Singing the CO2 Blues

A centuries old tree in Istanbul, Turkey

he Doofuzz Dudes books speak a lot about trees.
In fact there are a few very magical trees discussed in the stories. The main tree is the Moon Tree of course (Babbling Bottles, Cobra Curse and Blood Tree); then there is the Tree of Life (see The Planet Zok) and of course the Blood Tree (see The Blood Tree).

Well, unfortunately the reduced rainfall on our planet – Earth, combined with rising temperatures, are causing a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) takeup by trees.

CO2 causes plants to grow bigger but they need adequate water and soil nutrients to do so.

Scientists from the CSIRO have been measuring the leaf area of plants for the past decade and note that there has been a noticeable decline in surface area and hence their ability to absorb CO2.  A NASA satellite that orbits Earth every fifteen days has been building up a map of changing forest cover over the past ten years.

Although higher temperatures have increased plant growth in some parts of the world, the gains have been negated by drier conditions in rainforests which have caused an overall decline in CO2 takeup by forests. This reverses a 20 year trend of CO2 uptake by trees and plants.

Interestingly, I remember watching a documentary on the Amazon about five years ago in which a couple of scientists predicted that soon the trees in the Amazon, which is the greatest treed area on earth, would cease to take up CO2 and instead start releasing it into the atmosphere. According to them, we have in fact only been spared the consequences of our consumer driven lifestyle by the kindness of vast tracts of trees such as the Amazon Rainforest taking up our CO2.

Well, according to the CSIRO, their prediction is now coming to pass. But there’s more…

The next part of the Amazonian scientists’ prediction was that the release of the CO2 would increase temperatures on earth to an unbearable level and then we can expect huge and catastrophic fires in the Amazon and elsewhere. And that will definitely make things a whole lot hotter!

One would think that this might not be the right time to consider annihilating any vast tracts of rainforest. However that is exactly what Indonesia intends to do in Papua New Guinea when they begin their MIFEE Project which will involve destroying 1.6million hectares of virgin rainforest in Papua so that rice and palm oil and soy bean plantations can be cultivated. Read

to see the details and ponder how the suspicious death of a journalist this month might be involved.

To quote the last paragraph in this article –

Widespread licensed deforestation in Merauke would contradict the Government of Indonesia’s commitment to reduce green-house gas emissions by 26% by 2020.  It also raises questions over a recent billion dollar REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) agreement with the Government of Norway to preserve Indonesia’s rainforests, in particular in Papua.

And that was exactly what I was wondering. How can Indonesia continue on with this project when they have just received a billion dollars from Norway to stop their rampant deforestation? A case of take the money and run?

Although the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW advocates replenishment of cut down forests and the protection of old growth forests, they also blame the rise of CO2 emissions on human activity.

As increased temperatures and reduced rainfall is expected in the next few decades in Australia, the world cannot look to us for assistance in reducing CO2 output.

Let’s hope that the dire predictions espoused by the Amazonian scientists do not come to pass.


Well since part of the blame seems to be laid at the door of our rampant consumer driven lifestyles, it would not hurt to follow the advice of the website

You’ll find out how you can turn your back on rampant consumerism and save money to boot! Learn how to clean your house without spending a fortune on cleaning materials and how to make your own presents. The list of ways to save money is endless.

Mind you, I have hens and I’ve found that given the cost of their feed it would be definitely cheaper to buy my eggs. However, I share with Jerry Hall the belief that there is something magical about finding an egg in the hen house.  The excitement of finding a little warm brown egg nestling in the straw is a feeling that can’t be quantified. Also I like to feel that I have saved at least a few hens from a life of abject misery in a tiny cage.

I love making cakes and face creams but unfortunately for me I have mastered the art of making all the products more expensive than the shop bought ones. I suppose adding rose essential oil at $120 for 5 mls wouldn’t help! At least I take comfort from the fact that there are no preservatives or chemicals in the things I make myself.

But don’t do as I do… read Simple Savings and learn.

A book which would also open your eyes is ‘Affluenza’ by Clive Hamilton.

Join the movement against consumerism and save the planet – I really am scared of those fires in the Amazon!

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Water, water everywhere… But not a drop to drink!


 What do we do about the water supply?

 It never rains, it’s really dry.

Turn off your hose, keep showers short,

 ‘til we get a favourable weather report.

 I wrote the above poem years ago and it can definitely be said that the current water situation around the world is just as dire and also very mysterious.

I wonder if there’s only a certain amount of water to go around and if it doesn’t fall in say three places where it usually falls then that allotment has to all fall somewhere else. It sure seems that this is the case. But I’d also like to make my prediction for the year 2025. That should give enough time for the world to accumulate another five billion people that it can’t support adequately.

 I predict that the new currency of the future will be clean water. Yep, we’ve had shells, salt and rum as currency, so why not water? I’d say the challenge will be locating it but that’s what a currency is all about, isn’t it? If it was easy to locate then it wouldn’t be worth anything!

 I read with interest that Queensland has recently purchased a drought breaking technology from Thailand. The technique largely relies on cloud seeding using chemicals that promote the formation of water droplets within the cloud formations.

As a matter of interest you might like to see a graph of the global distribution of water and then you’ll see that there is water everywhere, but indeed, not a drop to drink –

 I have recently travelled to a couple of countries where water (or lack of it) is most definitely a problem.

Firstly there was Turkey which is one of only a handful of countries that are self sufficient with regard to agricultural production. Turkey has a severe water problem and to counter this it has built a large number of dams. These dams are often controversial as they have flooded or are about to flood ancient ruins.

 The Ilisu Dam Project and the Yortanli Dam will both drown ancient Roman ruins when they are completed. Also, due to dry conditions in Turkey, soil erosion is a serious issue and has caused dams to break up. The Southeast Anatolia Project will harness the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and could well cause political problems between Turkey and its neighbours downstream who also depend on the waters from these rivers.

Then there is Israel.

