A Cowardly New World

2016 - the hottest year ever recorded

2016 – the hottest year ever recorded


No, not Brave. The Inauguration tomorrow of Donald Trump is not only a political event but a sign of a shift in power towards the forces which exploit our environment, damage our climate, and wreak havoc on the natural world which I try to celebrate in this blog. Cowardly, yes, because almost everywhere politicians are coming forward who kowtow to the rich lobbyists, to the profit-hungry multinationals and to the tiny percentage of people who hold most of the world’s wealth. See the extract from George Monbiot’s article below.

It’s not easy being green these days. To defend a few flowers you have to take on leaders of major powers (even if elected by a minority), colossal companies, and media which are best uncritical, at worst blinded by misinformation.

An orchid and some asphodels brave the climate

An orchid and some asphodels brave the climate


We have to take heart where we can. So here’s a picture of a corner of the area called Sauveplaine near where I live. It was desiccated by months of drought this year. Then blasted by a pitiless wild fire which killed all the animals and cost the life of a firefighter. Today the night-time temperature was around -6°C, and near zero when I took the photo. But despite these conditions here come the orchid Himantoglossum robertianum and the asphodel Asphodelus aestivus, arriving for their rendezvous with the Spring as they do every year.

Plants are good at surviving natural catastophes – they carried on almost unchanged during the great evolutionary extinction events such as that which wiped out the dinosaurs. Maybe now is a period when we should try to learn from them.

Forgive me the indulgence with which I reproduce something I wrote a little while ago, inspired by a tree I saw – or perhaps met might be a better word. Bon courage to all of you in this new landscape.

Resist

The weather is bad almost everywhere
threatening us all, along with everything we love.
I head out into it, steeling myself
and encounter this young ash tree
growing in a rock-filled roadside gully.
Its straight trunk slipping between stones
has resisted winter torrents, letting them flow around it,
its grey skin has known frost and scorching sun;
this tree is staking its place, occupying its ground,
its roots push a few more inches of foothold each year,
it’s staying there, growing tall,
just doing its ash-y thing.

And if some idiot
representing a minority
high on power and hardware
went so far as to cut it down
– or burn it, he doesn’t care –
what then?

The ash has thought of that.
After all, its family has been around
for over a hundred million years.
It has made thousands of seeds
spread them around, seen them germinate.
The ash family will have the last laugh.

To endure this bad weather :
grow a thick skin
let events flow around you
be rooted
take your space
pass on your wisdom
and above all,
stay true to yourself.

Quote from a George Monbiot article, the Guardian, 19/01/2017 – full text here.

By appointing Rex Tillerson, chief executive of the oil company ExxonMobil, as secretary of state, Trump not only assures the fossil economy that it sits next to his heart, he also provides comfort to another supporter: Vladimir Putin. It was Tillerson who brokered the $500bn (£407bn) deal between Exxon and the state-owned Russian company Rosneft to exploit oil reserves in the Arctic. As a result he was presented with the Russian Order of Friendship by Putin.
The deal was stopped under the sanctions the US imposed after Russia invaded Ukraine. The probability of these sanctions in their current form surviving a Trump government is, to the nearest decimal place, a snowball’s chance in hell. If Russia did interfere in the US election, it will be handsomely rewarded when the deal goes ahead.
Trump’s nominations for energy secretary and interior secretary are both climate change deniers, who – quite coincidentally – have a long history of sponsorship by the fossil fuel industry. His proposed attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, allegedly failed to disclose in his declaration of interests that he leases land to an oil company.
The man nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, has spent much of his working life campaigning against … the Environmental Protection Agency. As the attorney general in Oklahoma, he launched 14 lawsuits against the EPA, seeking, among other aims, to strike down its Clean Power Plan, its limits on the mercury and other heavy metals released by coal plants and its protection of drinking water supplies and wildlife. Thirteen of these suits were said to include as co-parties companies that had contributed to his campaign funds or to political campaign committees affiliated to him.
Trump’s appointments reflect what I call the Pollution Paradox. The more polluting a company is, the more money it must spend on politics to ensure it is not regulated out of existence. Campaign finance therefore comes to be dominated by dirty companies, ensuring that they wield the greatest influence, crowding out their cleaner rivals. Trump’s cabinet is stuffed with people who owe their political careers to filth.

Here’s a song about a butterfly, cherry blossom, and hope.

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12 Comments

Filed under Asphodelus, Himantoglossum

12 responses to “A Cowardly New World

  1. Mike

    Good thoughts, Richard. Nonnie, Mel, Rosa and Wren go down to the Women’s March in London on Saturday. Time to make one’s loyalties clear, I think.

  2. Mike

    And me, I omitted to say!!!

  3. Thank you for this post, Richard, for the link to the Guardian article, and especially for your beautiful and hopeful poem. (I did not know that you wrote poetry.) I plan to share it as the blessing at the dinner Saturday night of family and houseguests crashing here in DC for the Women’s March, and also on my Facebook page in the dreaded days to come.

    • You give me honour I’m not sure I deserve, Sheila, but your comment cheered me. I’ve long believed that it will get worse before it gets better, so I look on today as the first stage of that process.

  4. Thanks for these thoughts. It’s hard not to be unremittingly grim in these days of uncertain futures.

  5. My property here near Carpentras has a couple of dozen of the same orchids coming up, they are a bright spot in a dark world. My country has sunk to a low I did not think possible. Todday a fascist criminal who did not win the election will become president. I’m pretty scared.

    • Oh, you’re in Carpentras now? Let’s remember, it was less than 25% of your country who voted for this administration – let’s hope the 75% go to the polls next time! (It looks like many of them are marching today)

      • Yes, in Mazan. Roquebrun is a very special village, but I had an opportunity to partner with a friend in a larger property in Provence that does not have 34 steps to my car! And is not 45 minutes from the nearest Bricolage. I still own the Roquebrun house and have it rented to the maçon who did most of the work! Believe me I will never forget that in fact the misogynistic, narcissistic, lying russian collaborator was not the choice of the majority of voters or Americans. But never mind, that makes me just more horrified and angry.
        bonnie

  6. Tanya Braumiller

    Walking among the trees I have planted is such a blessing. Watching them grow and prosper is balm to my heart. You are so right about the resilience of life, and especially plant life. I spent one summer strolling through the deserts of Baja Mexico and it always amazed me to see a tiny cactus sprouting on the north side of a rock, taking advantage of the shade and the bit more water provided by this microclimate. Love your posts!

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