Those Cotton-pickin’ Multinationals!

July 12, 2019 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Australia, Destroying nature, Farming, Nature, Politics, Social Responsibility | 2 Comments
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We are on a four-week trip through western New South Wales and Queensland in our little Toyota HiAce camper. Currently, we are at Maraboon Lake caravan park near the town of Emerald in Central Queensland.

Van at Lake Maraboon Xsmall

Our van with the washing hanging out

As I was waiting for a washing machine to become available, I looked out over the lake, said to be the size of three Sydney Harbours, and noticed how low the water was. It was clear from the bare ground on my side and on the opposite shore that there is only a fraction of the volume it should have – and that was after good rains to the north that should have filled it.

Lake Maraboon Xsmall

Lake Maraboon – the bottom of the boat ramp is about 25 metres back up the slope.

Another camper came to get her washing from the machines and we got talking. She said the water was noticeably down from when she was here last year, and that it is at only 15% of capacity now (it is officially at 18.2%). It is no wonder the park – and probably the town of Emerald too – is under severe restrictions on water use.

 

I mentioned the large cotton farm to the east of Emerald that we had passed on our way here yesterday and how stupid it is to grow cotton in such dry country. She agreed. “It’s not even a food crop”, she said, “and they’ll export it all to make cotton clothing in Bangladesh. Then we’ll have to import the finished products as we don’t have a clothing industry any more.”

 

Cotton near Emerald July 11. 2019 Xsmall

This photo was taken at a distance. Those yellow-wrapped cotton bales are huge!

I could only agree that it is all so terribly wrong stupid. Exporting cotton is, in reality, exporting our scarce and valuable water. All the profits will go overseas and we will just be left with the costs, which are huge. Unemployment, and loss of national and local income to the multinationals who don’t even pay tax on their profits but get subsidies instead. Even worse, much worse, is the cost to the environment and our surface and artesian water systems.

It has been a while since I drove over the dry Hay plains in western NSW, but the woman I was speaking with had been there recently. She said that the plains are now a sea of huge cotton farms with similarly huge dams that take the water from the Murrumbidgee River. No wonder the whole Murray-Darling river system, which drains much of north-western Queensland and NSW and of which the Murrumbidgee is part, is in dire straits.

Riverine water levels are terribly low, millions of fish have died, and whole towns have been left without a water supply, and all because of the billions of litres that go to irrigate the cotton fields. Check this article.

The cotton growers say it isn’t their fault, that they are farming sustainably [HAH!]. Governments, both state and federal, allow this destruction to continue, even promote it, and then cover up the extent of the damage to the environment.

As long as the multinationals are allowed to plunder this country for their own benefit and at the expense of the environment, and as long as our weak and venial governments allow this to happen, in order to get political power, our land, then our water, our wildlife and our people have little chance of surviving, especially in the current situation of climate change.

Cotton near Emerald July small

These cotton bales are about two metres in diameter, and there were hundreds of them

When will we ever learn?

 

(c) Photos by Dirk & Linda Visman

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A toZ Challenge – E is for Embrace the Good

April 6, 2015 at 12:05 am | Posted in Destroying nature, Gratitude, History, Poetry | 13 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE [2015] - Life is Good

 

 

I don’t know about you, but there are many times when I wonder what the world is coming to. I am concerned about wars and what is happening to our environment, the horrible things people do to each other …….

One day, I wrote a poem about it.

 

 

Embrace the Good

 

I’m sitting in my lounge room chair

Thinking about the world’s indirectness;

Reading the paper, trying to understand

All about political correctness;

I’m wondering why they just can’t call

Everything by its proper name –

But every now and then I hear

My children out enjoying their game.

I’m making the beds and listening

To ABC radio’s latest news

When I find that I’m breaking down in tears

At the things that some people choose

To do unto their fellow man;

Why does this always have to be?

But now and then a magpie’s clear song

Breaks into my misery.

I’m walking along a street in town

To the shops and to mail a letter

When I hear someone at the corner proclaim

To all his religion is better.

I despair at the terrible wars that result,

And the suffering that comes from Man’s greed –

But I look at the colourful flowers that grow

And the beauty that comes from their seed.

Sometimes the misery and grief of the world

Seem to fill up the depths of my soul,

And it’s hard to carry on every day;

When the pain is a smouldering coal.

Then someone does a kindly thing

Or I see the smile on a baby’s face,

And I realise there is much good in the world –

It’s this good that I must embrace.

(c)  Linda Visman

Earth Hour 2014

March 29, 2014 at 10:05 pm | Posted in Destroying nature, Nature, Philosophy, Social Responsibility, Special Occasions, Ways of Living | 2 Comments
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Tonight is Earth Hour, the time to reflect on the damage that we are causing to our planet.

