciers and polar ice caps have begun to melt at an alarming rate, populations of polar bears have dwindled, the intensity of hurricanes and tsunamis has drastically increased, coral bleaching is occurring globally, and the earth has experienced its hottest years in over four centuries. At the same time, scientists have made significant discoveries about the current state of the Great Lakes and other ecosystems of the world; the science behind the mother/baby interaction and the relationship between deprivation of affection in childhood and serious illness in midlife; the workings of the brain, including its ability to create a narrative, anticipate the future, and order the past; and the biological underpinnings of religion, among other findings. In this new and extensively revised and amplified edition of his best-selling book, David Suzuki reflects on these changes and examines what they mean for our place in the world.

The basic message of this seminal, best-selling work remains the same: We are creatures of the earth, and as such, we are utterly dependent on its gifts of air, water, soil, and the energy of the sun. These elements are not just external factors; we take them into our bodies, where they are incorporated into our very essence. What replenishes the air, water, and soil and captures sunlight to vitalize the biosphere is the diverse web of all beings. The recently completed human genome project has revealed that all species are our biological kin, related to us through our evolutionary history. And it appears that our need for their company is programmed into our genome.

As social animals, we have an absolute need for love; without it, we suffer dire psychological and physical consequences. The strength of that love is reflected in healthy, vibrant families and communities supported by full employment, security, and justice and free of threats of genocide, terror, or war. Finally, we have spiritual needs, which are ultimately rooted in nature, the source of our inspiration and belonging. These are the real requirements of all humanity and should form the basis of any society aspiring to a truly sustainable future.

These truths remain. But the cataclysmic events of the last decade require that we rethink our behaviour and find a new way to live in balance with our surroundings. This book offers just such a new direction for us all.

David Suzuki donates his royalties from sales of The Sacred Balance to the David Suzuki Foundation.

Wild Inspiration Reading List: The Sacred Balance.

One of my very favourites for an inspiration-less day is David Suzuki’s The Sacred Balance. Where many environmental themed books are dull and saddening this is uplifting and joyful. Something I really need for time to time. I took away from this book of feeling of connection and conversely feeling like such a small speck in the universe, but in a really good way. When it all feels like too much, this is a good one to open at random and take in.

The Scared Balance

The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature

This special 10th anniversary edition re-examines our place in the natural world in light of the sweeping environmental changes and the recent advances in scientific knowledge.

Since its first publication, Sacred Balance has sold over 100,000 copies. In the meantime, global warming has become a major issue as glaciers and polar ice caps have begun to melt at an alarming rate, populations of polar bears have dwindled, the intensity of hurricanes and tsunamis has drastically increased, coral bleaching is occurring globally, and the earth has experienced its hottest years in over four centuries. At the same time, scientists have made significant discoveries about the current state of the Great Lakes and other ecosystems of the world; the science behind the mother/baby interaction and the relationship between deprivation of affection in childhood and serious illness in midlife; the workings of the brain, including its ability to create a narrative, anticipate the future, and order the past; and the biological underpinnings of religion, among other findings. In this new and extensively revised and amplified edition of his best-selling book, David Suzuki reflects on these changes and examines what they mean for our place in the world.

The basic message of this seminal, best-selling work remains the same: We are creatures of the earth, and as such, we are utterly dependent on its gifts of air, water, soil, and the energy of the sun. These elements are not just external factors; we take them into our bodies, where they are incorporated into our very essence. What replenishes the air, water, and soil and captures sunlight to vitalize the biosphere is the diverse web of all beings. The recently completed human genome project has revealed that all species are our biological kin, related to us through our evolutionary history. And it appears that our need for their company is programmed into our genome.

As social animals, we have an absolute need for love; without it, we suffer dire psychological and physical consequences. The strength of that love is reflected in healthy, vibrant families and communities supported by full employment, security, and justice and free of threats of genocide, terror, or war. Finally, we have spiritual needs, which are ultimately rooted in nature, the source of our inspiration and belonging. These are the real requirements of all humanity and should form the basis of any society aspiring to a truly sustainable future.

