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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I`m thinking about Ocean ecology and maybe another "Dive Trip" as I rewatch an inspiring documentary about the Oceans, mankind and our need to consider some less than obvious truths. I wrote this review of the Movie "Sharkwater" before a previous dive trip..

 "Be the change you want to see in the world"   Gandhi

Ok picture this! A man free diving among schools of sharks as if he is one of them. He feeds them, he plays with them, he appreciates them and he is willing to risk his freedom for them. Shite! Are these the same animals that Benchley and Spielberg vilified in "Jaws" 30 years ago? Are these the same monsters that have stirred panic in the average TV watching man and woman ever since?

Watch "Sharkwater" just once and walk away wondering about the world we live in. I`m not kidding. This is fodder for reflection on the nature of the beast. And the beast is us, not the shark.

This documentary-movie, produced and directed by Rob Stewart, delivers karma on the high seas. It is a story of a man`s quest to help us understand the truth behind the media bound horrible myths of "the shark". And it brings truth and thrills in a really terrific piece of entertainment. This picture makes me want to swim with the sharks and change the world I live in!

Stewart and the charismatic renegade conservationist, Paul Watson of "The Sea Shepard Society",  lead a mission of mercy and justice into the shark rich waters of Guatemala, Costa Rica and Galapagos. They will battle to prevent the shark`s extinction.

Stewart is a myth buster who drags the viewer through our ignorance into the depth of his truth. He shows us the shark`s real life timidity and function. They are scared to death of mankind`s sorry ass and Stewart teaches us that the shark is an essential part of the ocean`s ecology. Extinction of this 400 million year old creature may upset the balance of nature forever. If that doesn`t seem very important then watch the movie and I promise you`ll wonder why we let this happen?

This film is seriously thrilling and gorgeous in high definition video. It is packed with pirate boat rammings, gunboat chases, mafia espionage, corrupt governments and attempted murder charges that cause Stewart`s "league of justice" to run for their freedom. Paul Watson has the stuff of heroes and this docu-movie uses his presence like Spielberg used "Robert Shaw" in Jaws. But this is the real deal. Stewart is the heart and Watson the guts of a film trying to lift us out of an ignorance that is just another example of how important it is to search for the truth behind our myths.

We need to pay attention to people like Stewart who, with a little help from friends like Watson, shows us what we don`t know about the world we live in and what we need to do to overcome our fears. This movie is about us. Dive in and see for yourself!



Bali:Heart of Asia

 Something that I wrote about a 10 year old trip that is part of a karma motivation for travel. I need to go back with a new photo perspective, but till then?


"They who give have all things; they who withhold have nothing" Hindu Sage

There may be hundreds of ways to save this world and Bali is one of them. Yeah, I know, this is a travelogue but sometimes the road less travelled may hold the secrets of the universe, grasshopper. And Bali`s secrets run deeper than the obvious. The obvious are the lush and tropical forests, rice paddies rippling down hillsides like a painting, volcanoes touching the clouds and beaches that call the Indian Ocean paradise. It`s 8 degrees south of the equator and it is hot but the ocean breezes and mountainous inland slay the heat. You really won`t need air con at night. Tropical and beautiful but that`s not the story. The story is the people!

Wayan (first born) guides us through his country showing us all that is beautiful and all that is not.  Wayan speaks 3 languages. He is a travel guide, historian and ambassador for his Bali and worth every cent we pay for the spiritual insight he sells. You need to hire a guide like this. He takes us to his home (after covering nearly every photo worthy inch of the island) . We watch his family preparing for a soon to come wedding celebration and feel like we belong. He tells me that his community needs a schoolhouse as he dreams of the value of education. His people are poor but so so generous. Wayan is angry at the politics of Indonesia and how it fails his people, but his heart is hopeful for it`s future.

Made (second born) feeds us like kings in his humble restaurant . Made was originally Wayan (first born) but after nearly dying from a childhood illness was renamed Made by his grateful parents. He shares his family and his music (this guy plays kick ass rock when he`s not playing Balinese) while we start to sense the generosity that backs the endless "smiles" of Bali. The obvious humility and kindness of Made`s family will forever affect my life. I`m gorging on Balinese spirit and we will be Made`s best customers for now, but I hope someone picks up the slack when we`re gone?

