International

Crane

Another arrow-swift para of prose from “This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook,” this time from Gail Bradbrook, one of the Extinction Rebellion founders:

Our challenge now is to look beyond our island nation and see with fresh eyes the rest of our family, spread across the world. To open our hearts. When we are able to fully feel the losses among us, then we will be able to do what these times truly require from us. All the children are our children. We can protect those closest to us only when we remember our love for those furthest away. This is an international rebellion, aligned with all peoples living with struggles to protect life on Earth. This is sacred

Remember, the job of Extinction Rebellion is to get global emissions to zero by 2025. That includes the emissions of China, Russia, and Turkmenistan. International is the only way forward, utopian though it may sound.

Friday existential blues (Davos?)

Greta Thunberg at Davos

Observing the sly deflections of world leaders and Australia’s leaders (both political parties), and in particular the orchestrated muck campaigns against those urging for climate action (let’s start with the obvious: close coal plants and dig it up no more) that must occur, today I got the blues. You know the blues, don’t you? Of course there are many kinds of downers one can sink into, but these blues are the unwanted existential anxieties one imagined one had built a carapace against. A sudden loss of heart.

So I sought heart by watching Greta Thunberg’s 4:44 Davos speech. Her concluding words? “Your inaction is fuelling the flames by the hour, and we are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else.” I do, I do, I do.

Odd bedfellows

Boots and plants

Staring down at my hiking boots. Thoughts whirling, always unsure of myself these days. In “This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook,” Rowan Williams, ex-archbishop of Canterbury, writes:

Change the narrative, and who knows what is possible? Accept the diseased imagination of the culture we have created and the death count begins now. Anger, love and joy may sound like odd bedfellows, but these are the seeds of a future that will offer life – not success, but life.

Those odd-bedfellow emotions seem to reside in me. Permanently. Conjoined.

Hero: Ed Hawkins

Ed Hawkins tweet

A climate scientist at the University of Reading, Ed Hawkins is an IPCC AR6 Lead Author. He tweeted a couple of days ago:

Months of work by 15 authors with 56 contributing authors, writing 60,000 words (+ 885 references) = 1 finished draft of a single @IPCC_CH Assessment Report chapter. Now over to the hundreds of reviewers. Then we start to edit it all over again…

It stirs my blood to hear about such work. The concerted IPCC work over decades must surely dwarf the feted Manhattan Project in terms of scientific firepower and global criticality. As always, heroes labour hard, extremely hard.

Where are the 15 Crane species?

Location maps of Brolga and Sarus Crane

How lucky can a neophyte be? I had expected to have to dig through books, new and old, and websites, and to then master map making to come up with simple motivational location maps. Maps impel. Maps document. Maps communicate.

Well, it turns out that the International Crane Foundation, in putting together its astonishing Crane Conservation Strategy, released less than three months ago, also commissioned fifteen maps that suit my purposes exactly. You can find the maps here.

From the composite image above, I note that only the Brolga is Australia-specific. A larger, wide-ranging population can be found in northern and northeastern Australia. A small, locally endangered population (listed as threatened by both Victorian and NSW authorities) lives in pockets in the bottom south of NSW (and into Victoria’s north) and in Victoria’s west (into South Australia, also, apparently). By contrast, the Sarus Crane’s only Australian range is the Gulf of Carpentaria up to “the tip” (Cape York). A distinct population mostly lives in India/Pakistan.

So … 2020 is the year to head west from Melbourne in April to attempt to see flocking or breeding Brolgas. In June we’ll do an exciting road trip up the red centre to Darwin and then in July make our way east, with some chance of seeing breeding Sarus Crane couples on the way, ending up in the Atherton Tablelands, where a sizable Sarus Crane cohort flocks together in the dry season.

James Bradley reflects on Australia in a 1° world

Yesterday’s keynote Guardian article “Terror, hope, anger, kindness: the complexity of life as we face the new normal” is a vivid exploration of what James Bradley calls the “new normal” arising from the bushfires (which, of course, are ongoing and will continue to be so for the best part of the next three months). His journey is the existential and emotional journey we all need to undertake in wrestling with the Anthropocene, the galloping emergence of a new geologic era, the only such juncture point we’ll ever face. You’ll note that I use the word “wrestle.” You don’t “master” the Anthropocene. The scale of the coming changes is too great. Your mind and heart lurch in loops similar to Bradley’s “terror, hope, anger, and kindness.”

Bradley is one of Australia’s finest authors and and this article is compulsory reading. Honest, nuanced, and wise. “We should be angry, of course. Incandescently angry. Because where we are is not an accident. … Faced with this reality we can sink into depression and despair. Or we can go further, admit the old world has gone, and begin to fight to make things better. … if we are to find a way forward we will need kindness as well as anger, empathy as well as rage, humility as well as righteousness.” I believe Extinction Rebellion hears this message. United, we non-violently disrupt our failing political order. One of our most potent messages, a greeting really, is “with love and rage,” exactly what Bradley seeks.

Lev saw some Cranes

Eurasian Crane by Lev Parikian

British orchestral conductor Lev Parikian penned one of 2018’s outstanding books. “Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? 200 birds, 12 months, 1 lapsed birdwatcher” entranced me. A few months ago, I wrote to him about my project of bearing witness to the fifteen Crane species. England wiped out the Eurasian Crane (or Common Crane) from its territory, but now has a tiny, reintroduced population, and I asked Lev if it was one of the bird species he saw, among his end tally of 200, during the quest covered by his book.

Sure enough, he did spot the Eurasian Crane, two birds, at the RSPB Slimbridge reserve, and has graciously let me show his photos above. His shots exhibit the stunning beauty of these elegant grey birds graced with black and red and white on their heads, showing a vivid wingtip black in flight.

I’m sure that you will feel as enriched as I am when viewing Lev’s action photos. If you’re a birder, buy his book for a treat of a read. If you’re not yet a birder, his book might well tip you over the edge!