Portland Oregon, capital of weird…..and Powell’s City of Books.

Many cities around the world have slogans that they identify with for example Los Angeles is “City of Angels”…..although I’m not sure how angelic L.A. is. Portland has a rather strange one – it’s “Keep Portland Weird!” Actually I found Portland quite delightful.

There you have it… the weird side of Portland.

First of all Portland is a foodie’s paradise. The food is some of the best, by which I mean locally grown, freshest and tastiest that I have had anywhere on my travels. Secondly they revere the art of making great coffee….and thirdly they have some awesome boutique breweries. Add to this trio, scenic surrounding natural wilderness, parks and formal gardens, a farmers market, a huge weekly art and craft market on the riverside and a great range of boutique shops and department stores to satisfy the most demanding shopper and you would think that Portland has it all.

BUT the crowning glory of Portland has to be the ultimate in bookstores – Powell’s City of Books – which occupies an entire city block and houses around a million books displayed in 3,500 sections in 9 colour-coded rooms, over several floors. When I say rooms I mean massive rooms of warehouse size.

I am a huge book lover….not that I am large and overweight….nor that I like over sized books….but you know what I mean. I’m a bibliophile. You’d think therefore that a store like Powell’s would have been a delight for me to wander through – right? Actually I was overwhelmed by the vastness of the place and the selection of books was mind blowing. It was sensory overload for book lovers. After a half hour of moving quickly – running like a headless chicken – with no real meaning or goal, I managed to calm down and slow down enough to start taking things in and having a proper look around. Up on the top floor…I think it was the top floor…was an amazing selection of books on photography, art, design and architecture. The phrase “spoiled for choice” doesn’t even cover it. Some of the prices were “up there”, but many were a lot cheaper than I’d be able to access at home in New Zealand. It was such a pity that having to fly home meant strict weight restrictions and so ruled out many of the large format picture books that I would otherwise have selected.

Powell’s have a computer screens and keyboards throughout the store enabling access to their huge catalogue of books. Key in the title of a book or an authors name and the computer will tell you the room and rack of books where they can be located. In the end I think I bought maybe 4 or 5 books from Powell’s, as did my wife. This sounds pitiful when there were a million titles at our disposal, but we’d already “shopped ’til we dropped” in the book stores of San Francisco so space, or more exactly weight, available for extra books in our suitcases was minimal. I’d love to take another trip there, this time with an empty case!

Unfortunately we were only there for one weekend, but if you read on you’ll see that we squeezed in quite a lot during our brief stay in the capital of weird.

One place we wanted to go to we pre-booked before leaving San Francisco. That was Stumptown Coffee Roastery. We’d booked in there for a guided coffee tasting….or coffee cupping also known as spooning….but not the cuddling kind.

We arrived early and were shown to a waiting area where we could sit on comfortable sofas and try hot coffee from a pumps….or iced coffees from the refrigerator. Wow what a choice there was. Also in the same area were a collection of old style coffee machines. All chrome and absolutely wonderful. By the time we were shown through to the “cupping” area I was already wired on caffeine.

We had maybe 15 people or so in our tasting group and the young lady who led the tasting was friendly and extremely knowledgeable. First of all she laid out about a dozen different coffee bean blends and we could examine the bean and smell it’s aroma. Next came the ground coffee…again to sniff at while dry. Then the hot water was added and we went along the line sniffing at each cup just after the water had been added and again after a few minutes…the difference in aroma was very noticeable. Finally we got to taste the various coffees. Some very mild…moving through mid range…to rich and strong. The tasting was done by taking a spoon – a cupping spoon…a little like a shallow soup spoon – and then slurping the coffee from it to make sure the flavour goes all around the mouth. You could choose to spit out the coffee or swallow….now where have I heard that before? We also got to know all about how they source their beans from all over the world – predominantly Africa and South America. It was quite a fascinating afternoon. My preference was toward the stronger, richer, chocolatey end. But having said that, I also liked a couple of the milder brews. The aftertaste flavours were almost peachy.

We hit a number of micro-breweries and bars to sample the amber nectar, and sometimes the almost chocolatey nectar too. One bar we went in, and I can’t for the life of me remember the name, had a deliciously rich chocolate Porter. Never have I tasted one so delicious. Another one called 10 Barrel Brewing had a tasting board where you could try all 10 brews. My son and daughter-in-law had a go at those while my wife and I settled for a pint. I must say, whilst in Portland, I didn’t meet a beer that wasn’t delicious.

