Victor Hugo once said, “There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” The eradication of ecocide is such an idea.

I believe each of us has something of value to offer the world at large; each of us has a mission. My recent guest on Voices from the North, U.K. lawyer Polly Higgins, has found hers.

Polly Higgins is the author of the award-winning Eradicating Ecocide: laws and governance to prevent the destruction of our planet. She has been voted one of the “World’s Top 10 Visionary Thinkers” by the Ecologist and named “the Planet’s lawyer” by the 2010 Change Awards. Listen to our complete interview below:

Ecocide is a term first coined in the 1970s. Ecocide is anything that causes mass damage, destruction to or loss of ecosystems.

And though the term ecocide has existed for decades the idea whose time has come is Polly’s. She proposes to make Ecocide the 5th international Crime against Peace.

Her proposed amendment to the Rome Statute says: Ecocide is the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.

You can now help change the course of history and sign a petition at Avaaz asking world leaders to address ecocide at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June: Below is the link:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/NOW_IS_OUR_CHANCE_TO_END_ECOCIDE/?cmfScdb

As Polly Higgins and her growing team of advocates claim on their website www.eradicatingecocide.com ‘by legally defining ecocide, anything that causes mass ecocide will stop. All companies that cause ecocide, such as oil companies, will have to become clean energy companies. This will happen because investors will divert money towards green industry rather than companies engaging in illegal, environmentally-damaging practices. Thus, the [ecocide] law creates a framework allowing companies to shift from “polluter pays” to “polluter doesn’t pollute”.’

A favourite uncle of mine, Dr. Roger Butler invented a technology that allows economically viable horizontal extraction of oil from tar sands. His discovery has resulted in what is arguably the single biggest environmental eyesore on the planet. The Athabasca Tar Sands project has created an ugly, poisonous blight in the northern Canadian tundra easily visible from space. It is immense. It is the size of England and Wales combined and it continues to grow. My uncle, an intelligent, passionate and highly likeable character could hardly have foreseen the scale of devastation his discovery has wrought.

Here’s a little on the dirty oil of the Athabasca Tar Sands:

Polly Higgins revealed in our time together on the radio that one of her forebears, Patillo Higgins, discovered oil in Texas in 1901. His well was a gusher that was still working one hundred years later. The well had an initial flow rate greater than all of the oil wells in the United States combined in that day. The Spindletop oilfield churned out over 3 million barrels the first year of operation, and over 17 million barrels the following year. This effectively brought an end to John D. Rockefeller’s world monopoly.

 Within fifteen years of his oil discovery an unprecedented industry build-up resulting in half a million jobs had emerged.

So it would seem Polly and I (and many others) have ‘ancestral dirt’ on our hands. It goes to show each of us has a responsibility to future generations to reverse current trends of destruction and ensure this planet remains beautiful, unsullied and teeming with life.

The scale with which corporations extract minerals and oil from the sub-surface of the earth today is unprecedented and hugely destructive. Despite blatant warnings such as Chernobyl and the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, nuclear power is still expanding. China alone has 14 nuclear power reactors in operation, more than 25 under construction, and more about to start construction soon. Despite the 2008 BP debacle in the Gulf of Mexico deep sea oil drilling continues unabated. Despite the known dangers of fracking (including the poisoning of groundwater and increased seismic activity), the present New Zealand government is freely handing out permits for this practise of induced hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking, commonly known as fracking, a technique using drilling and the pressurized introduction of water, sand and chemicals to release petroleum, natural gas or other substances to the surface for extraction.

Present laws of contract compel corporate leaders to maximize shareholder profits. There is little incentive to address downstream environmental impacts in decision making.

Please visit www.eradicatingecocide.com and find out how you can add your voice to a growing chorus of voices calling for laws which acknowledge that the Earth herself is precious and has rights and is not simply a resource to be plundered. As it says on Polly’s website: By giving mass damage destruction and loss of ecosystems legal definition we can close the door to the killing of the Earth. This is a world that deserves to live.

