Thursday, August 13, 2015

Glass is Half full - if you displace hot air and fear

Young People in Australia have a choice. Either they follow the views of the Yvonne Walter’s and the Lisa Neville’s of this world ( Victorian Greenlabor)  and try to preserve the dying in museums ,or they can study and support full cycle ecology on the land.  They can follow the blinkered picture or the full picture.  They can keep trees standing up till they fall on someone, or they can study the ecosystem fully so we give the older things  a decent burial and keep the baby with the bathwater ; still have everything from seed to old age, young phases fully integrated with the old. 
Our young people have the choice of letting the ants, termites and fungi eat their way through our great opportunity to sequester the carbon and improve our water quality or, they can sit on their hands in fear- locking the gate.   
Readers in Corangamite area can visit their water supply reservoir wall at Forrest and study the health of three generations of timber harvested forest in its catchment.  Those closer to Warrnambool can wonder at how, with a tiny bit of recycling of iodine, molybdenum and copper, soil nutrients and calcium lost by tree based acidification of water and soils in the Heytesbury can now support higher functioning soils and exports of the best cream products to the world.  It’s more than just taking a glass half full view of the world. It’s moving on from ignorance and fear ; to the sound long term territory of really understanding and caring for all the components of the eco family. 

Labels: ,

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Its snowing - that beautiful blanket cover

  The snow may not be normal for Queensland at the moment,  but its breakfast lunch and dinner for some edgey polys and wannabes who think the obvious is everything.  Its akin to the stupidity of thinking the people know what they are doing and are not like sheep .    

 The inside story on those who wear white is that they can have something to cover up .

Most journos know this but forget this when the brightness shineth forth in rays so reasonable .With snowing its not what you say , but what you don't say that matters . You have to know things better than most .

The Watermark Mine  in NSW  is meant to be a big deal according to all the noise . I tried to get a few   few geological cross sections  so I could  can interpret  the overburden and groundwater risks for myself .  I have also done staging/ reviewed others plans  in  a range of mine plans in SW Victoria. Staging is necessary to make sure overburden is moved efficiently and slope stability maintained through the life of mine . I am not sure yet whether there is a dark side to the mine but I am familiar with the high risk of snowing and why governments of all kinds are prone to it .   I still haven't got a few diagrams I asked for .  
 Doesn't surprise me that "somethings missing " as coordinating risk discussions is not for the uninformed or the consultancy blinkered.   Best to leave the dark side off the agenda  if you want it to go through the hoops of planning  . Bit a luck and the panel will be overwhelmed by the stuff you provide . Even if they saw some hard stuff,  they wouldn't often know what to do with it .  Environmental risk assessment is  a strange beast requiring specially gifted coordinators ( everyone loves to try to do it and that's half the problem : many facilitators and CEOs in semi govt  never get beyond  the facile ) .

I have seen the obfuscation that results from poor briefing ( far too common  now) , the maximizing of consultant work and the minimizing of big picture planning beforehand  - on many sites ( not just mining ) . The point is as with Thredbo ( proper context soil and water and engineering planning not just site ) or many bush fire deaths (fear of cutting trees down  - NVR is still a messy planning process that must be modified   )  its the undiscussed  issue  that dangerous ( I have listed them briefly in brackets and italics )   The dark side Politically correct but not politically direct as our culture once encouraged .

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, August 04, 2014

Bridging the gap

Nature is structured to use BOTH the seperated and the cooperated; the distinctive and the diverse . To restrict Nature in some way to the entirely determinative (as many now do) is to limit life to one or a few of its components - you may only  JUST see only a few componenets and miss the possibility of a Creator and the opportunity to be like Him/Her. Amazing thought , I know ( because lots of life just seems to happen ) but worth a moment to think about . The joy of living in the world is that Nature itself is NOT determinative but the BASIS for creativity. If fitness is everything why did we deserve to have such opportunity for creativity ? To return to any form of nature "worship " is to limit our childrens ability to be openly and  enthusiastically seeking after the truth ;through science but still , might I suggest , beyond what WE will ever know of the processes that drive it. Isn't that's big picture thinking based on the patterning we currently know about? .

Is the West losing its jest for a full and free creativity - and why?  

On reason is surely the untilitarian driver for most supported science reserach these days  . We are not encouraged to waste our time in the search for truth - that would be to risk losing paid employ as a scientist .
Our science advocates are swamped by the lie that productivity in science comes from predictable areas of research - at least in my area ;  how about yours !

If I am right the future is at risk not because of what we don't know as much as it is from not exploring fully in areas we think we already know soemthing about
Thankfully there is more interest in Design with nature than there was in the heady days when nature worshipers got to push their "no touch policies" .Becuase they are seen to be inert , rocks get a guernsey i know,  but so should the nursery , the garden,( weeding )  the funeral parlour and the regeneration practices we have used  .

I once designed concrete for a National Park  crossing on the coast using the local stone.The native stone wasn't as strong as normal gravel used in the concrete but it looked so much better for being part of the picture .
Isn't it appealing to mould seperate and different "strength "items into a NEW whole?

The hard work of planning shaping and cutting the stone is OURs and our childrens COST for the final great pleasure of being creative . 

You heard it first via Emperors Academy

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, October 25, 2013

What sweet relief this week

Hooray - Former Labor Advisor Marcus Priest calls the bureaucrats and wannabes to account over their non reporting of the real bush fire risk issues and the ongoing propaganda train on everything we are supposed to worry about .

I too finally pulled the flow limiter out of my new free shower.  At $50 a pop  that could be 100 million dollars wasted . The dummies and nanny state merchants think flow rate is everything.  I have a  good hot shower in 1/10 the time most people  do.

As an expert in the ways of water , I don't need this crap and neither do the people of Australia .
Cold showers and baths for nothing ! Panic about water and now  Panic about fire 
The myopic ,totally out of touch , conservation dogooders in advisory roles need to be shunted off and told to study something properly.
Design with nature  is complex and subtle and doesn't suit those with a quickfix or fast "industry will fix it" frame. If you come from concrete steel mere bookeeping territory be careful how you tread !!!
After all-- if you had to wait for your bath with their brilliance... the water would be cold .
I say ... Cold showers for those who think they know..... but don't. Humility and  respect ( for complexity and proper study ) is needed by every conservationist .

The growth of fear parallels the growth of ignorant arrogance in these matters .

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, May 20, 2013

Overlays are a mistake

You don't have to study nature long to realise that everything is interrelated .Geology, Chemistry of soils and water , predictable behavior  of inorganic systems,  anti 3rd nature of living systems, the unpredictability and high level of cooperation in living systems , the resilience of living systems , the flexible behavior boundaries of living organ components ( live die move over, get eaten  ) , the growth phases of individuals , mates and mature communities . The possibility of real degradation and the wider reality of resilience .
Its not madness to try and map these things on the ground,  but its madness to limit the boundaries to maps in time and place and use that as a statement of risk of degradation ( nature is too well built to be vulnerable to all our fears)
Once we thought that atoms were the limit,  but now we know there are quarks and black holes . We don't know what keeps protons in such a lovely mood when they repel each other - such a tight configuration.

 We know there are 3 fundamental forces but we have absolutely no idea how they work . I could go on

You don't have to study nature long to realise that everything is interrelated and that we don't really know much :
That statement is of course is easy to say but how then do we build a world class approach to environmental management .We don't know much about pushing pulling, cooperation and  resilience on the boundaries.

What we Do know is that we should keep studying it ; we do know that precaution is Ok by the student and our communities can rule on the possibility that humans can carelessly ignore its sensitive mechanisms and communities. We must focus on real degradation pressures NOT imagined or carelessly motivated ones ( eg by Nimbys or Wwwfys) Remember that communities of resilience can  healthily trancend death of the mature individual,  degradation , decomposition  and pressure of many kinds. It's those sorts of boundaries ( process ones that we need to study more)

Some suggestions:

  1. We build on the past and we didn't carelessly treat the frame we built on .Melbourne is one of the most livable citiesin the world because it did planning in a certain way ( a simple way ) 
  2. We make each other accountable personally. 
  3. We make people in Authority even more accountable personally ( or they lose their title /place )  . There was a time when in planning when  a majority thought it might be controversial ./ potential harm to the order of fun and work community  to ask people to ask for permission.
    We wrote a one pager to the Shire telling them what we we were going to do , We paid nothing for the privilege but the privileged were obliged to respond in one month or be drawn before the court  Simple but but clear answers - Yes, No and under what condition ) . Sure we sometimes had to tell them more about what we we were  doing and there was time for that .Nothing , but nothing threatened the responsibility of those in power to give us a straight answer - not a crooked one ( like one where we had to find the answer oursleves or go hunting in the bush or the city streets of mere consultants . We knew then that consultants , even though useful , were expensive and not always reliable) . we relied on people in Council who knew what they were doing orif they didn't know , they would find out .
  4. We don't let political parties play football with the profession as they have been 
  5. We make sure agencies representing professionals get public support for the training and development of our young people 
  6. We make sure people and political and professional groups  respect the territory of others ( by holding court occasionally) 
  7. Give cadetships to rural young people so they can cut their teeth with real land managers.  and those who plan to work with nature each day of their lives ( You heard it first from Emperors Academy ) 

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Grand Design is not to go backwards

Our local tractor wreckers (Wilson street and Stoneyford) and farmers couldn't, I am sure , cope with Kevin Maclouds enthusiasm for using thoroughly useful Old Massey Ferguson's cast bits for a chair. And we rural poor might also join the chorus and say " while we love the direction you are taking Kevin ( recycle, reduce  and reuse) we have to say, if you are listening, -- that we still have got a lot to learn in our journey to sustainability.We are richer than we think to waste as much as we do. Let me repeat that - We still have  got a lot to learn in our journey to sustainability.We are richer than we think to not as yet see the way through .

