A year of blogging and several thank-you’s.

I can’t believe it, but this weekend brings up one year of blogging on WordPress. Thank you so much for the “like’s, comments and follows”. It’s especially nice when people take time out of their full and busy lives to comment on something as trivial as my blog posts and I honestly am most appreciative. This first year on WordPress has been an interesting experience, and something that I am growing into. Yes, even at almost 60 years of age I am still learning and growing….even if my hair isn’t. The most important thing is that I am enjoying the writing experience even more than I hoped I would. Being able to read and comment on other peoples blogs has also been a new and rewarding experience, and I’d like to say thank you to all the bloggers out there who’s articles I have read, liked, or commented on. I’ve been entertained, educated and in some cases amazed.

A very quick recap of the last year of blogging shows that my first ever blog post attracted a grand total of 1 like – thank you Chris from https://gnashingblog.com/ – (If anyone hasn’t come across Chris’s blog, please take a look. He has some great book and movie reviews and the occasional spectacular rant).

So you’d think from only 1 like, things could only improve. Right?…..sadly no. My 5th, 6th and 7th posts received no response at all….not even a”is that all you’ve got?” comment, only the buzz…(or is it chirp?) of crickets. BUT, I didn’t start off writing my blog in search of likes, comments or followers – I was writing because I wanted to, and I wanted to know if I had the ability to string more than a couple of sentences together in a coherent manner…..and most importantly I was doing it for the pleasure of writing. Likes, comments and followers are a wonderful by-product.

I was inspired enough by reading other bloggers poetry to have a go myself and have been pleasantly surprised at the response. A very surprised “thank you” from me for all the nice comments. However, the down side – for you – is that I will be inflicting more of said poetry on you in up coming posts. I’m enjoying the process and the peace that writing poetry brings to the soul. You have been warned!

Other well received subjects have been some, but not all, book reviews, most of my travel/photography pieces especially the ones on Paris seem to go down well, but politics and environmentalism don’t receive the same response. Perhaps the reality of the mess we find ourselves in both politically and more importantly environmentally is too distressing for many of you. I totally get that. Sometimes I’d rather hide away and hope that it’s all been a bad dream. Sadly neither problem will go away. I don’t mean to cause distress in pointing out how sadly we’ve lost our way as a species, or how bad we’ve screwed up, but sometimes I feel compelled to let it all out in a jumble of words on paper…otherwise my head may well explode.

My most successful piece so far, with regard to likes and comments, was my post about children’s writer Enid Blyton – which is kind of fitting as it was dear old Enid’s books that opened up a world of reading and wonder for me when I was about 7 or 8 years old….and I’ve been addicted to books ever since. Thank you Enid – I am for ever in your debt.

So, one year passes….101 blog posts published (this will be 102), so that’s one post on average every 3.5 days….126 followers – I know that some bloggers have thousands of followers, but frankly, hitting that hundred follower mark felt great, so thank you guys and girls. I value every one of you and I’ll do my best to keep you entertained for another year….and to keep up with reading and commenting on your blogs too.

As Woody Allen once said “70 percent of success in life is in just turning up”….so for now I’ll keep turning up approximately every 3.5 days.

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Book reviews and disaster preparedness.

In these uncertain times there are a fallout shelter load of books by any number of writers, who’s aim is to help us to survive various disaster scenarios. A survivalist by the name of Creek Stewart has put out several books – aimed at educating us to survive through a variety of disaster scenarios – 3 of which are under the “Build the Perfect” banner, as in Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag (2012), Build the Perfect Bug Out Vehicle (2014), and Build the Perfect Bug Out Survival Skills (2015).

I haven’t seen the Survival Skills book yet, but I have recently read the other two….and I’ll give you my take on them shortly. The idea of “Bugging Out” or “Bugging In” is about making the decision to either stay in place, at home (Bugging In), in the aftermath of a disaster, or before the disaster hits, with prior warning – be it a natural disaster such as a damaging storm, earth quake or volcanic eruption, or a man made disaster such as a terrorist event, warfare, EMP etc – OR the other option is to leave home and move to a pre-planned safe zone (Bugging Out).