Time is of the utmost. Polly Higgins would dearly like to see ecocide championed at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June this year. That’s only weeks from now. Spread the word and get the cyber waves humming about this brave and timely vision destined to create a legal framework for peace.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/NOW_IS_OUR_CHANCE_TO_END_ECOCIDE/?cmfScdb

‘Current law protects the polluter, not people and planet. Laws provide pollution permits. If a company exceeds its limits it can be fined, which often makes no difference, as they can afford to pay the fines and still make profit. The law has set up a system that gives companies the right to pollute and destroy.

By creating a law of Ecocide, the law will protect people and planet.

By placing the interests of other people and beings first, and over profit, the consequences of actions take priority. If a decision is going to lead to damage and destruction, then it will be a crime. Looking after the Earth – a duty of care – will become the number one priority.’ (from www.eradicatingecocide.com )

Until now, the Earth has been burning while lawyers and environmentalists have fiddled with environmental legislation and protests against harmful projects like the Tar Sands. Ecocide laws will allow us to put the fires out.


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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com

 

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

 

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

 

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

 

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

 

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Acupuncture

I recently interviewed a young woman, Kim Wong, about Chinese Medicine. This Voices From the North interview covers the history of Chinese Medicine and some of the key areas acupuncture and associated treatment methods can greatly assist people. Kim spoke of her success treating sore throats, headaches, muscle pain and injuries and more. She also indicated acupuncture can really reduce the side effects of a person quitting smoking. For the complete interview click below:

Kim’s contact details are as follows:

Mobile Acupuncture
 Ph: 094062195
 kimsum327@gmail.com
  7 Thomas Street, Mangonui, Mangobui
 
  Kim Wong, Acupuncturist

An associated interview can be found below:

Acupuncture Explained

CLICK BELOW TO:

Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

 

Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com

 

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

 

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

 

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

 

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

 

 

Binary Stars

 

I’ve got a special treat for you this time around on Voices from the North as my special guest, Stan Walker, is an astrophysicist/astronomer so we covered some different ground, or should I say space, in this interview. Stan Walker is a Fellow of Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand, an Award member of Auckland Astronomical Society, a Member of the International Astronomical Union since 1970 – And Secretary then Director of the Auckland Observatory until 1990. He’s traveled broadly to astronomical conferences around the world. Stan’s foci include variable stars, close binary stars and photometry. I must say I was a little out of my depth with some of this stuff but Stan did a great job of explaining binary stars. Fascinating!

We also talked about habitable zones and the possibility of life being found out there. Stan Walker indicated that the U.N. thinks there must be, as they recently appointed Mazlan Othman (currently director of the Kuala Lumpur observatory in Malaysia), to assimilate all the reports of UFOs and visitations received around the world.

Stan spoke at some length about our sun and its composition (roughly 70% hydrogen, 28% helium and the remainder various metals, if I heard correctly) and combustion. As Stan indicated, astronomy is a comparative science; otherwise numbers take on values that are pretty incomprehensible. I don’t know about you, but when someone says 10 to the 27th, my eyes start to water and my brain goes fuzzy.

Stan was present in Mexico in the 1990s for the longest solar eclipse of the last century. Even then it only lasted 7 minutes. You wouldn’t want to be late!

In preparation for this interview I viewed a documentary about the sidewalk astronomer, John Dobson. I recommend watching A Sidewalk Astronomer. He makes astronomy accessible, fun and even a little mystical.

The complete interview can be heard here: 

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Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

I love musical interviews. The one I recorded with George Ball a couple of days ago for Voices from the North was a pure delight for me. I like to think it was for George as well. George has spent a lifetime performing on stage in the likes of Man of La Mancha, Camelot and Sweeney Todd. He has acted on television in The Young, Cheers and The Restless and General Hospital and his powerfully commanding voice provides narration for documentaries or television specials including A&E Biography and The Discovery Channel.

