Those who follow our travels on the Yellowbrick will know that we’ve been logging quite a few miles lately. After making the decision to take our floating home back to Ballina, our focus zeroed in on finding suitable wind systems to tackle Bass Strait and then the adverse currents and increased shipping found on the New South Wales coast. Bluntly speaking, the Tasman Sea is not our favourite pond of water. Its immense powers silently wait to pounce upon the unwary, and even though we’ve been here before, this time we copped it during our two big jumps. The first, Deal Island to Eden in less than two days of squally windy, wet conditions. Here’s an excerpt on Benjamin Boyd establishing Boydtown, Eden in 1842. From Eden to Pittwater, north of Sydney, again in less than two days, harnessing winds constantly above twenty knots, with a fifty-five blast at the start that flattened us. Wow! What a way to start a voyage. There followed plenty of thirty knots gusting thirty-five before and around Jervis Bay.
But instead of going on about powerful winds and dodging sea spray while watching for red and green eyed monsters, there is something far more important to write about than another sea saga.
Like each and every one of you, I have my likes and dislikes, my opinions and thoughts. Some of you will like what I write and how I express myself, others will not. As a person who sails the seas using Nature’s forces, a person subjected to its calm beauty and its brute awesome forces, like many of you exposed and subjected to Earth’s majesty, I am deeply saddened to witness Earth’s slow death and know that it is dying on my watch and by our hands.
One of the greatest assets we have as sailors is our camaraderie based I believe on our mutual respect that each of us lives and works under challenging, rewarding conditions, that each of us feels the joy, fear, and pain of limitless horizons. And when we gather we share our stories, we laugh and at times we discuss the dire situation that Earth is in. And like all humans, sometimes we agree and sometimes we do not.
Now then, Jack and Jude have lived a great deal of our seven decades afloat. We have attended many gatherings, told innumerable stories, and heard as many in return, and we have benefited by the gracious giving from other yachtsmen, boaties, and shore folk. But today, more often than not, we prefer to live life afloat alone surrounded by Earth’s majesty without distractions. We’re on a mission from God as the Blue Brothers once said, but not the God that the churches pray to. For living life alone with Earth has given us a different perspective than the one that has presided over the demise of something we love, something far greater than any and all humans.
Paul Fraser looks at things differently too. Back in the early 70s, Paul came up with the idea of having a library of air. Not because he’s a bit odd – he’s not. He’s doing these things as part of a vitally important science. Working at the CSIRO since 1974, Paul tracks the hole in the ozone layer and studies our changing atmosphere, monitoring all the major greenhouse gases that drive climate change. One of his chief research tools is the Cape Grim Air Archive – the most extensive collection of pristine air samples in the world that are being collected on a remote Northwest Tasmanian cliff top that faces the largest clear span of ocean in the world. It is the least polluted air on Earth.
Not only did Paul help set up the Cape Grim Air Monitoring Station back in the 1970s, but in an impressive bit of prescience, he also realised that at some future stage scientists would be interested in atmospheric gases that could not be measured at the time. And so, since 1978, every three months, researchers collect about 1000 litres of pristine Southern Ocean air and store it at high pressure, to produce the Cape Grim Air Archive. From small samples of ‘vintage air’, it’s possible, for example, to determine the rate of decrease of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the atmosphere and how the atmospheric concentrations of hydrofluorcarbons – HFCs, the CFC replacements, have grown. More importantly, they also expose the continual growth of carbon dioxide.
Paul has published nearly 250 research papers and reviews, ten of them in the most prestigious of journals: Nature and Science. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. So he’s no fool and definitely not a pollie spouting alarmist theories. His research provides a scientific basis for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Here is what CSIRO consultant Paul Fraser is saying today: “Air measurements in remote north-west Tasmania are poised to hit a new high of 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide within two or three weeks.” As a scientist, he conservatively added that the landmark reading did not bode well for the earth’s climate.
He also says that if we don’t get increasing CO2 under control before we reach 500 parts per million that we’re going to have some very serious climate change problems, and he warned that world leaders needed to take immediate action to prevent the carbon levels rising further this century.
“At the moment, it’s rising at about 3 parts per million per year, so on that sort of time scale it would take another 30 years to reach 500 parts per million.”
Does that mean we can relax until then? Hardly! Jack and Jude says it’s bad and going to get worse everyday.
The primary impact of carbon dioxide is to cause the atmosphere to warm, and Mr Fraser said it is already having a significant impact on the ocean. “When it dissolves in the ocean, it makes the oceans more acidic, a serious problem on life forms in the ocean.” Coral Bleaching, more precisely stated as the killing of coral polyps is already present and growing in magnitude each day.
Richmond Valentine, billionaire technology tycoon and a computer genius once said in the movie Kingsmen, “When you get a virus, you get a fever, that’s the human body raising its core temperature to kill the virus. Planet Earth works the same way. Global warming is the fever. Mankind is the virus. We’re making the planet sick. A cull is our only hope. If we don’t reduce our population ourselves, there’s only one of two ways this can go. The host kills the virus. Or the virus kills the host. Either way, the result is the same. The virus dies. If we don’t do something, Nature will. Sometimes a culling is a way to ensure a species survives.
Let’s turn around this unholy mess
Richmond Valentine ideas are far fetched some will say. Cruel others will think. Inhumane. Well, Jack and Jude have another way to turn this unholy mess around. And it does not rely on getting all the world’s leaders to agree. It comes from the most important roots, the roots of the everyday people, the ones that have always brought about major change. A revolution to change the system.
