Greece: Angry migrants chop down 5,000 olive trees on Lesbos

Days after video footage surfaced showing groups of migrant men ignoring social distancing measures and ridiculing the police officers trying to enforce them, illegal migrants from the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos have struck again, chopping down 5,000 olive trees.

Source: Greece: Angry migrants chop down 5,000 olive trees on Lesbos

“The destruction of these olive trees, which can take 65 to 80 years to reach stable yields, is being viewed as an assault on Greek history, culture, and identity, as well as an attack against the island’s local economy, the Greek City Times reports.

“The olive tree is one of the most ubiquitous symbols in Greece and classical Western civilization… For the ancient Greeks, the olive tree was… viewed as a symbol of peace, wisdom, fertility, and victory, and was believed to have been a gift from Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom.”

Furthermore,

“The island’s local economy will suffer for years to come as a result of the destruction of these decades-old olive trees. Each year, olive exports contribute nearly 650 million euros to Greece’s national economy.”

I am passionate about my European ancestry, and about the history, heritage, and culture of Western Civilization. But I am also passionate about ecology and the environment, and about local and sustainable food and farming.

This is an attack on all of the above, by vile and despicable cretins who have conclusively proven – if it were not already blindingly obvious – that they do not deserve to set one foot on European soil.

My mantra used to be “send them back.” The more this sort of thing happens, the more my perspective shifts — to “send them to Hell.”

 

Sir Roger Scruton: Conservatism Means Conservation | The Imaginative Conservative

“The cause of the environment is not, in itself, a left-wing cause. It is about about safeguarding resources. It is about conservation and equilibrium…”

Source: Conservatism Means Conservation ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Or, as he writes elsewhere, in an essay I will probably also post / link to here,

“There is no political cause more amenable to the conservative vision than that of the environment. For it touches on the three foundational ideas of our movement: trans-generational loyalty, the priority of the local and the search for home.”

There are many reasons I love the late Sir Roger Scruton, but this is certainly a big one: he was not only one of the greatest conservative thinkers of our time – arguably the greatest – but he was also a dedicated conservationist.

In this essay, as its title suggests, he is saying something I have been saying, myself, for many years now (at least as far back as the late-1980s, early-1990s, while I was still in undergraduate college): that conservatives and conservationists should be natural allies, as the root of both – not only linguistically but philosophically – is to conserve. And I have continued in that belief ever since.

But of course, being Sir Roger, he says it much better than I ever have, or could! As he wisely notes,

“the cause of the environment is not, in itself, a left-wing cause at all. It is not about ‘liberating’ or empowering the victim, but about safeguarding resources. It is not about ‘progress’ or ‘equality’ but about conservation and equilibrium. Its following may be young and dishevelled; but that is largely because people in suits have failed to realize where their real interests, and their real values, lie… Indeed, environmentalism is the quintessential conservative cause, the most vivid instance in the world as we know it of that partnership between the dead, the living and the unborn, which Burke defended as the conservative archetype.”

Thank you, Sir Roger! And to those who see this post, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. Especially any who may incorrectly believe that being conservative means rejecting our ethical and theological imperative to care for this good earth God has given us. Sir Roger shows that this is neither necessary, nor is it wise.

It is time – indeed, it is more than past time – for conservatives to re-take conservation and care for the natural environment from its captivity by the Left.

 

How to lay a hedge | Gardens Illustrated

Learn how to lay a hedge using traditional craftsmanship and hedge laying skills.

“Interested in the centuries-old skill of hedge laying? Follow our guide on how to lay a hedge and learn about the traditional ways to lay a hedge.”

Source: How to lay a hedge – Gardens Illustrated

“Hedge laying is a seasonal job carried out between October and March when trees and shrubs are dormant, and birds have finished nesting in the hedges…”

Ever wondered how to “lay a hedge” in classic English style (or even what that term meant)? Here’s an excellent starting point! No reason it couldn’t be done here in the U.S., for those with the land and resources to do so! I’ve often wished I could have a place where I could recreate an English cottage garden, including / incorporating a traditional hedge.

