Last spring we decided to landscape our front garden. We had a contractor level off the slopes and spread a new layer of topsoil before endless rolls of turf went down on the newly flattened area. And then, of course, we endured a dreadful summer of heat, wildfires, and drought requiring water restrictions that eventually meant we couldn’t water the lawn at all. So after a solid start, we lost the turf and now we have a front yard made up of weeds.
Needless to say, you should question why we wanted a lawn in the first place. Sir Walter is not native or even likely to persist for more than five minutes unaided in our bushy corner of suburbia, but peer-pressure is a powerful force, as is the resale value of the property.
Clearly we have to do something. Living where we do one simply can’t have weeds in the front garden for goodness sake. It has to be a pristine patch of green of a single species mown regularly to add to the sound of the suburbs.
A request was made to the treasury for funds to fix the problem.
A couple of hundred dollars worth of fertilizer, machinery-hire to aerate the soil, and some seed with a top dressing and perhaps the turf can come back from the dead.
It doesn’t work. The money is spent and still the weeds come through.
More money was spent on weed killer and yet more seed and top dressing. Still it doesn’t work.
Back to the treasury for more funds to do the job a third time. This time it will work.
Only the lawn still isn’t in any sort of shape and it feels like the more money you spend on it the worse it gets.
No matter, we’ll try again.
A plastic lawn is out of the question as is a return to clumps of coarse natives with a hint of bare patch.
The lawn debacle is a wonderful analogy for the work of green movements around the world. They’ve chastised the people and the governments for failure to save iconic species and to halt overall biodiversity loss, and yet each time they claim and whinge about it, going back to the treasury for more funds to do more of the same, because the problem continues to get worse.
How is that sensible policy on such a critical issue?
Surely we can resource the protection of nature. After all, it provides critical processes that determine human existence, yet we cannot find funds to protect the environment from our worst excesses. And how is it that people who have a political agenda to support that exact outcome have failed so miserably to achieve anything?
All around the world green parties have near-zero political capital, typically just a handful of seats here and there. In one or two jurisdictions they may, if they’re lucky, hold the balance of power on crossbenches, but the fundamental policy frame has not caught on with the public. Green parties have not been able to gather themselves to hit the mainstream and actually get themselves elected into positions of power.
This is a really big problem.
Damage to the structure of nature’s natural processes is reaching a critical level. Even Sir David Attenborough has decided to come off the fence and tell it like it is, the loss he has seen with his own eyes. He knows that bending nature to our will to the point where key processes fail is suicide. Don’t forget it is the primary production of plants and the secondary production of animals that feeds us all. Until everyone understands that, messing with the fundamentals is a dumb play for us and especially our grandchildren. Until we can get that into mainstream thinking, all of us are teetering on the edge of a very steep cliff with jagged rocks at the bottom.
Only the green doom and gloom story can’t be the message because whilst doom and gloom may sell newspapers, it doesn’t buy votes.
Newspapers create ‘if it bleeds it leads’ so that politicians can stand up and say “we’ll protect you from all that gore, just see our policy on fencing off the edge of cliffs”. It is what gets them elected. Join in the media with their blood soaked headlines and there is no way the public will elect you. The voters think you are blaming them, which, of course, the greens are and they may be right, but they can’t say it to our faces.
What we have is zero progressive policy on the environment.
But what about the green alternatives and green growth and new green deal. Some mainstream politicians, especially in the US, continue to double down on their base in the cities with these ideas.
Perhaps they are hoping that the COVID story will help. It should focus people’s attention on the need for change. Maybe a new way for how society will evolve over the next 50 years in order for things to settle. To give people some hope again. Give them an alternative to the nonsense that we are witnessing with horror in the US and in Europe, particularly in the UK, right now.
That the mainstream are trying to pick this up is an indictment of the environmental movements.
I don’t normally do this, but I lay the blame firmly on all the various political parties around the world with a green coloured logo. For decades they have not done what they needed to do, which was to make themselves politically credible through policies that people could actually hang a hat on.
Instead, they offer all or nothing decisions we’ve talked about before such as the one that brought down the first carbon trading legislation in Australia with greens demanding more and blocking the passage of the bill.
What we see is the ‘same old same old’, still trying to protect koalas, still trying to say that everything’s falling in and the sky will heat everything up to the point of disaster and we must do something right now.
Only there is no suggestion of what exactly to do without causing mass panic. What is it that the general public, not your supporters, but the general public must do to actually change their ways and deliver and get behind.
It is easy to criticise. Much harder to actually come up with answers and solutions. The next phase is to begin to tell people about what to do.
Over at sustainably FED there are a lot of examples of what you can do. A lot of practical tweaks, some learnings and a few political and practical ideas.
I encourage you to join in over at sustainably FED and put your own ideas forward as to how this could change, suggest some solutions would actually work.
And if you have an idea about how to fix a front lawn that simply doesn’t seem to want to catch, when wanting it in the first place is a brown as it gets, I’d really appreciate it.
Please browse around for a while on Alloporus | ideas for healthy thinking there are over 400 posts to choose from