The cafes were marvelous too – excellent coffees served at every single one we went to. Heart coffee/café was probably the best. But it would be a tight run thing as there were so many delicious cups of coffee consumed over the 3 days of our trip.

Another thing that Portland is famous for is donuts. If you want quality donuts try Blue Star Donuts, but if you want to put the weird into Portland’s donuts you have to go to Voodoo Doughnut. The choice of toppings for your donut is mind boggling. I went for the Portland Cream – basically a cream filled chocolate covered one. Very YUM! But you’ll see from the photo below that there are some odd toppings. They are very popular and we had to line up outside the shop for fifteen minutes or so before being served.

Evening dining saw us dining in a couple of restaurants. My favourite was Besaw’s. It was kind of 50’s style with high backed green leather booths. Excellent food…tasty and ample sizes…and the staff were attentive and friendly. I hate going to restaurants where you order your meal…a steak maybe, along with the several items that come with it…only for it to arrive at the table to look small and lost, sitting alone in the middle of a plate with swirls of ‘Jus’ around it and 3 little cubes of something, artistically placed to one side. The waiter comes along and asks “How did you find your steak sir?”….the reply – “I moved a pea and there it was!” They then sting you extra for ‘sides’ of potatoes and veg. Not here at Besaws. You order a meal and you get a meal. The bottle of 2014 Pinot Noir to accompany the meal, from Angela Estate in Oregon, was rich and delicious. And takes the award for best wine I tried whilst in Portland.

We never made it to the Farmers Market, but did get to the Saturday arts and crafts market by the riverside. Lot and lots of stalls to wander around all selling hand made items…plus the usual buskers and food stalls. Some of the prices were ‘up there’ though, due to the poor exchange rate with the NZ Dollar.

I was also very impressed by some of the murals on the side of buildings. Excellent quality art. And there was a wide range of architecture….the old and new sitting side by side.

The only thing that let Portland down was the weather. One day was sunny but two days showery and cloudy. I guess that’s what you get in the Pacific North West. Fortunately it was a fine day when we explored Portland’s parks and gardens. The Shakespeare gardens with it’s Rose Garden was beautiful, high on a hill overlooking the city….and would have been even better if the roses had been in bloom! We were maybe a month early. Afterwards we had a wander along a little trail through woodland back down to the city…..eating Blue Star Donuts along the way.

Weird or not, Portland Oregon is a great place to visit for a weekend…..but be warned, if you’re a book lover, you need a week to explore Powell’s Book Shop.

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Poem – Where do we go from here?

Sometimes I think that we’ve lost the humanity that defines us as Humans. We’ve lost our way in the grand scheme of things…if a grand scheme ever existed. We’ve adopted systems that don’t work for everyone. Systems that divide and conquer and build wealth for the few. That value material wealth over the wellbeing of our lives and of our planet. We’ve been fed the lie that we are more intelligent than other species and therefore ride rough shod over them, and nature as a whole. How can we be more intelligent when we are on the brink of destroying everything, including ourselves? I was sitting here, this morning pondering the mess that we’ve allowed to happen and wondering to myself “where do we go from here?” This poem just kind of flowed out as I sat and wondered if the future brings hope or despair.

We’ve turned our backs on refugees

They don’t look the same as you and me

Their religions are a blasphemy

Where do we go from here?

We’ve declared war on foreign lands

We’ve played and then died on the sands

We’ve both burned books and had them banned

Where do we go from here?

We’ve polluted water, earth and air

Killed off species, don’t seem to care

Have security cameras everywhere

Where do we go from here?

Dictators, Despots, Socialist States

Autocrats who watch and wait

Who lie to divide us, we take the bait

Where do we go from here?

We’re obsessed with our material world

Pledge allegiance to the flag unfurled

On-line petty insults hurled

Where do we go from here?

We allow pipelines across sacred lands

We turn away from outstretched hands

‘Cause we’ve got our friends here on broadband

Where do we go from here?

We allow all this but won’t be shamed

To possessions and baubles we are chained

Can common sense yet be reclaimed?

Where DO we go from here?