I wrote this in my journal in fifteen minutes.  I enjoyed a glass of wine and some chocolate, and wondered as I did so, how much longer an ordinary person like myself would be able to enjoy something like that.

 

I am writing this in pen in my journal in the almost-dark, lights off.

It is quiet tonight – unusual for Saturday;

just an occasional car in the distance.

Dogs bark as something disturbs them,

street lights shine on

tall, slender spotted gums

whose high-set branches

are silhouetted against silver-grey clouds

lit by reflected street lights.

 

The only noise apart from distant traffic

and barking dogs is the buzzing I hear –

either crickets, or the tinnitus in my head.

I think of the reason for the lights out –

Earth Hour – a symbol and a reminder

of what we face if we do nothing,

if we do not change our ways –

for Climate Change has begun,

and it is quicker than we are.

 

I think of those who are steadfast

in their refusal to acknowledge any problem

or that we are an integral part of it.

I wonder if millions of minds

meditating on one thought, one desire –

to save our world –

can influence and change those other minds.

But I know that we cannot change minds

that are shuttered and barred,

locked tight against anything

that threatens their grasping hands

or their wilful disregard of what they do.

 

I think of our Earth, ravaged

by Nature so often in the past,

but even more threatened now

by the greed and lust for power

of a disbelieving and dishonest humanity.

I grieve for the damage we have already done

and I grieve for that which is to come.

 

I can do nothing in the Big Picture,

but I can do something

in my own little part of the world.

I will continue to do what I can,

hoping that my small efforts,

joined with those of others with like minds

can be enough to halt the rape

of the only planet we have.

 

(c) Linda Visman

Dairy Country – under threat from development

April 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Posted in Australia, Destroying nature, History, Nature, Society, Tourism, Travel, Ways of Living | 7 Comments
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IMG_4075

I love the area in which I grew up – the Illawarra area of New South Wales, Australia. However there is less and less of it to love these days as housing and industrial developments reach out into the lush and productive dairy lands that were once among the best in the country.

IMG_4044

We took a drive through the remaining pasturelands last week, while we were in the area visiting family (especially my 91-year-old father). The lush grasslands and areas of bush are beautiful.

The ocean in the distance

The ocean in the distance

 

We took quite a few photographs so that we can look back at them one day when the productive dairy country is covered in houses and industrial sheds.

IMG_4246

The area lies between the mountains of the Great Dividing Range and the Pacific Ocean, visible in the distance.

IMG_4083

Housing estates are growing around the towns to the north, south and east.

Houses encroach on the dairy lands.

Houses encroach on the dairy lands.

Dry-stone walls, a relic of the British heritage of the region, are seen less and less. But this one is proudly maintained.

Stone walls

Stone walls

 

A sense of humour is essential in this industry, where prices for milk are low, but the work to produce it is hard and long.

Rue de Moo Poo

Rue de Moo Poo

When Europeans first came to this district in the nineteenth century, cabbage tree palms were in abundance. They provided a vital source of food for the indigenous people. However, clearing of the land, heavy tractors, and the hard hooves of cattle, all of which pack down the soil and make seed growth almost impossible, have reduced their numbers considerably. Most farming areas are now bare of these palms, though they do grow in gullies and better soil parts of the mountainsides.

Cabbage tree palms

Cabbage tree palms

These days, it is not economically worthwhile to maintain many dairy farms to a level needed to keep them viable. The developer’s dollars become more and more attractive to families that have farmed for several generations.

A decaying farm

A decaying farm

I wonder just how much longer these farms will be able to remain, fighting against cheaper imports and low prices for milk at the farm gate. I know that we will be very upset by the loss of this beautiful and productive dairy country to the destructive dollars of the developers.

 

 

(c) Linda Visman April 2013

Photographs by Dirk Visman

Do the right thing!

June 14, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Posted in Australia, Destroying nature, Gardens, Health, Nature, Social Responsibility, Society, Ways of Living | 1 Comment
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Part of the community park where we walked.

We went for a walk this morning after the rain cleared up a bit. We’ve pretty well walked most of the park now – yesterday morning we covered another section too, in the rain. The whole walking path, parkland and sporting complex, which cover a large area, are in the area in which we grew up. It all looks great – except for the rubbish.

We are dismayed by the amount of it all around the park.

We’ve had heavy rain the last few days, and the waterways, as well as the lawns, bushes and trees, are full of detritus. Many cans and bottles are strewn on the lawn along the sides of the walkways. There are also various food and sweet wrappings, and, in some places, even condoms.

Discarded bottles in the waterway.

So many people just don’t care. Too many of them don’t think about others or their surroundings. They believe that someone else will clean up after them because that’s how they have been brought up. And besides, surely that’s the groundsman’s job, to pick up litter!

