Mother Nature Network and the Endangered Species Infographic

The weekend is here. As is usual for me, today, I have mostly been reviewing old emails from news sites that I’m subscribed to so that I might know what is happening in the world.

One thing that caught my eye, being the enviro-centric person that I am, is this.

Let me start by saying that I have no doubt in my mind that us humans are having a negative effect on the world and the other species which inhabit it. However, this infographic by ‘Mother Nature Network’ – and by the way, I LOATHE use of the phrase ‘Mother Nature’ as it reminds me of the character ‘MOM’ in Futurama who is not the loving old biddy she promotes herself to be and conjures up an image of smug insincerity – only goes to show to me that we’re not being treated to the ‘real picture’ here. For once I would like to see what the net effect of our existence on this planet really is and not such a one-sided approach, even if this is an estimation. What I mean is that I so often see announcements of the amount of endangered species in the world and the invisible (or at times, blatant) finger pointing in our direction, much like a silent fart blamed on the autistic kid minding his own business, playing with the rubik’s cube in the corner. The repurcussion of such a portrayl of our apparent fault is that people start to think everything is hopeless and berate themselves. I, too, have been guilty of this, what with my idealistic tendencies and vegetarian ways. Guilt, in fact, was what drew me into abstaining from eating meat in the first place, but looking at it all from a logical perspective, berating oneself is not useful and just creates self-loathing where there should be action.

I wonder if it is as cut-and-dry as ‘it is our fault’. Statistics, after all, can be used for bad. In a recent meeting I attended as part of my day job, a colleague pointed out to the attendees that numbers and statistics mean nothing without comparative analysis and a degree of commitment to learn from mistakes. I thought to myself after hearing this, ‘how true’. In the context of our effect, how many species could we have actually saved or helped to create by mere proximity? Ultimately, what I want to see are numbers. Numbers that represent the GOOD we are doing so that I might be able to weigh the two in my mind and say, ‘well, we’re sort of dicks, but hey, we could be a lot worse given the circumstance! Now… to being better!’

I also wonder how much of other species extinction is due to a force outside of our control but that we simply assume fault and that this was not at all as nature intended it… Take bees, for example. Their ‘colony collapse disorder’ and what looks to be pending extinction, if we are to believe Einstein could possibly mean the demise of own species and those around us, but we don’t yet know why this has come to be. It would be so simple to say that it is all our fault. Indeed, one of the theories with regards to this mysterious decline is radiation from mobile phones. My thought is, maybe they were MEANT to die away, and for another species to evolve and take their place. Maybe it is life’s little way of reminding us that ‘evolution’ still applies here, even if we may have forgotten all about it.

There is a certain egotistical arrogance in assuming so melodramatically that we’re the problem and our effects are irreversible to the planet. Chernobyl, for instance – after the nucleur power plant went belly up and humans were vacating the area for fear of their safety – assumed it would never be inhabitable again, and now it is a ‘haven’ to wildlife.

I’m not suggesting what we’re doing here is fine; that we can rest our minds, keep destroying the ozone layer and its neat security system intended to protect all known life, keep destroying the coral reef, sucking the world dry of all oil and polluting the seas, skies and earth while washing it down with a nice gulp of animal slaughter. However, this planet is a self healing one, just as we are when we cut our skin, break our legs.. If we help the planet to recover a little, it will meet us part of the way but how can we even begin to reverse any damage we have done without knowing the extent of the damage we have caused..?

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Daydreams of the Deranged: The Super Villain.

If I were to be an office-themed super villian, I would be ‘The Shredderer’. Made mad by prolonged close contact with a perpetually-squeaking shredder, I vow to reek havoc on all who come in contact with me. My grin is maniacal, skin a sallow grey from a vitamin D deficiency caused by being locked in the stationary cupboard. I place a small dictaphone tape in the hand of my victims, with a recording of the same squeak that drove me mad so many years prior. I leave a trail of shredded paper nearby my victims, by way of a signature.

Ooh-er. Too much time in the office brings about some strange thoughts.