 Well this one is no surprise really. Israel is a country that has been carved out of desert land. The Israelis have done a fabulous job making the desert flourish. Date, olive, almond and fruit tree plantations grow in extreme heat and in the middle of the most uncompromising desert land. I understand that Israel is self sufficient and we ate the most delicious fruit and vegetables during our trip.

However, they most definitely have a water problem. According to dated August, 2010, the situation has developed into a crisis so severe that it is feared that by next summer it may be difficult to adequately supply municipal and household water requirements.

Fears are held for the agricultural sector which has suffered most because of the crisis. Due to the shortage, water allocations to the sector have had to be reduced drastically causing a reduction in agricultural productivity.

 Placards around Israel feature a woman with a cracked face. The message on the poster warns about conserving water.

Tracts of water which have been in existence for thousands of years are now drying up. The Dead Sea is shrinking at an alarming rate and, according to the observations of a local, the Sea of Gallilee has also receded significantly.

 Israel is such a resourceful country that they might consider lassoing the huge ice island of 259 square kilometres which broke off from one of Greenland’s two main glaciers in August, 2010. Blamed on global warming, and threatening to become a hazard on international water ways, it could certainly be put to good use in an arid land like Israel.

 Jordan shares the Dead Sea with Israel and they are also very concerned. They have their own water problems.

The Dead Sea has shrunk so much that the Jordanians are planning to funnel water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. This plan worries environmentalists who are concerned about the effect of blending the two disparate waters.

There are of course other reasons for the drying up of the waters besides lack of rain. The number of locals depending on the water has also increased and this has placed strain on the water supply.

Given that water is such a precious commodity, you would think that we should cherish the water we do have and treat it with respect. Well apparently not so.

 The holiday resort of Herzlia in the Dan Acadia is a case in point. It is a favourite of Israelis on holiday and Americans on business. My friend tells me that while body boarding in the sea he found himself swimming in garbage. There were all sorts of plastic bags and items floating in the sea. It was so bad he couldn’t bring himself to go back in again.

Our next port of call was Kerala in India and we had specifically timed it to coincide with the monsoon season in July. Having been assured that there would be deluges of rain every day we were disappointed when it only rained heavily for three days in two weeks. The rest of the time the seas were rough and churning like a washing machine, but the weather was terrific – neither hot nor cold and with a pleasant breeze blowing. This of course was delightful for us, but since the Keralites depend on water from the monsoon season to fill their backyard wells, it can only be hoped that they will have enough water to tide them through the boiling hot summer.

The Hindu Times is also lamenting the invasion of the giant African snail which is devouring their crops. Apparently the snail has been in Kerala for many years but has only just recently begun to proliferate uncontrollably. An article in the newspaper was speculating that climate change was behind the invasion. Maybe the snails also like the lack of rain and the delightful weather?

stormy monsoonal sea in Kerala - Kovalam Beach

 Usually by the first week of July, the entire country experiences monsoon rain and on average, South India receives more rainfall than North India. If the monsoon rain fails then there are widespread agricultural losses and economic growth is affected.

 So if it wasn’t raining in Kerala, where was it raining?

While Kerala has been enjoying wonderful dry and balmy weather, 1600 people have died in extreme floods in Pakistan.

 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said today that, “this is the worst flood in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the country’s history.”

 According to thousands of homes and vast swathes of farmland have been destroyed in the northwest and Pakistani Kashmir. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where many poor families live in remote mountain villages, has been the hardest-hit province.  The floods have affected 14 million people, of whom at least 1600 have died and some 3 million have been left homeless. The World Bank said yesterday that an estimated $1 billion worth of crops have been wiped out, raising the specter of food shortages. Damage to irrigation canals, the bank added, will reduce crop yields once the floodwaters are gone.

Also North Korea has been hit with devastating floods. According to,floods-hit-north-korea.html Chinese media reported on Wednesday that the worst floods for up to 100 years have brought misery to hundreds of thousands of people near the country’s border with North Korea. The Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in Jilin province was suffering its worst flooding for 100 years, with some 500,000 of its 2.2 million residents affected, the official Xinhua news agency said.

 In one of the Doofuzz Dudes books – the Space Spiders to be precise – I played with the concept of water rights in another world. However, water rights is a big issue in this world.

 In 1999 in Cochabamba in Bolivia, the mayor sold to a foreign company the rights to all the city’s water, including their rainwater. Thereafter, the price of water skyrocketed and since the inhabitants of Cochabamba are poor people, there were riots in the streets. The foreign corporation was driven out and they went straight into Ecuador to do the same thing there!

In fact water rights are now a big issue throughout the world and in particular in South America, India and Africa.

 In Australia, water rights are an issue particularly in regard to the Murray-Darling Basin. The worse drought since record keeping began in the 1890s has caused storage levels to fall so low that it will take many years for the Murray-Darling Basin to recover (

 This area is critical for agricultural reasons as the Basin provides one third of Australia’s food supply and much of its agricultural exports and also because the area feeds water into South Australia where it is used in irrigation for agriculture, horticulture and country communities. Low flows are also having an environmental impact on wetlands and wildlife.

 The Labor Rudd Government spent almost a billion dollars on water buy-backs but a relative pittance on improved irrigation infrastructure, even though this could more than pay for itself through the value of water saved.

According to too much money has been spent buying “rights” rather than actually saving water.

Meanwhile, along the Hawkesbury River, farmers are furious that the NSW Office of Water has released a draft water-sharing plan that will most likely slash the amount of water they can pump from the river for irrigation. The area affected is a prime food-producing area for Sydney and the plan which includes cease-to-pump days during peak summer times when water levels are low, threatens to destroy their crops and businesses.

This is I think, part of a concerted plan to destroy primary production in Australia. The old Maltese and Chinese market gardeners have moved on after selling their prime agricultural land on the outskirts of the Sydney Metropolitan Area to developers.

Sadly there just isn’t enough rain and hence enough water in the waterways to go around.

