My special guests on this Voices from the North interview are Ken Ross and John Kenderdine. Ken is Ken’s current position is as Community Development Advisor with the Far North District Council. Ken’s work and educational background has all been associated with ecology and biology. Ken summarizes some of the guiding lights in the new paradigm of human thought like Fritjof Capra. Ken speaks about the influence Rachel Carson has had on Capra’s perspective.
Oil is a finite resource that has been used as if it has been an infinite resource. This is also how we’ve treated other resources like copper and phosphates. Peak Oil is explained—how the easy, cheaper oil is available early and how the heavier oil that most oil fields are tapping now are more expensive to extract. America’s oil fields reached their peaks in the early 70s. The same stands true today for the rest of the world’s oil. Even George Bush has said we are addicted to oil. Ken describes how Americans use roughly 10 kilo-calories of energy to produce one kilo-calorie of food. Obviously this is not sustainable. Other Western nations are almost as frivolous in their use of energy. Ken also talks about how for 150-200 years we’ve made decisions based first on economics, then on people and, finally, on the environment. This is in the reverse order to what it should be. The first question should be, “Is it good for the environment?”
Ken describes New Zealanders as living in a fool’s paradise. New Zealand is only behind Iceland in terms of the amount of chemical fertilizer used on their farms. Ken teaches about the importance of bacteria in the soil to minimize the leaching of nitrogen from our farms. He lucidly explains what the ecological footprint means. We are today experiencing the 6th greatest mass extinction in the earth’s history, and this is a human-exacerbated event. Earth Watch Institute recently indicated that in 2006 China used more cement than all other countries combined. They are in catch-up mode. Ken speaks passionately about social justice. He says we have no right to live with our Jacuzzis and other extravagances when 40,000 people die of starvation in the world daily. We are all in this together.
The song in the middle of the program is Antipodean icon John Clarke’s, We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are.
John Kenderdine describes the Transition Town movement initiated by Irishman Rob Hopkins, a movement designed to restore a vibrant resilience in local communities. Transition town groups are mushrooming all over the world in response to these times in which cheap oil is no longer available. Local communities are taking initiatives rather than waiting for our politicians to lead us to greener pastures; in other words it’s a bottom-up approach. John speaks of how he can live like a king below the poverty line by distinguishing between true wants and needs.