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
Posts I Like
Posts tagged "nature"

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.

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.

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

Dream Drive- North West Scotland by Mo Thomson on Vimeo.

This beautiful little video captures some of the stunning natural landscapes of North West Scotland, between the towns of Ullapool and Durness.

While this video is titled ‘dream drive’- I’ve cycled much of this route, and would vouch that it is even better by bike.

A beautiful opening night to welcome in Earth Day 2014 from Durness on the north coast of Scotland.  

Image and tweet by @mothomson ’Aurora on the left, pre sunrise on the right and a Lyrid meteor’


Landscapes of colour on Earth Day

A reblog from last year- Happy Earth Day!

Image locations: (clockwise from top-left: Iceland, Namibia, Mongolia, China).

More of my photographs of landscapes and places can be found at my photo blog www.everywhereisnowhere.tumblr.com

'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…

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)


'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

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.