Don't get me wrong I love the idea and watching him havago!  --Key issue -There is great hope if we concentrate, not on technology, or " use" condemnation ( as The Greens often do ) but on "footprint" .Some people don't need old Masseys like we do .  Its not about stopping things as much is it about slowing things down ( Our rejection of a blind faith in progress( his theme) and my theme ( rejection of industrial economic modelling and the aforementioned -- to both environment and agriculture )   . Its not about condemnation of what people do, as much as it is about how they do it ( These are complex motivation issues like toxic mixtures of ignorance and arrogance -- for another time ) . Our consensus must be to resist the pressure of the economic system- carefully.
The positive power of that Grand Design program is that it suggests that real hope for a sustainable future is possible.   And it is.  As a competent scientist in this area,  I reject the many careless and unprofessional judgemnets of  political movements and the media. These half baked's ( including a over representation of ignorant old cynics)   often carelessly and ignorantly deny young people the possibility that they can live on this planet without killing everything else before its time here .
This is some call,  so please ask me questions .

Lets' face one thing we can agree on . The BBC program, where Kevin  describes his journey on his house is thoroughly engaging and positive  Eg .the  carbon we eat becomes the carbon we cook with Never before I feel sure, have the audince enjoyed so much , the idea of pooing and farting for profit ; cooking with your own gas , the pancakes , the leather . the ideas . 
The idea of living sustainably suddenly seems possible . Kevin  himself describes the experience as one of the best he has ever experienced .
My wish for you and for us is a more positive culture with both realism and realistic hope.Not one of course that misrepresents or ignores genuine ecological boundaries.

What are we doing wrong ? Our society is wavering in a uncertain hope with a mass of sometimes contradictory imperatives.( The reality is that conservation and production involve sometimes competing imperatives  and are both complex and subtle ( cf maths  in an modern industrial system). This complexity risks confusion.
We should not overreact 
We should not , however , in my opinion , yearn to live like peasants ( recurring reaction in history) when that overworked and unrested part of our world so desperately needs to journey with us to better engineering design with nature ......All our households can work , but they only work when we choose to keep working ( and playing ) hard together. Playing you say ? - now you see why we were told to take Sundays off !

Does anyone agree with me ? - at least partially?   Let me know what you think!
Kevin  while not a professional ecologist is,  I think also saying what I am saying ; "We have still got a lot to learn in our journey to sustainability" ( and we may not even make it )  I will also  presume to write for him though ( sending him a copy of this ) " too many people on my programs in the past haven't got the balance right " . "One of  the areas where people consistently get it wrong is by thinking "technology"  is the answer ".
Footprint is the answer and I believe we can all live with that - IF we do it together.  Note : a return to less technology is NOT the answer either .

Footprint is the answer and we must focus on it in the places and spaces we call home .
 We have still got a lot to learn in our journey to sustainability .
You,  as reader,  have 2 choices - cut your life to the bone, as he has done,  or just recognise that so much of the design in the token gestures in other building designs are just that -tokens . This " there is more space than shown on the ground in reality " reality opens up the possibility of a real third way - where houses don't cost the earth  and agriculture and mining doesn't pay our bills .It just works at a more natural pace providing for both scarcity and abundance ( ask for my paper on this subject )
So why is this positive experience and hope for the future rare ? My view is that , apart from the cloudiness created by sound environmental planning being very subtle ,delicate and complex, my generation are not dealing at all well with the reality of self loathing -or whatever you want to call it ( the living beyond our means realities and dread - both there ). The media and political forces want to punch us into change with fear,, when the issue is facts .
We are hard on ourselves and even harder on others ( their use of our resources ) but not objectively so - we are not prepared to stare down the issue,  if you like . ( environmental planning being very subtle delicate, complex but with resilience factors like rain ) . This " guilty as assummed" and" inevitability of destruction" blind spot leads to an impenetrable barrier to open discussion - and a tendency to throw tokens ...  or to just give up .
Help create some dialogue and some reality therapy
One paradox easily missed in the Grand designs program is the preoccupation with individuals; Individuals doing things to " their houses " . That' s fine but ultimately its not just about houses , but homes and communities ; about us doing things together.
I , as a sustainablity expert know that sustainability is possible ( until sun burns out ) but few people around me do, Few people too recognise the huge power we can exert for good by simply putting less pressure on the system .see also here  Often our society fails to distinguish between the impact of  the greed and  the impact of need.   They see the greed of man,  but forget about his capacity for caring . "He's a bad man that bloke next door "
Without extending the discussion here,  its clear to me that  the media and the people do not want to talk about less pressure  , at least partly because they don't realise that its "less pressure on a use" , not the use itself , which leads to sustainability .
An adjustmnet in focus towards footprint is necessary to  link the reality of resilience with the real dangers of degradation ( I have covered this elsewehere). Like some of the links this rant is STILL in process - ask me questions .