I spent a week in Ahmed, a fishing village on Bali`s east coast. It is a vision of Bali`s nature in more ways than one. It`s coastline plays breathless views to Lombok and back to Mt. Agung while it`s beaches are lined with jukung boats of a wannabe fishing community. Meanwhile 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. Here we have an island that is physically a measure of paradise, with so much potential, but economically is a measure of need that can come at such a low cost to people like you and I. Such is the paradox of Ahmed.

This sounds like the desperate third world. You bet! And guess what, you`l always have to be ready to take the good with the bad in the developing world. That`s the thing with travel. Sometimes it demands as much as it gives and a karma experience demands that we emphasize give. And that was easier than you can believe in Ahmed. My wife nursed children and pampered old men while I tried to convince young men that the future is their`s. We watched kids catching grasshoppers for dinner and women carrying loads of bricks (and anything else) on their heads like working class ballerinas. We were part of the family and left wanting more.


Not too long ago,  Bali`s economy has suffered the effect of the bombs of idiot terrorists who hope to scare the tourists away? And 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 are dangerous for planet earth. And that being said I see the heart of the Balinese spirit as a true hope for mankind. No shite! People like this who can give so much while getting so little in return are a future I think we should envy. So go visit. Suck up the vibe and spend some money! Feel good about bribing your way into paradise. They need the economy and we need their spirit. A pact made in heaven!


Suzuki Time

"Although it's difficult, if not impossible, to put a dollar value on the numerous services nature provides, leaving them out of economic calculations means they are often ignored."

My recent thoughts on how to travel are inspired more than a little by a recent encounter with Canada`s esteemed environmental advocate and scientist, David Suzuki.
Actually the encounter was with my son who discussed my environmental blogging and my work (at the time) in Alberta`s Oil Sands. My paradox though I can rationalize it when we have more time?

In the end of this interesting meeting in a Vancouver gym, Suzuki suggested that when I`m done with the work in the Oil Sands that "I`ll have a lot to make up for!" I could debate this to some extent but in reality I think he`s mostly right that I need to suck it up and brush up on my new E`s. Energy, environment and existence. How do I balance my E`s for a progeny`s future?

My goal is to heed the call and contribute to healing nature while there is time. I`ll reflect, re-evaluate and research possibilities or consequences for Gaia and our humanity. But me, I`ve got to have some fun while I save my world and that means travel. So can I travel with credibility? Can I paint a sustainable picture of my environment, economy and science?

My vote remains in favor of Biofuel powered Air Travel and a Solar powered world grid but I argue with Suzuki and others that we need to maintain an economy through the transition and adaptation period. I will argue for a "Natural Gas Economy" as the bridge for a 20 year transition. It needs to start yesterday! Solar can power the world in 20 years but people need an economy till then! 

For my part, I`m lucky enough to begin my rediscovery of Gaia by visiting Lake Louise enroute to the "Icefields Parkway". Not everyone can do this but if you can it`s a hell of a way to kickstart a plan to "make a difference".
Nature as art and inspiration. This is too fracking sweet to screw it up! 



It` a Beautiful Slice of the Universe but do we care if it lasts?

"The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles … The planet isn’t going anywhere. WE are!"   George Carlin

I digest another sobering rant from the master as I prepare to travel the "Icefields Parkway". This is my journey to discover the best of planet Gaia and the cultures that capture an Earth moment in time. My time is such a brief moment but I`ll try and understand it`s impact on the future of our progeny.

I rent a car in Calgary and begin a drive through the heart of Canada`s "terrestrial fantasy" starting in Banff, Alberta. Banff is gorgeous and pure but for me it`s a stepping stone to Lake Louise and the Parkway wonders.

George carves a truth to the bone but I`m thinking we adapt to Climate Change and ride this moment for all it`s worth! But, how about this day in Banff? Well let`s start from a room with a view and consider the Suzuki factor.



