Exoteric environmentalism

I blog about my passion and main work interest: how environmental issues affect people, wildlife and the planet.

My other blogs: 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 in my blog, details of which can be found at my personal website: www.bonner28282.wix.com/jamesbonner. I'm on twitter as @jamesbonner82

Posts I Like

porridgeofknowledge:

'Edinburgh to Mallaig and Morar' by Mo Thomson on Vimeo

Another stunning video from Mo Thomson showcasing the breathtaking natural beauty of Scotland.

Stock Check via BBC Future (from 2012)

At current consumption trends, what timeframe might certain natural non-renewable resources run out, and when might we cross certain significant environmental thresholds?

It is interesting, as is often the case when trying to understand and appreciate projected timeframes, to count backwards the same number of years as these estimates- e.g. if silver could be expected to run out in 17 years from 2012, or 15 years from 2014, this is the equivalent counting backwards to 1995 (or 1999 if working from 2014)…  

The impact of spills on wildlife, ecosystems (and ultimately communities of people) are just one of the risks of oil, and other fossil fuel, dependence. Surely we need to move to the alternative (energy)…

Image via WWF UK’s Twitter feed

Struggling to touch the hem of his garment.

Breaking down the costs of a T-shirt. How much goes to the worker?

Labour Behind the Label’s report ‘Tailored Wages UK' (from which the above image is taken) benchmarks how some of the biggest brands in fashion are performing (or not) on worker pay. It furthermore discusses the growing drive for employers to move from paying a minimum wage (should it even exist) to a living wage to all employees.

5 key commodities derived from ‘natural capital’ sources- and that are the basis for/ ingredients in a vast range of products in our economy.

Sourced from 'Business and investors: providers and users of natural capital disclosure' by ACCA, FFI & KPMG.

A ‘not shopping list’ as the basis for a circular/sharing economy to reduce our environmental impact- that, in addition, also sound inherently beneficial for personal or societal development.

Image via Greenpeace UK.

It is well deserved that the Okavango Delta in Botswana is awarded UNESCO World Heritage status today- the 1000th site on the list of global locations of cultural or natural significance.

However, it is worth noting that a number of UNESCO sites- both cultural (particularly a number of cities in Syria) and natural (notably several parks and reserves in the Democratic Republic of the Congo)- are considered to be in danger. 

These threatened locations are listed via UNESCO, while, furthermore, the IUCN specifically assesses the status of global natural UNESCO sites.  

The summer solstice always makes me realise that Glasgow is quite far north- these photographs were taken about 10.45 tonight. The long sunsets at this time of year, and the pink and blue hues of the sky, are quite beautiful.

Energy consumption mix in the EU. Source: BBC

Energy consumption mix in the EU. Source: BBC

This evening’s beautiful late spring sunset in Glasgow, Scotland (top image here- taken at twilight a few minutes after the sun has gone down) made me think of some sunsets I’ve witnessed and photographed. These are a few memorable ones from the Serengeti, Angkor Wat, Mongolia, Ibiza- and the lovely island of Arran in my home country of Scotland.

These, and some more of my images of natural and urban landscapes, can be found at my photography tumblr blog www.everywhereisnowhere.tumblr.com.

gsmeeton:

Soy’s impact on the environment (via @WWF) http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/agriculture/soy/soy_report_card_2014/ 

Via Greenpeace. Read more about their ‘Plan Bee’ campaign here.

Three cases

Last week developments in 3 stories came to light- that while geographically separated by thousands of kilometres, are connected by very similar themes. They highlight an ongoing conflict that exists in many places throughout the world- whether to conserve or exploit the natural environment. Specifically, in all 3 of these cases, the exploitation is directly related to fossil fuels (oil and coal). The cases are:

Different perspectives

There are various/multiple perspectives and arguments, depending on your viewpoint and opinion, which might be taken on these stories. These include:

  • Energy companies are part of the market economy, with a primary objective to create profits through their business activities for their owners and shareholders.
  • Energy companies create employment and income for nations and individuals, allowing for social development and wealth creation.
  • Oil and coal are necessary to meet growing global energy demands for economies and society, and therefore new sources and supporting infrastructure need to be developed.
  • While the exploitation of these locations might provide some shorter term economic benefits through income from fossil fuels sales, the negative impacts on the natural environment are likely to lead to significant longer term cots, or a loss/reduction in other economic incomes (e.g. from tourism, agriculture, etc.) and social benefits (e.g. clean water).
  • The significant economic incomes and benefits from fossil fuel exploitation will only be reaped by a minority of people- such as shareholders in the energy companies- rather than local populations, who are, furthermore, likely to bear any social costs and impacts (displacement, pollution, etc.).
  • Fossil fuel energy companies are a driver of significant social, economic and environmental problems- from income inequality to climate change- and their current, and future, activities should be prohibited.

However, taking a step back from these specific arguments and perspectives- I think it is worth considering how these 3 cases might represent a stage that we have reached in human development. [I’d argue that] We are at a point where we are truly beginning to understand (and generally agree), both scientifically and politically, on the long term negative impacts, and imperative to act upon, our unsustainable resource use- and, in particular, fossil fuels. Nonetheless, we largely continue to pursue a path of development that supports and facilitates the continued exploitation of the environment to extract and consume these resources.

This contradiction is quite tragically captured by the scenario in which we are endangering some of the most beautiful and extraordinary natural landscapes of our planet for the sake of sourcing more fossil fuels- no more clearly exemplified by the 3 cases highlighted here of Virunga, the Arctic and the Great Barrier Reef.

He/she who dictates the narrative sets the agenda

Significant, and far reaching, shifts are required in international politics, finance, development and industry to move towards a long term path of more sustainable development. Changing these will take time, effort, and substantial cooperation across groups and nations. However, such longer term agendas are often shaped and influenced by the prevailing narrative of the present. These cases from Africa, the Arctic and Australia exemplify a continuing narrative in which we are risking our environment- including some of the most beautiful, unique and important landscapes on our planet for the sake of fossil fuel resources.

If such stories of the here and now are allowed to continue, will we ever change our long term agenda?

I’ve written a number of posts about the Virunga case in previous posts:

You can read about and support WWF’s campaign to protect Virunga here: http://www.wwf.org.uk/how_you_can_help/virunga

Image sources:

Top: The Arctic via The Telegraph

Left: Great Barrier Reef via National Geographic

Right: Virunga via WWF