 Maybe the solution is to switch to something other than water. But is there something else that plants like to drink?

 In a number of carefully controlled trials scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 litre of water each day,  by the end of the year we would have  absorbed  more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. Coli) –  bacteria  found in feces. Yuck!

As Ben Franklin said:

 In wine there is wisdom,

 In beer there is freedom,

 In water there is bacteria.

                                                                                    You have been warned!

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Pigs to Ewe!

If mankind disappeared today

What would all the animals say?

Birds, koalas and even bees,

Would sing with joy – they’d now have trees!

Tigers, elephants, all kinds of bear,

Could now roam free- without a care.

Their rivers would run unpolluted

Man and Earth are so unsuited!

That poem is my catchcry. I want to hear something cheerful but it’s not often that you get to read some really good news about the treatment of farm animals is it?

So it is with great joy I read that in July, Jan Cameron, the founder of the clothing store Kathmandu, pledged $5 million to establish the Animal Justice Fund. The fund will pay up to $30,000 for successful prosecutions of cruelty relating to farm animals. The fund will also finance legal action.

It is also cheering to hear that a body called the Barristers Animal Welfare Panel exists.  This comprises a group of more than 100 Victorian and New South Wales barristers who offer their services gratis.  In 1997 Tracy-Lynne Geysen started BLEATS, Autralia’s first animal law practice. BLEATS can call on more than 150 lawyers providing pro bono services for animal welfare cases.

A lot of consumers are disgusted by hens being held in tiny, permanently lit cages till their claws become twisted and their feathers fall out. It worries us that most hens for eating live for only forty days and yet they weigh over one kilo when slaughtered.We are disturbed by sows being kept in stalls ( We abhore the thought of live sheep being transported to foreign lands where they have been known (if they actually arrive alive) to have been purchased and then promptly deposited in the boot of a car. And so it goes on…animals in zoos and circuses, animals used in research… there is no joy in being a captive animal unless it is as a fluffy cat or doggy held by a doting owner.

When we read about research such as which recounts a recent experiment which proved that pigs are capable of complex emotions, it is even harder to bear the thought of their suffering at our hands.

A hen's dream!

 It’s also not much fun being an animal in the wild as there seems to be either endless hunters trying to take a pot shot at them for fun or profit; or no end of farmers, developers and other greedy parties chopping away at their forests and jungles.

However, things are slowly changing.

Following a vigorous campaign by the RSPCA and other animals groups against sows in stalls, Coles said it would not buy pork from producers using sow stalls from 2014. And Tasmania has announced that from 2014 sows would not be able to spend more than six weeks in a stall at any one time. Furthermore, the stalls would be banned from 2017. I don’t know why these dates are so far in the future but at least there’s hope.

Furthermore, now Section 52 of the Commonwealth Trade Practices Act can be used against food producers who falsely claim that their animals are being well looked after. With this section of the Act and the monies provided by Jan Cameron, there is a much greater chance of obtaining successful prosecutions than previously. This is because powerful and well funded industry groups (and it seems the government),  have supported the primary producers and helped them to fight against meddling do gooders. In the past no one except the RSPCA or the Animal Welfare League has been able to initiate action under the NSW’s Prevention for Cruelty to Animals Act unless they had permission from the minister or director-general of the Department of Primary Industries. 

Another inspiration in the field of animal rights are Ondine and Brian Sherman, the founders of Voiceless.  In the space of 5 years, Voiceless has become renowned as one of Australia’s leading, influential and cutting-edge animal protection groups.

Photo of the Shermans and Hugo Weaving from Voiceless

Voiceless is a non-profit organisation which aims to promote respect and compassion for animals.

According to Voiceless says its approach is “mainstream”: they use a grants program to support the work of existing animal protection organisations, they have a legal arm which works on public policy and law and they have an educational arm which promotes compassion for animals to school-aged children.

“At Voiceless we don’t do raids, we don’t support any illegal activities,” Ondine said. “We are taking a very mainstream and inclusive approach.

“[We need to be] able to put out a very professional image so we can talk to the corporate sector, we can talk to the industry, we can attract people that perhaps aren’t as comfortable being associated with the more protesting style.”

Now these actions are occurring in Australia but don’t forget the great work done by Sir Roger Moore in the UK who managed to get Selfridges to agree to stop selling pate foie gras.

So animals still have a way to go before they can jump for joy but they can feel heartened that many people do really care about their rights. I suppose animals won’t feel totally comforted until they hear that everyone is going vegetarian.


It seems that the BP oil disaster is a disaster in more ways than one. If it isn’t bad enough that native animals are losing their lives after ingesting gallons of oil, the pets in the region are also suffering.

Since most people in the region make their income in one way or another from the Gulf, the economic impact has meant that as locals lose their jobs they can’t afford to feed themselves, neverlone a pet. So record numbers of pets have been given in to animal shelters.

So if you can, please donate to the Friends of the Animal Shelter of St Bernard who are looking after many of these animals –

Just this Wednesday 100 dogs were loaded up in a truck headed to a shelter in Madison, N.J. The Louisiana SPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and American Humane Association have teamed up for this big transport. The animals are from various shelters around the area including St. Bernard Parish and Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society. So you might also like to donate to these charities.

For more information on this disaster for animals see –

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Yummy Tarantulas!


So eating tarantulas and other spiders is the new ‘thing’ to do if you’re a tourist in Cambodia. Tourists are joining the locals, grabbing every tarantula they can find and eating them with soy sauce.

To quote

They go to the forests or cashew nut plantations on the outskirts of Sukon and poke sticks down the hundreds of spider holes, catching them as they rush out of the earth.

No doubt this is super fun but I wonder if the Cambodians have thought of the consequences of inviting foreigners in to help wipe out the spider population. Probably not. 

I do understand that the Cambodians are very poor and that spiders have long formed part of their diet. But they might regret this new craze.