 

Blighty Boys: The UK’s Countryside Alliance

“The Countryside Alliance is the campaigning organisation that promotes the rural way of life in Parliament, in the media and on the ground.”

Source: Countryside Alliance – Home

Just as the urban / coastal elite in the US ridicules what was once called “America’s Heartland” as “flyover states,” and conservative, traditional country people as “rednecks” at best, “deplorables” at worst, so the urban elites in the UK disparage countryside people, pastimes, and traditions.

The Countryside Alliance was founded, IIRC, in 2005, in the aftermath of the ban on mounted foxhunting under the Tony Blair administration. As it says of itself on its website,

“The Countryside Alliance is the campaigning organisation that promotes the rural way of life in Parliament, in the media and on the ground. We campaign for the countryside, for rural communities and for hunting and shooting.

“We publicise the economic, social and environmental contribution the countryside makes to the national economy and quality of life.

“Our aim is to promote understanding and acceptance of the rural way of life and activities such as hunting and shooting in a managed landscape, and to protect them from bias, misinformation and over regulation.”

Campaigns and causes sponsored or supported include the Campaign for Hunting, Campaign for Shooting, Game to Eat initiative, Food and Farming, and Rural Communities – among others.

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Any true Blighty Boy would, or at least should, be a member!

When you’re hiking, keep your music to yourself | MNN – Mother Nature Network

hiking boots trek across a log over a river, forest vacation
You’ll never hear the babbling brook if music is blaring. (Photo: everst/Shutterstock)

The whole point of getting out into the natural world is to see, smell and hear the sounds of nature.

Source: When you’re hiking, keep your music to yourself | MNN – Mother Nature Network

How well I know this feeling! There are few things that bother me more, when I’m out in nature, than someone who has supposedly “escaped” into nature, but who has brought their “civilization” with them… and is thoughtlessly “sharing” it with everyone else around.

About the only thing that equates to that, in terms of sheer annoyance in the woods, is litter – and even that isn’t (usually) as all-pervasive as technological noise can be. Besides, as this article points out, noise pollution is pollution, too! One is, in effect, “littering” the auditory sense.

It reminds me of those who move to the country, where it gets dark at night and you can actually see the stars – and then proceeds to light up their house and yard all night long, not only ruining the possibility that they might enjoy the wonders of the night sky, but ruining it for others, too.

It is simply inconsiderate to others around you, and intensely selfish and “me”-focused… but, sadly, that can be said about much of contemporary society. I know there is hope; I know there are many people who care. But the sheer Philistinism of today’s culture and society is depressing.

The barbarians are not at the gates; they have long since overrun the city. And now they’re threatening to overrun the countryside, too!

Personal note: new water bottle!

IMG_1577

It is neither particularly Anglophilic, nor particularly Anglican, but I have a “real” water bottle again, after years of making do with reused juice bottles (reduce, reuse, recycle…). Visited REI Outdoors in Columbia yesterday, and splurged a bit to purchase this one.

It celebrates both the Appalachian Trailthe longest hiking-only footpath in the world, running some 2200 miles, from Maine to Georgia – and the 50th Anniversary (2018) of the National Trails System Act; a portion of the proceeds (5%) go to support our National Scenic Trails, so I can use that to help justify the purchase!

Pictured with my digital indoor-outdoor thermometer (the “outdoor” portion of which isn’t working again, darn it!) and an assortment of pocketknives.


Side note: I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t notice until just now that REI was sponsoring a hike at Catoctin Mountain Park (just across Route 77 from Cunningham Falls State Park, where I used to work, and a beautiful area of the state) today… until I saw that it had been canceled! So now I don’t need to be disappointed. I do need to get out to that area again, and do some hiking, though!

90% of plastic polluting our oceans comes from just 10 rivers | World Economic Forum

Workers clear garbage at the bank of Yangtze River in Taicang, Jiangsu province, China, December 23, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA. - RC1EC841D900

The world has become increasingly alarmed at the amount of plastic in its oceans. But where does all this plastic waste come from?

Source: 90% of plastic polluting our oceans comes from just 10 rivers | World Economic Forum

Here’s a hint: not from us.

Not if by “us” is meant the United States, or the West in general.