These truths remain. But the cataclysmic events of the last decade require that we rethink our behaviour and find a new way to live in balance with our surroundings. This book offers just such a new direction for us all.

David Suzuki donates his royalties from sales of The Sacred Balance to the David Suzuki Foundation.

Designed for Water

The sound of the rain on your roof, lovely umbrellas, the gorgeous smell, going out looking for puddles in your wellie boots…

Traditionally when we develop new urban areas we put a whole series of pipes under the ground to capture all of the stormwater running off from the new surfaces (houses, carparks, roads etc.) , which takes all the water away somewhere else to be managed.

Stormwater is water flowing over ground surfaces in natural streams and drains as a direct result of rainfall over a catchment.

This comes from the fundamental idea that humans must control the environment in order to make it comfortable for civalised society. So we put massive pipes which supposed to be designed to capture the HUGE rain events, the kind we get once every 100 years or so and fair enough, I don’t want my house being flooded, even if its once a century. The problem is that these systems capture the water from all rain events even the little ones we get somewhat frequently in winter. It was believed that all rainfall events posed a flooding risk due to the dregree of imperviousness of the built environment. Why is that a problem? Surely that is a good thing, design for worse case scenario and everything smaller is neligible.

Well the problems occur when you consider where all this water ends up. Down the stromwater drains on the side of the road, into a pipe and off to some drainage sump, constructed compensation basin, bushland or watercourse. Sometimes this is far away from where it fell, mostly it is not treated to get rid of contaminants (like hydrocarbons from the road), often you get very pretty pipes jutting out over the water, and sometimes it causes erosion because all the water is hitting one spot. To be honest, they don’t seem to be doing a fantastic job, given the unbelievable amount of chaos and flooding of roads that happens everytime we get a heavy rain in Perth.

The idea behind ‘Water Sensitive Urban Design’ is to design developments so that the rains which happen most often are dealt with on site, as close as possible to where they fell through either infiltration or water capture and reuse leaving only high intensity rainfall evenst to be managed in the old way (making it a bit less stressful on them).

Need a quick brush up on the water cycle? High school too long ago? Agreed.

Nice things about Water Sensitive Urban Design;

– Water can infiltrate into the ground close to the source (recharging local groundwater aquifers)

– It results in better water quality as water is filtered by plants (less contaminants reaching the groundwater). Plants are really great at pulling yucky stuff out of water, a bit like artifical kidneys.

– No more fenced-off-ugly-weed-infested drainage areas (can you tell I dont like them?), you know the ones I mean.

– Pretty public open space areas with lovely vegetated swale, emphemeral (dry in summer, wet in winter) creek beds with lovely rocks, living streams, wetlands etc.

– It can encourage and supports the growth of large trees which keep the water table down, which means less salt and other nastiest like Acid Sulfate Soils, provide shade, and habitat for animals, children and children-like-adults.

Here are some examples to demonstrate;

These are drainage areas in a public open space development (wet in winter, dry in summer).These are biofilters, which are designed to capture run off from hard surfaces like roads and such.There are other things included in Water Sensitive Urban Design like rainwater tanks, permeable paving (which allows water to infiltrate it) and more hard engineering like underground litter traps and soak wells.

Most importantly its about designing urban spaces to work with water rather than against it. Use it rather than collect it and get it as far away as possible.

Have a look at the New Waterways website, its full an fantastic info on the subject.

Thoughts? Would you like some bigger scale examples? Let me know.

Wallet Greenery

Or is that mould?

How “green” or “eco-friendly” are business you buy from or products you buy?

Who should I trust? is it really making any difference anyway? why should I even bother?

Confusion! No wonder everyone is resigned and cynical about all of this.

But how about how we purchase things like cars or electronics? We know what we think are reputable brands, some of us act on this and only get the best and the ones we consider trustworthy, others purchase based purely on price at a much higher risk. However in this case the risk your taking is purely personal – you are the one burdened when the ramifications of your actions.

