When the generals talk

“When The Generals Talk” was a song from the 80’s by Australian activist band Midnight Oil. The frontman for the band, Peter Garrett, is now ironically our Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts.

The title and theme of the song sprang to mind when reading how Sydney was nearly drinking mud recently – and most people didn’t know it.

According to the previous water minister, Nathan Rees, who is now the Premier of New South Wales, he was gagged by the previous premier and prevented from alerting the public to just how low water reserves were for the city of Sydney; Australia’s biggest city.

People often say how the whole environmental/climate change issue is exaggerated. I think examples such as the above show it is grossly underestimated and under-reported for fear of creating panic. Sure, the information is there if you want to dig around; but for the average person, it’s generally not sinking in just how bad a shape we’re in. That’s understandable, everyone is busy trying to make ends meet – but for what purpose and what ends? Often it’s to buy stuff we don’t really need, stuff that we’re told we do.

What I’m trying to say is don’t take what our elected representatives say as gospel or believe what marketing and PR departments try to tell you about what you need to live well and happily. As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, the key to a greener life is as much as using less of everything as it is about purchase decisions – to reduce hyperconsumption.

Anyone who states that “everything is ok, business as usual” should be treated with great suspicion. The “problems in the future” are here right now. Live as much as you can like no-one else is going to help you; especially the government. The folks who suffered Hurricane Katrina would probably agree that it happens.. and what if dozens of Katrina type incidents happened simultaneously?

Work for the best while preparing for the worst – for example, learning to get by on less water, less gas, less of everything or by planting a vegetable garden with heirloom and heritage seeds and harvesting rainwater. There’s a ton of tips on this site and many others that can assist you gain more independence and that will help lessen the nasty shock we’re likely to experience in our own lifetimes.

The current financial crisis is merely a symptom of a much graver illness our entire environment is suffering at the hands of mankind – and any reprieve will be brief. While technology will always be important, the skills of the past relating to self reliance will become very important skills of the future.