THE HARSH REALITY OF OUR IMMINENT DOOM: GOOD FUCKIN’ RIDDANCE!

Walls of Ice

A couple of days ago I heard that the world’s Greenhouse Gases, of which Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the most noxious one, have reached an all-time high. It apparently is the first time this has happened in millions of years. In fact, the last time similar levels were seen, according to the news reports, were when the Arctic was entirely ice-free, something like four billion years ago, when sea levels were 40 meters higher than today, and when the world was blanketed by seemingly infinite Savannah.

It worried me greatly to hear this, though it unfortunately also confirmed something of which I’ve been convinced for a long time: that thanks to our selfish, obsessive and institutionalized pursuit of material wealth, we are finally, as Marilyn Manson once said, “on our way down, now…”

The boob-tube rightly pointed to the rise in CO2 levels, which “picked up,” it said, “since industrialization,” as the main cause for this shameful and stupid ‘accomplishment.’ More specifically, it referred to human activity in terms of “burning gas and coal” as the main perpetrator (though not the only one: it also mentioned breathing and when plants died).

Of course, as I said, The Fear was already in me from long before hearing such calamities, though the news had renewed and invigorated it, for I had allowed it to wane in recent months, perhaps blinded by the transient pleasantness of warm, sunny days. Then yesterday, and again today, I saw more reports of natural catastrophes, though one in particular shocked me as much as hearing about our new ‘record.’

I heard about forest fires that consumed nearby neighbourhoods, though that wasn’t new and did not surprise me; it was just another dose of the real-life horror we are now living, and which is surely to blossom into full apocalyptic chaos for the generations unfortunate enough to come after us. But the thing that made my nuts and all the nerves in my body shrink with fear, was seeing a wall of ice about nine meters high, creeping in from the sea, slowly engulfing a tree that stood all by its lonesome self in the middle of a field…almost seeming petrified to move in the face of this roaring, blob of ice.

Today in the morning, I saw another report of a similar case where walls of ice had crept right up to people’s houses, destroying most of the wooden homes as the monster just continued moving ahead.

No Silver-Lining

Over the last decade, but perhaps more consciously over the last five years, I – as many others – have been noticing that our weather patterns grow more and more erratic every year; that the magnitude and type of natural disasters have both increased and varied, accordingly; and I’ve noticed that this doesn’t seem to scare many people.

I guess it makes sense that the world isn’t running around in a panic and crying about their doomed futures…Or does it? Many of the important things in life, I’ve noticed, don’t get done, or don’t get that first impetus, until catastrophe has hit, or until something very ugly has pressed for the necessity to do something. “You don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it,” has never sounded more appropriate. The only difference is that in that maxim, after you lose it, you gain a new perspective and try to do better next time. In the case of Mother Earth, however, once we lose her…We’re Shit Out of Luck.

Unfortunately, there is no upside here; there is no positive spin I can now write in here. I was thinking of how to follow that last sentence: perhaps, I thought, saying something about how it is in our hands to change it before it’s too late…But the absurdity of that statement hit me like a sack of jagged stones…There is no silver-lining anymore; there is no upside; there is nothing we can, in fact, do to save ourselves anymore. The generations that will come after us, I’m sure, will only inherit a living hell, at least until the species itself can no longer withstand the harsh and unforgiving climates…which of course wouldn’t be a bad thing…perhaps it is time for a renewal…to start from zero…and perhaps without us.

Just Let the Sun In!

When the “scare” about 2012 was still around, it almost became laughable to even suggest that the Mayans were onto something with their prediction. Of course, as with most of the important things in life, the truth of the matter (of their “predictions”) got thwarted and corrupted. In the end, much like it happens when you play “broken telephone,” the original idea had completely gotten lost in translation: the notion of Imminent and Life-Altering Change had been usurped by the stupid rumour of “doomsday.”

But to those who weren’t swept up in the hoopla of rumour, hyperbole or sensationalism, the idea that the Sun was to enter a new phase of expansion was a very real danger, since the science behind it proved that it could have dire repercussions here on Earth.

Mayan predictions have reportedly foreseen the coming of various eras of our time, including our agricultural and industrial revolutions. It wouldn’t be entirely farfetched to think that they had also calculated that the mixture of growing populations and heavier industrialization would lead to high levels of pollution that would, in effect, worsen the effects the Earth would be feeling from the Sun’s fifth phase of expansion. But that is irrelevant. What matters are the facts: that the Sun has, indeed, entered its fifth phase of expansion (confirmed by science), which, among other things, can cause massive solar flares that could reach and penetrate Earth’s very weak ozone layer, which, again, has only been weakened by the CO2 we’ve produced.

