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Nature
Grass isn't greener

Grass isn't greener

Perfectly kept gardens don't bring you closer to nature, quite the opposite. Here's why the lawnmower must die

Culture
GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE → SEP. 20–27

GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE → SEP. 20–27

This September, millions of us will walk out of our workplaces and homes to join young climate strikers on the streets and demand an end to the age of fossil fuels

Technology
4 shocking facts about fish farms

4 shocking facts about fish farms

Fact 4 may change your shopping habits

Culture
SQUAD GOALS - join the women saving America

SQUAD GOALS - join the women saving America

Is female leadership the solution to toxic masculinity and resurgent fascism?

Technology
Resistance sparks at El Prat Airport

Resistance sparks at El Prat Airport

“Degrowth of Aviation” Conference ends today – Action at Barcelona Airport draws red line for aviation and mass tourism

Culture
How to take corporations down for the criminal destruction of our planet

How to take corporations down for the criminal destruction of our planet

Honouring Polly Higgins: Jojo Mehta & Gail Bradbrook (founder - Extinction Rebellion)

Today's reading
Nature

Grass isn't greener

Perfectly kept gardens don't bring you closer to nature, quite the opposite. Here's why the lawnmower must die

Lawns are not a minor point.

Yuval Noah Harari in his global bestseller Homo Deus dedicates a chapter to the weird history of lawns – a status symbol that not only shows how much of the world an individual has conquered, but also how much spare cash they have to make it look pretty.

The trouble is, lawns cover a large area of our planet. They are ecologically unproductive and provide barely any habitat for wildlife. More than this they require constant inputs of fossil fuels in the form of pesticides, fertilizers and of course fuel in that dreaded machine of death – the lawnmower.

The strange cultural artifact of the lawn started to transform land in the Middle Ages, when French and English aristocrats put neat squares of grass outside the front of their castles. The lawn was an elaborate indicator of wealth and status.

Glengorm Castle in Scotland

Harari writes -

"Well-kept lawns demanded land and a lot of work, particularly in the days before lawnmowers and automatic water sprinklers… In exchange, they produce nothing of value. You can't even graze animals on them, because they would eat and trample the grass."

As history progressed new elites emerged in the form of entrepreneurs, industrialists and the bankers and lawyers serving the new global economy. They wanted lawns too. After the industrial revolution, when the middle class emerged this new social strata was keen to emanate elites. As suburbia sprawled out over pristine wild lands each new home came with its own little patch of lawn. As the human population has exploded the patches add up to a calamitous waste of land contributing to the devastating loss of habitat eradicating wild species.

The suburban lawn is expensive, wasteful, and bad for the environment

Another critically acclaimed author, Michael Pollen, who wrote The Omnivore's Dilemma and How to Change Your Mind wrote a seminal and often quoted article on the topic way ahead of its time called - Why Mow? The Case Against Lawns. He writes -

“Nowhere in the world are lawns as prized as in America. In little more than a century, we’ve rolled a green mantle of grass across the continent, with scarcely a thought to the local conditions or expense. America has more than 50,000 square miles of lawn under cultivation, on which we spend an estimated $30 billion a year”

It is perhaps worth noting here that a scientific paper published in Science magazine in 2012 estimated we could conserve global biodiversity for $76 billion. As the natural world collapses around us, the lawn may be an elaborate wealth indicator we can no longer afford.

Many commentators have urged society to ramp up to a war-like level of focus and effort to reverse climate change and The Sixth Mass Extinction. Interestingly, there is a precedent, in The Second World War English people were urged to “Dig For Victory” and turn every available scrap of land into food growing for the war effort. Clearly such ambition is also what we need now - reducing food miles, increasing self sufficiency and creating an abundance of fresh, healthy, seasonal food close to human habitations.

It does not make sense for rich countries to demand that less developed countries in the Global South keep their forests standing when we are importing agricultural commodities from them that we could have grown ourselves locally but chose not to because of our love of ornamental little patches of grass. The crops they grow for our markets replace the forests we need to sustain life on Earth.

Vegetable patches, allotments, orchards and all forms of regenerative agriculture provide much more habitat for wild species like endangered butterflies and hedgehogs then do lawns whilst also massively reducing the ecological impact of food production. An effective response to global ecological breakdown requires us to change the way we use land, not just in distant, exotic places, but also immediately around where we live.

The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew has launched its Grow Wild project urging people to create wildflower meadows in place of lawns. Pestival - the festival that celebrates insects urges people to help in anyway they can - including stopping using all weed killers in their gardens and leaving a mess of leaves and other natural debris which makes habitat for these crucial critters.

Planet earth was once totally forested. In the vast expanse of trees an extraordinary diversity of creatures slithered, squirmed, hooted, howled, danced and dreamed. Human's catastrophic and devastating assault on nature has removed half of these trees and destroyed 83% of wild mammals. The blades of the lawnmower are the precise spot where the industrial machine cuts back the wild world we need to survive.