Disaster… Again…

On Saturday 27th February, 03:34 local time, Chile experienced an 8.8 magnitude earthquake followed by tsunami warnings. There have been 723 confirmed deaths thus far. To follow the humanitarian responses, and to perhaps give what you can to the Chilean people, follow this link or Google ‘Chile earthquake donate’.

Only a month prior, the world suffered a Haitian blow when a 7.0 Mw earthquake struck the small island, causing devastation. Even at work, the unions were imploring staff to give what they could, including poster input from myself as Comms Officer (minus icons and previously inserted email addresses): 2010 Haiti Earthquake Poster

At this point, I am thinking of creating a black poster with the white font words, ‘For God’s sake, do something!’ I read newspapers and troll news sites online and I am sad to say that I am somewhat desensitised to all the horrible things that happen to the world, and I am not the only one. People just like me roam the streets, ignoring the homeless, switching over the news to sweeter things and on the other side of the world, humans are being crushed under their houses. Ah, the great injustices of the world. However, now is a time for giving to those who need it. I’ll be donating. Will you?

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Google attempt to create a Buzz

In the last week, Google unveiled the google ‘Buzz’ application to its google users. On Tuesday, I received this article from Arianna Huffington regarding how pleased she generally is with the product. I do not agree.

Firstly, it’s a google product, which means it’s not inclusive to non-googlemail users. Secondly, the auto-follow default, which Google are now apologising for profusely, is very presumptuous. For instance, I opened my Google Buzz on Monday for the first time and was shocked to find I was already following my exes mother who I had a brief online encounter with over two years ago. The problem here is all other social networking applications give the user an opportunity to choose who they want to follow or be followed by. By automating it, to the untrained eye, it gives the impression that the other party involved had added them. With the case of my exes mother, for instance, I don’t mind if she chooses to follow me as that is her choice. However, I would never want to give the impression that I wanted to be a part of her online life. I consider it inappropriate given that her son and I didn’t quite end on good terms and I resent that Google would not give me that freedom of choice from the very start. Additionally, this function suggests that Google think everyone wants information about them to be made public to their google contacts. I can think of many addresses opted in to be my pal courtesy of Google Buzz, besides the above mentioned, that I have a weak affiliation with at best. I realise this would not be an issue for voyeurists. Indeed, I’m on twitter and twitter on a regular basis, but I choose who follows me and choose who I follow. Thirdly, and most importantly for me, it’s a poor imitation of products which are already out there. As extreme as this analogy is, it’s as if Google are attempting to re-invent the wheel. This is in no way to suggest that Twitter or Facebook are par with the invention of the ‘Wheel’. However, I believe Google’s time would be better spent working on connectivity with, for instance, Twitter, so that perhaps Twitter could project links, status updates, etc, onto the google profile rather than having two or more seperate accounts which do the same thing. Life is scattered enough without having so many overlapping elements online. Sorry, Google, I usually praise you for your innovation but not this time…

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Alec Baldwin: Put a major oil company out of business

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alec-baldwin/put-a-major-oil-company-o_b_421021.html

So, as you might have guessed from my twitter, I have just recently discovered Alec Baldwin has his own blog via The Huffington Post, and so I am gorging on this currently.

Alec mentions (see the above link) his disappointment that the American Government are pushing for a health reform far more than other pressing issues and I wanted to discuss this here as it’s something that cannot be conveyed sufficiently via the medium of a 140 character twitter.