The complete interview is here:

We played some tracks from A BROADWAY CELEBRATION. George describes the serendipitous way this class act started in Maldonado’s restaurant in Pasadena California and then how George Ball, Lainie Nelson, Susan Watson and Dan Gettinger went on the road with it as a Columbia Artists Community Concert series for something like seven years. The premise for A Broadway Celebration was to choose the songs the performers most loved and then to bring the audience in with the stories of why these particular songs were chosen. It was the most successful touring show ever booked by Columbia Artists. George describes the good, the bad and the ugly of being on the road. Actually it was mostly good as the company reached audiences in towns all over America, touring with a big forty foot Winnebago motor home. From world class venues to high school auditoriums; from Murfreesboro, Tennessee to Montevideo, Minnesota, A Broadway Celebration reached out to Americans everywhere from 1994 to 2000. The tracks featured in our interview are:

  1. Wanna Sing a Showtune (song by Ray Jessel performed by the whole cast of Lainie Nelson, Susan Watson, Dan Gettinger and George Ball)
  2. They Don’t Believe Me (a Jerome Kern and Herbert Reynolds song performed by George Ball)
  3. People – Small World Medley (arranged by Glen Mehrbach for Susan Watson and George Ball)
  4. How to Handle a Woman (Lerner & Loewe – George Ball)
  5. Medley from Phantom of the Opera (Arrangement by Dan Gettinger 3 ½ minutes of a 9 ½ minute track that really showcases George’s voice)

George tells the story of going to NYC to audition for the Merv Griffin Show, missing that chance and getting angry. He then visited his agent who said George would be perfect for a new hit show opening in Greenwich Village, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. George had been doing musicals like Oklahoma. He’d never heard music like that created by the Belgian/French legend, Brel, and the anger he brought into the audition got him the role. Oh, how things sometimes work out in mysterious ways!

Roger Befeler, Kim Huber, Amanda McBroom and George Ball, in Center Theatre Group’s Salon XVI at the Taper

George went on to tour with that show in all the major cities in America and it was through this that he met his wife-to-be, Amanda McBroom (they’ve now been together for 41 years and married for 36 of them). The two of them took the show to the Netherlands where they performed in something like 60 theatres around that country. As George says, Jacques Brel’s music is part of the fabric of his life.

Amanda McBroom wrote a musical called Heartbeats starring Amanda as a woman, Annie, about to celebrate (if that’s the word) her 40th birthday and 20th anniversary. Annie fell for Steve (played by George Ball) the first minute they met. Two children and twenty years later they’re still in love but they’ve forgotten how to say it. The first song we feature in the interview from Heartbeats is:

Old Habits Die Hard (Amanda McBroom and Michelle Brourman – George Ball) The lyrics are astounding Here are just a few of the words which I hope I’ve reproduced accurately: Old habits die hard, old rivers run deep, and the promises made to the one you love are the hardest ones to keep.  The song brings tears to my eyes. It took George 10 tries before he could actually sing it, so moved was he by the lyrics.

 The last song played during the interview is:

All This Time (Amanda McBroom and Tom Snow – duet with Amanda and George)

George Bll is now available for voice overs. He’s currently recording a talking book. I look forward to his next visit to our sunny shores when we can bring more of his beautiful singing to you.

CLICK BELOW TO:

Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

Intelligence is our ability to live in harmony with nature.

Paul Watson

We’ve all heard of Dances with Wolves. My special guest on Voices from the North in November 2007, Ashiya Austin, was a Woman who Speaks for Whales. And frankly, with Japan’s latest whaling season due to begin soon, the whales of the Southern Ocean need a spokesperson urgently.

