Jungle Talk

Are we hard wired to run a sustainable planet? And are we accountable to the entire world that we live in? For me the Jungle is something made up of so many fascinating elements; a journey of intriguing possibilities. That kind of sounds like "life" on planet-johnson.

Can I travel with a presence that allows my footprint to add value to the world that you live in while "capturing moments" that tell a compelling story? Karma is a belief that all of your actions will have equal reprecussions, affecting you and I. This journey is a search for some balance, a little discovery and hopefully some visual poetry?

This blog will humbly attempt to see my world through the experience of TRAVEL, photos and sincere examination of an experential and visual karma. And I will find a way to incorporate some positive travel experience into that karma with the perspective of a Digital Camera. Photography and writing have become my "love affair" with life on planet-johnson. Hopefully I can share my passions for the best of this crazy world!

Please join in and welcome to the jungle! 

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The Great Green North?

    "It may be true that the government that governs best governs least. Unfortunately, the same is also true of the government that governs worst "     Jane Auer

I get a little excited when a politician starts to make sense and there`s a hint of possibility in the air. This is a Canadian poitician who I want to believe. He`s all about economic and environmental balance! I hope this is a sign of more to come in the the "great green north"? Read his latest blog. Its promising. And another link to where this kind of thinking might lead.



"A dream that became a reality and spread throughout the stars..." James T. Kirk

As I travel or "messenger" friends around the globe, the story is too familiar. Droughts in Thailand ( the government talks of seeding the clouds to bring on the rain) or Australia (ongoing 6 years of drought for Aussies), winds, cold and rain in Hawaii, devastating wind storms mowing down trees in Vancouver`s Stanley Park, record high temperatures in summer of North America and severe heat waves are becoming more common in Europe. This is just people talking and me listening. More anecdotal than scientific but the scientific community is piling on with enough concern to ring the bells of "karmageddon" around the world.

Now stories of climate change consequences are getting media attention on a level that gave "eco-activists" wet dreams not long ago. Climate science is sexy. Thanks to Al Gore. He may be rich and he may be a politician (these seem the best complaints his critics can raise) but his "An Inconvenient Truth" has made this story sexy. And the world wide media in all its lucid forms is like " a dog with a bone" that can`t get enough. Its fun to watch. But will it last? I hope so.

Me, I`m Mr. Positive. I see the future in a snapshot of hugs, kisses and endless goodwill among all human beings. Then I wake up, pinch myself and think about what really is and what might be? Are we at the proverbial crossroads for mankind? Is "the fat lady singing"?

Doubtless the average Jane doesn't have time to worry about saving the world. Life is tough enough and too many lying bastards (i.e. politicians) poison the well. And I`ll be long dead before this climate change bullshit hits the ground. Technology will save our kids. Vote for instant gratification and roll the dice!!

But before we gamble for future generations I wish everyone had to vote in a popular election and consider possibilities, like this excerpt from "Deep Economy" by Bill McKibben, that are too possible to ignore!

" If you want to argue that an economy structured like ours makes sense for the whole world, here are the kind of numbers you need to contend with: given current rates of growth in the Chinese economy, the 1.3 billion residents of that nation alone will be, by 2031, as rich as we are. If they then eat meat, milk and eggs in the same quantities as we do, calculates eco-statistician Lester Brown, they`ll consume 1352 million tons of grain, or 2/3 of the entire world`s 2004 grain harvest.. They`d use 99 million barrels of oil a day, 20 million more barrels than the entire world consumes at present. If China`s coal burning were to reach the current US level of nearly 2 tons per person, says Brown, then China would use 2.8 billion tons annually-more than the current world production of 2.5 billion tons. They`d use more steel than all the West combined.. Paper? At the American rate, they would consume 303 million tons, roughly twice the current world production. Cars? They`d have 1.1 billion cars on the road, half again as many as the current world level. And that`s just China. By then India will have a higher population, and its economy is growing almost as fast. And then there`s the rest of the world!

 Sure growth rates may vary but don`t expect the mantra of growth and global prosperity to wind down anytime soon. And there are economies in Brazil, Indonesia and Asian Tiger countries that won`t want to be left behind. The possibilities in growth of economies and resource use here are staggering. Growth is" the needle" and we can only imagine the "damage done".

Can a Global (i.e. United Nations) pro action ever be more important. Kyoto is the start but it needs a tune up and this can`t be a piecemeal movement. The numbers and the building case for climate volatility scream world wide implications. There is a building case for a global train wreck. We need an International agreement on the level of Kirk`s "Federation of Planets". And we can boldly go where mankind has only gone before in the movies or on TV. Imagine!

