Gosh, isn’t this amazing?

Living bridges and supper from sewage: can ancient fixes save our crisis-torn world?
From underground aqueducts to tree-bridges and fish that love sewage, indigenous customs could save the planet – but are under threat. Landscape architect Julia Watson shares her ‘lo-TEK’ vision

This bird has gone out there and looked at what people actually do to solve problems:

Many of the phenomena were never intended to be solutions to ecological breakdown, but simple responses to local circumstance, practised for generations. Some are bound up in millennia-old mythologies and religious practice, while others, such as Kolkata’s thriving aquaculture system, were the result of happy accident. According to local legend, in the 1920s a cultivator named Bidu Sarkar realised untreated wastewater from sewage pipes had started to flow into his fish pond. He expected disaster, but instead of killing his fish, the effluent doubled his yields.

Others took note and followed his lead, realising the combination of sewage in the water and sunshine broke down the effluent and allowed plankton, which fish feed on, to grow exponentially. The fishponds now cover around 3,000 hectares, holding 300 fish farms, and the technique has caught on elsewhere in the world – in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Germany and France.

Cool. People react – at this level of local knowledge – to the resources, problems and incentives they face. Those solutions that work spread as a result of the profit motive.

Of course, if The Guardian had realised that the name for this system is capitalist free marketry they’d never have published the piece.

Oh, Cool!

In his forthcoming book, Our Final Warning, Mark Lynas explains what is likely to happen to our food supply with every extra degree of global heating. He finds that extreme danger kicks in somewhere between 3C and 4C above pre-industrial levels. At this point, a series of interlocking impacts threatens to send food production into a death spiral. Outdoor temperatures become too high for humans to tolerate, making subsistence farming impossible across Africa and South Asia. Livestock die from heat stress. Temperatures start to exceed the lethal thresholds for crop plants across much of the world,

Hmm. August average high temp in Edinburgh is 3 degrees less than that in Brighton.

Wheat grows in both places, doesn’t it?

Note what Nick Dearden actually says

This is a classic example of the casuistry common to Global Justice Now and their ilk:

Unsafe baby food
Even baby food carries higher risks in the US. In Britain, baby food has special standards including a complete ban on artificial colours and E-numbers, very low maximum levels of pesticides and limits on added sugar. The US has no specific regulations for baby food. A recent test of baby foods in the US found that 95% contained toxic metals, with 73% containing traces of arsenic. While the amounts may be small, the lack of tight regulation on US baby foods, and the certainty that sugar is often added to toddler snack food, should cause deep disquiet.

And what were the results of testing European baby food for those same toxic metals and arsenic? For that’s the thing he doesn’t tell us, isn’t it?

He says the rules are different for E-numbers and sugar, then talks about proof of metals – but then doesn’t compare the metals contents.

That is, the usual somewhere between lying and mere propaganda……


Sioned Jones used to adore the landscape and wildlife of her adopted home in Bantry, a bucolic region in west Cork on Ireland’s Atlantic coast. She planted vegetables and herbs, foraged for nuts and berries and observed birds, insects, frogs and lizards.

Then, on land above her house, the state-owned forestry company Coillte planted a forest of Sitka spruce, a non-native species that Jones considered a dark, dank threat to biodiversity.

The Welsh grandmother got a chainsaw and started cutting – and cutting. A few trees at first, then dozens, then hundreds. In their place she planted native broadleaf trees – birch, hazel, oak, alder, crab apple and rowan – a guerrilla rewilding campaign that lasted more than 20 years.

What right does a non-native human have to discriminate against non-native plants?

What horrors!

We do not live in an ideal world, however, but one in which profit and consumerism are rampant.

A world in which the proles get what they want, when they want it, and people benefit from providing it to them.

No wonder the Guardian’s against it all. What point in being elite if it doesn’t mean anything any more?

That destroy the environment thing

From a Guardian set of pictures:

Wales, 1965
Now known for its extensive forests and greenery, the mining town in the Ebbw valley in South Wales had a reputation for social deprivation, and for the scars left on the landscape by years of heavy industry.

So the environment has recovered within my own lifetime then? So much for the eternal destruction of the environment by capitalism then, eh?


So, bloke travels by ship from Europe to Canada, then train across to Vancouver. To, obviously, save carbon emissions.

Carbon emissions (according to weight of passenger)
Flight Frankfurt-Vancouver: 1.3 tonnes*
Cargo ship Hamburg-Halifax (via Antwerp & Liverpool): 5.3kg**
Trains Halifax-Vancouver: 204.2kg***
Total CO2 Hamburg to Vancouver: 209.5kg

Well, yes. Except the not-air route took 20 days. And Canadians emit 20 tonnes CO2 per annum. 20,000/365×20 would appear to entirely eat up those notional emissions savings.

Perhaps I’m not being entirely fair but still…..

It’s also vastly more expensive. Thus valuing a tonne of CO2 at something like $1,000 or more, which is grossly over the top.