Now why might there be spiders in the fields? Oh, could it be to eat the insects that would otherwise consume their crops?

However they just might find what the Indians found out when they supplied the French with frogs’ legs. The Indians, in an attempt to blitz the French market with frogs’ legs, chopped the legs off every frog they could lay their hands on. 

They forgot to think what the frogs were doing in their fields in the first place. Later they found out. When they had annihilated all the frogs, their crops were destroyed by insects. The end result was that to save their crops India wound up spending more on pesticides than the gross income received from the sale of the frogs’ legs.

Now this is a living lesson in biodiversity.

Biodiversity is the variety of all things living on earth from micro organisms to plants to animals.  Biodiversity is used as a measure of the health of biological systems. 

Every creature on earth is a result of millions of years of evolution. When chinks appear in the biological chain as species perish the results are devastating – sometimes even catastrophic. The best way to keep the biological chain intact and to save species is to save habitats and ecosystems. When forests and jungles are chopped down and marshes drained, habitats are destroyed and hence all the micro organisms, plants and animals that lived there will die because their food source is gone.

Unfortunately for the French, frogs’ legs are now in short supply due to the fact that the chytrid fungus has been killing amphibians world wide. Frogs could well be wiped out.

Once frogs have been wiped out we’d better be very kind to our spiders as they are the number one predator of insects.  If all the spiders disappeared tomorrow we would quickly be overwhelmed by insects, some of which cause disease and famine.

To quote

We would wake up to find a heck of a lot of flies and other insects buzzing about. However, in the long term, it would have a negative effect on the food chain, with shrews, frogs and other spider eaters getting less food. If there were less shrews and frogs, owls and foxes and other large predators would have less to eat, and more would starve to death. To sum up, the sudden disapearence of spiders sets off a chain reaction of hunger.

And that is what biodiversity is all about!

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I’m not inviting you to my Planet!

If mankind disappeared today

What would all the animals say?

Birds, koalas and even bees,

Would sing with joy – they’d now have trees!

Tigers, elephants, all kinds of bear,

Could now roam free- without a care.

Their rivers would run unpolluted

Man and Earth are so unsuited! 

If you inherited a perfectly good planet with lovely oceans and jungles and fascinating animals, birds and fish, would you invite man onto it?

If you did you’d be crazy.

Picture the movie ‘Avatar’ and you’d see what I mean. Of course that’s only a movie, but why does it ring so true?

That’s because deep in our hearts we know that man can’t be trusted. Of course we’re all complicit, but somehow individually we all feel powerless.

As governments do extraordinary things that are not in their own country’s interests and as multi national corporations trash the planet with their slovenly work practices, we can only sit back and ‘cop it sweet’ as they say in Australia.

Only a couple of weeks ago we heard that Australia, which has ample home grown apples and pears, is opening the floodgates to Chinese grown apples and pears and all their attendant diseases. Yippee.

On a global scale we watch as oil spews into the oceans right across the globe.

The BP disaster in Mississippi is just one of many, many disasters. Oil spills are an every day part of life in the Niger Delta in Nigeria where oil pipelines have destroyed the livelihoods of  Nigerian farmers by poisoning the air, soil and water. Here oil pours out of oil wells continually, rendering swamps lifeless. Just recently a burst pipe belonging to Shell spewed out oil for two months, killing all the life in the local mangroves. It was only stopped a couple of weeks ago. The Gio Creek is still black from an oil spill in April.

Everywhere fish are dead and prawns and crab, once abundant, are now non existent.

I dread the day when there is either an explosion or oil leak in the British oil wells in the waters off the Falkland Islands or a ship crashes in Antarctic waters and drops its oil into the ocean. One day I fear we’ll be seeing photos on the front page of our papers of Emperor penguins, seals and whales coated in oil.

On land the mass extinction of plant and animal species proceeds at up to 1000 times the natural rate. As every country chops down their jungles, forests and spare trees as fast as they can, thus effectively destroying the habitats of every wild animal on earth, I don’t think many of us have much hope that anything except cats, dogs, caged budgerigars and farm animals will be alive by the end of the century.

Indonesia is now preparing to clear 1.6 million hectares of land in the Merauke district of south-east Papua for development, but this could expand to 2.5million hectares.

 The rainforests, which include swamp forests that are ecologically fragile, contain stores of peat that absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The land has been earmarked for agricultural projects including palm oil plantations, soy bean plantations, sugar cane, corn and rice farms. Already, throughout South-East Asia, palm oil plantations have been responsible for destroying millions of hectares of jungle. Throughout the world, soy bean plantations have been responsible for the destruction of huge tracts of the Amazon jungle and Argentinian forests. Environmentalists claim that up to 2 million hectares of jungle in Merauke are under threat.

There is no guarantee that the project will be successful even if the jungles are razed. A similar Indonesian project – the Kalimantan mega rice project that caused the devastation of peatland forests in Kalimantan – did not produce a single bushel of rice.

As the earth watches the small amount of its remaining jungles and forests being slashed and burnt to the ground, one wonders what price will be paid in years to come.

In the Zamfara state of Nigeria, in a village close to a gold mine, numerous children have recently died from lead poisoning. The ore that the gold is found in has a very high percentage of lead which has contaminated the soil in the village, and inside the households.

Across the globe mines have destroyed the landscape in all countries.

Our own Blue Mountains in New South Wales have collapsed in different spots due to coal mining beneath them.

New Guineans have long rued the day that gold miners entered their territory, poisoning their waterways and destroying their land.

One of my acupuncture patients, a Philippino, sadly recalled the beautiful natural scenery and waterfalls of his childhood which have now been destoyed by mining. For that matter, I believe that nearly 95% of original jungle has been chopped down in the Philippines since the end of World War Two.

I would like to think that earth’s glass is half full rather than half empty (make that three quarters empty). Unfortunately it does seem that while we’re all cruising along in a state of materialistic bliss, our planet is being trashed.