Creek Stewart – who not only writes about survival skills, but also teaches and lives the survival lifestyle, is based in Central Indiana in the U S A, where he owns and runs a survival school. In his first book in the Bug Out series he discusses the best options for putting together your Bug Out Bag.

Some preppers and survivalists love their bags and their emergency survival equipment and can’t have enough of both. Others rely more on skills and therefore require less emergency equipment. Bags for carrying your emergency preparedness equipment come in ever increasing sizes. For example, the smallest collection would come under the title of your EDC – meaning Every Day Carry. This is the absolute base line equipment that you have on you daily, where ever you may be – just in case of an emergency / disaster. Your EDC could be carried only in your pockets, or it could be in a pouch on your belt, or a small bag, for example a messenger bag or similar. My own EDC consists of my wallet (with the usual cards and money – plus a credit card size multitool), my small, tactical torch, a Truper folding knife (with built in seatbelt cutter and window breaking tool), and a fire steel. These items make up my minimum EDC – along with my cell phone. I realize that a few tools are going to solve the problem of our possible forthcoming extinction, but they could come in handy in any number of emergency situations.

The next size up from the EDC is the GHB (Get Home Bag) – basically gear that will help you to get home in once piece from where ever you may be. The items for this Bag would depend on how far away from your home base your journey took you. Obviously you’d need more equipment if you were going to take several days to get home (such as a shelter of some sort, water/food, possibly wet weather gear etc), than if you were only an hour or so’s walk from home.

Next comes your BOB (Bug Out Bag) – yes, another thing that Survivalists and Preppers love is acronyms. It’s what goes into your BOB and the design of the bag itself that Creek’s book is all about. The Bug Out Bag (your 72 hour disaster survival kit) needs to be big enough to get you through 72 hours of “bugging out” – getting you from point A to point B safely – from your home to your Bug Out Location or safe point – whether it may be the home of a friend or relative, or a remote wilderness area where you plan to tough things out. BUT it also has to be light enough for you to carry comfortably over long distances. Creek suggests no heavier than 25% of your body weight. This I would suggest is OK if you are young and fit and used to taking long hikes. However, if you’re getting on in age, or are not used to extreme physical activity I would say 15% of body weight would be the maximum you’d want to get up to.

Your bag needs to be rugged enough to take the rigors of your journey, have comfortable straps and preferably a waist belt to help distribute the weight on the hips as well as on your back and shoulders. Inside your bag you need the following – assuming that some or all of your bug out route will be on foot – 1. Some form of shelter (this could be a light weight tent, or a tarpaulin, or a full body emergency bivy bag/bivouac sack) something to keep you out of the weather so you can get a good nights rest. 2. Something to start a fire with – for warmth and/or for boiling water, or cooking on. (This could be matches, a lighter, a fire steel and striker). 3. Water (the average adult needs 3 litres of water per day – possibly more if hiking, in order to stay hydrated). You don’t want to be carting around 9 litres of water to last you the entire 72 hour journey, but take 3 litres if you can for the first 24 hours and you’ll also need the ability to collect and purify any water that you come across on your journey. A metal water bottle would give you the opportunity of placing it on your fire to boil water in to sterilize it, or to make a hot drink. 4. Tools – at a minimum I’d suggest a knife and a torch (with spare batteries) – I also have a quantity of paracord and a Leatherman multitool. 5. A first aid kit – a basic kit with adhesive plasters, a couple of bandages and gauze pads, antiseptic cream, pain killers and Imodium – plus any prescription meds you are currently taking – should see you through the 72 hour trip. 6. Although you can easily get through 3 days of travel without food, something to eat to keep up the spirits, even if only trail food like beef jerky, trail mix, cereal bars or chocolate wouldn’t take up too much room in your bag. Something else that you may want to take into consideration particularly if the event/disaster has lead to civil disorder, rioting, looting, is 7. Something for self defence. Creek, being American, suggests a hand gun. All well and good if you’re in the USA and have a concealed carry permit, but if you’re in the UK or New Zealand for instance, this would be illegal.