Ashiya Austin is an expat Kiwi who’d been living for years in Byron Bay in northern New South Wales. In late 2007 she burst into our local area with a clear mission – to save the whales. It turned out that Japan planned to take 50 humpbacks that whaling season together with their usual planned catch of Minke and the endangered Fin Whale. What do they do with the whale meat? What doesn’t get forced on Japanese School childrens often ends up in dog food. It sounds strange and difficult to justify. Ashiya wanted to see New Zealanders take a stand.  I’ll report further on this soon. In the meantime, here’s the complete inspiring interview including audio from Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd and Bunna Lawrie of the Mirning people of South Australia calling the whales. Being one of my earlier interviews, it begins with two minutes of music.

In closing the interview I  chose a few famous Native American words that seemed appropriate to the plight of the whales of the Southern Ocean:

Only after the last tree has been cut down.

Only after the last river has been poisoned.

Only after the last fish has been caught.

Only then will you find out that money cannot be eaten.

 

CLICK BELOW TO:

Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

We each serve this world in a number of ways. My two recent guests on Voices from the North have chosen to stand up for creatures whose very survival depends on the diligence and care of compassionate people like themselves. Wendy Sporle has been an advocate for the kiwi for close to twenty years. She’s the National Mentor for Advocacy at the Bank of New Zealand’s Save the Kiwi Project. June Salt is a passionate representative of a highly successful local kiwi undertaking, the Whakaangi Landcare Trust..

Over an unknown period of time, in the absence of mammalian predators, many New Zealand birds became flightless. They also filled the ecological niches that in different places would have been filled by rodents and other small mammals. One species of New Zealand moa was arguably the tallest bird ever to grace this planet and weighed around 500 pounds.

In relatively recent times mammals, including humans, have been introduced to the islands of New Zealand. With this population change, has come the extinction of a number of flightless birds unprepared for the new predators they’ve encountered. The last of the moas disappeared only a few centuries ago. But one of its distant relatives remains and it has become a national symbol of these fair islands. I’m speaking, of course, of the kiwi—a unique nocturnal, burrow-dwelling, flightless bird with feathers not unlike the fur of rodents such as squirrels who play similar roles in other places.

Wendy’s position takes her all over New Zealand. She recently returned from a trip to Stewart Island where she saw the opportunistic feeding of kiwis on the beaches of that southerly isle. She sees the urgent need for dog owners to take more responsibility for their pets whenever in kiwi-inhabited areas. Dogs are responsible for something like 70% of adult kiwi deaths. Dogs are quite naturally attracted to the strong smelling birds, but they only grab the birds, shake them and spit them out. They don’t eat kiwis. Dogs should be kept on leads and muzzled whenever in kiwi areas and aversion training is also now available. Whenever exotic forests are planted, people are encouraged to leave some less-productive swamp and valley areas in native vegetation to provide kiwi habitat. Burning of brush is highly discouraged.

June described the success of their group of 18 landowners over an eight year period. The Whakaangi Landcare Trust is truly a wonderful example of acting collectively and locally to make a difference. With numbers of North Island Brown Kiwis plummeting to approximately 10,000 from the millions of the past, such efforts are to be applauded and, hopefully, replicated.

More and more fortunate people today decide to stand up for a cause, to stand up for those who can’t necessarily stand up for themselves. Wendy Sporle and June Salt represent new armies—armies of people dedicated in selfless service to causes beyond there own basic needs and comforts. I applaud them and encourage others to find similar worthwhile causes that help make this a better and more just world. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, ‘It is one of the beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.’ My two guests on Voices from the North would concur that assisting a relatively helpless bird feels good to them.

Listen to this fascinating Voices from the North interview and hear the guttural sounds of the female North Island Brown Kiwi, the higher pitched, haunting cry of the male and the stories of two inspiring women.

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

My special guests on this Voices from the North interview are Ken Ross and John Kenderdine. Ken’s current position is as Community Development Advisor with the Far North District Council in New Zealand. 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—people 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 ex-president 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. This may be something we all need to learn if present trends continue.  

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews