I Thought You Were A Woman.

Someone I have never met told me they thought I was a woman. I’m not. They made this assumption based on my Instagram account.

The person is a friend of a friend and stumbled upon my Instagram account, as people do within the world of social media. They requested to follow, I accepted, and they perused my photos.

The person then messaged me in surprise and told me that she thought I was female.

Why?

Because of the content of my Instagram posts.

Essentially, all of my posts depict nature or books. Once I’ve read a book that I like, I take a photo of the cover and maybe and excerpt from the book and I post it on my account. Actually, I haven’t done this for a while, I think I just forgot.

Otherwise, my Instagram account contains images of nature. When I go hiking, cycling, camping or into nature, I like to take photos of sunsets, beaches, plants, trees, skylines and animals. I’d like to have more photos of animals but they’re hard to capture with a basic smartphone lacking a decent zoom. If I do capture an animal it’s always a bonus.

Almost every one of my posts depicts lakes, rivers, mountains, trees, rocks, sand, sun and surf, because I love nature and try to spend as much time in it as possible. My account contains almost no images of myself.

I don’t like appearing on camera and I’m not vain or beautiful enough to be an Instagram model, so I don’t take many selfies. I do appear in other people’s photos or have friends take photos of me, but I just have no interest in posting them online.

I explained to the woman that I am in fact a man, and we had a good laugh about it. It did make me think, however.

Why would someone think that I was female after seeing photos of books and nature?

Have we been conditioned to think that an interest in or respect for nature is feminine? Can only women appreciate and express an appreciation for nature, and is this linked to a woman’s role as a nurturer and care giver?

If this is the case, does it explain the current state of the world’s climate and the natural environment?

Mother Earth, as we often call it, is in trouble after years and years of human abuse, and this abuse is continuing even though we now know better. We now know that previous practices are harming the planet upon which we rely for our survival but we continue with these practices.

Is this cycle of destruction perpetuated because men still rule the world? Certain organisations, businesses and countries have a woman in the top job, but the system which was created by men is still controlled by men. If a man is not expected to love nature, even via an Instagram account, protecting the environment into the future will be very difficult, because men are still making most of the decisions which determine the state of the planet.

Is it time to give women a turn? Really give them a turn. Not just appoint a few women to the position of national or corporate president, not just vote women onto boards or executive positions, but replace men in large numbers at every level of government, business and other sectors of society. Men had their turn running the world, the planet is in very bad shape, so maybe it’s time they were replaced.

If the men running the world were the starting players on a sporting team, their results suggest it’s time they were taken off and replaced by those who have been waiting their turn on the reserves bench.

Can you love nature and still be a man?

Do we have to change paradigms of masculinity to include respect for nature and pride in publicly expressing a love for the natural world?

Do we need to reach a point at which assumptions cannot be made about someone’s gender because they display images of nature on a social media account?

Darren Lockyer: Destroying The Country He Once Captained.

Darren Lockyer captained the Australian national rugby league team but since retiring from the sport has devoted himself to destroying the country he loves.

The Kangaroos and Queensland captain now uses his exalted status to promote the interests of the Coal Seam Gas / Fossil Fuel industry, which is attempting to expand its operations in a country whose populace is ready to embrace renewable energy.

Lockyer was enlisted as ‘safety ambassador’ for the Origin Energy Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG) project in Gladstone, QLD, in 2013.

It’s interesting that a major corporation would appoint a safety ambassador who confessed to a gambling addiction, joked publicly about a football gang rape scandal and started a drunken pub brawl.

The APLNG project was accused of causing bubbling along the Condamine River near Chinchilla, which prompted an investigation by the state government and Origin Energy. Critics also raised concerns that CSG caused health problems for locals in rural-residential estates such as Wieambilla near Tara, incidents which were also investigated by the state government.

Lockyer himself confessed to being against coal seam gas operations, before he became a spokesperson for the industry. Before Origin started paying him.

What’s wrong with coal seam gas?

The environmental and social risks of coal seam gas include:

  • Encroachment on productive farming land
  • Disruption of other land uses and industries
  • Clearing of bushland
  • Air pollution
  • Contamination or depletion of ground or surface water
  • Pollution of waterways
  • Negative health impacts on workers and nearby residents
  • Damage to biodiversity.

Coal seam gas poses a huge risk to the quality and security of water, but Lockyer promotes the practice on the driest continent on earth, which is still suffering through drought.