Here in New Zealand, I live on a fault line, close to the coast, so also have the threat of Tsunami as well as Earth Quake and Volcanic activity. We are advised by Civil Defence to have a “Go Bag”. On my BOB/Go Bag, I carry a brush cutter/machete – which should help to deter any would be robber…unless of course they have a gun. AND it’s also useful for blazing a trail through the bush and for cutting up firewood. I also have a small wrecking bar attached to the outside of my bag which doubles as both a deterrent for would be robbers and a means of access to locked gates or doors – in extreme conditions – and can also be used as a digging tool. It would also come in handy, to force doors, if you were inside a building at the time of a quake and the movement of the ground shifted the frame of the building so that doors became jammed preventing a safe exit.

And finally sanitation – some people wouldn’t bother about personal hygiene and don’t mind wiping their behind on leaves during a few days discomfort on the road. But for the rest of us – pack soap, a toothbrush and toilet paper. You should also pack some extra pairs of socks – your feet need to be looked after if you are hiking – plus clothing suitable for your journey and strong footwear suitable for the task. Common sense and climate will dictate what clothing is suitable for your part of the world and whether heat or cold is the main consideration.

Bigger than the BOB is the INCH bag (although INCH may be a small measurement) – as in “I‘m Not Coming Home” bag – don’t you love these acronyms? This is going to be the biggest that you can carry and will have whatever is essential for you personally. This is used in situations where the home has to be abandoned for example due to flooding, bush fire, or extreme civil unrest emergencies.

When leaving home and bugging out it would also be wise to take with you copies of essential documents such as driver licence, passport, birth and marriage certificates, insurance certificates etc. and copies of any personal photos that you can’t bear to lose. To save space, copy all these onto a flash drive in digital format. They can always be printed out later.

Creek’s book also details a check list that tells you exactly what to pack based on your survival skill level (logic says that the more knowledge of survival you have, the more improvisational skills, the less equipment you will need). Photos and explanations of every item in your bug out bag, resource lists to help you purchase gear (USA retailers), suggestions for practice exercises to teach you how to use almost everything in your bag, demonstrations for multi-use items that save on pack space and weight…and specific gear recommendations for specific disaster scenarios are all covered in this book.

The readers on Amazon.com rate Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag at 4.5 stars out of 5. Although aimed at the American market, most information is useful and can be applied to most countries.

The second book in the series is Build the Perfect Bug Out Vehicle.

As you’d expect, this book follows the same lay out as the earlier Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag book. Creek looks at what makes the perfect Bug Out or “Get Out Of Dodge” vehicle and gives you the pro’s and cons of several options. Again, the people at Amazon rate it highly at almost 4.5 out of 5. And since I rambled on quite a lot about the Bug Out Bag book I’ll cut straight to Amazon’s round up of the book….which is…

Outfit a Disaster-Escape Vehicle!

If an unexpected disaster forces you to suddenly evacuate from your home, is your vehicle equipped to drive you to safety? It will be if you follow the advice in this book.

Build the Perfect Bug Out Vehicle shows you how to outfit any vehicle with equipment and survival gear that will help you quickly drive from ground zero to a safer location. Survival expert Creek Stewart, author of the best-selling Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag, details from start to finish everything you need to equip an everyday vehicle for a drive through and away from disaster-stricken areas―from survival supplies and storage solutions to off-road travel, communication, navigation, and security considerations.

You’ll find:

  • Practical and affordable Bug Out Vehicle equipment and principles that can be applied to any vehicle, even your everyday family car
  • Photos and explanations of every item you need for your vehicle
  • Resource lists to help you find and purchase gear

You’ll also find special considerations for bugging out using alternative modes of transportation including bicycles, boats, ATVS, motorcycles, horses, carts, aircraft and more.

A disaster could strike your home at any moment. Don’t be trapped in the devastating aftermath. Quickly transport yourself and your family to safety by building a Bug Out Vehicle today!

Of course for many of us, finances and convenience dictates our choice of bug out vehicle. In my case it’s my regular every day Ford Ute (pick up truck), which sadly is only 2 wheel drive rather than the ideal 4 x 4 selected by Creek in his book. Neither do I have all the survival whistles and bells fitted as standard such as a winch, nudge bars, snorkel exhaust, roof rack or exterior brackets for jerry cans.

Personally speaking, I would only bug out as a last resort in extreme circumstances. I would much rather elect to stay home and Bug In, as home is where I have everything I need to survive. Shelter, food supplies (stored food – frozen, dried, canned and growing in the gardens), water (tap water supply, bottled stored drinking water and rainwater collection system/storage), means to cook, wash, clean etc.

Both these books are worth reading to ready yourself in the event of a disaster. Forewarned is forearmed. As writer of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes, once said “Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory”.

Creek Stewart’s website link is – http://www.creekstewart.com/

What I’m reading/have been reading.

I’ve not had much spare cash recently….that’s nothing new….so I’ve been borrowing quite a lot more – from my local library – than usual.

Picture below shows the latest batch of library books that have been keeping me entertained.

The Way Home and The Moneyless Man – both by Irish writer and Freeconomist Mark Boyle, I have written about in my recent post titled “After we stop pretending”.

The two books about building the perfect BUG OUT Bag and BUG OUT Vehicle I have written about in an upcoming blog post, still to be published. The remainder I’ll give a brief outline about here. 

The Natural Disaster Survival Handbook is a simple to follow book with lots of pictures and text in straight forward English giving lots of helpful advice about what to do in various natural disaster scenarios – Earthquakes, storms, floods, volcanic eruption  etc.

Hazards In Hawke’s Bay is about the natural hazards of concern in my immediate locality and is more in the format of a magazine than a book. The town that I live on the outskirts of is only a few kilometres from the ocean, on the southern edge of Hawke’s Bay. Just off the coast we have the Hikurangi subduction zone – a fault line where two tectonic plates meet…one dips down under the other producing what is known as a “slow slip fault”. These faults move almost imperceptibly until they stick for a time and then move suddenly in a jarring motion producing a large and potentially devastating quake of between 8 and 9 on the Richter scale, similar to the one that produced the disaster in Fukushima, Japan in 2011. The book covers other hazards, but understandably concentrates on earthquakes since this area was hit by a devastating quake in 1931 flattening both cities of Hastings (where I live) and Napier.

Building Small is a nice little picture and plan book about building tiny houses. Some of these are smallish houses, others really are tiny – a little larger than a garden shed – all are cleverly designed to optimise both living  space and storage areas. It’s a nice book with some good designs for tiny houses. On a personal note, my wife and I are considering downsizing our home size, but increasing our land size….moving away from the town into the countryside and living as self sufficiently as possible on a small-holding (small farm), so this book was of particular interest.

The two remaining books My Year Without Matches and Londonistan I started but didn’t finish as they just didn’t do it for me. Didn’t hold my interest at all. My Year Without Matches is about living in the bush for a year without any sort of technology, making your own shelter and surviving in the wild. There were a few interesting aspects to the book, but nothing that made me want to get from cover to cover. Londonistan was too much of a divisive racist rant about how Muslims are taking over the UK. I understand how some Brits may feel – that their way of life, British customs and traditions are under threat from immigration and multicultural society….and to be honest, I do share those concerns to a certain extent. BUT I think that this book pushes the boundaries a little too much and it becomes more of a rant rather than a balanced look at immigration versus the traditional British way of life.

