January 8, 2013

Non Essential, Desirable and Damaging

“I don’t have a problem with anger, I have a problem with the things that make me angry, and I think the main problem I have is that most people – society in general – are not sufficiently angry about those things that upset me. That in itself makes me angry – a sort of latter-day angry young man.” Roger Deakin

There are times when a shared sentiment flies off the page. Reading ‘Notes from Walnut Tree Farm’ today this passage distiled what I’ve been feeling for such a long time. My own excitement of moving onto our smallholding, Harewood, has helped to keep the black moods at bay but never far from the Internet I am saddened by the continued obscene set of priorities of government and the propaganda dressed as news from a media that often seems to collude rather than challenge.

Simple truths that threaten to destroy us all hardly get a mention, a favourite slogan from the Occupy Movement goes ‘those who maintain that continued economic growth on a finite planet are either mad or an economist!’ As the obvious signs of depletion continue to become apparent our governments continue to maintain growth as priority over all else. And what is ‘all else’? It’s the engagement in the destruction of the last wilderness, the oceans and it’s coral wonders, forests, fish stocks, diversity and rare and wonderful people. If life on earth is possible without these things which I doubt, it won’t be life as we know it.

For instance in West Papua Indigenous people are subject to genocide, the eco-system is being decimated and most of that destruction is directly linked to the demand for the resources required to feed our behemoth consumer habit.

Watch this short film and tell me that you’d allow this in your name for growth, because this is what growth looks like. It may be happening a long way away but we’re up to our elbows in the blood.  Look into the eyes of Guru Jemaat Steve Su and tell me that 400,000 lives are worth the pursuit of growth; meat for hamburgers, nickel for cheap electronics, palm oil for bio fuels and the destruction of the forests and everything that lives in it..

Researching her film The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard discovered that of the materials flowing through the consumer economy, only 1% remain in use six months after sale. Even the goods we might have expected to hold onto are soon condemned to destruction through either planned obsolescence (breaking quickly) or perceived obsolescence (becoming unfashionable).

Infact most of what we buy fits into a neat acronym NEDD, items the Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke say’s stands for  ‘non essential, desirable and damaging.’ Yesterday he introduced the Welfare Cash Card Bill to the commons to restrict the consumption of this stuff. Well actually not, its just another Tory government headline stealer. ‘No Booze and Sky for Shirkers!’ Designed once more to keep the focus on those who actually consume relatively little and whose footprint is tiny. I have no doubt that it will keep the middle England media enthralled while ‘the Strivers’  a group this government loves to bounce on it’s knee like a fat little baby will continue to strive for even more, whatever the consequences.

So am I wrong to be angry that our leaders don’t make it a daily duty to tell us there is a problem with our consumptive lifestyle in much the same way that they tell us at every turn that the Welfare State must be reformed? Am I wrong to be angry that millions have and will continue to die because of our economic model? Am I wrong to be angry that the very planet is at risk for the sake of stuff that will be discarded within days or months? Am I wrong to be angry that tomorrow’s headlines will be about shirkers?

You tell me.

Ken Finn

As a Postscript … The UK Guardian Newspaper published a telling graphic on how little of the current UK deficit is down to those un-employed and recieving Benefit… It’s a tiny percentage… Well, well at least one paper is telling it like it truly is. Check it Out

May 3, 2011

Paddle without a Canoe

Filed under: Climate Change,Environment — ken finn @ 10:43 pm

“Up Shit Creek Without a Paddle” is a saying which most of us are aware of, it describes a hopeless situation. The origin of the term may be disputed but I believe it refers to a human and environmental disaster from Victorian London. On the 3rd of September 1878 the Paddle Steamer The Princess Alice carrying around 750 day trippers returning from a day out collided with a heavy iron ship the Bywell Castle on the Thames below Barking Creek at Galleons Reach. In minutes over over 550 people perished in a foul mixture of Raw Sewage, Chemical Waste and river water in what is still the heaviest peacetime loss of life in the UK.