Those bastards taking the water

You know, the commercial people bottling water. Bastards:

The Tamborine Mountain state school has run out of water, even as water miners in the Gold Coast hinterland are sending millions of litres to commercial bottling operations.

Trucks sent by the Queensland government carrying emergency supplies to the school, including Mount Tamborine bottled water, have been passing trucks heading in the opposite direction taking local water to bottling plants for beverage giants such as Coca-Cola.

You’ve got to read around a bit to get to the truth here:

We are the largest community in Australia that doesn’t have reticulated water.

Everyone is using their own well or borehole. Of the ground water available:

“QUT research says levels of groundwater extraction are equivalent to less than five per cent of average annual groundwater recharge.

“Of that five per cent, farmers use almost 84 per cent of the extracted groundwater for horticulture, households almost 11 per cent, and bottled water operations, about five per cent.”

As everywhere it’s the farmers taking the vast majority.

It’s actually bugger all to do with bottled water but guess what they’re complaining about?

George laddie, seriously……

We cannot rely on market forces and corporate goodwill to defend us from catastrophe. We should vote for parties – in this case Green or Labour – that allow us to make collective decisions about our common interests, leading to democratic intervention. No one has the right to choose whether or not to destroy our lives.

You’re trying to change how people act. The only effective way, the only way that works with us humans, is to change the incentives people face within markets.

Sure, I disagree with most to near all of the analysis that we face a significant problem in the first place. But the least you can do is get the underlying basics right. We simply don’t have any other method, other than market forces suitably adjusted, to get things done. Get anything done that is.

Change prices and we’d be done. Don’t change them and we never will be.

Just a thought

Vaclav Smil has a book coming out. In it he argues that economic growth cannot continue because dematerialisation isn’t happening. We still use resources to have growth, resources are limited, therefore growth will stop.

Well, yes. Except he goes and measures the resources we are using. The one thing he doesn’t look at at all is the resources that we’re not using. That is, by definition, he’s only looking at the resources we’ve not dematerialised the economy from.

I’m pretty sure that, for example, that the global economy is entirely dematerialised from the use of the guano that built Tyntesfield.

If anyone knows of – I’ve already asked USGS – a database of natural resources that we used to use but no longer do then get in touch.

This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just difficult

That the one entrepreneur can’t make it work doesn’t mean that it’s impossible:

Sir James Dyson is pulling the plug on his flagship electric car project after two years of work because it is not commercially viable.

For that’s rather the point of having markets and competition, that many people try to solve the same problem.

But let’s say that it does mean that the solution is non-obvious. Which does rather mean that this idea that we’ll stop producing ICEs by 2030, or 2040, whatever the target is, is looking a bit hopeful.

On the subject of capitalism and pollution

Thick crude oil that has stained hundreds of miles of pristine Brazilian beach in recent weeks probably originated in Venezuela, the Brazilian government has said, in an accusation likely to further strain relations between the two countries.

Brazilian authorities have been investigating the growing disaster for more than a month, as the oil has spread to more than 130 beaches across nine states.

It is true that as people do stuff then accidents happen. This is true even under capitalism. But to truly cock things up environmentally you do need socialism…..

Gosh, how does this work?

Heavy rains over recent days in the Bolivian Amazon have helped put out forest fires that have raged for two months across the land-locked South American nation, charring more than 4m hectares of land, local authorities said on Monday.

Fires in the Amazon. Which aren’t the fault of the newly elected right wing government and the slide into fascism.

How unlike Brazil.

Complaints over the government’s handling of the crisis have dented the popularity of Bolivia’s leftist president, Evo Morales.

Well, obviously, as Bolivia doesn’t have a newly installed, fascist, right wing government. But it’s possible to just vaguely mutter that perhaps it wasn’t the fascism, nor the government, that caused the Brazilian fires?

Well, yes, he’s right you know

The Lancet Commission on malaria eradication received widespread attention this week with its claim that the disease could be eradicated by 2050. This would be a very welcome achievement, as malaria currently kills about 435,000 people – predominantly children – each year.

The report argues that the key to eradicating malaria is the application of existing and new technology, coupled with £1.6bn extra annual funding. Unfortunately, this solution is unlikely to be successful because it fails to address the underlying causes of malaria: grinding poverty and state incapacity.

The actual solution being to drain the wetlands. But how are you going to get that past the environmentalists?

Very tee hee

Eco-activists targeting fossil fuel firm barricade offices of green energy company by mistake

Sigh. But ain’t this the truth:

A worker at the company told the Evening Standard: “They’re protesting against Drax, but they don’t live here anymore. I understand [the protester’s aims] but it helps if they check the facts.”

But then if they checked all the facts then they’d not be eco protestors, would they?


The inequalities of race, class, and gender that lace through fossil fuel capitalism would be challenged head-on.

To take just gender. There was more or less inequality of gender before the use of coal? Before or after that freeing of labour from the necessity for male musculature? Or perhaps race, it being the steam engine that did more than anything else to kill off slavery.

Ignorant pillock.

Mathew Lawrence is director of Common Wealth