Maybe, just maybe, we can demand that politicians offer a vision beyond a 1% GST tax cut or more capital gains and that we face a sustainable economy for future generations. We are more than ever global citizens and we`re in this space ship together. And I`m voting for Captain Kirk and the Starship Enterprise in our next election. Karmageddon can be a true battle of vision over denial and some blue sky for the kids! They deserve our best.


Dangerous Ideas or Real Solutions

    "I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life but a great consciousness of life"   Jack Kerouac

I came across this timely feed from the Oregon Public broadcasting System that interviews, discusses and follows some fascinating ideas for transforming  the crazy world we live in. Very hopeful and proactive but includes straight talk and views of karma issues that need to be considered. The first part is an interview with Thomas Homer-Dixon on his views and solutions for troubled times; and the second part is an excerpt from a coming Documentary "Black Gold" on the coffee trade. This is very good!  Watch foreignexchange!



Can an Old Hippy affect Global Warming?

 "The oxen are slow, but the earth is patient". A Sage 

  Terence Corcoran, editor of the Financial Post in Canada, thinks "global warming" is nonsense and purely a fantasy of the radical left, (i.e. Gore, Suzuki) but after all he`s a financial editor and his scientific credentials are not very scientific. Though apparently he and Jerry Falwell may have attended the same science courses? Jerry thinks Gore is an "old hippy" and that science is for Satan.

So it must concern Corcoran that Big Business, in large numbers, are starting to believe in the science of "global warming". The Global Roundtable on Climate Change (a who`s who in International business that includes Suncor) has issued a statement regarding a "Path to Climate Sustainability"  that offers acceptance of the scientific probability that man induced Climate Change is likely and that steps need to be taken to counter high levels of CO2 emissions. I imagine Falwell will say the "devil made them do it" but Corcoran is probably choking on SUV exhaust fumes while his buddies agree with Al Gore and David Suzuki. 

Maybe, we`re finally coming back to the values of "hypothesis and probability" and we can listen to the voices of the scientific community who are steadily sounding alarms. Consider the American Association of the Advancement of Science, the world`s largest general scientific body, and their recent announcement on "global climate change".

Their concern for melting glaciers, destabilized ice sheets and volatile climate activity, as likely caused by mankind, lends even greater credibility to the passionate message of Gore`s "an inconvenient truth". This "old hippy" is on a mission and regardless of attacks from the  Corcorans and Falwells he seems determined to affect social and economic change that we couldn`t imagine a couple of years ago. His engaging presentation of the science of global warming has inspired a groundswell of political possibility. We might just have a chance if this ball keeps rolling?

"Don`t blow it, good planets are hard to find". 

The prognosis is a huge challenge but still hopeful. Meanwhile, as the planet heats up, Falwell is chasing devils and Corcoran indulges his dubious faith that green is bad and that old economics have no consequences.







Bush-Lite by Stephen Harper

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  This world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.  This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.  Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron. " ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

After 24 days of Fiji (Bula baby) I`ve come home to find that our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is still an American wanabe in Bush drag. And that means that our Prime Minister`s sphincter still throbs in spiritual pain with every gay marriage we endorse in this great country of ours. That`s "Steve" as George W likes to call him and now that he lost his moral crusade on same sex (sounds a little Republican American?) he is waving his moral dick at another long time Canadian tradition. We are no longer Peace Keepers and we`re following American know how (yuk,yuk) into the historical deadend of Afghanistan. I think this guy still thinks that George W is still the true leader of the "free world."  And that makes him, Cheney and Condi Rice (and maybe her boy toy Peter McKay) the last people on planet earth who share that distinction. Then again, Iggy Ignatieff may still be in the closet with them.

Harper`s a tough guy, kind of like that self proclaimed "war president" across our border. "The military don't start wars.  Politicians start wars. "~William Westmoreland  And Harper  wants us to commit to Afghanistan until 2009, or hint, hint, maybe longer. This is not much of a surprise from the man who publicly proclaimed that we should have followed the US into Iraq. Lucky us! We might have invested millions in Haliburton like George W  and pretended we were looking for WMD that International Weapons Inspectors had confirmed didn`t exist. Maybe "Steve" could have stood with George W on the deck of  that expensive warship declaring "mission accomplished" 4 years before we would leave Iraq with our honorable tails between our legs.

We need to understand why Canadian soldiers are dying and why we`ve killed 5 Afghani civilians in February alone. What are we accomplishing while the Afghanistan heroin trade increases to new, higher levels, Bin Laden is nowhere to be found and we piss off a lot of people in a world that foreigners rarely come to understand. Gwynne Dyer wrote a column in July,2006 that analyses the historical futility of military aggression in Afghanistan. Read Same war different players.  Political leaders need to become students of history so that they can avoid these entirely predictable military misadventures.