Movie Reviews – Vice…and Fair Game.

As 9/11 approaches it seems only fitting to review these two movies.

Earlier in the year on an international flight I watched the movie Vice (2018) – about Vice President Dick Cheney and what goes on behind the political scenes with regard to running “black-ops” missions.

It shows us that ethics have little place in politics, where rules are made up as they go along, and then broken to suit their passing whims. Often, things are happening behind the scenes that even the President is either totally unaware of, or is partly aware, but the finer details are with-held from briefings. This, as shown in the movie Vice, has been going on at least since the Nixon administration, possibly even before that. A select few at, or near, the top of the political food chain are the ones pulling on the strings of the puppets fronting for the media….and the public. During the Nixon administration Cheney worked as an intern under Donald Rumsfeld, and overheard Henry Kissinger discussing the secret bombing of Cambodia with President Nixon, revealing the true power of the executive branch to Cheney.

See the source image
Bale on the left and the real Cheney on the right.

Christian Bale plays the title role and is quite brilliant in his portrayal of the ‘win at all costs’ Cheney for whom ethics do not exist. Amy Adams plays his wife….who pushes her husband along all the way. Over various presidencies, Cheney works his way up the political ladder taking on roles that bring him closer and closer to the Presidential inner circle including being secretary of state under George H W Bush. During the Clinton administration he was the CEO of Halliburton (a big player in the Oil industry and later in the business of private armies/armed security details). Cheney is asked to be George W. Bush’s running mate and to take up the Vice President role. He agrees, on condition that the President hands over the daily running of certain “mundane” executive tasks such as foreign policy and energy. Bush is so keen to have someone as experienced as Cheney to show him the political ropes that he readily agrees. Cheney then manipulates president George W Bush so easily, by making suggestions and then encouraging Bush to adopt them as his own. I always thought that George W was a scheming, lying, jingoist…..but it seems, if the movie is to be believed, that the foreign policy ideas came from Cheney. Bush is still guilty of waging wars on countries such as Iraq based on false intelligence. He is complicit by signing the presidential orders to attack, although he may not have been the instigator.

We all have suspicions that this sort of cloak and dagger/smoke and mirrors, shadow world exists in politics. This movie goes a long way to confirming those suspicions. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and can’t rate it highly enough. There were comedic episodes along the way, but mostly it’s about politics and war at its most unethical. I give it a 4.5 out of 5 – see it if you can.

The second movie again about political activities going on behind the scenes, this time involving CIA operatives, is called Fair Game (2010), which I saw yesterday on Netflix. It stars Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. It is based on Valerie Plame’s memoir, Fair Game, and Joseph C. Wilson’s memoir, The Politics of Truth. Be warned – there are spoilers below, but even with the spoilers, the movie is definitely worth seeing.

Plame/Watts is a CIA operative working predominantly in the middle east and is tasked with finding out if Iraq are manufacturing nuclear weapons. Her husband Wilson/Penn, a retired diplomat is sent on a government mission to Niger in 2002 to investigate claims that Saddam Hussein is attempting to buy ‘yellow cake uranium’ from the Niger government. Both of them come to the conclusion, via their separate investigations, that there is no substance to either of these claims. The nuclear programme in Iraq was shut down and dismantled under US instruction and oversight in the 1990’s. But the CIA were investigating with a view to casting suspicion on this….to give the Bush administration grounds for invading Iraq.

When it appeared that, in spite of both reports that the US government were pushing ahead with the “Saddam has weapons of mass destruction” line, Wilson/Penn made his report public knowledge by releasing it to the news media, who ran front page stories. This naturally incensed the powers that be and the CIA were directed to blow Plame/Watts’ cover and expose her as a CIA agent. After 18 years as an operative for the CIA, Plame Wilson’s spy career effectively ended  July 14,2003, when The Washington Post published Robert Novak’s column detailing Wilson’s ties to the CIA, including Plame Wilson’s identity as a covert agent. The column followed her husband Joe Wilson’s outspoken opposition to the invasion of Iraq, and the leak of Plame’s identity by top-tier Bush administration officials. This therefore put her and her family in danger. It also exposed all the people she had been in contact with in the various middle eastern nations – scientists and informants – resulting in the internment or execution of these individuals.