So, YES, the government are of course pushing for a health reform. It’s far more likely they will affect change and get support in that one area (in the short term) than support for energy changes (which involves far more work). Ideally, the Government SHOULD be chipping away at all key areas that need change, and who says they aren’t, but to think Obama and his minions are all Supermen – and women – capable of taking America out of the hole it has created for itself and making everything better in just four years is simply foolish. I imagine the Government figure that it’s better to tackle health first when it’s something that is comparatively ‘easily’ remedied leaving time and resources to work on the harder issues, rather than to put all their focus into one pot, marked ‘energy’. The unfortunate reality is that it will probably take a major and quantifiable shortage of oil before oil lobbies and executives change their ways, let alone allow alternatives onto the market other than themselves, and even then not without a fight. There is just too much demand and they are making too much money out of it currently. I mean, look at the electric car situation. Apparently, the technology is out there (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Killed_the_Electric_Car%3F) but alternatives are being shot down by organisations that monopolise the energy and trasportation market. So imagine Obama’s plight to encourage these same organisations to stop making so much money out of oil, and instead invest in wind, biomass or nucleur energy. Much like an addiction, America can’t even see they have an oil problem despite being the world’s biggest oil guzzlers. So, how do you encourage people to do what’s best for a country when they are too blinded by money that they assumed they WERE doing it already by way of supply and demand? If only we could put America into Rehab and cut them off cold turkey. It is, unfortunately, never that simple. Particularly so because it’s not simply the actions of oil companies who are to blame for America’s abuse of oil. It’s the food markets who import from halfway across the world when they could use products from their own country, it’s companies who use oils to create packaging and it’s the public who choose to be oil dependent.

That’s not to say that the energy issue is a hopeless one, or indeed that Obama et al are wasting their time by pursuing a better health care system. On the contrary. They have to get this right, and right now. Health is one of those issues where both parties can see the negative effect that not having an adequate system in place is bringing unto the voters in their constituencies. And if they don’t, I am sure they receive plenty letters to inform them as such to the tune of ‘I have cancer but can’t afford treatment’.

In summation, my assessment is that writing a Huffington post about changes that need to happen with regards to energy is like preaching to the converted. Bear in mind the people that read the Huffington Post are liberals who are quite aware of the issues and are probably anti-war, probably cycle, take the bus, eat less meat, etc, all for the cause of reducing the CO2 footprint and using less energy. The people that need to be reached are the ‘Average Joes’, with their four-by-fours, driving a block to get their one-litre bottles of Mountain Dew and the parents that allow their children to go to unnecessary wars. If you garner support from these people, then you should have the support of the masses. And what reaches these people, far more than public service announcements, advertisements and pie charts? Famous-actor centric comedy shows and soaps of course! Scrubs, for instance, have made such light work of breaching the health insurance issue. Every other episode touches on a patient without health insurance and people take it seriously because by making it into an episode, using likeable characters of every age, gender and race, Scrubs have put a face to the issue and made it incredibly personal. So, how about Baldwin making an appearance in such shows as General Hospital or The Bold and the Beautiful discussing energy issues in a way that would get through to people… Or we could bring back Hank Hill for one episode looking at how the lack of propane gas has affected him, his family and pals… Or someone could make an Independence Day-style film, set in a world where humans have consumed every last drop and the Average Joe is fighting with their neighbour because they have to WALK to the nearest store, only to find they’ve run out of soda with no view to getting anymore, ever, probably starring Will Smith, Willie Nelson, Tina Fey, Jake Gyllenhaal and Miley Cyrus…

Baldwin, get writing!

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Gah: Valentine’s Day

Today is Saint Valentine’s day. This is my least favourite of the national holidays, which is a sad thing to say for someone as romantic as I. However, I believe Valentine’s day has as little to do with love as Easter has to do with the Easter bunny. It’s just another event, hyped up with capitalism. If it were in human form, it would be the cretinous Jude Law, or Keira Knightly, brandishing sly and insincere looks of love and chalky sweets that say ‘Be Mine’ and ‘You Complete Me’. That’s not the only reason I loathe it.

In the movies, on Valentine’s day, the male protagonists make these grand gestures to their significant others and significant hopefuls. They write messages in the sky, they take their girls to baseball games and pay for the hot dogs, they buy flowers and chocolates or go together with their lovers to the beach to sit under a blanket and look up at the stars – my personal favourite. While most of these gestures are superficial and do not mean the guy isn’t beating up or cheating on their beau the other 364 days of the year, when I was younger, I used to look at movies and want them to be real. I realise this contradicts the cynicism of my opening paragraph and suggests that I still want this. I don’t. I think love shouldn’t need to be reinforced one day of the year through materialism, but looking at movies as a child gave me the false idea that these gestures meant anything.