If I am right and we don't work together on this, the token gestures will continue.
 IF we don't work together to ADD something better and more hopeful , the token gestures to the gods of the past and the gods of the present ( technology) will continue.
YOU  don't have to  play peasant or pleasantly ignore the poor in the country and countries whom we exploit . YOU can play a different game to the most popular ones .  Good luck . Love to hear from you

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The biggest threat ever

The biggest threat ever is still ignorance and the fear that goes with it . Consider all the hype over floods this week on the East Coast of Australia .
The huge floods in Geelong in 1995 were caused by major flows in only a small area of the Barwons' huge catchment. But noone outside our territory , just as with the Gippsland  floods over 10 years later seemed to know clearly what the return period really was  .
On shore Easterlies were the key . They are rare down here but are still clearly influential in producing higher than ARR&R curve daily rainfall return estimates. We discovered that well before 1995,  but it was news to many ( won't name them here ) who thought ARR&R design curve methods to be key to RP 's in design with flood water.
The floods currently affecting the east coast of Australia are being "talked up"  almost every hour ( . "the biggest,  the most unusual ever ". Careless talk needs to, like justice, be quickly killed if it is not to be come gospel. If agencies are still arguinng about answers, the public will be confused and easily led. What do you think is happening ? .
 Localized geomorphic planning (based on soils shapes and substance on the ground ) provided us over 20 years ago with more reliability in rainfall estimates, runoff prediction and risk elements ( eg nature of bedload and debris) in a particular situation. The soil and slope elements alone require substantial integration beyond the arithmatic simplicities of water column measurements and estimates . We also found a way to explain why the BOM should not have dismissed the very high 24 hour totals recorded at both Benwerrin and Tanybyrn ( as they did) ,  using rainfall physics and orographic effects .
BOM rainfall estimates are not reliable simply because there are not enough of them where they are needed and the volunteers who man them are not always trusted ( you heard it first from EA)

The questions are
  1.  Are agencies all across Australia still relying on an series of modelling curves and measurement scatter that doesn't take into account the specific geomorphic driver dimensions  in a situation?  
  2. Above aside , what are governmnets doing to ensure clarity of risk in any situation ? Clearly it is easier and tempting ( the way the press and polys treat a threat story ) for some to conclude that the Gippsland floods in 2007 and Toowoomba Ipswich flows in 2011 were thousand year floods( 1in 1000, 1in 5000 or 10000 etc )  when infact they should,  like we do in the Otways,  expect then much more often than that .The above flood in Geelong was caused by what we estimate was a  1:100 yr event or less . BW estimates over over 1in 1000 don't make sense in light of poor measurement records , inadequate researchthat considers actual catchment elements and their contribution.   
  3. For insurance and drama and news purposes,  is it  easier to blame God rather than clear up our own areas of predjudice , ignorance and fear ? Are Governments and the media playing on fear ?
  4. At what cost do authorities dismiss realistic risk estimates? 
  5. Why shouldn't people who choose to live / sell blocks in a high risk area pay extra or appropriate insurance? 
  6. Why should  we all pay for what appears to be a range of personal,  local government and developer failures? ( the question of levies)  
  7. As the Political Parties seem to be unified in support of levies,are we all then by implication to blame for a lack of real accountability ( in say planning ) here?  
  8. Will insurance work for anyone in ten years if individual people are not held responsible for taking risky choices ? 
  9. Is this casual acceptance of levies a powerful  example of unsustainable approaches to risk management and insurance ? Governments who encourage risk takers instead of really warning them 
  10.  The BOM ( January 29th 2013)are currently asking for people to help collect climate data "to improve the climate record " Bit of a skew in the data? What value is "now and future data " when we aren't taking seriously the past and its history ( incl geomorphology) . Good to see that at last they are reviewing historical records more  closely  but is it a bit late to take the voluntary hours of thousands of Australians serioulsy?( esp friends who ONCE lived worked and recorded rain each day on the Otway and other ridges) Will BOM acknowledge that the data collection on climate has been poor and that a review of old data in the light of geomorphic and high implication error factors would be an important "now type" use of public money?  

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,