All this had a negative affect on their marriage, which was in tatters. There are death threats and government lead public humiliation. After pressure from Wilson and much soul searching, Plame/Watts agrees to go to the Congressional committee. This doesn’t topple the government, but a senior government official – chief of staff and national security adviser, Scooter Libby (former adviser to Dick Cheney) is selected to be the one to fall on his own sword – forced to resign, and is also found guilty in Federal court. He gets 30 months in prison and a hefty fine, both of which are quashed by President Bush and Libby goes free. Again another high scoring 4 out of 5 from me for the movie Fair Game.

Now….both of these movies go to show that the rules don’t apply to those in power. Rules are here to keep you and me in our place….down there. To control and subdue the public, while the powerful – comfortable in their ivory towers – flip the finger at us and the courts. And as the Wilsons found out, it doesn’t matter how hard you work, or how much use you have been to those in power – it doesn’t even matter if the truth is on your side – once you are not needed, or you become an embarrassment…you’re expendable. They will cut you loose and feed you to the wolves.

So, people….please realize that although both of these are dramatizations of real life events….they tell the truth about how our governments work. Not just the US government, but ALL governments. Just like Lord Acton said back in the 1800’s, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I think that is a very apt quote on which to end.

As usual, many thanks for reading/following/liking. And your comments are always welcome.

The Thing About Prague – Rachael Weiss – book review

A few months ago I was looking at the books in my book cases and had one of those “aha” moments. The majority of my books were by male authors, very few were by female writers. I hadn’t consciously been avoiding women writers, it was just one of those things. I found it really quite odd, and wondered why subconsciously I may have been avoiding them.

When I was in San Francisco earlier this year I’d read, not only a women writer, but also a feminist woman writer – Rebecca Solnit’s book ‘Call Them By Their True Names‘ (American Crises And Essays) – and thoroughly enjoyed it.

So, I am now consciously trying to read as many women writers as I do their male counterparts. With that in mind I recently picked up Rachael Weiss’s memoir about her time in Prague ‘The Thing About Prague’ – printed in 2014. Suddenly waking up to the fact that she was not only still single, but also ‘middle aged’ and having nothing better to do at the time, she decides to pack everything up and move to Prague.

The Thing About Prague

Prague is one of my favourite cities in the world, alongside Paris, so I hoped that in reading Ms Weiss’s book it would bring back some happy memories. It did, kind of, but Rachael was there long term as a resident and owner of an apartment, doing the things that residents do….like living their lives… where as I was simply there doing touristy things for a week.

Rachael’s relationship with Prague was more meaningful in that she became, or tried hard to become, part of the community there. She left her home and her pet cat back in Australia to head for the birthplace of her father, to carve out a new and more satisfying literary lifestyle. Her frustrations with the Czech language and with pedantic Czech bureaucracy comes to the boil, overflows even, numerous times as she battles officialdom – what was left over after 40 years of communist rule – trying to firstly obtain her resident visa and then to sort out the mess made by another bureaucrat who changed her job description….trying to be helpful, but in doing so created a mountain of problems for her.

It’s a nice easy read. The words and sentences flow well. She doesn’t feel the need to impress us by using complicated words that would require a quick dip into the thesaurus. It’s simply a straightforward look at the three year period of her life spent living in Prague….a city that whilst bohemian, historic and magical is anything but straightforward.

Her adventures, or should that be mis-adventures, find her doing jobs that she doesn’t like, for people she would rather avoid, but also inexplicably becomes romantically fixated on (like Leonard who foams at the mouth when excited, and spits when he talks – a real catch!)…saw her somehow leading services in a Jewish synagogue – which was more a case of ‘forgive me lord for I know not what I do’…..find her lost in the woods on a hike with a very unattractive Kyrgyzstani who has cannibalistic fantasies….and she spends lots of time in bars partaking in the traditional Czech pastime of drinking copious amounts of alcohol. All while trying to find the time, and to create the right atmosphere, for writing that all important novel.

But it’s her need for romance, to find Mr Right….or even to spend a night with Mr OK, who’ll do for now, that bring us both laughs and intense frustration. It appears, for Rachael, that the phrase ‘desperate times mean desperate measures’ defines her love life. It never ceases to amaze me how a woman who is obviously intelligent and talented could define her self-worth based on whether she has a man or not.

