Monday, October 14, 2013

Men who put their foots in it

Meet Ishmael
Having grown up just outside New York City, he barely knew a cow from an ear of corn. Until, that is, he married a small town Ohio girl.

"While I was in seminary school, I had a temporary assignment at a church in a rural community.

The day of my first sermon, I tried very hard to fit in. Maybe too hard.

With my wife sitting in the first pew, I began my discourse, "I never saw a cow until I met my wife."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Limiting yourself---The place for Professors

I may have been to University twice,,  but I am still a country hick and proud of it.  We know things even if we can't always convince you we are quite smart as far as real ecosystem management and understanding goes .Our kids have 20years head start on your when it comes to a real education in the environment .
We can, for example , tell when the wannabes are desperate ; when their gurus have to have "Emeritus and Professor " in front of them.The left might hate deferring to "the USA"  but when they want to "outside experts " are better than any we have .Our intellectuals are limiting themselves .

ABC were again at this week with Guru Suzuki supporting Guru Flannery . While Suzuki spoke as though he was thinking outside the square ,there was little evidence in his answers and his careless support of all Flannery's careless unrecanted outbursts. Suzuki even dared to give Flannerys fear about water to be "given time to prove " even though Flannery and ABC has never given Carbon producers time to prove .
It seemed to me they were both going to the same church and could not therefore disagree on some key points of  doctrine ; siully simple doctrines like "that we are running out of everything , population control is obligatory " fear is the best medicine and facts can't be waited for " ( except when they are your own facts)  No one has gooten beyond  Ronald Conway to his summary of the dangers of such stuporific stuff in an Australain Context. Even Charles Birch  would see this and speak to it .

Anyway back the story.
I used to be in awe of a few professors ; usually because they were passionate and clearly could talk outside the square . One of Australia's best academics was clearly the Prof of Botany at Melbourne University. Prof David .  Rang him up several times at work over trying to understand how much tree cover was likely to have been around on the old western plains presettlement and pre aboriginal occupation .
He was  as usual clear and confined ( cf Flannery) in his comments . He helped me refine my understanding of how soils influenced tree and grassland cover on a range of sites and soils.   I could never have developed a good understanding of establishment factors  without his comments and broad understanding of what was growing where.
In my last stint at University  I had read as much as I could (as well as digging holes) in the best sources ( Royal Society Proceedings) .
Those old blokes and dames did research well and I do wonder whether we can compete ( As JR Saul has pointed out --specialization will be the death of science if we are not careful-- i think of all the variety of experts atop Mt Gellibrand over 100 years ago and the ground they covered in their research )
Even today , the evidence is out there speaking against a poorer balance than ever over " what grew where' --most of the grant moneys from the Commonwealth in recent decades and millions have gone into trees when the land is natural grassland - misdirected worship of trees .

When I first left Uni I used to ring up Profs a bit ( one should never stop seeking others advice ) but I realized they could um and RR; learning was a two way street and we should both be on it , but not always heading in the same direction .  I had to make decisions about land use every week - they didn't and i was the better for it when having to guess and then test whether my decisions on real life risk scenarios stood up -- they did but who else is still doing it ?
Never was this more obvious than when attending a high level meeting on water research under the new Commonwealths CRC program, The profs present ( all very capable in their own fields ) were clearly going to tie up research in two areas for 10 yrs that I integrated daily - creating empires where never the twain (surface and subsurface) shall meet . No wonder there was nobody to tell John Brumby his desalination plant would be a disaster . There was noone on decision making watch ( I tried to warn them  but they were on professor and panic watch - as usual ) there still isn't even though paradoxically they have created departments for it ( reminds me of SirHumphrys best method of losing something -- Filing it )
My friends on the land have a sense that they are not well served by the worship of prof s and academia in general ( and they NOT) . We can't afford to make mistakes with the environment but they can - big time . Like too many closeted in comfort zone, the great intellectual stupor stops many of those who would speak for the knowledgable ones ,from  trimming the wool over their eyes .

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Better ways to support those who feed us

Hi - thanks for listening mate ! Many of us have known for a long time that we can't  just keep complainin  - besides you have your complaints  too... eh!   . We do it, but we kick oursleves ( picture) for doing it -besides we try too hard sometimes . We know it , you know it .  It hurts though ! OUCH

We won't get any relief from some of our suffering by just complaining - or by getting others to complain for us .You don't know how  many of the above falls are self imposed - us pushing the animal or the pnats too hard .
One of the main reasons we can't rely on the voices of others is this : Those who would speak for us , people who really know our deep dilemmas,who are close to us , are getting less and less . ( Over 90% of Aussies live in cities and eat very cheap food . see how Vic govt are demolishing advisory services of merit right now. The loss of regional services of merit is something governments in their ignorance have engineered .
 Social media ( FB ) can be helpful,  but all readers must realise that immediate responses ( even "feel for you ") are very important because most farmers I know in Australia are under more stress than they used to be under ; farmers are in a relative " notalk " mode ( see  Psychologists listing - its  below where people ARE prepared to "open up easily" )
I am also suggesting you read , visit and post and bookmark pieces on blogsites so you learn more about some of the complexities that occupy the boundaries of  agroecosystems and the simple but inappropraite  models of modern economic progress worshiped and adored as gospel to all .( the vast majority of people)

Avoid patronising US
You see most farmers are conservationists, which makes them counterculturalists.  Let me tell you something that comes from deep within the rural community ( not the city cause its not deep there - sorry!) It's not easy being green .
Unfortunately in rural areas there is too much silence ( not many farmers have time for FB) and it's not because there is no suffering . One thing that hits you severely as a friend and eco advisor to those who feed us is what I would describe as the antifacebook factor AFB.( applies to emails too!)

AFB is about things you can't talk about not because they are too hard ( we wouldn't be here if we weren't tough) but if you do try to talk about the avoidable tragedy of government meddling or "screw you jack" policies , the listeners patronise you .  Bad seasons you can handle , but not the growing dumb simplistic governanance and false faiths that surround us if we do talk  .

I will post some more details later so you TOO can  follow through.
Meanwhile join the movement started by young people to
  1. Pay a bit more for the local or specific use product ( margins make all the difference to those who margins ( between cost and profit ) are often very low . Eg margin for between profit and loss  for milk at the moment is less that )$0.10 a litre. 10 cents can mean you can help give a farmer a holiday 
  2.  Not buy bottled water ( ask questions if you are not sure why!) 
  3.  Read , visit , bookmark storytelling  pieces on blogsites ( one way to get a more complete picture) 
  4. Don't rely on government or the media - to do things ( They don't really know that much about that - they can be very" trying" though ,,,,,,,and that's dangerous ) I been there !!
  5. Create links with other groups who will resist knee jerk governance.( Actions which talk about corruption without really knowing how it will work , government behaviour courts paid for by taxpayer are reactive , highly judgemental, remote  or are overly regulatory and reactionary .    

Thanks again for listening
( Questions very welcome  )