Harper and all Canadian politicians should read this first hand account of American mistakes in Afghanistan.  After all, this is an American led Nato project and "Steve" probably considers their advice. Lucky us!  Is this really what we`re dying for? Its a sorry account of corruption and neglect tha t we come to expect from the Bush Administration. Read it and weep. Then we might consider Jeffrey Sachs advice as a sensible basis for "winning the peace" rather than  the war in Afghanistan. Lets get back to our "peace keeping" roots before these guys find another Bush war for us to fight. This is starting to feel like the old cartoon where the little Dog is always kissing the big Dog`s butt as he follows him anywhere he goes. I wonder if "Steve" will follow George W into Iran?   Lets kick his sorry ass out of office before he gets the chance. Welcome to Bush-Lite!



Monbiot and Bali

"My fault, my failure, is not in the passions that I have, but in my lack of control of them." Jack Kerouac

If you haven`t read George Monbiot, then be very careful. Once you start you may want to run and hide. He attacks our conscience. He strips inane rationalization for the good life to its visceral core. Monbiot is relentless (read his columns), though honest about his own failings, in well researched arguments for wholesale change in the way our developed world middle class, me and you, work and play.

Monbiot reasons that the transition needs to come to save our planet from "Global Warming." Read his latest book "Heat" for his bitter truth . And after Gore`s "an Inconvenient Truth" and Monbiot I can`t justify some of my playtime. So I`ll do my best to gently walk the earth, but hence comes my dilemma!

Monbiot is singularly ruthless in his condemnation of "air travel" and his reasoning that air traffic is a huge contributor to the deterioration of the atmosphere. This guy is pissed and argues that carbon offsets are not valuable enough to counter the damage. Its just a shell game with no prize to be had. And every time I travel (by air), says Monbiot, then I`m killing people with my impact on "climate change." Maybe, but I sense panic in Monbiot`s rant and I argue for "adaptation" and understanding of our vulnerabilities to climate change (the 90% cuts in air travel  he calls for are f---ing unlikely). The change needs to be managed so that it doesn`t create a slippery slope for the "extremely poor", in the here and now.

What is the value of travel? Can we imagine the needs of others (and some needs are life and death) at the highest most effective level without the personal touch, the human contact? Would the planet be a better place if people understood each other less? (if that's possible?) North Americans are climate pigs affecting "climate change" on a per capita gorge but this would be worse if we didn`t have to consider its impact on others.

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine

Monbiot needs to consider Bali. Its not an extreme example but I`ve been there so its my example. I flew to Bali in 2003 after the first terrorist assholes had devastated the local economy with their bombs. Bali is a Hindu enclave in Muslim dominated Indonesia. Bali`s economy is a heavily tourist dependent island where bombs and Monbiot will not be appreciated for their ideology. Scare the tourists away and Balinese artists and workers won`t worry about global warming while their families go hungry. But somehow these people would keep smiling and share their crumbs with you regardless their pain. These people deserve terrorism like George W deserves respect. Nada. But they  do deserve to have tourists keep coming and keep spending!

Wayan (first born) guides us through his country showing us all that is beautiful and all that is not. He tells me that his community needs a schoolhouse as he dreams of the value of education. Made (second born) feeds us like kings in his humble restaurant . He shares his family and his music  (this guy plays kick ass rock when he not playing Balinese) while we start to sense the genuine generosity that backs the endless "smiles" of Bali. This obvious humility and kindness of most we meet will forever affect my life. I`m a climate pig gorging at the trough of Balinese spirit. The least I can do is engage their economy. Spend some damn money!

I spent a week in Ahmed, a fishing village on Bali`s east coast. Young people in Ahmed are suffering chronic unemployment (listless youth without a reason to be; we know where that leads) and Fisherman come home with less than they need. One young man dreams of owning 10 goats so that he might support his family for life. (cost $800) Another dreams of owning his own fishing boat so that he could employ himself for life. (cost $600) I met a young man so desperate for employment that he admitted he "might be a terrorist" if the price is right. "Of course I`m just kidding he said" as he endures another day without hope. This is more complicated than Monbiot or I can manage. But this I think I know. Life in Bali or Cambodia or Kenya can be better with us than without us. Their economy can be smarter and we can offer so much more but if we disappear this shite might get desperate. We offer them hope (which is much less than these people offer in return) and people without hope may be more dangerous for Planet Earth than Global Warming.

I appreciate our new found greenmania but while we`re considering the plight of future generations let`s not forget that "Poverty" is killing people right now. Adaptation of change makes sense for those 1 billion people who make less than $1 per day. I think Monbiot is inspiring but sometimes maybe even he can`t "see the forest for the trees." And maybe I can control my need to travel rather than giving it up entirely? I still haven`t seen Fiji or Tanzania or India...?