Although I have not had any extra cash available to buy books, last month it was Father’s Day and my youngest son sent me a card with a book voucher inside, so I happily toddled off to Unity Books in Wellington (the NZ Capital) and purchased Shaun Bythell’s second book Confessions of a Bookseller, in hardback. In an earlier post I covered meeting Shaun, who lives in Scotland’s Booktown, Wigtown – where he owns the largest second hand bookshop in Scotland – when he was in New Zealand promoting the release of his first book Diary of a Bookseller, which was frankly hilarious. The second book follows on where the first left off, telling us in diary form about Shaun’s life in the book trade and the ups and downs of owning the bookshop….the insanity of some of his customers, the sometimes bizarre behaviour of his staff….and the trials and tribulations of his own personal life. Shaun’s humour can be rather sarcastic and caustic at times, but having met the guy I can tell you that he is a very nice person, despite his quest to prove otherwise in his books. 

The second book, I bought with the remainder of my voucher, was a paperback by Wendell Berry titled The World-Ending Fire – and features a number of his essays dating from 1968 up until 2011. I happened upon Wendell Berry after reading about him in one of Mark Boyle’s books and from a reference in a video by former environmentalist Paul Kingsnorth…who just happens to be one of Boyle’s neighbours. It’s funny how one book leads to another and then another. Berry is an American novelist, poet, essayist, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. Wikipedia tells us – “He is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012. He is also a 2013 Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berry was named the recipient of the 2013 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. On January 28, 2015, he became the first living writer to be inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.” It’s probably his absolute love of the natural world that attracted Boyle, Kingsnorth and now myself to his writings.The back of the book says – Wendell Berry lives and works in the old ways on his farm in rural Kentucky. He is also one of America’s most powerful radical voices. In the pieces collected here he writes about the peace of nature, the food we eat, and, above all, why we must care for the land we live on.

I look forward to reading Berry’s book after I finish Bythell’s. 

Earths Clock – A poem

Nature is Earth’s clock

The breeze in the trees its reassuring tick

Its changes mark the seasons

The horizon dips and rises

To greet and then farewell the sun

And mark each passing day

Its regularity is perfection

Its cycles keep us safe

Its predictability and stability is our truth

And its complexity a mystery

A wonder to be worshipped.

But WE know best

From air-conditioned corner offices

And laboratories under fluorescent lights

WE know best

We meddle and we tamper

We set ourselves apart from

And above nature

We play god with nature

Our experiment, life itself

We don’t KNOW natures complexity

Nor its inter-dependent layers

But WE know best

Can WE be gods?

We splice genes, change dna, IMPROVE on nature

HA! The vanity of our insanity!

We create or destroy at will

Burn fossil fuel, tear down trees

Do whatever the hell we please

WE want to be god, in our own image

We pollute, wipe out other species

They don’t matter and we don’t care

We clothe the globe in plastic

We change natures balance

In our ignorance

But WE know best

We crave our excesses

A need for greed

All balance gone

Water undrinkable

Air we can’t breathe

Food that won’t nourish

Our “intelligent” creation – more greed

We use people, and we love things

We ARE our own gods

And WE absolutely without a shadow of doubt

Know best

But we can’t save ourselves

When we’re put to the test.

After we are no more

And millennia pass

And nature once more becomes

The timepiece of the Earth

Will we again slither

From primordial ooze

To wreak havoc on earth

Or will we be wise enough

To know our place

And be one with nature

Because NATURE knows best.

Quotes about Books.

There is nothing quite like a book. It can entertain us, educate us, make us laugh, make us cry, amaze and delight us, frustrate us, and sometimes confuse us. It can toy with our emotions – lift us up, or exhaust us. A book can be our best friend. A trusted companion. Console us during our low points, take us on adventures we could only dream about, to places we could only hope to visit.

If a friend said “Come on let’s go!” – I wouldn’t need to know where. My only question would be “When we get there, will there be books?”