A wise purchasing choice environmentally speaking would take into account many many factors; where was it made? what was it made from? how was it made? how did it get here? when will I need to replace it?

You can end up going around and around in circles. Veggies for example, buy organic produce which is more expensive and perhaps brought in from another state (or country) or buy locally grown non organic produce which may be causing water issues closer to home, it can all be very depressing.

I am far from an angel in terms of ensuring that I spend my money on ethically sound products, I’m a human being, I am lazy sometimes, I am unorganised, and sometimes I lose sight of the goal completely.

However! Two factors which I think will make a difference in this debate;

The precautionary principle:

From Wiki: “One of the primary foundations of the precautionary principle, and globally accepted definitions, results from the work of the Rio Conference, or “Earth Summit” in 1992. Principle #15 of the Rio Declaration notes:

“In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.””

In this case what I mean is that in the face of uncertainty we should take action. Don’t let negativity, inadequacy, confusion etc lead you to choosing to do nothing at all. The world is made up of many many little actions and every one makes a difference to the planet. Every time.

Plus, action taken by companies and organisations to lead them to a place where they can feel they can describe themselves as ‘green-ish’, is something! It might not be much, it might look like a complete waste of time, but its an action.

Treehugger did an article recently about the UK postal service running a series of ‘eco’ stamps which featured designs like “use less water” and “turn off lights” and other [mind numbing] things, despite being a huge contributor to the country’s carbon pollution. I’d, of course, encourage the organisation to grow a back bone and do something awesome, but there is no point wasting our energy shooting them down.

A good example of this is the personal care products debate. I buy “sulfate, paraben etc free” products because I want to be better safe than sorry, plus it suits my skin (see next point). Yes there is a whole heap of conflicting evidence around, I’ve done some research (I’ve done a bit of chemistry in my time but I’m not a doctor), I’ve chosen the ‘lets not poke the synthetically produced ugly beast in the eye’ route. My precaution is to stick with as un-tampered with my human kind as possible.

Make the eco-concious decisions that make you happy:

This is not intended to be some hippy rubbish – but my opinion is that our actions should create a world that we love and adore. Meaning: a fully functioning, efficient, healthy ecosystem – this might not be your vision of utopia but I can almost guarantee (unless your vision is set on some other planetary landscape) that this will allow your vision to exist.

The backyard of your electronic filled, high-tech, wonderful dream house complete with waterslide to a ball pit, doesn’t look like this;

Sorry, that was a bit extreme.. but you get the point.

This doesn’t mean that we should give up buying speccy new iPads or a new car, it just means that these purchasing decisions (visibly somehow) should connect to how we want our world to be.

I guess it’s an awareness thing more than anything. But then again humans often do not make sense. I want to be skinny .. *freddo frog*…

anyway! point is, decide what matters to you in this debate and act on it.

For instance, I want to eat lots of locally produced food because it supports my local farmers, the town I live in, it doesn’t have to travel, I don’t need to go to the sterile yucky supermarket to buy it, I get to go to the farmers market, and its cheaper.I drive a fuel efficient car, it saves me lots of money, its super quiet and it causes less pollution.

Heaps of people shoot down environmentally driven actions with all the other ‘what about..? what about..?’ so you end up feeling like throwing your hands in the air and screaming. Who cares!? do what makes you feel good. If everyone felt fricken AMAZING about making a choice towards something a bit more enviro friendly that would be brilliant and more people would do it, and then the choices would get better and better and better.

Don’t waste things, buy good quality so you don’t have to keep replacing it and wasting all those materials etc again and again, plus you end up with a nicer product. Be patient, and be sure of what you want – it’s not a money thing, it’s a happiness thing.

Have you seen “The Story of Stuff” if not you definitely should, well worth your time (20 mins)–> http://www.storyofstuff.com/

Thoughts??