what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

what we have lost


As yesterday’s blog indicated, I have developed the habit, in my village redoubt, of keeping scrap vegetables for the cow. And, of course, the wood stoves and system allow me, in the colder seasons, to dispose of cardboard wrappings in the fire. Even some of the plastic bottles are used for the various tasks an older house requires – receptacles for varnish; paint; or simply tap water against the occasional interruption (in august) of supply. But Daniela reminds me that this is nothing compared with the level of ecology practised in villages in earlier years – with various types of refuse (even human faeces) being separated and recycled on the ground. I was reminded of the part of Fred Pearce’s powerful The Rivers run Dry http which reveals how the ancients stored rainwater in a variety of ways (and how even dew can help reclaim land from deserts)
Both Alaister McIntosh and William Blacker in their very different ways) remind us of how easily we lost our innocence and autonomy and slipped into the easy dependence on the convenience goods and fast travel - and the complacent acceptance of (indeed contribution to) the detruitus which goes with the modern world. The Romanians are particularly bad offenders in the way they strew the remnants of picnics around beauty spots. I still have vivid memories of my father coming home - and pausing to pick up any litter on the street near the house. That simple gesture of social responsibility (as well as his bee-keeping and my mother's autumn jam-making) gave far more powerful and sustainable lessons to me than all my father's sermons!
I have always refused to buy anything associated with Coca Cola - initially because of the way they hook kids on high sugar and contribute to obesity but latterly for the way their entry to the bottled water market destroyed good local products (using recyled glass bottles) with their plastic crap. I confess that I am an addict to carbonated water - of course I should drink tap water but this was not really an option in some of the places (like Baku) in which I have lived. I was therefore delighted to see recently the Paris mayor introducing carbonated wayter fountains where people can take their bottles for free topping up.
I had such mixed feelings as I sped smoothly up the (resurfaced) road which links Rasnov across the mountain to Predeal and the main Brasov-Bucharest highway. A few months ago its potholes made the journey an uncomfortable one – the resurfacing (which was still going on) will knock almost 10 minutes off the 15 or so kilometres (at the cost in all probability of a few extra lives a year). Is this really what progress is all about?
Of course life was tough then - but we were generally healthier!!
I noticed today that Paul Kingsworth whose inspiring One no and Many Yeses I have referred to several times recently has now given up hope for us all. He has a fascinating Dark mountain website which sets out a more pessimistic vision.
And a look back to my blog of a year ago!

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