There are lots of quotes, by lots of wonderful people. Here are just a few of my favourites.

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”
Mortimer J. Adler

“Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times?” Mo had said…”As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar.”
Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.”
Franz Kafka

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
Haruki Murakami

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
Madeleine L’Engle

A poem

An explanation will follow after the poem.

After we stop pretending that everything’s alright

After the lies have all been told

After we realise that day may no longer follow night

After our children’s future has been sold.

Will we show remorse, beg forgiveness, be sad?

That we chose THINGS over their hopes and dreams

Will our kids understand, or will they just be mad?

That their parents didn’t love them enough, it seems.

The Earth, abundant in nature, wore a smiling face

But we traded it, in our greed for money

Nature is the loser in our in-Human Race

A toxic broth is our reward, instead of milk and honey.

When we were one with nature, just like insects birds and trees

And the gods of the forest were our guides

Everything was perfect, nature met our needs

But we traded it for status, shiny things, and lies

We ignored our forest gods and worshipped god in the form of man

Declared ourselves above and separate from the natural world

And that sadly, is where our troubles all began

And we’ve been fucking things up ever since!

I make no apologies for the final line. This poem follows on from my previous post also titled “After we stop pretending” about how we continue to pollute and destroy and how it may be too late to make the changes we need to make, to save our own lives. I have tried to give the poem rhythm and rhyme all the way through until the final line. It’s abrupt….doesn’t rhyme….and represents our disconnect from the rest of the natural world. I have never felt so angry, or so impotent to change things….to make things right.

Whether you believe in man made climate change, or whether you think it’s simply a natural cycle, that creates the rise and fall of global temperatures, what is undeniable is the fact that we – by which I mean you, me, the folks next door, the people down the street and most of all the people who have become rich and powerful – are responsible for polluting and destroying our natural world. And we covet our baubles and shiny possessions so much that we are content to allow the destruction of the thing that gives us life, and what would guarantee that our kids and grand kids had a future. If ONLY we had the courage to stand up and say ENOUGH! But we don’t care enough about nature and we DON’T love our kids and grand kids enough to have the balls to protect them. It’s sad….it’s really quite pathetic….but it’s the truth. Otherwise we’d be on the streets demanding change in an unstoppable show of public disobedience – displaying unselfish courage.

We watch what’s laughingly called “the news” on our TV’s at night and the lead item SHOULD be about how we are destroying the earth and more importantly what we are, or should be, doing to turn things around. But instead we allow them to distract us with stories of Donald Trumps tweets, or about which celebrity has had Botox, or arse implants, or which politician has been cheating behind their spouse’s backs. Anything to avoid the real issue. Anything to put off switching off the consumer driven growth economy and changing our own comfortable lifestyle. It seems that we love money more than life itself. We deserve our fate.

After we stop pretending….

If you look at this post’s title and wonder “after we stop pretending” about what? I’ll get to that shortly. It’s a prickly subject and it will make a lot of people very uncomfortable. Others won’t feel any discomfort or shame simply because they (a) don’t understand the problem or (b) just don’t give a shit. But please bear with me and I’ll do my best to explain.

Have you ever started on something and it leads to something else and that leads to somewhere else, or an idea, or pattern of thought that hadn’t occurred to you? That’s kind of how I got here….to the After We Stop Pretending thing…and it’s all my wife’s fault. Let me explain.

She, like me, has become very disenchanted by the direction that modern society is going in. Being connected to Wifi, the world wide web, to our phones, to technology, to over consumption of stuff….but completely disconnected from one another, from society, from community and most of all from nature. However, unlike me – I who am content to moan and bitch about how, as a species, we’ve lost our way and how terrible this disconnect with nature is – my wife tends to look deeper into the problem and to try to find out if it can be solved. It was her search to find ways of disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature that brought her to Mark Boyle – an Irishman, writer, environmentalist, free thinker and freeconomist – who was formerly as entrenched in the system as the rest of us, having trained as an economist.