This is Rachael’s third book. Her second book Me, Myself and Prague (2008) was about her first attempt at living for a year in Prague….armed only with an old 1973 guide book. And her first book Are We There Yet? (2005) is another travelogue about a road trip taken with a girlfriend in a land dominated by couples having fun. I haven’t read either one yet, but intend to. Other than her books, she says that her only other claim to fame is coming fourth in the 1996 New South Wales Scrabble Tournament.

The people at Goodreads currently rate The Thing About Prague at 3.31 out of 5. I’d rate it up nearer 4 out of 5. But then I am a sucker for books about writers struggling to write THE novel. Looking on line, it would appear that since these 3 books are the only ones attributed to Rachael Weiss, she is still to write her novel. I sincerely hope that she hasn’t given up her dream.

On reading – fast or slow

Just a quick post to ask about your reading habits. Are you a fast reader who rushes through your reading list, getting through books – cover to cover – at speed, or are you at the other end of the reading spectrum….do you take your time, savouring each page, dissecting each line and meandering along in no hurry at all? The reason I ask is that I read a post by one of the bloggers I follow, about how they had already hit their reading target this year of 100 books. 100 books in the space of only 8 months is phenomenal! That’s almost 3 books a week (2.8 to be more accurate). I struggle to find the time to get through 1 a week usually….unless it’s a real unputdownable page turner.

Taking everything into consideration I estimate I’d read about 30 to 40 books in a year…in a good reading year possibly 50 (I’m not counting the ones that I start but don’t finish). Some books, those unputdownable ones, I can fly through over a couple of evenings – Zeitoun by Dave Eggers was one such book. But mostly I am struggling to get through a book in a week or more. Some books – if I find a really wonderful one – I’ll restrict my reading to only one chapter per day as I don’t want it to end.

Obviously fast readers can read far more books than slow readers…and there are millions of books out there waiting to be read. Do slower readers squeeze more out of a book than fast readers? Do fast readers skip through the books and not absorb the finer details, or are fast readers just better readers, quicker at absorbing the books than slow readers?

So what are your reading habits? Do you have several books on the go at once, or prefer to take them one at a time? Are you a tortoise, or a hare? And what are the benefits of being either a fast, or a slow reader? I’d love to know your opinions in the comments below.

Travel books – explore the world from your armchair.

One bookcase of travel books.

I love books and I love to travel, so it’s no surprise that I have, over the years, acquired a good number of travel books.

My favourite way to travel is by train. I only wish that I’d been able to travel more by steam train than by the modern electric or diesel trains. There’s so much more adventure or even romance on steam trains. As a passenger travelling by rail I can relax, let someone else take care of the driving, kick back and either watch the scenery flash past the window, chat to fellow travellers, or lose myself in a good book. I can take a walk if I get bored…or feel the need to exercise…or I can make use of the onboard buffet or bar. For me, the journey is just as enjoyable as the destination…sometimes, more so.

I have several books specifically about rail travel, a few of which are in the photo below, and will tell you a little about each of these 5 books pictured.

Just five of my books about train travel – there are more.

So as not to bore you all too much I’ll try to keep my summary of each book as brief as possible…just a few sentences.

Railway Stations – Charles Sheppard is a 1996 publication and looks at railway stations that are “Masterpieces of Architecture”. Some of the standout stations being New York’s Grand Central Station, Saint Louis’s Union Station, and Paris’s Gare du Nord is worthy of inclusion for its facade alone. All of which I am happy to say I have visited over my years of train travel. Moscow’s subway is also included, its passageways more ornate than many luxury hotel lobbies, and deserving of the title ‘Masterpiece’.

Amazing Train Journeys – a lonely planet publication (October 2018). Divided into neat sections – Africa, The Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Experience 60 of the world’s greatest and most unforgettable train journeys, from classic long-distance trips like Western Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer and Darwin to Adelaide’s The Ghan, to little-known gems on regular commuting lines. Personally I’d probably choose some of the small privately run railways in the UK that have preserved and operate steam trains – such as the short 2 hour trip from Fort William to Mallaig in Scotland – this is the line that the Hogwarts Express chugs along in the Harry Potter movies.

