Help needed for the people of Vanuatu

This is the price paid by the poorest for the richest (by that I mean the middle class of world) to live their life. They have not run the aircon all day so they can come home to a cool house (no electricity let alone aircon), they don’t have 10 lights on the house or waste fuel to heat parts of the house. No plastic junk for the kids each day that then kills their food in the ocean.

Keep this in mind when you decide your monthly meal out or extra latte a day means that you ‘can’t’ afford to buy renewable power or sustainable food!


I have written several posts in the past talking about our friends from Vanuatu and a couple of my blogging friends have kindly emailed me to ask if they can help them in some way. Yes please, if you can!


Vanuatu is a group of 80 islands in the Pacific ocean, many of the men from Vanuatu come to NZ to work as seasonal workers in our vineyards and fruit orchards, this is how we came to know a group of them – they worked with Roger in a vineyard and for the past four years we have got to know them and learn more about them.  A post I did for Eco-grandma aka Living Simply Free about the men we know.

The majority of Islanders are unemployed, their jobs are “gardeners” which means they simply grow their food, their homes are dwellings built from what is available on community…

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It is going to be a long trip back from the edge.

I wrote about polishing my daughters and my shoes yesterday. I did this on that night because it was to be followed by the madness of a business trip.

As I have discussed the life I have is a hybrid life (read I am working out how to get of the stupid go round). I used to travel a lot for work now I am lucky I only rarely have to.

To a degree this was a good bad trip. It was a less than gentle reminder of the madness of the world that is the current business paradigm.

Up at 5:30am and out the door at 6:30am. Driven to the airport by migrant taxi driver who probably earns less than minimum wage for the hours he works even though the trip was the equivalent value to the amount of money we would spend on petrol for a week if we stay in Melbourne. Most of the money goes to the cost of a license and the monopoly system that can drive these kinds of wages.

To the airport. Check in and the madness of waste begins. Courtesy of the fear that pervades the world post terrorist acts everything is disposable and expensive. Again prices are high but lots of young people on the casual go round do the serving. Again the money goes to the airport corporations and governments who control it.

On the plane. More disposable items (most made from plastic and too small to efficiently recycle)

A weeks’ worth of fuel used up for our car per passenger on the way up.

Off the plane more taxi fares as above but a different city.

Meeting for 7 hours with a company that ships items from all over the world to Australia (admittedly they also have a large R&D facility here and the items are not something we can easily make here in Australia)

Back across city as above.

Into the airport. More disposables and same structure of casualization of the work force. Lots of tired burnt out souls in business suites wandering around looking for something to fill in their time and keep the amused. So buying crap basically.

Back on the plane and more disposables and more fuel.

Back to Melbourne and another taxi ride (same as the others) to get me home at 9:30pm

This is the life style so many aim for and yes this was a very productive meeting that reduced several weeks of back and forth to a single day of meetings. How anyone can see this as a romantic job option is beyond me (but then again I did once) let alone the staggering cost to the world of this day times the tens of thousands of people in this country or the millions worldwide every day

The whole process is highly exploitive. I was probably the least exploited in the process and in the end I had to work a 15 hour day!

So does this mean I throw my hands in the air and give up and not polish my shoes, not barter duck eggs for chiro treatment like my wife did yesterday, or go foraging for some figs on a tree I saw in a vacant block when I got of the train last week? Or work on the gift economy?

Maybe I could stop the feeds that show me how bad things are getting with plastic in the oceans or buy a second car with debt so I don’t have to see the exploitive nature of the taxi industry and can drive myself to the airport?

In the end it is none of these things it is a day of perspective and it is simply a reminder of the fact my hybridisation process needs to speed up.

In time, this short period we live in now will be seen as                 oddity, an epoch of unsustainability, and aberration of how we should treat people.

How do I know this? Because if it is not and we continue on like this then no one is going to look back on anything!

Off to collect the duck eggs before I go to work.

As simple as polishing your shoes

I read an article recently on preparing our kids for extinction.

While some of the article I did not agree with I did agree with the idea that the feeling of we are too small to do any good rang home as true to me.

The movies, our culture everything looks for a silver bullet a great leader a great philanthropist. Some one bigger wiser better than me.

Sorry no hero to come along and save you that is in your own hands. The acts you do each day multiplied by the billions will either save you and your children’s future or damn it.

As I have children it is something I contemplate often.

So stop waiting and just do.

For me polishing my work shoes and my daughters school shoes is one of these simple acts.

If every western person bought quality shoes and polished or paid for them to be polished and their shoes lasted 50% long this would have a positive impact on the world.

I am no fool know people buy them for fashion for status for a bunch of reasons other than to walk in so let’s just say 5% do it multiplied out that is a lot of resources saved.

For now I polish my daughters shoes, in time she will learn this. She needs to even with the best I can do at teaching her she is used to if it breaks I just get a new one. That is the mantra of the world she lives in.

In time like all children of her generation she will need adaptive resilience. Darwin was well aware of the fact it was not the biggest, smartest, most aggressive of a species that survived it was the ones who could adapt the most effectively.

Teaching her this and my own actions are the biggest gift I can give her and her generation.



Looking at Energy Differently.

I wrote an article on this a while ago on January but never got around to posting it.

Yesterday while at a get together of parents and children from our daughters old kindergarten a discussion was had and it filled out a few arguments and gave me perhaps a better perspective of people trying to be green but outside of the group I often mix with.

Basically most of the others are technology driven green groups. The discussion was on the sustainability methods of capturing the excess power from the current crop of renewable energy. Be that PV solar like I have in batteries storage, hot salt methodology as described in Australia to the use of compressed air storage for wind.

As methods of recycling batteries has become easier I believe that a stop gap in the short to medium term will be off grid batteries powered by solar. The truth is that this will be fought tooth and nail by the big providers who’s connection costs at present make up between 1/3 and ½ of the costs while the amount of power they sell plummets.

The discussion did centre as it will always around the economics of the way we use power.

For me and I will publish the article tomorrow on this. I use the power during the day my newer cost effective system with a return to grid of 6.5 cents vs 37 cents to buy means I need to use my power during the day.

To one of the other people who had an older system that cost 4 times mine for the same output but was on a feed in of 70 cents and a buy of 37 cents it was doing everything at night which really means using some of the dirtiest power in the world in the form of brown coal.

A third person who was renting looked at reducing their power to a minimum through stoping zombie usage by turning of at the power point. And switching to a more green provider PowerShop and offsetting it through the use of the of an offset program from the not for profit group they work for.

The owner of the home had another option having just installed roller blinds to keep the heat out reducing the need for energy.

Discussions where had about the value of reducing gas in place of solar hot water or a heat pump on a PV system. When to replace what to replace with etc.

There are a lot of things we can all do to reduce the fossil fuel load on the world there is no silver bullet and it will be a lot of different things that eventually lead to a reduction of the load of power.

And this is the key, the argument that the current renewables cannot sustain our current needs is while not entirely true close enough to allow for the fossil and nuclear industry to use it.

But a low fossil fuel economy now that would be of use to the world and even the current crop of renewables will start to bear that load.