Natural disasters are, as we’ve already seen, a reality that continues to assault the world indiscriminately, even in places that traditionally would not see certain types of disasters for this or that reason (not near fault-lines, not appropriate temperatures/climates, etc). As scientists have long been stating, due to the rise in CO2 levels, oceans remain polluted for thousands of years as the CO2 does not simply leave. This changes ecosystems and causes the type of severe and erratic weather patterns I described above.

But the solar flares also have the potential to literally throw us back to the dark ages.

As it already happened in Quebec sometime in the ’80s or ’90s, solar flares, when strong enough, can interfere with our power grids, leaving entire cities without any electricity.

In today’s globalized world (and one where the Market, through places like Wall Street, reigns supreme), the lack of electricity in major cities would be infinitely catastrophic. The collapse of electricity would lead to the collapse of transportation, communications, trading, economics, etc. The entire world would be cut off from itself.

There was a documentary whose title I cannot remember now, which spoke precisely of all these things (I’ll try to find it and post it up). It went into great detail about what would happen if we are thrown in the dark for just a few hours, for a few days and for a few months. The results were globally fatal by the time we reached a few days!

Again, there is no silver-lining to any of this. I think we brought it upon ourselves.

Perhaps the only way to really save our species (not only our kids and their kids – that would be selfish), is to fully abolish our addiction to oil and, more importantly, to consumerism, which is what drives our consumption of oil in the first place. I have even had the fortune of meeting some individuals who do everything in their power to adhere to this philosophy of sustainability, and they’ve made my life that much better. But all my hopes (in regards to the survival of our species in the face of what we’ve done to Mother Nature) are now gone…

And Good Fuckin’ Riddance, too!

******

On a related note, the Canadian government is up in arms, enraged at the EU for even thinking of calling the Tar Sands “Dirty” Oil. They say there is no scientific evidence for it. They swear to start a trade-war over this.

Enough said?

THE CARBON FARMER (Arbitrage Magazine article)

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.arbitragemagazine.com/topics/carbon-farmer012/2/

How many times has your future stared at you outside an elevator door? Well, it happened to Brad and Rebecca Rabiey, who met outside an elevator at the University of Alberta some 10 years ago as they went to check their grades for a criminology class. She was arriving; he was just about to leave.

“It was one of the best examples of serendipity,” says Rebecca. “We just kind of small-talked and it just went on from there.”

It’s a cute story, that’s for sure; but this isn’t a love story … at least not all of it. Today, Brad and Rebecca are so much more than just another couple with a cute story—they are the founders and leading forces behind The Carbon Farmer, one of the newest businesses to have entered and slayed their way through the CBC’s theDragons’ Den earlier this year.

“It was the right time to really grow the business,” said Brad of the whole Dragon experience, who is only 29 years old, same as Rebecca. “And it was a great way to do that both from a publicity standpoint, as well as from an investment and strategic perspective.”

Like many other Canadians, this whimsical couple from Northern Alberta became big fans of the show, but they took it a step further, seeing the opportunity there was for eco-friendly businesses to really take off. They grew their business till the right point—taking in “as much experience and expertise as you can have in [the] industry,” said Rebecca, before finally attending the show earlier in 2012, after mock-rounds staged within their community. The couple went in front of the five Dragons intent on slaying the beasts. And indeed they did.

Bruce Croxon and Arlene Dickinson both were immediately engaged by the product, and they even got down and nasty in a tree-planting demonstration. At the end of battle, the couple ended up receiving $40,000 for 40 percent of their business.

TREES AND CARBON CREDITS

The Carbon Farmer benefits its clients, which includes virtually anyone and any company, in two different ways.

“One is through our Create Your Forest Website,” says Brad, “which enables people to have a tree planted and cared for in their behalf to restore habitat in the Boreal region or other areas of Canada.” Their pilot project back in 2007 resulted in 3,000 species planted personally by Rebecca and Brad in a matter of two days.

“We were total newbies at it,” says Rebecca, unable to contain her laughter. “We did so much research including watching Youtube foresting clips of how you actually plant a tree and talked to nurseries and things like that.” By the end of this summer, they gained some major clients who are requesting 120,000 trees planted for the fall. “But there’s no way Brad and I could do that on our own. So we have acquired crews that help us do that and now we have sort of become project managers.”