We are creatures of Earth – first, last and always. Our very being is part of her and upon our death we remain with her. In so many ways, she’s our Creator. And unlike the gods some pray to, Earth is tangible. We can feel her, taste her, smell her. We admire her beauty, respect her power, and are amazed by her wonders. And yet we treat Earth with the disdain of cruel masters.
For those that don’t know, Queensland has the reputation of being the “redneck” state, an unenviable title given during the long rein of one of its leaders who put through development after development overriding every protest without studies or enquiries. During Bjelke-Petersen’s time at the helm, huge tracts of Queensland’s scrub forests were ripped from the Earth by massive bulldozers dragging stud link chain between them. Bjelke liked to quip, ‘You don’t tell the frogs anything before you drain the swamp.’
Today, all of humanity can be classed as Rednecks. Why? Because every informed person knows full well that mankind is destroying wildlife and wild places at a phenomenal rate. And yet, like ostriches, we put our heads in the sand to hide that inconvenient truth because changing our ways will impact upon our standard of life.
Not Doomsday Sayers
We’re not totally at fault here. We are bound to a system that for centuries has helped develop the human empire, but which now after we have conquered ever scrap of land, that system has become a cancer destroying Earth and its creatures. It demands growth and expanding markets, or else the sky will fall in so we’re told. Never mind that we have decimated most other species, polluted our seas, tainted our air, and have impacted the environment so badly that Earth’s climate is changing. The ramifications of this will be far greater than anything we’ve done before. No! Jack and Jude are not doomsday Sayers. We are veteran world travellers who have observed Earth life for more than half a century and have seen the changes first hand.
Like many of you, we have witnessed much of Earth’s beauty. So to those like us with little ones who have not yet had these amazing opportunities, and to all those who love Earth, we ask that you join us in searching for an answer to Earth’s predicament.
What we think
We should speak out with our thoughts, but even more importantly we need to come up with a new management system based on putting Earth First in all our decisions. To do that will require getting the young reconnected to Earth. Take your children out into the wilderness, let them discover the wonders of Earth. If they are small they’ll discover tiny critters and be amazed, they’ll see birds and watch them search for food, hear their song, and understand that they too have a lust for life. They’ll touch trees, feel the roughness of the scrub, and know the hardship of Earth Life.
Earth is God
If we teach our young that Earth is God in the most tangible form, that Earth is the creator of all life, and show them the wonders first hand, they will come to love and respect Earth. And from that, when they’re the ones making the decisions, they will Put Earth First.
We heard the other day that National Parks are going to cull 90% of the wild brumbies in the Kosciusko National Park because they are pests destroying the fragile ecology. We also know that when a plague of mice destroys our crops we cull them. In fact we cull all pests for the greater good, and so we wonder, why don’t we cull our numbers? Don’t be alarmed. We’re not meaning a ballot system, nothing like that. But we believe in capital punishment, which lately seems to be on the nose as too cruel or, lowering ourselves to those vile and violent ones who exterminate other humans, robbing them of their time on Earth and taking away their companionship to family. Well, it costs mega dollars to house, guard, and feed them, when we could be using that money for a greater good. We say why not use that money to connect the youth with Earth to help prepare them for their task to manage mankind. They will be making the rules in the years ahead, and they should be exposed to Earth’s majesty and her wonders and hardships.
Life on Earth is a privilege and getting rid of those vile violent ones that exterminate others is not about a deterrent nor is it about revenge. It’s about using our resources for the greater good. With those funds we could establish Earth Camps where our youth would be taught by experts in practical knowledge pertaining to Earth and her many creatures. Connecting our youth to the great outdoors will stimulate their minds and help make them fit. It will also teach them practical skills that will boost their confidence and self-esteem. All of this will build respect for Earth. Something that seems to be lacking in a world racing towards oblivion.
There is hope
Never give up hope because most of us have witnessed how quickly Earth heals. A few years back we revisited a Coral Sea islet, last seen devastated by cyclonic winds that had shifted the sand island and destroyed life, when we had counted tens of thousands of seabirds dead with broken necks. Over the intervening years, with the increased human fishing presence, on our return in 2013 we expected to not only see dead white coral reefs devoid of fish life, we also thought the air would be lifeless. But we were wrong. Man had reined in its trapping of fish by enacting stricter rules and now patrol those seas to keep outlaw fishing vessels out, as well as establishing Reserves where Nature can regroup undisturbed. As a result, Jack and Jude witnessed the greatest numbers of sea birds we’ve ever seen for a very long time. It was so uplifting to see eggs to hatchlings through to fledglings in such great numbers the skies were darkened. What it meant is that there is sufficient food in the oceans for them to reproduce. Earth heals.
A few things you can do
You could join Friends of the Earth to keep abreast of events with like minded folk.
We must stop digging up and exporting our coal. It’s killing Earth. Let us use a renewable non-polluting fuel. Next, we need to add a tax for the damage to Earth’s environment from polluting products and then use that money to fund non-polluting renewable alternatives. It’s only fair.
Along with this, rally the troops. Most importantly the kids. They will inherit the world and make the decisions. We’d love to see another form of management, rather than democracy that relies on growth and panders to the whims of the present folk. So, let’s hear your thoughts because there’s got to be something far greater than what’s happening presently.
Comments and questions welcomed