Chris Tarrant’s Extreme Railway Journeys – (as seen on the UK’s Chanel 5) published in 2016. The text in this book is by Chris Tarrant, accompanying the many colour photos. The problem is that the majority of the photos feature Tarrant’s face mugging for the camera. There are a few pictures simply showing scenery or trains from a distance, but anything close up has the man himself blocking the view. I realise it’s HIS TV show and HIS name on the book….but really, how many photos of Chris smiling do we need to see? There are some helpful maps showing the routes of the 14 Extreme Rail Journeys covered. The text is informative and easy reading, mixed in with a lot of moaning by Tarrant about trains not running on time, being overcrowded and uncomfortable in the third world countries he visited – however he was overjoyed and waxing lyrical about the Japanese Bullet train. The efficiency, comfort and the fact that the staff bow to customers scored points with him. Tarrant, it seems, prefers his “Extreme Journeys” to be accompanied by a large dollop of comfort and luxury.

Great Railway Journeys published by the BBC in 1994 accompanying the TV series of the same name, is in my opinion a far more interesting and better presented book than the one by Chris Tarrant. What makes it so is firstly, that Tarrant is not involved at all, so we can enjoy the beautiful photographs in peace, and secondly that each of the 6 Great Railway Journeys covered is narrated by a different celebrity travellers, who barely make one complaint among them. Mark Tulley takes us through Pakistan from Karachi to the Khyber Pass. Lisa St Aubin de Teran travels in South America, from Santos in Brazil to Santa Cruz in Bolivia. Clive Anderson takes us from Hong Kong, via Shanghai through to Ulaan Baatar in Mongolia. Natalia Makarova is on the Bolshoi Express from St Petersburg in Russia via the various ‘Stans to finish in Tashkent. Seasoned traveller and former “Python”, Michael Palin has a shorter trip from Derry in Northern Ireland to Kerry in the Irish Republic, and finally it’s a South African rail trip for Rian Malan starting in Capetown and ending eventually in Bophuthatswana.

More Great Railway Journeys again published by the BBC, in 1996, is more of the same….This time the celebs are Benedict Allen, Chris Bonington, Henry Louis Gate Jr., Buck Henry, poet – Ben Okri, comedians – Alexei Sayle and Victoria Wood. They journey through the middle east, Africa, the UK, Canada, Argentina and the final journey is from London to Arkadia in Greece. As in it’s predecessor, great photos and informative and witty text make this book another winner. Each journey, each story, has its own unique character, written especially for people who love slow travel….who savour the experience of the journey….rather than rushing as fast as possible to the destination. The only negative thing that I could mention about this follow up book is that there were no maps showing the routes taken. But all in all another marvelous BBC publication.

Do you enjoy the adventure of travelling via rail? What’s your favourite route? Please let me know in the comments section.

2040 the book and the film – review.

Australian Damon Gameau’s 2015 directorial debut, That Sugar Film became the highest grossing non-Imax Australian documentary in history. He’s back again in 2019 with a new doco-movie titled 2040 – where he looks at the problems associated with “Climate Change” and what we can do to not only stop the man made portion of it in it’s tracks, but help reverse the long term effects. It’s a positive and optimistic look at the technology and methods available today that can help to save tomorrow’s earth, so that in 2040 the problems caused by human action that have helped to create climate change, rising temperatures and rising sea levels, will have been conquered – by making sensible, smart changes now, in 2019 and beyond.

Concerned about what the future would look like for his 4 year old daughter, he set about looking into alternative solutions to today’s industrial problems interviewing a number of innovators – the movers and shakers in eco and alternative methods. The result is a surprisingly optimistic, glass half full view of tomorrow’s world – where 2040 is seen almost as a utopian vision rather than the doom and gloom predicted by today’s climate scientists.


The UN Climate Science paper of 2018 told the leaders of the world that we had very little time left to stop Climate Change becoming irreversible…..and yet almost 18 months later, world governments are still bickering over the fine print and for now it’s still more or less business as usual with the destruction of the rain forest, pollution of the world’s oceans, the belching out of fossil fuel smoke from power plants and transport, and Big AG farming methods – which rely on massive use of fertilizer and petro chemicals, which deplete the life in the soil rather than helping it thrive.

What I find frustrating is that Gameau’s movie shows us clearly that the answers to all our pollution problems are here today, available for use world wide, if only the powers that be would bite the bullet, change their ways and adopt them.