Mark Boyle has written a book, (actually he’s written a few books…..but this one in particular was one my wife was drawn to), called “The Moneyless Man”. Which is about how he took a year off from the system – from modern day life – from the economy – from consumerism – and lived for 12 months without money. (This actually became his way of life for a 3 year period, not one). Both to see if it could be done at all and also as a bit of a social experiment. He didn’t completely disconnect from technology though. He lived in a caravan on someone’s farm – he was allowed to park the caravan there in exchange for several days labour in the fields each month. On the caravan he had a solar panel with which he would charge his cell phone – on which he could only accept incoming calls as he had no money to make outgoing calls – and his laptop on which to write his book and a number of newspaper and magazine articles about his one year of living without money. He used a bike for transport and his food came partly from what he grew, partly from what he could forage in the wild and partly from dumpster diving behind the supermarket in the nearby town. His life for the next 12 months proved that necessity is indeed the mother of invention AND that living without money is a possibility.

This first book brought my wife to Boyle’s latest book called “The Way Home” – in which, 9 years on from his moneyless experiment, he has now built his own cabin, has realised that money is in some cases necessary – so has used the money from his book sales to purchase some land of his own – but has opened it up for anyone to live there. He has totally kicked modern technology into touch, even his phone and laptop have now gone. He still writes, but on recycled paper, with pens he finds here and there abandoned or lost by other people. His philosophy is one of paying it forward – he does things for people without expecting anything in return. There is no quid pro quo with Boyle.

It is this recent book, The Way Home (2019), that provides us with the next link. In The Way Home, Boyle refers to another writer by the name of Paul Kingsnorth. Kingsnorth is a former journalist, former editor of the Ecologist and according to his book is “A Recovering Environmentalist”. He is co founder of The Dark Mountain Project – a haven for writers who have seen through the veil of misinformation and fabrication of todays society, have come to the conclusion that the environmental movement has been hijacked by big business and political clout, decided that as things stand our disconnect from nature and our belief in the ideals of consumerism and the growth economy will push us not just to the brink of extinction, but over the brink. After the collapse of the system, perhaps people views about the sanity of the status quo will change. Only After We Stop Pretending can we make the changes in the way we live, that we should have made 40 years ago and get down to the work of re-growing a living culture.

Paul Kingsnorth used to be an environmentalist who put his body on the line to protest abuses of the environment. This video is about his current take on environmentalism, the life we live and why it’s too late for us to save the earth. It’s 49 minutes long but very interesting and has many truths.

Much is made these days about buzz words like “sustainability”. It used to be about sustaining and about not abusing nature or “natural resources”. These days the green movement is more about sustaining our life style by replacing one thing with it’s perceived “eco” counterpart. Environmentalism has become about sustainable development – which let’s face it is an oxymoron. Big business and the consumer lifestyle must, it seems, be the things that we place the priority on sustaining.

We have had countless feel good rallies in parks, marches to parliament to present petitions about protecting the environment, to which a smiling politician speaks a few empty promises about looking into the problem….probably involving committees and sub committees and flights overseas to see how other governments are handling the “environment problem”. But nothing happens to slow down the wheels of industry, of commerce, of commercialism.

We’ve had countless years of presentations of scientific evidence, discussions, debates and resolutions at the United Nations – yet still nothing has been done to slow the commercial machine – CO2 emissions continue to rise, pollution of the air and seas continues unabated, the rain forests continue to be cleared at alarming rates, the icecaps and glaciers continue to melt, sea level continues to rise as do average temperatures. But it’s all okay, none of this will affect the value of your shares on the stock exchange. Despite all the international agreements and environmental protection agencies we are destroying and polluting at an ever increasing rate. Changing your lightbulbs to energy efficient ones or banning single use plastic bags in supermarkets – whilst a step in the right direction – are not going to solve the problems we face and are in fact a case of too little, much too late.