Let’s put it this way – I won’t be inviting mankind to MY planet!

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Whale Pooh is Good For You!


Yes indeed, whale pooh is good for you!

Apparently, sperm whale pooh is rich in iron, which stimulates phytoplankton to grow and trap carbon. When the phytoplankton die, the trapped carbon sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

Thus, each year, sperm whales in the Southern Ocean remove approximately 400,000 tonnes of carbon from our atmosphere each year – more than double the amount of carbon they add by breathing out carbon dioxide.

To read more, see:

Now all we have to do is stop hunting them so we can maximize our whale pooh!

More on whales – this time from Libby Eyre of Macquarie University. Libby has been studying the humpbacks’ songs. The whales sing when they are migrating or breeding.  Although to us the songs sound like high-pitched groans, the songs are actually little verses containing individual notes.

In fact, some whale songs which are sung by the males, are so catchy that by the time the pod have finished their long migration journeys, the whole pod are singing the same song.

Libby is travelling to Tonga this year to study the singing behaviour of some Australian east coast humpback whales.

These were the quirky whale stories that I read this week. Another cute story was about the Barbary Macaque. You can read it too at 

In an article in the Journal ‘Animal Behaviour’, Julia Fischer of the German Primate Center in Göttingen, discusses the social behaviour of the Barbary Macaques.

The male macaques use babies as a social networking tool. 

You’ve probably seen numerous photos of politicians clutching horrified children (their own and other people’s).  Well, the male Barbary Macaque also realizes the social value of children by dragging along the kids to meetings with other males. If they want to impress the boys they take along the kids; if they want to repair a damaged relationship they drag along the kids; and if they want to create new bonds with other macaques they bring the children. 

“They will hold up the infant like a holy thing, nuzzling it, chattering their teeth,” Dr. Fischer said. “It can be a bit bewildering to see.” 

Considering that children of the human species often complain that their fathers are emotionally detached and would rather work than play with them, it is heart warming to know that this is not the case with all primates. 

Certainly not with the male cotton-top tamarin and the common marmoset.  

When their mate becomes pregnant, the males’ hormones change and they immediately start to put on weight. This is because the females have twins and the males will have the strength to carry the babies around until they are able to look after themselves. The female has other duties. She has to produce milk for two and also become pregnant about two weeks after giving birth.

Now is that interesting? Unfortunately cotton-top tamarins are endangered as their territory has been severely diminished, but they sound like very nice chaps, as do the Barbary Macaques.

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One Hell of a Beauty

Have any of you environmentalists been wondering who the culprits are who are using rhino horn powder and driving the poor creatures to extinction?

I understood it was the Chinese who created the demand for the rhino horn to put in their medicines.

However, there is another person who has the big bucks necessary for the purchase – Elle Macpherson.

To quote a recent article in Woman’s Day Magazine (28th June, 2010) –

Elle Macpherson, 47, is on the hunt for a new youth elixer after ditching her favourite treatment – rhino horn powder, which she describes as tasting “like crushed bone and fungus”. Her change of heart came after learning rhinos are endangered.

I thought my eyes must be deceiving me!  How amazing!

As opposed to jet setting Elle, I am just an ordinary person with no celebrity network, but even I know that rhinos are on the brink of extinction because of the insane demand for their horn.
Since this has been the case for decades, I have to ask what planet Elle has been living on – guess it’s Planet Elle. I wonder if she pondered on why the price was so high?

Trade in rhino-horn powder has been banned since 1995.

To quote Richard Kay of the Daily Mail:

Veteran ­environmentalist Tony Fitzjohn, from the George ­Adamson Wildlife ­Preservation Trust, tells me: ‘This is incredibly irresponsible. I have never been so disgusted in my 40 years of trying to save wildlife.

‘Her remarks mean that people will come after these scarce and ancient animals with guns.

‘Men die protecting them, and the well-being of countries that rely on tourism and wildlife are diminished.

I certainly now have a very negative view of a beautiful woman who is so insecure about her looks that she would be instrumental in killing such a magnificent creature so that she can erase a couple of wrinkles.

I just hope that someone tells her that tigers are endangered and so are most exotic animals these days just in case she hears that they can prolong her beauty too.

It’s rather sad when a wealthy and beautiful woman starts to panic about aging.  Besides the fact that I doubt that rhino horn makes one iota of difference to her face, I really wonder if the good her beauty does for the world is worth the lives of the many rhinosauruses that have been killed for it! If she can’t age gracefully why not do what everyone else seems to be doing and have botox or a facelift?

 I think Elle was the genius who said that she wouldn’t have a book in her house unless she’d written it. What a shame, if she had read a couple of other people’s books she might know that rhinos are endangered. However, she is quite a canny business woman and I think she might have worked out that there was a reason that she was paying thousands of dollars for an ounce of the powder.

Sadly, the beauty and fashion industries are two of the major reasons that so many magnificent creatures are in demise.

Every time I see snake skin boots, belts, shoes and handbags I wince. How many boas have been killed to service that fashion?

The musk deer has been driven to the point of extinction by the perfume industry for their musk.

Watch any old movie and you’ll see tiger skins as rugs and leopard skin and jaguar hats and coats on the actresses.

I have always thought that the only fair thing would be if animals were issued with guns to protect themselves.  Now that would be interesting.

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Two interesting stories about our health

Last week I read two articles about health.

One revealed that there has been a big spike in bowel cancer amongst young people. Where traditionally the majority of people who developed bowel cancer have been in the over 50s age group, there is now an unusually high incidence of people in their 20s and 30s with it. As no one is 100% sure of what causes bowel cancer, there was no explanation offered.