Just before the disaster struck a little up stream the Barking Creek sewage outfall had just discharged thousands of tons of sewage to be flushed out to sea on the tide and to make things worse this mixed with industrial waste from factories further up river which dumped their waste directly into the water. It was into this toxic brew that Victorian ladies in their finery floundered in their heavy frocks, kissed their children and sank. Records show that up to 550 men women and children drowned within 8 minutes.

The prospect that  flowers of Victorian society should perish in such filth was to outrage Parliament and new measures to deal with effluent were put in place and it could be said that this was the event that first moved government to introduce environmental legislation.

While it seems that we have progressed, our rivers and waterways have been restored and our countryside is protected our ‘out of site, out of mind’ mentality persists. The Victorians built parks and gardens and beautified London while pumping their effluent down river out of sight to pollute the lives of others. Now the developed nations do much the same. Our countryside is pristine while we export our waste to make ‘Shit Creeks’ of other less fortunate lands and expect the natural world to cope with the pollutants we pump into the atmosphere.
Just like our Victorian ancestors we are heading to towards another collision and another rude awakening. While nations argue who’s shit is causing the problem and even if shit is a problem anyway we drift inexorably towards catastrophe.
Even as the ice caps melt and the effects of our lifestyles are plain as the receding ice shelves and rising temperatures we choose to steam onwards.
If you care about your children and grandchildren then prepare a lifeboat for them now. Make sure they know how to grow their own food and give them practical skills for it may be too late to turn the boat about.
To underline what may be around the corner listen to the BBC’s ‘From our Own Correspondent’ Richard Wilson’s account (18 mins in) of a recent visit to Antarctica and how unexpected changes are hastening a major melt of ice that could increase sea levels dramatically and very quickly…

Ken Finn

April 2, 2009

A view from a Dead Planet.

Filed under: Climate Change,Environment — ken finn @ 11:19 am


I wonder just why it is that we don’t heed the warnings on climate change, why we don’t see the havoc we’re wreaking?

Perhaps it’s because most of us live on already dead parts of the planet. Surrounded by tarmac, concrete, brick and glass, dead stuff,  it’s difficult to see the important changes taking place in the living world.

In our man-made environment much seems the same year in, year out.  For instance, apart from the predominance of replacement plastic windows the road I grew up on 50 years ago remains largely unchanged. We’re more likely to notice a new shop front than the changes to our urban trees which, are already under attack from alien insects migrating Northward with the warmer temperatures.  From this aspect it’s easy to see how the ‘climate change skeptics’ can make plausible assertions that the whole global warming thing is a conspiracy by government to create Green taxes.

Yet our existence here in our dead zones relies entirely on the remaining living world, the great forests, oceans and last wildernesses. Whilst we very rarely and in some cases never see them we have them to thank  for moderating our excesses and for the air we breath.

In the coming days for the G20 our government will mobilise great numbers of police to protect ‘property’ in the dead zone, they will commit all the funds needed to ensure that edifices that represent a failed system are safe. Yet while the attention of the world’s press is focused on the ‘anarchists’ anarchy prevails in the living world. Chainsaws  untroubled by such attention will continue their destructive business as usual, unwatched the oceans will be plundered and the earth ripped for minerals.

* I feel angry that our governments can find money for banks but little to save our precious planet. *  See http://www.wefeelfine.org/

February 23, 2006

Wireless and Witless

Filed under: Environment — ken finn @ 5:12 pm

I was reading about the potential dangers of the wireless home the other day. It’s easy to overlook the fact that cordless landline phones and wireless internet connections pulse microwave radiation about your home from what are essentially indoor mobile phone masts.

The Wannadoo's from Stepford

It must be wise to minimise the amount of radiation we have in our homes by sticking to old fashion wires especially if there are children about.

I was thinking that the health scares were exaggerated though. That’s till I saw the new poster campaign from Wanadoo. Like dead eyed “Children of the Damned” the Wandadoo’s of Stepford look dazed and confused; processed and passive.