The problem is a result of the system we follow, blindly. It’s not just about our consumption of, and our reliance on, fossil fuels that is the problem – it’s about the need to change the system that drives this consumption. This is the truth that everyone skirts around because of fear of how the abandoning of the growth economy system will affect their lifestyle.

The more disconnected we are from the source of our food, the less we value it and the more wasteful we become. If I can explain….go back to hunter gatherer time…Back when we were hunter gatherers we would spend a couple of hours a day sourcing our food from the forests and streams in the locality of our home base. We’d work along side and within the natural world – take as much as we needed from nature, eat it that day, fresh and then start the whole process again the next day. Rinse and repeat.

Then some bright spark had the idea of gathering some seeds from the bushes and plants that they found in nature and farming the ground close to home base to grow the food we needed right on our doorstep. Because we now take care in tending our food supply it takes us a little longer, but we are still very connected to our food and to nature. We value it and take only what we need. Jumping forward several hundred years we have for the most part separated ourselves from nature. We now live in cities and work 8 hour days, or more, in order to earn these tokens called money. With this money, we can pay for other people, sometimes on the other side of the planet to grow our food for us, pay for the mining and refining of the fossil fuel to power the trucks, ships and planes to bring it thousands of kilometres to a supermarket near us, where we can jump into our cars, using more fossil fuel, to drive to the supermarket to collect the food, (now mostly wrapped in plastic packaging on Styrofoam trays), that we once used to grow fresh on our own doorstep. We have no idea about how much petro-chemical sprays or other toxic materials have been used in the production of our food – which is now grown for shape and colour and shelf life rather than for any nutritional value. And then we waste a third of all the food we buy. This we call progress….and….civilisation. Is it just me, or can anyone else see that this just makes no sense at all?

Photo from Gloria’s Bits and Pieces on BlogSpot.com

And don’t even think to get me started on all the other rubbish that we import from around the world that is built only to last for a limited span of time. We have embraced the throw away society whole heartedly. We have fast food, fast fashions and even fast furnishings. All of which are tasteless and unfortunately get us addicted for more of the same. Anything to keep us spending that money and keep growing the economy. We are blasted by advertisements to buy more, update this, bigger that, new and improved…buy buy buy! Celebrity endorsements on TV, in magazines, on billboards, on the internet. We have so much stuff these days that off site storage is now a multi billion dollar business. It’s craziness. We haven’t just lost our way, we’re completely off the map. A byproduct of this greed for more stuff is that we need more land and more resources, to make the stuff, so we destroy nature, we wipe out hundreds of species weekly….WEEKLY…without even pausing to consider the consequences. We need to have the courage to change, to be responsible for our own actions and to do it quickly. Governments support the status quo – they are NOT going to save us if we don’t force them to.

It’s been said many times, so I’ll say it once more in the forlorn hope that this time someone will read it and say – yes that’s absolutely right, and make the change that we all need for our survival – “You can not have infinite growth on a finite planet”. So, yes we need to Stop Pretending that everything is just fine and dandy. The science says that we may have already passed the tipping point or are within a year or two of it. It’s frightening, but we need to accept that, to look despair right in the face and change the way we live. Let’s not make things any worse than they are already going to be. Is it only when money, credit and “the economy” are seen to be nothing more than the Emperors New Clothes of fairly tales and the system comes crashing down around our ears that most of us will finally admit that it was doomed to fail all along, and try to change the system to one of living with nature. We must realise that we are part of the natural world, not above it.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about the Dark Mountain Project, the link to their website is https://dark-mountain.net/

Mark Boyle (the moneyless man) will be at Scotland’s Booktown – Wigtown – for their annual book festival, appearing on 4th October 2019. He’ll be talking about his latest book and his life without technology.

What does it mean to be human as boundaries between man and machine blur? Mark Boyle tried to find out, embracing life with no running water, car or electricity. The former business graduate, who once lived without money for three years, talks about his remarkable life on a Galway smallholding.