 The other article discussed how children as young as nine have been entering puberty. This was a Danish study but from my understanding, the same is happening in Australia. My friend tells me that her daughter and her daughter’s friends all entered puberty at the age of ten. So why might all the above be occurring? Dr Anders Juul , head of the Department of Growth and Reproduction at the University hospital in Copenhagen, which carried out the research, and which is a world leader in the study of hormones and growth told the Sunday Times, “’It’s a clear sign that something is affecting our children; whether it’s junk food, environmental chemicals or lack of physical activity.’ Read more:

Well my view is that we are all part of a cruel and unusual experiment and these are just two of the outcomes. I believe we all have reason to be very concerned about the future of mankind. Firstly and most importantly, the food we eat is for the most part, a big concern. Our fruit and vegetables are sprayed endless times before they are picked – when they are still green, and then gassed to ripen.

 Supermarkets instruct the consumer to wash fruit and vegetables before eating them, but there is no way in the world that the poisons which have by now been incorporated deep into the tissues of the produce can ever be washed away. Most commercial breads, biscuits, muffins and cakes contain preservatives and anti fungicides. Since breads all seem to contain soy products, there is a fair bet that these are genetically modified if they are sourced from overseas as 90% of the soy crop in the United States is owned by Monsanto Chemicals.

I have often wondered about the saying, ‘the best thing since sliced bread’. When I was young my mother used to make her own bread. I used to love the smell of freshly baked bread and the flavour was awesome, but she stopped making it when my father told her he preferred the taste of packaged bread. How packaged white bread can be seriously called ‘bread’ is beyond me. If it is wet is becomes a gluey white paste. My brother swears that one of the major ingredients in white bread is powdered hens’ feathers from China. Certainly, sliced white bread contains something not quite from this earth!

 Poultry used to be fed hormones to make them grow faster. The poultry industry swears that this is no longer the case. They do admit to routinely feeding poultry antibiotics but they say that the enormous size of chickens is due to selective breeding. I have kept hens for years and they eat very well. However, there is no way they are anything like the size of the ginormous hens in the frozen section of the supermarket.

Our eggs for the most part come from caged hens which are kept in deplorable conditions, forced to lay eggs 24/7 and forced to stay forever in a little cage with no room to move. They never walk and they die young. The sadness they must feel would surely cross over to their eggs and then into our bodies.

Processed meats such as salamis, hams and commercially smoked salmon and fish (other than traditionally cured products) contain carcinogenic chemicals. Pigs are routinely fed antibiotics which are therefore deep in their flesh (the meat we later eat). They are kept in little pens and have their teeth yanked out. Their sadness is also in their flesh. Another additive give to pigs is PST [porcine somatatropin]. PST is a copy of a natural hormone produced in the pig. One wonders why pigs have to be given a copy of a hormone they already have. And why are we supposed to believe that a man made hormone is the same thing as the natural hormone?

And guess what? Beef from northern Australia are given oestrogen-based hormones. A common implant that’s used in northern Australia contains 43 milligrams of oestrogen. Lucky us, especially since the use of hormones in beef production has been banned in Europe since 1989.

This is possibly why a lot of men now suffer from gynecomastia or ‘man boobs’. This is a condition where a man’s body starts producing more oestrogen than testosterone.

The best chance you have is to buy organic food. This will not be sprayed. Ask your butcher for organic meat. If you can’t grind your own flour then at least buy unbleached flour. My friend Joe makes his own sour dough bread. He derides commercial breads as he says that they contain yeast which is a man made product.

This is the problem. We have moved so far from nature that we rarely eat natural foods. The concept of wholefood is a thing of the past. For example, go to the supermarket and see what has happened to milk. I defy the average person to understand the differences between all the milks on the shelf. But the bottom line is that they are no longer the whole milk from the cow. The fat and who knows what else, has been removed, and calcium and vitamins and who knows what else, have been added

! I am very keen on quince paste and I purchased a tin of the paste at a delicatessen this week. When I got home I looked at the ingredients and I certainly wished I’d checked them before I’d bought it. I promptly took it back and asked for a refund. It had been artificially coloured with Allura Red. This colouring has been banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Sweden due to its carcinogenic effects, but it is still allowed in the US and Australia. At least the Danish children can’t blame Allura Red for their puberty blues! But what is it doing to children in other countries?

 To further quote Dr Anders Juul from the article on premature puberty – “We were very surprised that there had been such a change. If girls mature early, they run into teenage problems at an early age and they’re more prone to diseases later on. We should be worried about this regardless of what we think the underlying reasons might be.”

This blog has just been about the dangers in the food we eat. I have not even touched on the dangers in our toothpaste, soap, bath gels, shampoos and hair conditioners. These invariably contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate.

To quote Wikepedia – Sodium laureth sulfate, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), is a detergent and surfactant found in many personal care products (soaps, shampoos, toothpaste etc.). SLES is an inexpensive and very effective foaming agent.[1] SLES has been shown to produce eye or skin irritation in experimental animals and in some human test subjects.[2] Some products containing SLES have been found to contain low levels of the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane.[3]

In garages, it is used to clean engine oil from the floor because of its powerful degreasing action. However, we have glands in our skin and hair which secrete natural oils to give skin and hair its lovely soft and supple texture and keep it waterproof. So by using Sodium Laureth Sulphate in your hair care products you are stripping your hair of all its natural oils.

Furthermore, it can lead to direct damage to the hair follicle, and if it gets into the eyes, can lead to permanent eye damage. Sodium Laureth Sulphate can cause cataracts in adult eyes and cause significant damage to children’s eyes.

 It can pass through the skin where it enters the blood stream. From here it will travel all over the body. It can build up in the liver, kidneys and brain. The body tries to tuck dangerous toxins as far as possible away from internal organs as it can. Hence the body stores toxins in your feet, joints and even testicles. If Sodium Laureth Sulphate is such a great garage degreaser, what damage could it be doing inside our bodies?

 Dr Anders Juul also mentions lack of activity as a possible reason for premature puberty. Children don’t walk anywhere anymore. Their parents drive them to and from school and at home children prefer to play with their computer games rather than with their friends in the park. So, perhaps these are not the causes of the spike in reported bowel cancer or premature puberty, but whatever the cause, the above factors can hardly be beneficial for the long term health of mankind.

