Showing posts from September, 2020

On the path of least resistance

  I called in to the dairy at Hautapu yesterday and spotted a poster on the notice board. It was advertising the new Sharing Shed at Country Creche, and above the picture of shelves full of home grown produce, were the words: "Take what you need, share what you can." That sounds like a good idea - something to live by. The problem is the gap between what we need and what we want. This morning I wanted to drive the car to work; it had been raining all night, the ground was wet and the sky very grey with only the odd patch of blue. What I needed was to get to work. I finally made the decision to ride the bike, it keeps me moving and doesn't burn any fossil fuel. In fact, me riding around town on a bike is as much about fitness as saving the planet. I really don't believe that individual actions are going to reverse the current slide towards climate and environmental collapse. That is going to have to come from governments, and possibly David Attenborough, they do seem

It's a yes from me.

  Cannabis. Should we make it legal or not? I say we because we are shortly going to vote on the issue and that vote will determine the answer to the question. So it is very much we who will decide whether or not cannabis should be made legal. I have been trying to come up with an argument, either way, which has not been thoroughly aired and shaken out already. However I don't think there are any so we'll have to go over some old ones. Those in favour of legalisation raise points like; cannabis is in widespread use already; prohibition in the US was a total failure; the government may as well tax it; it is claimed that cannabis has medicinal benefits; if alcohol and tobacco are legal why not cannabis? All of these angles can be argued convincingly. Those against legalisation state that cannabis is harmful, it is claimed that cannabis has damaging effects on the human nervous system, causes long term memory and thought processing problems, and it is a known carcinogen. There

It's not our problem.

  Broadly speaking, my brief is to write a weekly column, with the odd digression,   on environmental issues. Some weeks I feel more   optimistic than others. This is not one of those weeks. Sometimes a quick scan of the news brings one stumbling to the realisation that despite the efforts of many wonderful and tireless people there is really no hope for the planet. That is to say, there is no hope for the planet as we knew it.   The seas are rising; the ice caps are melting; human activity has wiped out 60% of wildlife since 1970; atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise. These trends are not about to change any time soon; it's easy to see that by looking around. Modern consumer society takes all and gives nothing - and that's because we the people want to have all the nice things. Let's face it - the average person in the street couldn't care less if the Greater Spotted Womble Thrip becomes extinct. They would care if it meant they couldn't hav

Reading the blurred line.

  Since being asked to tackle 'End of Life' this week I have been thinking about how to present my thoughts. I toyed with the idea of an allegory (two old men on a park bench - one about to kill himself, and the ensuing discussion) to illustrate the points but it would be simpler to come straight out and say what I think. Also parts of it may have been unnecessarily upsetting to some readers who have been   affected by suicide. To be clear, the end of life issue we are shortly to vote on is not a discussion of suicide and its ramifications. There are factors and considerations involved in the suicide of a healthy person which are way beyond the scope of a conversation about euthanasia.  And therein, possibly, lies a blurred line. When does suicide become an 'end of life' choice? Terminal illness? Seemingly incurable sadness? An inability to care for oneself?  There's a slight irony here; it seems that a person might be eligible, in the minds of some, to choose to

Why I abandoned Google.

    I changed my search engine. That is to say I set the default search engine in the web browsers on all my electronic devices to something other than Google. What is this madness? Google reportedly processes around 70,000 search queries every second. That means 6 billion searches a day. That's mainstream by anyone's standards so you'd have to have a pretty good reason to deviate from that path, wouldn't you? It is well known that Google has generated enormous wealth and continues to do so. As long ago as 2011 one of the founders spent $45 million on a superyacht. And there's the reason - a superyacht is about as green as a bonfire in a coalfield with no reason for being other than the gratification of the owner. I do not propose to discuss whether or not any of us would choose a life of ultimate luxury were we able to afford it - I've done that in a previous column - but there is a better way. It's called Ecosia. It is a search engine founded by a 35 yea