This aspect of their business focuses on the importance of bringing back a beautifully unique but vital habitat in the Canadian landscape, which has been affected by conventional farming practices and industrial development over the years.

Braid explained that their efforts were aimed at “restoring the places for wildlife to live and to grow healthy, and do things like filter the water,” praising the “purifying effects which forests are so good at doing in a natural way.” People have the option of buying a personalized tree for $1.99 each, and they can visit that tree in the virtual forest through The Carbon Farmer website. They are also continuing to grow food-crops on the best of their family’s land-base (an effort dubbed the Grain Perspective), which is born out of the realization that not all land should only be filled with trees. “We realize that we need food production,” he said. So the “rest of the land in our family farm is being transitioned to organic grain production.”

The second benefit offered by The Carbon Farmer is found in the carbon that those trees offset.

“We work with individual businesses and special events to ensure that they can offset their carbon footprint from things like driving or flying or heating their homes and offices,” Brad said. “Some businesses are regulated by the government to reduce their footprint or offset the remainder. And then there are people that just do it for corporate social responsibility.”

“It’s actually been really reaffirming,” said Rebecca, speaking about the surging pattern among Canadians (individuals and companies) eager to contribute to their vision. “There are a lot of people out there that are ecologically minded. And there’s also the small business uptake that we’ve had since being on the Den.”

Brad agreed, happily pointing out that many companies are also doing it voluntarily. “Our client-base at this point is made up of people who aren’t being told by the government to do it, but just because it’s the right thing to do. It’s definitely been a sign of how progressive Canadians are.”

This part of the business works by taking advantage of the carbon credits created by the trees planted. “We plant trees, which create habitat,” says Brad. “And in comparison to the life cycle of tilling the land, we are creating carbon storage as well, which we can sell as carbon credits.”

THE FAMILY AND THE FARM

The first land the couple began to work on was the third generation family farm Brad had tilled. “I think I probably dragged Rebecca in a little bit, being as how it was mainly a family farm,” Brad chuckled. “We also had land that probably should have never been cleared right along the river and wetlands, and maybe some poorer quality land as well. So we kind of looked at solutions to problems that we were facing on the farm so as to ensure that it stays in the family for future generations.”

Since then, their project has gotten bigger, featuring such major clients like Edmonton’s Wheaton Honda (formerly Millwoods Honda) who at one point came out to plant trees themselves. The couple has moved on to working with “landowners, conservation groups, land trusts, and municipalities that hold land that they acquire to protect but don’t necessarily have the resources to restore in terms of their former grandeur or ecosystem.”

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the business is its very own profit model. “We came at this from the triple bottom line of People, Planet, and Profit,” Rebecca explained. “Brad with his sciencebackground and me with my social background, has allowed the business to be very holistic because we are not just considering the dollars and cents but the wild-life behind it; the environmental impact behind it; as well as the community and people that are impacted.” Rebecca is a social worker by profession, and says that “these things … are of value in our business.”

And indeed they are. In the past, Brad told me, they’ve done “various things in terms of educational outreach events.” Right now they are donating $2551 out of their Community Fund, which receives a dollar of every carbon credit (tonne) they sell, to anyone that has a community project that will reduce their carbon footprint.

The Carbon Farmer certainly seems like it’s on its way to success. But the road hasn’t been all smooth, particularly because they’ve rattled the cages of conventional farming and introduced a revolutionary shift.

Rebecca explained one of the hurdles. “[Brad’s] dad had spent his early days helping his dad clear the land. So to have us begging him to plant it all back in the very field that he cleared has been, as you can imagine, a huge paradigm shift for all of us. It’s now at a point where we have much more understanding and work together. But at the beginning, it was really hard to get the full support and understanding from Brad’s dad that this is indeed a business and a concept that can go somewhere.”

“I think with my dad, at the end of the day, it was the belief in what we’re doing,” Brad added. “And we saw that from the Dragons and from most of the people that we’ve talked to—that they see a genuine care for the land and the environment and a genuine belief in what we’re doing. And I think that definitely engages.” Not farming conventionally also means that there won’t be any use of pesticides or herbicides, allowing them to be certified organic.

Currently, The Carbon Farmer is selling internationally, with clients in the US, the UK, Australia, and elsewhere. By 2013, they hope to have projects in four different provinces in Canada, ultimately aiming, down the road, to have boots on the ground in Africa and Australia.

If everything goes right, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t, this couple will grow together, waking up side by side in the glory of a third generation family farm, doing what they love. “As long as that spark remains,” said Brad, “I hope we keep planting till we’re old and gray for sure.”

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