The 11th Hour of Hope

"If we were logical, the future would be bleak indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope" Jacques Y Cousteau

I`ve just rewatched Dicaprio`s film the 11th Hour and I`ve got to ponder my faith in our carbon crazy civilization. The movie is a little too much like talking heads but is still fascinating in its scope. I`d defintely also recommend "An Inconvenient Truth with this but? if you have the time (and time is really all we have), this is a thought provoking encounter with some of the great minds in science and their plea for the future. A future where they would intelligently redesign our carbon puking economy. I can`t disagree but I`d try to influence "a natural gas based economy" transitioning a future of Solar power and that`s a story for another day?

Here I am planning my next trip or is that carbon footprint (maybe diving in Maui on route to Thailand). And I rationalize the value of travel while wondering about a future that sees 8.2 billion people on earth by 2030. Will the Chinese burn more coal and will India crave more electricity? Of course! They are becoming us and they are liking it, which is no big surprise? But this is feeling like casino capitalism and its not hard to fear our future or the fracking mess Gaia endures if we continue to roll the dice.

David Suzuki says that 99.9999% of species in planetary history no longer exist.That leaves us, being at the very top of the food chain, very vulnerable to extinction. And the movieshows us how rapid "climate change" drives extinction. But as Paul Hawken says this is a fantastic opportunity for our generation. The last and best hope for an eco-civilization. We can save this planet if we try? And as a Native Sage suggests at movie`s end: "This planet has all the time in the world, but do we?" This is really about saving ourselves not the planet.

The beauty of Hawaii and Thailand will still be here long after we are gone but who will hear the tree if it falls in the forest? Me, I`m crazy with hope and I`m buying my carbon offsets, driving slower, writing blogs and supportingBullfrog (clean) power. Its not much but I`m trying. And trying is the very least that I can do? Hopefully the brainiacs running the U.S., China and India will buy into a green revolution or? Otherwise the future is ringing and nobody is home! The 11th Hour?


Back to the Future with Solar Power




"The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems." Mahatma Gandhi


Not long ago, on a slow night in a Panama City Bed and Breakfast, I was reading through a stack of old National Geographic magazines. In a 1979 edition, I happened on a full page advertisement on the future of Solar Power sponsored by the Exxon Corporation. Yeah, I know it sounds like a hallucination but this really happened, Exxon talking Solar.

Meanwhile, at that same moment in 1979, the US President Jimmy Carter, was installing Solar panels on the Whitehouse. This was shaping up as a pivotal moment in history with America leading the world into a Greener Future where even Exxon was considering the profit of alternatives. But suddenly it was 1980, a new President (Regan) was elected and the Oil industry was to become more heavily subsidized than the Planet might endure. An opportunity was wasted as we stepped back in time.

Stepping forward, circa 2011, the Sun is shining as I watch a Utube rendition of a US President`s State of the Nation. Obama speaks of America`s "Sputnik" moment as an opportunity to create Green jobs for a stronger, future economy. I`m getting a little excited after too many debates with friends regarding Canada`s need to go Green. These days Canada has become a follower, we can`t wipe our butts unless America does their`s first, and we need some help scrubbing the Oil from our eyes. Oil is going to be part of our future but does it need to be all of our future?   Is this finally a revival of Jimmy Carter`s Gaian moment 22 years late? Has America seen the light? Will Canada finally consider a future beyond the Oil Sands and Climate Change?

Now the US Energy dept is talking "Sun Shot" in the same light as John Kennedy`s inspirational "Moon Shot" talk of the 1960`s. Their "Sun Shot" goal is to reduce the cost of Solar energy by 75%. According to a noted Scientist and Visionary, Ray Kurzweil, this is not only achievable but inevitable. He sees nanotechnology applied to Solar leading to exponential growth in Solar delivery that will provide 100% of our energy needs in 16 years.

This sounds like a wake up call for the future ride of energy? If Obama can make this happen, the world had  better get on board or move to the back of the bus for this "Solar Shot" rocket. The science is coming and if America is onboard we`ll probably be landing on the Sun sooner than later!

 "I`d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don`t have to wait till coal and oil run out before we tackle that."       Thomas Edison