Every human being alive today shares responsibility for our planetary home. Every patch of land we can engage with is either sacred or desecrated. What we do with this land defines us and determines the world our children inherit. If you walk outside and religiously chop back the regrowth of the wild world you are determinedly pushing forward death, wildfires, famine, mass migration and ultimately extinction.

When challenged to reduce or remove lawn area, most people will claim they maintain a lawn (with a not inconsiderable investment of energy, time and money) so their kids have somewhere to play. This is disingenuous. Kids can play on lawns. Kids can also play under trees, in orchards and wildflower meadows and even around vegetable patches. It is also obviously possible to maintain large shared-access lawns in parks and sports fields so that communities have access to grass for the games that really need it - like tennis and football.

Is it time to sabotage all lawnmowers?

If you are in a household with a nature killing machine (lawnmower) - do the world a favour - destroy it. Don’t give it away so someone else repeats the carnage. Those rotating blades are the front line of the war against nature. They must be fully decommissioned now for the advancement and sustenance of our civilization.

If your neighbour has a lawnmower talk to them. Urge them to change their attitude to the biosphere that supports us. If they won’t listen - sabotage their machine. We are out of time. It is now or never. The age of lawns was a tragic and idiotic aberration. The lawnmower must die.

In the new ecological age, our calling is clear - plant trees.

***

Things we can do:

Cartoon on the Dig for Victory campaign (June, 1943)

Culture

GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE → SEP. 20–27

This September, millions of us will walk out of our workplaces and homes to join young climate strikers on the streets and demand an end to the age of fossil fuels

Our house is on fire — let’s act like it. We demand climate justice for everyone.

Millions of us are striking together for the climate starting September 20. But we have to inspire millions more who’ve never before taken action to join if we want to tip the scales.

Fighting climate breakdown is about much more than emissions and scientific metrics – it’s about fighting for a just and sustainable world that works for all of us. If we are going to fight for this, we need everyone. Join me in a global #climatestrike Sept 20-27. globalclimatestrike.net

Getting under their skin: “Mobilization is beginning to…dictate policies and corporate decisions, including investment in the industry.” The secretary general of OPEC, the global coalition of oil-producing countries, called climate activists “the greatest threat” to the oil industry. That’s some pretty strong evidence of our theory that people power can tip the balance towards climate justice.

No more business as usual: School strikers came out again last Friday, despite students in many countries being on holiday. The first testimonies are trickling in on why people every are ready to answer students’ calls and walk out of our workplaces from September 20 on. Companies are being forced to figure out how to respond too.

The social media hashtag is #ClimateStrike — follow the momentum and use it when sharing your own stories and content.

Join in here

Technology

4 shocking facts about fish farms

Fact 4 may change your shopping habits

Did you know that over 50% of fish consumed globally comes from fish farms? Check out this video for 4 SHOCKING FACTS about FISH FARMS that you NEED to know! (Video from Plant Based News)

Today, campaigners call for urgent investigation of all Scottish salmon farms to prevent “summer surge of deaths.” Next week, campaigners will deliver a 40,000-signature petition to the Scottish government calling for emergency inspections of all commercial salmon farming operations.

The petition, by consumer watchdog SumOfUs, cites evidence of serious welfare abuses at some of Scotland’s salmon farms. Campaigners are demanding urgent action because sea temperatures rise over summer months, further increasing the likelihood of disease among salmon populations.

Secret footage of caged salmon near Loch Shieldaig, captured last month by salmon welfare campaigner Don Staniford, forced Marine Scotland to carry out an emergency inspection.

For years, we’ve known that Scottish salmon cultivation is as horrific as battery farming. Recent footage of the terrible conditions on salmon farms shows that the problem is only getting worse,

said Anna Liberadzki, Campaigner at SumOfUs .

As long as the megacorporations who own Scotland’s salmon farms can get away with it, they will allow the fish to suffer, while raking in huge profits for a so-called ‘sustainable’ product. Marine Scotland must step in. The alternative is a summer surge of salmon deaths and disease,

Anna Liberadzki said.

Don Staniford, Director of Scottish Salmon Watch , said:

Salmon farming is a welfare nightmare. We know from the Scottish government’s own surveillance that Scotland’s salmon farms are riddled with infectious diseases, pathogens and viruses. Unannounced inspections of salmon farms are urgently needed to prevent further mass mortalities and welfare abuse.

In October 2018, in a response to a parliamentary question, Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, revealed that there had been only two unannounced site inspections of fish farms "in the last year". The Fish Health Inspectorate has a statutory requirement to carry out “unannounced site inspections” .

A flotilla protest against welfare abuses on Scottish salmon farms, organised by Scottish Salmon Watch, will take place on 1 September at various locations on the west coast of Scotland.

Sign the petition here - Salmon Emergency

Find out more about fish and fish farms at - Rethink.Fish