But lots of athletes promote companies

Yes, many sportspeople are ambassadors for corporations. They’re paid to convince the public to buy one brand of sports shoes, watches or energy drinks instead of another brand. Lockyer, however, is not being paid to convince Australians to pay one company to power their homes over another. He is being paid to promote the industry itself.

Why?

Because the industry knows it has a lot to hide. The industry knows it destroys the environment.

Do I have something against Darren Lockyer?

I admit, I’m from NSW, so I dislike Queensland league players, but I’m also Australian and Lockyer’s brilliance led my country’s national team to many victories. In fact, I saw him play his last NRL game in Sydney when the Broncos comfortably beat the Sharks.

Exporting destruction

The league legend’s path of destruction extends beyond Australia’s borders. He is currently listed as the Head of Business Affairs for Mayur Resources, an Australian-based resource company with operations in Papua New Guinea.

Lockyer’s masters recently dispatched him to PNG and his presence provoked the ire of the nation’s leaders, who claimed he was sent to ‘brainwash’ the local people into supporting a new coal mine and coal-powered power plant.

Foreign mining companies, including Australian companies such as BHP and Rio Tinto, have a tainted history in PNG. It’s Australia’s way of thanking the local people for saving us from invasion during WWII.

PNG idolises Rugby League players. They worship league stars perhaps even more than Australians do. Rugby League is their national sport and league greats are awarded almost god-like status in the developing nation.

Why does Lockyer support the fossil fuel industry?

Did he inhale coal seam gas?

Maybe that explains his permanently croaky voice. Maybe that’s why his throat is fracked.

Does he have some form of personal connection to mining?

He grew up in Roma, which is the birthplace of the state’s oil and gas industry, so he has can at least claim some personal affiliation with the industry. Then again, fellow Origin players Willie Carne and Brent Tate also grew up in Roma, as did the great Arthur Beetson.

Does he genuinely believe in the benefits of coal seam gas?

Rugby League players are not famed for their intellect, but for their toughness, skill and athletic prowess. Maybe Lockyer genuinely believes the claims of the fossil fuel industry, the claims that he himself is paid to repeat to uneducated, impressionable Australians.

Is he doing it out of patriotism?

Average people cannot truly understand the depth of patriotism instilled in athletes who have represented their country, let alone those who have captained their country. Lockyer’s pride in his country is undeniable.

The mining industry has paid advertising agencies millions of dollars to cleverly position it as central to Australia’s national identity. Apart from promoting its contribution to ‘jobs and growth’, the industry has convinced many people that miners are true Australians. Miners are as vital to our nation as diggers, farmers, lifesavers…and athletes. Mining is positioned as ‘true blue’ because real Aussies work with their hands, in the sun, working up a sweat and battling the elements. Although Lockyer wears a suit and tie in his role with the industry.

How much money does Lockyer need?

He must have earned a substantial wage during a long and successful career which included captaining Australia and Queensland, winning four premierships and multiple Origin series, and attracting lucrative sponsorship deals.

He would be paid a handsome sum to sit on the side lines and make the odd comment as part of Channel Nine’s commentary team, and he is a director of the Brisbane Broncos club.

Maybe he’s still paying off the gambling debts he accrued the mid 1990s.

Out of curiosity, does Lockyer have solar panels on the roof of his house?

Would a true patriot and former leader of a national sporting team support an industry which is scientifically proven to be destroying the country’s natural environment?

Image: Chris Brunskill / Getty Images

Carpark Conundrum

The debates, the discussions, the proposals and humdrum,

A world-famous beach and its carpark conundrum.

Build it ABOVE GROUND, came a councillor’s motion

But why an above ground? Just swim in the ocean.

Well UNDER GROUND, then, is the perfect solution,

Until ice caps melt from car-borne pollution.

Warn us, they did, that cars would start floating

As suburbs like Bondi kept bulging and bloating.

So, HOME GROUND, said locals, with spots just for us,

While those labelled ‘other’ must cram on the bus.

Or HOME GROUND for athletes, so guts they can bust,

While their current home ground turns to rubble and dust.

Waratahs, Roosters, Sky Blues and Swans

Can be sheltered alongside those striving for tons.

An UNDER ARM carpark, for those for whom laws,

Are as easily tampered with as red leather balls.

The voices grew louder, with yet more ideas,

And echoed the sound of the changing of gears.

Why, UNDER COVER, and be it constructed with stealth,

To protect all our cherished assertions of wealth.

Or INBOUND, cried tourists, enjoying their trip,

Without us, who else will get caught in the rip?

But, OUTBOUND is better, for serving the function

Of keeping the Westies holed up at the Junction.

Be OUTGROWN it will, as more residents arrive,

And through poor public planning they are all forced to drive.

Thus, INGROWN, the carpark pierced through the thin

Perfectly sculpted, tanned Bondi skin.

The longer debated, the deeper it burrowed,

Incessant dull pain causing brows to be furrowed.

It gnawed at locals and pollies alike,

But is rendered redundant with the push of a bike.

So, while pushers of pens kept on talking and talking,

A solution was found, and the answer was…walking.

Image:www.timeout.com

Ripe Near Me

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Ripe Near Me is a web-based app which shows people the location of fresh, home grown or naturally growing food. The website highlights the location of fruit, vegetables or herbs which are growing in a local area and allows everyday people to sell, swap or give away their homegrown produce.

Why?

Ripe Near Me was established to encourage and enable people to source food from their local area. It taps into the tradition of growing food or foraging for food close to home, and is designed to reduce the carbon footprint created by the storage, refrigeration and transportation of food in the modern era.

The site also aims to increase the amount of food that is grown sustainably, and to utilise more public and private space, even the humble balcony, for growing fresh food. Members can also source a greater variety of food, and expand their palette, and eat food that is in season.

Eating food grown at home or in the immediate local area was commonplace until not so long ago. Ripe Near Me plans to revive that tradition for the good of the planet. Micro farms are also provided with a platform to make their operations profitable while improving the health of people around them.

Is it free?

Membership yes, food…sometimes.

Registration for the website is free, and once registered members can find food and give it away, sell it or swap it.

Each member chooses whether they give away, swap or sell their food. Members will often give away excess food. They swap this for an item that a neighbour has in excess and thus save food from rotting or ending up in the bin. Sure, you can put excess food in your worm farm or compost, but it’s always better to eat it – after all that’s why food is grown. If you can’t eat it, the next best option is to give it to someone who can.

Ripe Near Me also alerts people to food that is growing naturally in public spaces. Remember the old choko tree that most Aussies used to have, or still have, growing in their backyard? The tree that sprouts from nowhere, in unsuitable soil, with no care or attention, and produces consistent fruit…that’s one example of a naturally growing food that might be posted on the site. And before you deride the humble choko, try adding it to a dish. Sure it has no taste, but it’s filling, and if you prepare a tasty sauce you can negate the choko’s inherent blandness.

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Why not just go to the supermarket?

Supermarket shopping is convenient. You can buy everything you need at once, and the shopping is done. However, shopping for fruit and vegetables at major supermarkets, and even some local fruit shops, is problematic.

Chemicals

Fruit and vegetables sold at major supermarkets are almost never organic. Heavy chemicals are used to grow and preserve the food. It won’t kill you, but it’s not as healthy- for you or the planet.

Waste

Major supermarkets create enormous amounts of waste. They still demand that the majority of their produce conforms to standards of size, shape and colour, and this forces farmers to throw out perfectly good food just because it doesn’t look nice. This creates waste, because the enormous quantity of food that is rejected makes it near impossible to compost. It also creates financial strain for the farmers, because they earn nothing for the ‘ugly’ fruit.

Some supermarkets are selling a small amount of ‘ugly’ fruit, but still insist on putting ‘pretty’ fruit on the shelves. Ugly or pretty, it all tastes the same.

Furthermore, major supermarkets source their food out of season and from many different locations, and are forced to store, refrigerate and transport all produce, at great cost to the planet.

Is it safe?

Yes. Members post reviews of people who are giving away, swapping or selling food, and you can browse these reviews before obtaining the food. Also, the system normally allows you to meet the grower in person and see their garden. You can ask them about their farming techniques and ascertain whether the food is healthy or organic, as well as exchanging ideas. You see more of the growing process through Ripe Near Me than you do when shopping at a supermarket. After all, at a supermarket you know the apples come from Batlow, but from which orchard? How are they grown and harvested? Plus, do you know what happened to the fruit from the time it was picked to the time it ended up on the shelf?

How does it work?

Everyone’s produce is posted on the website’s map. You type in your local area and are shown what is available in your neighbourhood or region. It’s basically online foraging.

Growing or Ripe?

Red and green symbols next to the food explain whether it is ripe or still growing. Members can subscribe to any produce listing by clicking on a button, and collect the item if it’s ripe. If it’s still growing, they’ll be sent a notification when it’s ready.

Does size matter?

No. Any food item can be listed. From one tomato to a garden bed full of silverbeet, it can all be listed on the site, even that tiny amount of herbs you have growing on your window sill.

Is it like a food swap?

Yes. It is an online service which helps to set up a food swap. It is different because it allows people to swap food at any time, rather than waiting for the designated time and day of the local food swap. It is advantageous in the current reality, where the pandemic has restricted the number of social gatherings that can take place. It also allows people to swap their food before it goes off. Food swaps share a similar philosophy to Ripe Near Me, and stop food from becoming waste.

If you do go to a food swap, avoid the mistake that I once made. I arrived at the food swap on the designated day, only to find one other person there. It was the final weekend of school holidays so locals were either on holidays or getting their kids ready for the new school term. The other attendee had seeds which I didn’t need, and I was offering silverbeet – a tonne of silverbeet. She didn’t want my silverbeet, so I walked around town on a Sunday afternoon trying to give away a massive bouquet of silverbeet wrapped in a towel. I felt like a wedding planner or a blushing bride.

The founders of Ripe Near Me, Alistair and Helena Martin from Adelaide, South Australia, envisage an urban landscape overflowing with food for all. They aim to incentivise people to grow food sustainably and to distribute that food locally, as well as encouraging people to pick food off a plant, not a shelf.

For more information or to sign up, go to http://www.ripenear.me

Who’s Protecting Our National Parks?

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Australia’s National Parks are under threat, and the culprits are not those you might imagine.

I enjoyed a morning walk on the Grand Canyon trail near Blackheath, NSW, recently and finished the hike at Evans Lookout. As I gazed upon the spectacular view and weaved my way between tourists taking photos, I noticed something very out of place. A woman was walking her pet dog at the lookout point.

Evans Lookout lies within the boundary of the Blue Mountains National Park and is therefore strictly off limits to pet dogs. Lookout points, picnic areas, trails and any other spaces within National Parks are all off limits to pet dogs, because pet dogs damage the ecology and threaten the wildlife that is protected within these parks. Despite this, the woman was happily walking the dog, on a lead, as she admired the view from the lookout.

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I then looked for a ranger or a National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)  employee, someone who would remind the woman to take her dog out of the park. I didn’t see one. Despite being a busy, sunny Sunday just weeks after Sydney HAD lifted its coronavirus restrictions, there was not a single park ranger patrolling the lookout or the trails.

I wanted to know why.

I therefore emailed NPWS to ask how a woman could freely walk her dog inside park boundaries.

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I was informed, via an official response from the NPWS service, that:

“We are aware that some people use various tracks in the National park to walk their animals.”

On the one hand, it was encouraging to learn that the regulating authority knows what is happening within its parks, but it was also distressing to realise that they were not able to prevent it from happening. Then I was told why:

“We do not have enough resources to patrol and regulate all these areas.”

“If you report it at the time, it would likely take our Area Ranger at least 30 minutes but likely 2 – 3 hours to investigate, depending on where he needs to travel from.”

In government speak, ‘resources’ means money. Thus, there is not enough money to protect the plants and animals in our National Parks, even though National Parks were established to protect plants and animals.

I was then advised to record a rego number, car make and model and the time and date of the incident and make a formal statement which could then be followed up by the relevant authorities.

Should I?

The email from NPWS advised me that:

“Community pressure directly at the time can be an effective deterrent. You can advise them that the scent of a dog drives native animals away…”

Should I go to the trouble of reporting the person? Would anything actually happen? Would the person actually be punished? If I chose to report the person and make a statement, would I need to provide photographic or irrefutable evidence that the person took a pet dog into a National Park? If I took a photo of a person without their permission then passed on that photo to the authorities would I be charged with illegally disseminating an image? If that were the case, I would be punished far more severely than the person who was actually in the wrong.

Should I?

Would it make any difference? Dog owners throughout Australia flaunt rules on a daily basis to ensure that their dogs are happy and content. They take their dogs into off limit areas and are never punished.

Should I?

Should I ruin my Sunday bush walk, through a beautiful patch of bushland to engage in an argument with a dog owner. The owner has no compulsion to listen to me. I have no authority, I’m not a ranger, I’m just another visitor. Plus, do I want to invite this stress into my morning hike? Anyone who takes their pet dog into a National Park is selfish, arrogant, ignorant or illiterate, or all of the above. Do I want to engage in a futile conversation with someone like this when I am undertaking an activity for fun and relaxation?

Why does it matter if a person takes a dog into a National Park?

Pet dogs harm native wildlife.

“Some ground birds and mammals will leave their young (children) to die at just the smell of the dog. Lots of people just do not know.”

A more detailed explanation is provided on the parks website and even on tourism and council websites. It’s true that some people don’t know why they can’t take their pet dogs into National Parks. It’s clear that many just don’t care. For that reason, relying on the good sense of dog owners will not protect native wildlife. National Parks need extra resources, as is evidenced by the response to my email.

When will National Parks be adequately funded?

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Australians urged to Slip, Slop, Slap, Slide, Seek…and Hide.

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Health authorities are urging Australians to protect themselves from the sun during the summer holidays with a renewed campaign called Slip, Slop, Slap, Slide, Seek and Hide.

The new slogan extends the original “Slip, Slop, Slap” message, which was launched in response to Australia having some of the highest rate of skin cancer cases in the world.

The long-running slogan encourages everyone to slip on some clothing, slop on some suncream and slap on a hat while in the sun. The new slogan advises people to also slide on some sunglasses and seek shade.

It is the “Hide” message which confused some Australians, and which prompted clarification from health authorities.

“Australians are urged to hide because the sun is becoming stronger every year. It is vital to hide from the sun in order to avoid skin cancer, which is still a major cause of death in the country,” explained authorities.

Australians are also encouraged to hide from shame, as the country has the biggest per capita carbon footprint of any nation on earth.

The country’s continued use and support of fossil fuels, especially coal, is contributing to the climate crisis and global warming and has made the once-popular country an international embarrassment.

Such is Australia’s international standing that the current prime minister, Scott Morrison, was recently labelled “Fossil of the Day” at an international climate conference due to his support of the coal industry. Morrison is also famous for taking a lump of coal into federal parliament during question time and telling Australians not to be afraid.

Aussies are also encouraged to hide from the fact that Australia re-elected a party which is clearly controlled by the coal lobby and is determined to open new coal mines despite compelling and irrefutable scientific evidence that coal mining and burning of fossil fuels contributes massively to the climate crisis.

Ironically, the outdoor lifestyle for which Australia is famous is now under threat as the sun becomes a danger rather than a blessing.

At the time of writing, residents of Sydney are having to hide from the smoke haze from bushfires which have burned out of control throughout the state and are said to have been exacerbated by the climate crisis.

Australians are thus encouraged to hide until the current reality of the country is changed.

Image: Jeremy Bishop

 

 

Only houses with solar panels will be allowed to display Christmas lights.

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Extravagant lighting displays form a major part of household Christmas displays in majority Christian nations. However, these displays rely on electricity, and much of this electricity is still supplied by fossil fuels.

It’s time for a law to protect the joy of Christmas and reduce the damage that lighting displays do to the environment. Only houses with solar panels will be permitted to display lights at Christmas time.

Families can still hang Santa from their roof and cover their lawn in reindeers and fake candy, but the bright lights will have to stay in their boxes until that house is powered by solar.

Houses without photovoltaic cells, or solar panels, traditionally rely on coal to supply energy. Coal has been proven to contribute massively to the climate crisis and scientists agree that a transition away from coal energy must be made – and made soon.

The rule should not be difficult to administer. How do you know if a house is powered by solar? Just look on the roof.

Houses which break the rules can be fined, just as they would be fined for any other act of civil disobedience. The rule could serve as a reward for households which have installed the cleaner form of energy, and an incentive for fossil fuel users to do so.

Will this ever happen?

Probably not.

In countries such as Australia, governments are funded by the coal lobby and are resisting the adoption of renewable energy. They are also working very hard to protect and expand coal mining activities. Furthermore, the average citizen in developed nations will cry foul, dismiss their own impact on the environment and criticise a move like this as another example of political correctness, environmental hysteria and an attack on an innocent tradition that brings joy to their children.

Burning excessive fossil fuels, however, is not innocent – and it is their children who will suffer the consequences of a planet severely damaged by the continued use of fossil fuels.

The situation of the planet is desperate, and seemingly extreme measures need to be taken in order to halt the damage that is currently being done. This includes turning off a few Christmas lights.

Image:www.housebeautiful.com