Perhaps it’s part of the dastardly alien plan.The Damned Kids  



January 29, 2006

We knew but we did it anyway

Filed under: ,Environment — ken finn @ 2:19 pm

 Forest Destruction

Do you worry about what people think of you?

Although there are some who say not, it’s probably fair to assume that most of us do. The way we choose our car, job, home, clothes and even partner has much to do with self-image. Others opinions are often the mirror with which we check and refine the image we wish to project. Generally we want to be thought of well.

How we want to be remembered (wise up Mr Blair!) is another aspect of the same desire.

Image how some future generation from now, perhaps sometime around the year 3000 will judge us for leaving them a pile of toxic nuclear waste to deal with. I’m embarrassed already. They will have the records that show we knew how long this stuff is lethal for so we won’t even be able to claim the cloak of ignorance. We knew but we did it anyway.

How bloody selfish are we that we can knowingly leave this legacy when there is an alternative? And for such a short-term fix, uranium the nuclear industry’s fuel is as finite as oil and coal.

Maybe long dead we really won’t have to worry about the nuclear fall-out but it’s very possible that in your lifetime you will be asked by a child why aren’t there any wild Polar Bears, Gorillas, Tigers, Orangutans, Lions, Albatross, Dolphin, Elephants, Hornbill, Coral Reefs, Ancient forests, why are so many things dead and extinct? What happened to the colourful tribes and people of the world?

The destruction of the planet’s life support systems are inextricably linked to the growth in consumerism. For the sake of stuff we already know doesn’t really make us happy we the developed nations of the world are it seems ready to destroy the earth’s wonder and make life a misery for the poor. It’s happening in one lifetime.

We know but we do it anyway.

November 14, 2005

Can’t change Won’t change

Filed under: ,Environment — ken finn @ 11:12 pm

Poppies for sacrifice

We’re just too Selfish

Most times when commentators discuss the worrying effects of over consumption, the destruction of forests, ice caps or wildlife, there comes a point in the conversation where one of the parties say’s “ah but we are all too selfish, we are not ready to give up the lifestyle we have become accustomed to.” It’s often the end of the argument. We can’t change our ways so somehow the environmental destruction and the crushing poverty of the developing world are both unavoidable and inevitable. End of story.

This last weekend veterans of wars since the turn of the last century assembled to remember their fallen comrades. The poppies of Flanders a symbol for the souls lost in the struggle for a brighter future.

And today British and American soldiers are serving and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many would argue that they shouldn’t be there but misguided or not they are and must be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.

So now tell me that ordinary people are not prepared to make enormous sacrifices, this month saw the US death toll hit two thousand. Those Allied soldiers are in Iraq according to our leaders to bring democracy to it’s people. I’ll just state that again! People from the US and the UK are ready to give up their lives for people they don’t know to ensure that they have the right to vote for a leader of their choice.

Our earth is in great peril and yet we are told that we, the shopping public are not prepared to make a few radical changes. In being told we can’t change we don’t change and that suits the corporate captains just fine.

Those who died for real freedom, liberty and justice may turn in their graves.

November 8, 2005

It Made It!

Filed under: ,Environment — ken finn @ 9:41 pm

My Journey returns to Phnom Penh

Thank you Motsamot for releasing my book in Cambodia!

When I began writing “My Journey with a Remarkable Tree” I have to admit to having a small dream that it would one day be read by someone in Cambodia. Today I found that Motsamot has read and released my book in Phnom Penh. Just as important perhaps is the journal entry by Niqi from the UK, in fact it brought me to tears. Read the Journals
Find out more about Bookcrossing

Of course I’m deeply satisfied that my work is appreciated, I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that. But although its a cliche, without the help of my guide Sena it wouldn’t have been half the adventure it turned out to be.

My good friend Sena is currently in hiding following serious harassment from the illegal logging mafia. The reality for speaking out as a Cambodian is full of risks. Hopefully he will be able to return home soon.

In the coming month we will all be spending our money on gifts for our love ones, please consider carefully what you buy. Buy “Fair Trade” or local, buy a goat for a poor family, an acre of Rainforest to preserve or a leg for a mine victim. Spread happiness!