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Trashing the Planet

Photo of earth as we know it from

The most important philosophy of any indigenous tribe of people is to leave the earth in the same state as they found it. The Australian Aborigines for example (until of course white people mucked them up) left behind nothing when they died, not even a gravestone – no constructions of any kind, plastic bags, books, clothes or machines. The American Indians did the same and Amazonian Aborigines.

When they killed an animal for food they thanked their gods for the catch and for the life of the animal. They didn’t kill for pleasure. They valued the lives of every animal because they realized that their fate was linked with that of the animals.

They had no greed for land as they believed that they were the guardians of the land, not the owners. They were easy to dupe as they didn’t understand the white man’s lust for land ownership.  

We gave them Christianity and a plethora of diseases and stole their lands. The proud peoples who had been guardians of the land for all those years and who had never plundered the natural resources, were herded into reservations and kept silent with an endless supply of alcohol.

 And once we got our hands on their land, what a fine mess we made!

Fishing boats from

Next week Australian television is going to show a program on how there will soon be no fish left in the sea. Such is the state of over fishing that the seas will soon be empty.

I have written a number of times about the recent incident in Siberia where normally peaceful bears attacked miners because their salmon had been taken by poachers. Bears do eat roots of plants but their bulk can only be sustained by eating protein and this they achieve by eating huge amounts of salmon.  If they don’t bulk up by the time winter arrives and they go into hibernation, they are in big trouble. Well, such has been the state of overfishing of salmon in Siberian waters that there have been no fish left to breed. There is no fish left as food for the bears or for that matter, to reproduce to create new stocks of salmon.

Illegal poaching of the Russian sturgeon for prized caviar is fast putting the sturgeon on the endangered list. And Asian countries have been warned that their appetite for bluefin tuna and Shark Fin Soup have pushed bluefin tuna and many species of shark perilously close to extinction. 

Industrial-scale fishing and harvesting on the high seas has caused stocks to plunge by up to 80 per cent in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic, where tuna come to spawn in the warmer waters. Just this week Greenpeace activists clashed violently with French tuna fishermen. One activist was harpooned in retaliation.

 In March this year, a proposal to totally ban the trade in the critically endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna failed at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Despite the fact that the Atlantic bluefin population has plummeted 80 percent since 1970, only 20 nations voted for a ban. Sixty eight countries voted against a ban—including Japan and Canada—while 30 abstained.  A total ban on bluefin tuna fishing has repeatedly received the support of international scientists.

Indigenous peoples were never cruel to animals, but our treatment of animals, fish and birds is appauling. Shark fins are hacked off live sharks and the still alive shark is tossed back in the ocean to drown.

These days whaling is almost universally frowned upon. The largest mammal in the ocean, we see the whale as an intelligent and majestic creature. However, various countries still hunt them and although Australia screams and stamps their little feet about it, we had fully operational whaling stations here until the 1960s.  We did a fine job killing whales and that is one of the major reasons that the world wide whale population is severely depleted.

As for the abominations in the sea oil fields, I wonder how much sea life is being destroyed by the hundreds of annual oil spills around the world?  The current BP oil spill is of course a massive disaster and will kill animals and sealife in marshlands in Mississippi and wherever else it goes. However, this oil spill is only one of many. Our lust for oil is to blame and if you’d like to read more about the evil side of oil, read my recent blog, Something Oily is Going on Here.…-going-on-here/

I wonder what our plan B is for what to do when we have wiped out all the sea life?

Meanwhile, on land we’re doing a fine job draining marshes and hacking and burning down jungles, forests and bushland all over the world so that we can build ever more houses; grow more soy bean and palm oil plantations; or create more land for cattle. A huge percentage of wild animals are now endangered if not already on the way to extinction e.g. tigers, elephants, rhinosauruses, Moon Bears, Grisley Bears, Black Bears, King Cobras, orangutans, gorillas, Tasmanian Devils, koalas, the New Zealand Tuatara, wedge-tail eagles and an endless number of other animals and birds. The principal reason is loss of habitat leading to loss of prey, starvation, stress and deadly run ins with humans. Indigenous peoples living in jungles in the Amazon, Malaysia and elsewhere, are driven out of their homes and forced into poverty in city ghettos. We want their land.

And the rubbish we create in the cities! The technology revolution has created a senario whereby a computer becomes obsolete virtually weeks after you’ve bought it.  Suburban streets are littered with computer screens and keyboards that no one wants. And the situation is not getting better. The release of the new Ipad is going to create a computer revolution which will have a far reaching impact on many industries.  On the positive side it just might save a few trees as books become outmoded.

Two years ago I visited Hawaii and I was disturbed by the number of plastic bags that were clinging to trees on the cliff faces overlooking the oceans on both sides of the island of Oahu.  The bags billowed in the winds like ghostly flags and I wondered how many had made it into the oceans.

Well now I know. I have copied the following from the website . The article is titled, The World’s Rubbish Dump: A tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan by Kathy Marks and Daniel Howden.

A “plastic soup” of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States, scientists have said.

  The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world’s largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting “soup” stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan. 

Charles Moore, an American oceanographer who discovered the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” or “trash vortex”, believes that about 100 million tons of flotsam are circulating in the region. Marcus Eriksen, a research director of the US-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation, which Mr Moore founded, said yesterday: “The original idea that people had was that it was an island of plastic garbage that you could almost walk on. It is not quite like that. It is almost like a plastic soup. It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the size as continental United States.”

Certainly when I was recently in Patagonia, at the furthest area south of Argentina, I saw plastic bags floating in the harbour. These would be heading south to Antarctica. Most sea life now apparently contains plastic in their tissues.