Those who think that way should be put to work, cleaning up the whole community! But I don’t think they would like that somehow. I don’t think they would like it either if passers-by tossed their rubbish into their yard, expecting them to pick it up. And yet, that is essentially what they are doing themselves.

Many years ago, when my children were young, the Australian government ran an anti-litter campaign. It was called “Do the right thing”, and ran for several years in the 1970s. It was amazingly successful, and the amount of deposited litter reduced considerably.

Australian government logo for ‘Do the right thing’.

It seems that now though, we aren’t allowed to make our kids – or grown-ups for that matter – do anything they don’t want to do.

Also, instead of trying to increase awareness and improve the problem of littering, and to introduce a container deposit scheme, state and federal governments are backing down to the soft drink companies.

The return system has operated in the state of South Australia for over thirty years. Containers are returned to a recycling centre, and the deposit is paid back to them. I lived in S.A. for six years, and made very handy pocket money from returning empties.

Those who want to see how successful the system is just have to go there. S.A. is the cleanest state in the country. Just crossing the border into the other states graphically shows up the difference. As well as there being few discarded drink containers, even general rubbish is much less evident on roadsides and in public places. The message spreads!

But the big drink manufacturers and distributors, like Coca-Cola-Amatil, the biggest of them, are fighting the introduction of this system into other parts of Australia. They say that putting a five or ten cent levy on the cost of a drink will reduce consumption. What utter rot! Price rises may cut sales a little, but only for a very short time (look at the sales of alcohol and tobacco – levies and tax increases on those have made little difference in overall sales). And you get your money back if you return your drink containers – more if you collect and return the empties of those who can’t be bothered.

Instead of fighting it, big business should embrace it, and at least make a show of having an environmental conscience.

But will they? I doubt it!

Rant over, thanks!

 

(c) Linda Visman

What a Load of Rubbish!

March 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Australia, Destroying nature, Social Responsibility | 1 Comment
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Part of the Lake Macquarie shore: a small sandy beach where a creek enters the lake

  A couple of days ago, my husband and I went to Myuna Bay, just a kilometre or two further along the lake from where we live. It is a place where people come all the time to walk their dogs along the tracks that meander through the trees.

The tracks follow the lakeside as far as the cooling channel, a few hundred metres away. The channel was constructed from the coal-fired power station at Eraring. It is about a hundred metres long, and empties into the lake.

Overlooking the cooling channel near the power station

   We walked along a different track this time, and came out of the wetland bush just where the water gushes from the power station cooling area into the channel – which we hadn’t seen before. Because the water is always warm, there are lots of fish there.  

The cooling channel, looking towards where it enters the lake

  We then carried on to the outlet into the lake, where people – mostly men, often fish from the rocks that line it there. On this occasion three fishermen were trying their luck on the opposite side of the channel, and one on our side, closer to the lake

  The three on the other side were what I call ‘fishing louts’ who are the type to leave a mess behind them. Every second word they say is the f-word – and their words carried to us very clearly across the water. We had wanted to enjoy a spell of bird watching, sitting on some concrete steps that lead into the channel. But it was not to be a pleasant rest, and we cut it short.

  There were other things that also spoiled our enjoyment of what should have been a lovely area. Along the shore among the retaining rocks, we found the leavings of other fishermen: tangles of fishing line; discarded vodka-mix bottles and cans; empty plastic bait bags; a length of synthetic cord; and other non-perishable rubbish.

Some of the rubbish I collected

  I carried the collection of rubbish with us back to the lakeside park. Did I mention that all this rubbish was collected within an area no more than a hundred metres long and a couple of metres wide?

 At the park, I did what the original tossers should have done – I placed it in one of the many garbage bins that are provided for that purpose by the local Council. I then washed my hands at the tap, also provided by the council.

There are plenty of bins, but too many people don’t bother to use them

It was Clean up Australia Day here yesterday, and many groups get together to clear rubbish that builds up along roadsides and in public areas.

Do you have clean-up days?

Is there much rubbish/trash left around by tossers who don’t care?

How does your local Council or other civic organisation manage rubbish in public areas?

(c) Linda Visman

author of Ben’s Challenge

Looking Back; Looking Forward

January 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Destroying nature, Experiences, Making History, Politics, Social Responsibility, War and Conflict, Writing and Life | Leave a comment
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I have tried to look back at 2011 and identify the times that have been significant to me – in a world context; nationally; locally; and personally. Of course, there are just too many to list in every area, but here are a few:

International: 2011 has been, again, a year where events all over the world have impinged on lives locally. Unfortunately, most of them have been decidedly negative.

There have been storms and floods, earthquakes and tsunamis, war and terrorism, the beginnings of democracy in traditionally dictatorial countries, droughts and famines.