Plastic in the ocean is a major problem. As this article points out, “more than 8 million tons of it ends up in the ocean every year. If we continue to pollute at this rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.”

That is not just hype, and it is not something we should take lightly, especially if we care at all about this good Earth and its future (not to mention our future, on it). But here’s the thing: plastic straws in California – or anywhere else in the U.S. – are not the problem. We are not, by and large, the problem.

That’s not to say we couldn’t be doing a better job of disposing of (or, preferably, recycling) our plastic waste than we are; but for the most part, we’re not doing badly. So where does all that plastic waste come from?

Asia, primarily, and Africa.

According to the World Economic Forum, and recounted in the linked article and elsewhere, 80% of the plastic waste that makes it into the world’s oceans gets there via ten rivers: eight of them in Asia (including the storied Ganges and the Indus in India, and the Yangtze and Yellow in China), and two (the Nile and Tiber) in Africa.

Interestingly, this story came out this past summer. But how much attention has it received from the mainstream press? Little to none. Continue reading “90% of plastic polluting our oceans comes from just 10 rivers | World Economic Forum”

Lessons from Nature: invasive aliens

Invasive species alert sign
Sign warning of the presence of zebra mussels, an invasive alien species.
Migrants throwing rocks at helicopter
Central American economic migrants throw rocks at a circling helicopter in Mexico, on their way to the United States (where they plan to illegally cross the border), November 2018.

I have spent a lot of years of my life teaching outdoor and environmental education, conservation education, and sustainable agriculture education. And one thing I have learned, as a guiding principle, is that the natural world can often serve as a lens through which to view human society with greater clarity and awareness.

Let me cite one example, which seems to be impinging itself upon us, here in the West, with greater and greater urgency:

It is now a commonplace, among the “talking heads” of the Western media, political, and academic elite, that “diversity is a strength.” Some even go so far as to say that diversity is “our” strength. The notion is not completely without merit: there is a type of diversity which can be a strength.

The biologist and ecologist E.O. Wilson, for example, has demonstrated how biodiversity can greatly enhance resilience: the ability of, for example, a natural forest ecosystem to resist the impacts of a changing climate, or infestation by pests or diseases, especially as compared to a monoculture tree plantation, or a grain farm.

But – and this is a big “but”! – this is true only of a certain type of diversity, the sort which comes about naturally, over centuries or even millennia. An example in the natural world might be a healthy forest, meadow, or wetland. And example in human society might be the tremendous diversity of cultures, customs, and tradition which make up the vibrant tapestry of Europe.

Ecologists have long recognized the existence of a category of organisms to which “human ecologists” appear oblivious (or, more accurately, feel socially and politically constrained to ignore or deny): invasive aliens, which often find fertile soil in a new ecosystem, in which are there few or no natural controls to limit their spread. Invasive aliens in their original locality are perfectly fine and non-disruptive, because there are natural controls that limit their spread, and prevent them from getting out of hand.
Continue reading “Lessons from Nature: invasive aliens”

Rewilding Europe – Making Europe a Wilder Place

Source: Rewilding Europe – Making Europe a Wilder Place

Mixed feelings about this, to be honest. I am, as a rule, in favour of restoring habitats and ecosystems; however, I am less sanguine about European folk leaving the land and congregating in cities.

In defence of blood sports – Epigram

Blood sports. An unethical, unsustainable stain on the landscape. Blasting defenceless animals out of the sky. Sounds harsh right…?

Source: In defence of blood sports -Epigram

More on field or so-called “blood”-sports, from a British perspective:

It is not a question of human rule and dominion but a case of stewardship. I am deeply concerned about the environment – I wouldn’t splash out on free range eggs or endure the seven hour train journey instead of a flight home if I didn’t – but providing species as a whole are conserved I won’t lose sleep over the death of an individual animal.

And if anything, shooting offers a more honest relationship between man and beast than the average consumer could ever hope to have with their beef lasagne (or was it horse?)… When you eat game meat you know where the animal has come from, how it was killed and that it enjoyed a free and wild life – something that cannot be said for much of the meat coming through our industrial abattoirs and supermarkets.