As for nuclear waste, where is that all disposed? We live in hope that all countries using nuclear materials will dispose of them correctly. But we know that’s not going to happen, don’t we? In April this year some poor fellow ferreting around a rubbish dump looking for scrap metals  in Delhi, India died of radioactive poisoning when he pulled apart a machine once used by the chemistry class of a major Indian university.  This certainly raises concerns about India’s ability to safely dispose of hazardous waste.

But how does anyone dispose of radioactive waste?

You don’t, once it is created it exists forever (or close to forever depending on the amount of radioactive material involved). There is a process called the “half life’, some isotopes degrade rapidly, others last for thousand of years. All you can do is isolate it, entomb it, and hope that it remains undistrubed for the next zillion years, just like the pharohs thought when they were entombed. (

Comforting, isn’t it?

Of course, there is always the hope that we could find another habitable planet out there. Now wouldn’t that be wonderful?  The senario (not too far fetched methinks) in the movie, Avatar, would be a possible conclusion.  I bet that soon giant garbage space ships will be taking earth’s rubbish and dumping it on other planets. Or perhaps we’ll just write off earth as a lost cause and all the politicians and important and super rich people will wave goodbye and fly off to inhabit another solar system where they can start the trashing anew.

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Not In My Backyard!

Possum from

Oh we do so love cuddly, furry animals. Cute, pink noses and adorable little faces – you just want to grab them and cuddle them!

But when they’re jumping on your roof in the night and eating the oranges and figs off your very own trees – well that’s not cute at all! In fact that’s a statement of war!

Possums and fruit bats spring to mind.

The Royal Botanical Gardens have decided to wage war against fruit bats. Colonies of thousands of bats have been living in the Botanical Gardens in the middle of the Sydney CBD for years. Apparently they have destroyed trees and they have to go. So the method to be used in this war against the bats is noise. Every day in the gardens, a siren will be blasted. The noise is so annoying to bats that they will have no choice but to relocate.

But where to?

If anyone thinks that they’ll be welcomed in the suburbs then they have another thing coming. We don’t want possums so we definitely won’t want fruit bats.

Sydney is undergoing an “epidemic” of possum-dumping. Those cute little roof-hopping animals are being illegally trapped and dumped far away from home. I don’t suppose the trappers care too much about the future prospects for the possums, but once a native animal is taken to new territory its chances of survival are slim at best. Animals are territorial and will attack any interloper.

Put yourself in their paws. Imagine being taken far from home and dumped in the middle of nowhere without means of support.  You can certainly expect a hostile reaction from the natives.

Wires staff has been called to rescue 1030 ringtail and 843 brush tail possums this year in NSW. But once they rescue them, what next? Unless they know where they originally came from they can’t return them to their original habitat.

Soon we’ll be having the same problem with the fruit bats that have been driven from the Botanical Gardens.

But why are we finding fruit bats and possums to be so problematic? It’s all because their own native environments have been denuded to make way for ever more houses.

On Friday 9 April Sylvia Hale of the Greens Political Party spoke at a packed meeting at Crescent Head about the State Government’s plans to develop housing on high value conservation land on the Goolawah Estate at Crescent Head.

Locals are angry that development would destroy an endangered ecological community, which is home to many native animals including koalas, glossy black cockatoos and quolls. All  governments (Labor or Liberal) care not a fig for keeping vast tracts of land development free – they look at them with dollar signs in their eyes. There is a lot of money to be made in development fees!

Meanwhile, in the suburbs, as we have moved further and further from nature we all seem to view nature as an enemy to our comfort.  Living in our little castles we are increasingly annoyed by anything and everything natural.

We call the pest control service to nuke mice, birds, mosquitoes, cockroaches, ants, wasps at the drop of a hat. It would be impossible to live through an ant invasion.  No one bothers with natural preventative measures. Toxic chemicals are sprayed all over the house and then everyone is surprised at the huge incidence of chemical sensitivity and allergic reactions amongst children and adults. Not to mention how the chemicals poison our pets and the soil in our gardens.

My view is that we have more to fear from the toxic chemicals than we do from a cockroach. I bet more people have died from chemicals than have died from cockroaches. Admittedly ugly to our sensitivities, I suspect that cockroaches find us vile too.

I constantly hear about how people have waged war against their neighbour’s trees. Someone once told me that one Saturday they went to the pictures and returned to find that a tree in their garden had vanished. Not a leaf or even a stump remained. Either it had been transported by aliens to their space ship, or the neighbour had taken possession during their absence. My mother also has been under pressure from a neighbour who took delight in pouring oil and poison into the roots of her trees. These are not isolated incidents. Councils would be hearing similar stories every day of the week.

Money Tree - now would that be chopped down?

Noise pollution laws protect us from the most horrible of noises – the sound of a crowing rooster. Not so long ago (well at least in my lifetime) everyone’s grandparents had hens in the backyard. I used to think how lovely it was to wake up to the sound of a rooster crowing. Now, anyone living in the suburbs with a rooster on their premises will be fined a considerable amount of money – last I heard it was $10,000.

So why do we hate nature so much? Why have people so warmly embraced the Mac Mansion Houses that take up every centlimetre of land, leaving absolutely no room for a tree or even a shrub? What has nature done to us that makes us so resentful?

Personally I blame King Charlemagne. In 772  he chopped down Irminsul, the sacred tree of the pagans in England. Ever since that day we have been leaving the land and moving to the city. We have all lost our bond with nature. We don’t understand the traditional way of life of Aborigines, Native American Indians and native jungle dwellers. They all stand in the way of our greedy desire for their land. All have been persecuted and now all have huge numbers suffering from white people’s conditions – alcoholism, diabetes and a sense of hopelessness.

By and large we hate trees – they block our views and their roots block drains. Annoying wildlife lives in them. Possums, birds, squirrels, wasps and more all live in trees and they defecate on the clothes on our lines. They launch their nightly attacks on our rooves and they make noises.

The war we are waging on nature seems harmless enough to us today. The day will come when we will cry that we have no trees and we have no native animals. But when that day comes it will be too late.

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