The European Economic Crisis affects even us here in Australia, who have been fortunate in mostly evading the worst of the economic woes of the U.S., Europe and other area.

The events that caused me the most concern personally were the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the subsequent nuclear emergency with the melt-down at the Fukishima plant. My son, his Japanese wife, and my beautiful granddaughter live in Japan, and concern for their welfare is foremost in my mind. Fortunately, they live to the west on a more southerly island, and so far all is well with them.

    National: I speak here of Australia (though the same attitudes seem to be endemic in other countries as well) where the most belligerent, blame-shifting, back-biting, spiteful and divisive parliament I can remember continues to create stress, anger and frustration for the populace, and no real policy commitment. The worst collisions have been on refugees and the carbon tax.

Instead of working together for the future good of the country, both major parties appear to be focused only on scoring points against the other and looking to destroy the other’s chances of re-election.

Local & State: Housing and industrial developments continue to spread across the best country all over the state of NSW. Land that was producing meat and dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and other natural products is now barren, covered with concrete and steel.

     In other areas, farmers continue to battle the gas companies that are determined to despoil even more food-producing land and the groundwater that is its lifeblood.

Here in Australia, we have much more low-fertility land and desert than food producing soil, and yet short-sighted governments and greedy developers seem bent on destroying much of what is left. It breaks my heart to see it every time I think about it.

 Family and Friends: Thank heavens for the people in my life –family and friends, near and far!

They give me hope for the world, pride in their endeavour, role models to look up to, young ones to help set on the road to a good and honest life, and an ocean of love in which to bathe.

They help me to see the positive that surrounds me, and to put the negative into some sort of perspective. I don’t know what I would do without them.   

 My Family: We are a multi-ethnic/cultural family. My husband and I have eight children between us, and six – in April it will be eight – grandchildren; the latest was born in April 2011. Some of them have faced huge difficulties and shown wonderful spirit in fighting through them. All of them have brought sunshine into our lives and the lives of others. We are very proud of them all.

    My Writing: I have had several poems and short stories published this year in magazines and anthologies.

  A major event was the self-publication in June of my novel Ben’s Challenge. The response to it, from all over the world, has been wonderful, and has given me encouragement to continue with my writing.

I have increased the frequency of my wordpress blog entries and have begun another blog with Writing Our Way Home, taking on their ‘small stones’ challenge, focusing on seeing the wonders of the natural world around us.

And So, to 2012:

My hope and intention is to write more: journaling, blogs, poems and short stories. I especially want to make more progress on my second novel, Ben’s Choice, and have the first draft completed  this year.

On the personal front, my husband and I hope to overcome health issues, so that we can do the travel we want to and to visit our far-flung family members more regularly.

I hope you all have a safe, healthy, happy and productive 2012.

Barking up a Tree

November 10, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Posted in Destroying nature, Gardens, Nature | 1 Comment
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It seems that there are very few responsible dog owners who actually train their dogs in good habits. I can certainly do without those barking dogs that exist in abundance here. The only bark I like around my home is tree bark.

 

Spotted gum in our yard

 In late spring, the trunk and branches of the Spotted Gum, Corymbia citriodora (subsp. citriodora in our area) outgrow its clothing. The bark begins to split and, over a period of a few weeks, the bark falls off in patches. As each patch of bark drops away, it reveals a soft, clean, green undershirt. This undershirt darkens over time, and the bark colour varies from blue-grey to pink.

Leaves and bark

Like their leaves, many of which also fall in spring, their bark covers the lawns. This drives some people to distraction. If they don’t cut them down in frustration, then out come the leaf blowers. These infernal machines are every bit annoying to me as unrestrained dog barking. However I simply cannot understand anyone who will cut down a beautiful and healthy tree just because it drops leaves on their lawn. They should move to the city if they don’t like trees!

I welcome the leaves (I wrote of this before) and the bark. I get out my trusty rake and gather them together, getting exercise and sunshine in the process. And soon, the leaves and bark are gathered and spread over the garden, providing a surface mulch that protects it from water evaporation and weed growth.

Forest of spotted gums

Spotted gums normally grow tall and straight and their very hard and termite resistant wood is a very popular timber. It has a wide variety of uses: poles; wharf and bridge supports; railway sleepers; timber framing in buildings; fencing; and even for fine furniture. This timber is the best for axe and hammer handles, as it does not split easily.

Spotted gum floor.

 Whenever I see a block of land being cleared of spotted gums so a house can be built, or when someone has one cut down for dubious reasons, my heart aches.

You may ask, ‘After the trees are felled, do they use the timber for any of these or for other uses to which it can be put?’ Almost invariably, the answer is no. Instead they are chipped, usually for garden mulch.

Oh, why don’t people just use the leaves and bark for that, and save those beautiful trees?

© Linda Visman

10th November 2011

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