A Slice of Life
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commentary on issues in politics, culture, environment and technology
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10 Jul 11 Is Lord Monckton related to Marty Feldman?

marty feldman and lord moncktonIs Lord Monckton related to Marty Feldman? You could be forgiven for thinking that they are the same person; the similarity is positively uncanny. FYI, the gentleman on the left is Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, deputy leader of the UK Independence Party and famous climate sceptic.  Pictured on the right is Marty Feldman, English comedy writer, comedian and actor who starred in a series of British television comedy shows, including At Last the 1948 Show, and Marty. (more…)

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25 Dec 08 Destroy all lawnmowers

I occasionally allow myself the luxury of an afternoon snooze when I’m off work. Invariably, no sooner have I dozed off my bedroom is assaulted by the sounds of a multitude of grass cutting devices; lawnmowers, whipper snippers, power brooms, edgers etc. As I fitfully attempt to go back to sleep, I wonder if these infernal devices really are necessary and whether the world might be a much better place without them.

For many years, farmers in this country (Australia) attempted unsuccessfully to transform rural areas into another version of Europe. The result has been salination of soil, erosion and ultimately destruction of vast tracts of land. It was not until farmers made the realisation that Australian conditions are unique and need a completely different approach that they achieved any measure of sustainable success. Unfortunately, this realization has not made the transition to the suburbs, which are still largely carpeted in English style lawns and planted with alien species of plants.

Do we really need to spend so much time carefully manicuring these rather useless patches of imported grass? Does anyone really do anything with them other than look at them? Has anyone tried to calculate how much the horrible machines add to total emissions? On any day of the week the suburbs are abuzz with hordes of the things; the amount of pollution they produce has to be appreciable. Noise pollution is of course another very noticeable byproduct.

Why not do away with the machines and allow suburban ecology to revert to the natural beauty of the former bushland environment? Australian native grass could be planted in the place of the imported lawns; it never needs cutting and is consequently a great deal quieter.

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13 Dec 08 The birds and the environment fly South

=This image of some white ibis flying in formation over southern Sydney may be beautiful (if I say so myself), but it’s appeal masks a disturbing undertone.  During my childhood, it was rare to see these graceful birds in the suburbs.  They are now very common.  They can be found all over the city in great numbers, eating from garbage bins and making themselves dirty and ugly.  After pigeons, they are now referred to as the new flying rats; despised urban vermin.  Quite a far cry from the status these birds had in ancient Egypt where they were sacred to the god Thoth.  We have no right to malign them as it is our fault they are invading our cities.  Habitat destruction leaves them little choice.  Other threatened species can’t make the transition to becoming city dwellers so easily and simply die out.

Farmers are not the traditional allies of environemnatlists, but as the reality of climate change dawns and river systems like the Murray Darling dry up even they are changing their tune.  There is plenty of motivation to take climate change seriously when the changing environment threatens your very livelyhood.  The great shame is, even as attitudes to conservation begin to make a mass change, it may well be too late.

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