Exoteric environmentalism

Hello. This is my main blog in which I attempt to communicate my thoughts and feelings about my passion and main work interest: how environmental issues affect people, wildlife and the planet.

If viewing a single post, click on the heading above to access my full blog. You can also select the tabs for:

'What is my blog all about?'- more info on this blog.
'Everywhere is nowhere'- my photos of Scotland and beyond.
'Interconnected nomad'- my cycling experiences blog.
'Porridge of knowledge'- my throwaway blog about everything.

I have been involved in work projects and outputs related to a number of the issues covered here- details of which can be found at my personal website: www.bonner28282.wix.com/jamesbonner

I'm on twitter as @jamesbonner82
Recent Tweets @
Posts I Like

The Story of Solutions: Changing the game so that that the goal is ‘Better’ rather than ‘More’.

The Story of Stuff Project, via Stockholm Resilience Centre

Resources are becoming more scarce and we’re running out of land for growing food. Agricultural land can’t be used for fibres when it’s needed for food. Keeping textiles and fibres endlessly circulating makes good business sense

Good words from Kate Goldsworthy from Textile Futures Research Centre via Guardian Sustainable Business article

Trade-offs in resources and land to meet the varying demands of settlements, food, energy, fibres- accentuated by the foreseeable impacts of climate change that will impact and degrade their availability- further emphasises the imperative for a global shift from a linear ‘take, make, dispose’ economy, to a circular ‘maintenance, reuse, remanufacture, recycle’ system.

'Butterflies drink turtle tears for their salt fix' (Image and story via Treehugger)

Nature, from the macro to the micro scale, works to conserve and recycle nutrients and resources. 

We need to learn to develop an economy and society that, like the rest of nature, is circular- not linear; conserving- not wasteful. 

After all, it’s worth remembering that the likes of turtles and butterflies have been around on this planet for much longer than us…

What’s the global impact of food production and consumption? How is it interlinked to other issues- water use, land use, climate change? How much of it is simply wasted?…

Loch, mountains, rainbow, bird, tree. Loch Lomond, Scotland

"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous" Aristotle


Killing off tigers and orangutans, driving climate change, destroying biodiversity, displacing people, causing massive air pollution, polluting water and land.

Dirty palm oil is nasty- and there’s a pretty good chance we have all used a product today which contains it (food, washing powder, cosmetics, soap..).

But there are ways to change this… 

Protect Paradise- An animation about palm oil (By Greenpeace: read more about their campaign here)

Transitioning to a circular economy

By Philips- see the infographic in full at Guardian Sustainable Business

It’s the day after Burns Night, and having posted a blog of Scotland’s natural and pristine beauty inspired by The Bard’s Tam o’Shanter, I note figures released by Friends of the Earth Scotland (as image is sourced from), and furthermore reported in the media, about the most polluted streets in the country.

Two types of pollutants- Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulate Matter 10 (PM10s)- are used to measure air pollution, of which traffic fumes are a major source in urban areas. High levels of such pollutants have been linked to a range of health problems, including respiratory issues such as asthma- and are an increasingly acute problem in towns and cities around the world (something I’ve written about in more detail in previous posts).

The Friends of the Earth work indicates that Hope Street, in the centre of my home city of Glasgow, leads the way in Nitrogen Dioxide- with levels that are over 60% higher than legal limits, closely followed by other threshold breakers in cities such as Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee. PM10s are 50% over their legal limit in Aberdeen’s Market Street, again right in the centre of the city, as well as exceeding limits in streets in other cities such as Glasgow (Hope Street again…), Perth and Edinburgh.

Aside from the important health and well-being consequences and costs associated with such high levels of air pollution, potentially impacting on the thousands of people who pass though, work, and live on these streets in Scotland every day, it is worth considering that many of these polluted thoroughfares are ‘gateways’ to our towns and cities. They are the streets that greet visitors and tourists to our country and regions- with, no less, pollution table toppers Hope Street in Glasgow immediately outside the city’s Central train station, and Market Street in Aberdeen connecting the city’s train station and its passenger ferry terminus.

There is, from a practical transport perspective, an undeniable and difficult conflict created at such hubs in our towns and cities- where both large crowds of people gather and spend time, and, furthermore, are locations where transport fumes and pollutants are often at their most concentrated. However, we do need to ask ourselves some pertinent questions:

  • Are these the type of places we want to be the first place for people visiting our cities to experience?  
  • Are such levels of air pollution, and the health dangers they pose, something that we feel we should accept in our daily lives as we seek to live, work and enjoy our towns and cities?
  • Are they, fundamentally, the places we want our children to grow up in?