Indeed!

I am reminded of one of the great Aldo Leopold’s essays in his seminal A Sand County Almanac, “Wildlife in American Culture,” where he notes the value of hunting, as inculcating both knowledge and respect for the food chain – much diminished if the only thing we are “hunting” for is the best price on styrofoam-and-plastic-wrapped supermarket meats – and what he calls “split-rail value,” or anything that reminds of of our national (or more broadly, cultural) origins and evolution.

Hunting, and related disciplines like fishing, trapping, etc., are not the only ways to inculcate these values, of course, but they are particularly poignant and visceral means of doing so. They allow the practitioner to be a participant in what is sometimes called “the circle of life,” rather than a mere observer of it, in a way which no other activity save agriculture can do. And of course, farming (or gardening) and hunting are two activities which have always been very closely linked, in human history.

The whole question of field sports is made out to be a class issue. It isn’t. It is a city vs countryside issue.

I am sure the majority of those 80% who condoned the fox hunting ban were city dwellers with little appreciation of the tradition hunting carried for hundreds of years. ‘Just because it’s a tradition doesn’t mean it’s right’ I hear you say, so let’s look at it another way.

To people in the city, who have never come close to anything wilder than a cat, the concept of an aggressive fox seems alien, but in the countryside, foxes are vermin. Straight up. They terrorise lambs causing real damage to farmers. Growing up in the countryside, foxes were not some fluffy creature. They were the stuff of nightmares, crawling into the chicken run and butchering the lot for fun.

Unfortunately many people, both here and abroad, have grown up with a more-than-a-little “Disney-fied” version of how the natural world works. I have spent years working and teaching in environmental, outdoor, and conservation education, and I can assert with 100% confidence that predator (including foxes, coyotes, and even those adorable “masked bandits,” raccoons – ever seen one ticked off? they’re not adorable then!) numbers need to be controlled, to limit the spread of disease and protect domestic animal populations.

And prey animals (“game animals,” to us) need to have their numbers controlled, also – especially in the absence of “top predators” like wolves, bear, and mountain lions – to avoid overpopulation, resulting in starvation, disease, etc. In a totally natural environment, absent the influence of human beings, of course, that would not be necessary; nature would maintain the balance – but the means it would use, namely the aforementioned tools of predation, starvation, and disease, are hardly cute and cuddly. Again, this is not “Bambi,” this is the real world.

Again, those who are opposed to field sports like hunting (“shooting” and “stalking,” in British parlance), trapping (more of an economic activity than a sport, per se), and mounted foxhunting tend to have an excessively romanticized, fictionalized view of the world. It is particularly ironic when those opposed to field sports are willing to eat packaged meat! Such animals frequently live much worse lives, and suffer less humane deaths, than those hunted ethically (poaching, of course, cannot be defended under any circumstances).

Finally, from a philosophical viewpoint, the reality is that we are not separate from Nature, either above or below it; we are part of Nature. We may have abilities of self-reflection, cognition, and communication that are greater than our fellow-creatures, but we are still what Leopold called “plain members and citizens of the land community.” And we are, biologically and evolutionarily, predatory omnivores, like raccoons, opossums, and bears. Pretending otherwise is dishonest, and does both us and our fellow-citizens of the land community a disservice.

Unless we evolve the capacity to photosynthesize, we will be dependent upon killing something – whether animal or plant – to survive. And what many people do not realize is that vegetable production, even organic vegetable production, is not benign. Many animals are displaced or killed to plant, cultivate, harvest, and protect those fields of greens, roots, and other veggies. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, please be clear-eyed enough to realize that this choices does not remove or immunize you from the deaths of animals, it merely makes those deaths less visible.

(Just as “Leave No Trace” camping relies heavily on extractive industries to produce the synthetic materials, stove fuels, etc., that replace more traditional camping techniques… but I digress.)

We cannot escape from our mutual interdependence on the rest of the natural world, and we cannot escape from the fact that a portion of that interdependence requires us to kill in order to survive. We may as well – in my view – do so in a way which is ethical, and which teaches us other lessons about the proper way to interact with the rest of the rest of the natural world, and with each other.