Anyway, this week, surrounding the who-ha that V-day has unsettled, I’ve been thinking about my own disastrous personal experiences relating to Valentine’s day which I wanted to share. Enjoy:

  • When I was in primary school, I had the biggest ‘crush’ on a boy called Daniel Watson for about three years. He was dreamy, apparently, though I look back at the memory and laugh about it. In those three years, I attempted several advances to make him realise I liked him. I gave him heart shaped sweets, and I wrote him secret messages; all of which he stamped on and tore up. One year, on Valentine’s day, I bought – with my mother’s money – a nice card and some chocolates, intending to give them to him but reality hit: ‘I know, without a doubt, that this bozo will barely look at the card before tearing it up and he won’t appreciate the chocolates. What is the point’. So, I ended up giving them to Anthony Grant, who was the second dreamy guy in the school.
  • My mother would send me V day cards every year under the pretense that they from a secret admirer, even though they were written in her recognisably messy handwriting… I knew it was her but she never admitted it. She doesn’t send these to me anymore. I expect this is because she thinks I have plenty admirers now that I am grown up. Sadly, this is not the case.
  • I received a card once from a lover in my teens. He bought it for me only because his mother said it was a good idea.
  • My first long-term boyfriend was never a romantic person. On the last Valentine’s day we spent together, I ended up taking HIM out for food, and bought HIM flowers, and then he gave them back to me!
  • My current boyfriend, Tom, made me a wonderful Valentine’s card last year with an ornate, mounted origami figure on the front. I kept this for a long time near my computer at work so I could look at it and marvel at how thoughtful and creative the boy is. And then somebody stole it, possibly so they, too, could marvel at how thoughtful my boyfriend is.  Or else to bring me a little bit of misery for a moment.

Oh brother… Thank things for Tom, that is all I can say. Every day with him feels like an affectionate, queasy and puke-inducing romantic holiday. Aww. Have a great puke-inducing holiday with YOUR lover(s)!

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“We’re living in broken Britain”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article7020009.ece?&EMC-Bltn=CDNGQ2F

I get the Times online daily news bulletin and Tuesday’s bulletin informed me that I am living in a broken Britain, and I don’t doubt that. There was a time when being British meant something. There was an unspoken pride in being British. We didn’t need to wave our flag and shout ‘USA!’ (or rather, UK, as is more apt) to people to make the point known. Ours was a good and noble country and plenty scaled the non existent walls to hop, skip and jump to get in. Now, our politicians have sullied our name, we’re just barely – and I mean barely at 0.1% – out of a recession, Neo-Natzis are running out every Black, Asian and Eastern European person in sight, and those who are still around can’t wait to get their money and get the hell out. There’s no solidarity and we haven’t felt kinship as a nation probably since humans first stepped on the moon, even if it was the Yanks that did it, and we’ve become such an introverted nation that everyone looks at everyone else suspiciously without cause. Mass media and movies suggest that every other person is a rapist, murderer or thief, so of COURSE, I get dirty looks all the time from mothers when I smile at their children, as if I am undoubtedly a child molester. Apparently I’m not the only person being suspected of wrong doing. I read in the paper a while back that an old lady’s camera was confiscated because she happened to take photos in a park and was thus suspected of taking photos of the children in the area for pornographic use! Talking of the children, they have better phones than I do, yet can’t find a belt that would sufficiently hold up their trousers and emulate the glamorous lifestyles of a gangster to make up for their own broken families. AND, to top it off, apparently our hellish ways are simply drawing in fundamentalists who want nothing more than to blow us up in the name of their God. Wonderful.

So, it is hardly surprising that in their poll, The Times discovered, SHOCK HORROR, that 70% of people believe that this country is broken. I feel sorry for here and now.

One of my favourite graphic novels, The Watchmen, pertained to this concept that war against some other entity created solidarity among people. This makes me wonder sometimes if we shouldn’t just penetrate the skies, annoy some aliens and get to shooting. Then perhaps people wouldn’t care so much about micro nations and just consider us as one. I could suggest that perhaps some political party might come in and ‘save the day’, but I’m far too realistic to suggest such a thing. In the meantime, I will just sit here in this chair and wait for Will Smith to infiltrate a space ship with a common cold. Then every nation can sing and dance together for a day. A girl can hope can’t she? A girl can hope…

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