The problems, and causes, of air pollution are (ironically) quite clear- our towns and cities are too congested with fossil fuel burning vehicles, and their fumes affect the health and well-being of people (as well as having other significant environmental and social impacts). So what are the solutions? Can we solve them with our current approach to transport planning and provision? Or, do we need to be much more radical to develop the changes we need?…

The following are 3 cities in Northern Europe that currently have, or are planning, radically different approaches to urban transport to the fundamental approach we have in Scotland:

  • Groningen, Netherlands- Believed to be the city with the highest cycling rate in the world, where over 50% of journeys are by bike (as a comparison, Scottish cities are, generally, around 2 or 3%). This has, largely, been achieved by a policy begun in the 1970s to significantly restrict car movement between zones in the city centre, instead requiring cars to circumnavigate the city via a ring road. Read and watch more about the Groningen story.
  • Copenhagen, Denmark- Long recognised as the world capital for cycling, and well known for its extensive infrastructure, culture and identity which has the bicycle at its centre. Aside from its established cycling culture, the Danish capital is repeatedly presented as one of the happiest cities in the world. Are these issues interrelated? Perspectives from Copenhageners seem to suggest they are…
  • Hamburg, Germany- Germany’s second largest city, and a major commercial and transport hub in the wider region, has announced a 20 year vision to ban all cars from its city centre- and to move all inner city mobility to public transport, cycling and walking. Such an ambitious and long term vision is seen as not only as an environmental and social necessity- but also a method to achieve economic benefits by developing the city into an attractive place for people to move to.

The future of our towns and cities in Scotland, including the levels of air pollution on our streets, are fundamentally related to the policy visions and decisions that are made by national and local government bodies. Glasgow, and Scotland, is hosting a major international sporting event later this year- the Commonwealth Games- promising a legacy of economic and social benefits for the future. However, our real ‘common wealth’ in Scotland is the beauty and quality of our natural environment, and something that shouldn’t be limited to the countryside and national parks, and those that have access to them- but be central to the design of the towns and cities in which people work and live. It is vital that we develop our urban environments with visions to integrate, conserve and protect nature- and ensure that the legacy we leave for our children is not one of towns and cities with polluted and dirty streets that are a danger to their health.


'But pleasures are like poppies spread,

You seize the flow’r, its bloom is shed;

Or like the snow falls in the river,

A moment white - then melts for ever;

Or like the Borealis race,

That flit ere you can point their place;

Or like the Rainbow’s lovely form

Evanishing amid the storm. -

Nae man can tether Time nor Tide,

The hour approaches Tam maun ride’

Tam o’Shanter, Robert Burns

Photo credits:

Top left: Poppy field, Kilconquhar, Fife- by Ian Cameron

Top right: Rainbow and boat, Ardtoe, West Highlands- by Angus Clyne

Bottom right: Aurora borealis, Thurso, Caithness- by Stewart Watt

Bottom left: Snow and river, River Tay, Perthshire- from Salmon Fishing Scotland

Centre: Thistle on beach, Hoy, Orkney Islands- by myself

The wealth of half the world’s population is the same as that of group of 85 who could fit on a double-decker bus
Tweet from Oxfam referring to their report Working For the Few, January 2014


The truth runs deeper than you think.

Unseen. Ubiquitous. Destructive. Can humanity save the planet, and ultimately itself, from the impacts?…

"There’s got to be a better way"…

(via gsmeeton)

Northern Scandinavian is widely recognised as one of the most naturally beautiful regions in the world- with a spectacular coastline of fjords and islands, a landscape of mountains and lakes and, of course, a prime vantage point for the incredible natural phenomenon that is the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. 

While the sunlight is limited to only a few hours a day, the region has a special and unique beauty during mid-winter. In a few days visiting the area over the new year I was lucky to experience some of its natural physical beauty, view its ethereal sunrises and sunsets, and marvel at aurora and shooting stars of its dark nights.

In particular, an image from a coach journey (which I never managed to capture on camera) of a crescent moon rising from a pale diffused Arctic sunset in a pristine fjord in northern Norway is one that will remain with me for a long time. Such encounters with nature can emotionally move us in ways that material goods and experiences rarely achieve- and highlights the fundamental and innate psychological value and benefit that our environment offers.

Some more of my images from my short trip to the Arctic Circle can be found on my photography tumblr blog at everywhereisnowhere    

Black Rock Cottage and Buchaille Etive Mor II » by Finlay Oman

Scotland with its winter coat on is quite stunning.

The ‘Golding Rule’, depicted as an adaptation of a road sign (the image to left), has been devised by the p2p group as a general rule for road priority ‘which promotes the idea of consideration by all road users and right of way of the more vulnerable’. It is named after prominent planning consultant and architect Francis Golding, who was one of six cyclists killed in London in a 2 week spell in November this year. Five of the six deaths in London over this period, including Mr Golding’s, involved either a lorry, bus or coach- and highlighted the dangers of the interaction of large vehicles and cyclists in heavy urban traffic. 

In essence, the rule looks to address a primary aspect of this issue- whereby vulnerable road users, by nature of the mode they are travelling, are given priority over those who are likely to be of a danger to them. It is an idea which has similarities to the Reverse Traffic Pyramid concept in transport planning (image to right), whereby the hierarchy of prioritisation in planning decisions should have pedestrians at the top- reversing a bias that has predicated car-centric planning in many of our towns and cities.