The movie is peppered with interviews with small children, being asked how they would like the future to look…..what they want to see. Of course kids being kids you do get a few asking for clouds that rain chocolate….but I was so impressed with some of their answers. Children today seem far more aware of what’s happening to the planet than I did as a kid. Their honesty and intelligence is quite humbling. They are the guardians of tomorrow’s earth – if only today’s decision makers leave them an earth worth looking after – and the sooner we allow them to take over, the better. We, my generation and those before, have totally fucked things up (pardon the language). For thousands of years we lived in harmony with nature and therefore with the earth…..we were part of the natural cycles. But for the last hundred, maybe hundred and fifty, years we have tried to dominate the earth and in doing so have wiped out millions of species and are gradually pushing ourselves toward extinction.

Link to the movie trailer is below. It’s only a couple of minutes, please take a look.


As I write this post, the Amazon rain forest, which we depend on for providing around 20% of the earths oxygen, is burning out of control. The oceans provide at least 50% of our oxygen. Depending on which set of figures you believe, ocean phytoplankton are responsible for between 50 and 70% of Earth’s oxygen production and yet we continue to pollute the oceans. It’s like we have a death wish as we pursue the god of money.

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The 2040 book is equally impressive and contains all of the information from the movie. There are lots of easy to follow ideas and instructions on what we can do as individuals in our own lives to make small changes in our daily routines that, with the participation of millions of others, can result in big changes and positive effects on the climate change problem. There are lots of colour photos and drawings that go along with the text to make it so easy to understand. The book is littered (pardon the pollution pun) with photos of the young kids who were interviewed along with little quotes from them.

When asked how they would like the future to look, here’s what some of them had to say:-

Stella who says “Well I’d like it to be human instinct to just look after the world and to care for the world”

Caden says “In the future I think people should find other ways to settle their problems instead of forcing each other around with guns”

Charlotte even said “Well, a lot of people text. Maybe we should talk face to face more. I’d probably like to see people less on electronics.”


Raahil points out that we don’t consider the consequences of our actions. “By 2040 I would like if people acknowledge that the factories they build hurt nature sometimes….like the things we produce, it can hurt the wildlife and it’s not good but people just ignore it.”


And finally Scarlett who points out our tardiness on fixing the problems we’ve created. “Well, I would like for the government to have done something on global warming and pollution as now I think they’re not really doing anything about it”.

So, as you can see, the kids know that there’s a problem and that it needs fixing urgently. They can’t understand that we adults are dragging our asses playing for time, when there may not be much time left. The kids see the problem, note that there is a solution to it and their first move would be to stop doing the things that cause pollution and the second thing would be to implement the new technology or methods required that have a positive effect on the earth. Simple. What the kids don’t take into consideration, or share our obsession about, is the economy….money and profits. They care about the earth, nature and human well-being.

The system we have is causing the problems so the sensible thing is to change the system…..OR to make changes within the system that negates the problems it currently creates.


The book also points out the methods that the corporations and big industry employ to create doubt about climate change science. For example in a three year period alone, Exxon spent $8.9 million and the Koch brothers $24 million on the dissemination of climate misinformation. They also set up and funded a range of groups, organisations and companies under different names to give the impression that there were lots of climate denial groups – when in fact they all stemmed from one or two base companies. A power company in New Orleans was caught paying actors with placards pretending to be “concerned citizens” who were supporting a new natural gas plant.

They always argue that Big Ag, (agriculture that produces mono-crops or animals in feed lots), can not change it’s farming methods, as they claim that those methods feed the world. But in fact Big Ag actually produces only about 20% of the worlds food and a lot of that is soy and sugar – particularly high fructose corn syrup that seems to find its way into so many manufactured ‘food like products’. Smaller family run farms with a diverse crop are the people who feed most of the worlds population. All the better if the farms are run on organic and regenerative methods.


Another argument the deniers use is that “the science isn’t settled”… and they wheel out a stream of fake “experts” to denounce climate change. This method almost worked for the tobacco industry saying that smoking and cancer were unrelated.


I don’t want to say too much more about either the movie or the book as it’s important for you guys to see and read for yourselves and to form your own opinions. I enjoyed, and was educated, by the book and the movie equally and would give each one 4 out of 5 stars. Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope it’s been of some help.