By Michael Mobbs
3 March 2011 –
In April 2004, the hypothesis that the Gulf Stream is switching off received a boost when a retrospective analysis of U.S. satellite data seemed to show a slowing of the North Atlantic Gyre, the northern swirl of the Gulf Stream.
I’m not sitting here wringing my hands.
There’s a lot I can do, and I’m doing what I can.
So are a lot of us.
Nor am I quiet about the things taking me, my family, my society and my Earth down. The blindfolded media, the bankers who have frittered away our capital and now profit from digits on a computer screen but produce nothing of value, the almost completely useless political systems, the evaporation of truth, the obsession with “stuff” like TVs so complicated that they can be made to work only by specialists, cars that will go as fast as aeroplanes had they roads for them – so much stuff.
I’m looking forward to the changes coming to us now, faster and faster.
No cars on the road, maybe by 2030. That’ll be weird but wonderful.
And the gee whiz lifts that won’t run up and down anymore in the skyscrapers – they’ll bring me no grief. Never liked them anyway.
After I can’t get rubber tyres for a bike, though, because there just aren’t any, it may pain me to have only my feet to get around by.
But I’ve always loved to walk and there’ll be a lot more people walking too.
I won’t miss the TV.
I will miss the Internet.
But don’t talk to me about music. This last weekend I heard two wonderful singers and a pianist sing and play in the NSW Art Gallery. Surrounded by paintings, the big two square metre Rupert Bunny painting behind them while they played and sang Mozart, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and such gift to us . . . hard to imagine no more such concerts.
I’m particularly looking forward to no longer hearing about new megasized gas and oil and mining projects.
How sweet to no longer see the ruddy fattened faces of mining overlords gloating or whingeing in the media, no longer to endure their childish demands for more, no longer have to observe The Big Australian going about its grotesque, core business of destruction.
The debris and the unusable stuff of life without electricity will be strange to observe. That gorgeous Rupert Bunny painting, and all the others in art galleries around the world – how will they endure when they’re robbed of aircon that’s preserving them? The Mona Lisa, at last restored to her natural airs of Earth will moult, decay.
But I expect to enjoy more the return of silence as the trucks and sirens and hoon cars die off. To savour, I hope, the gifts of pausing, listening more carefully to what’s said. Words I hear in the air will become my main communication media. Books will be a treat again for many more of us.
I’m looking forward to Earth without banks that oppress us and pillage as much of the air, waters and lands of the Earth as they can; to escaping spiv techno stuff, four wheel drive buffoons . . . to people walking the good again Earth with just their feet.
Even tho’ it’s going to be tough it’s better than this state of suspended reality and Earth-wide plundering and ever widening destruction.
And it’s come now. The part that’s the nightmare, the droughts and floods and fever of my off-balance Earth. That’s begun.
So far so good, though. There’s still food about, even if the banks and speculators have been allowed to make food too expensive by turning it into a speculative trading commodity.
My world, my Earth will be more pleasurable without the roar of the traffic, the garbage truck, the conversations about last nights TV blah.
My concern is elsewhere.
With Earth’s core business.
It’s the Great Conveyor Belt, a part of which is also known as the Gulf Stream, that’s on my mind. (1) None of us knows what will happen to us should it stop. Most conjecture by scientists I’ve read is that there’ll be a dramatic and violent change in weather within months or weeks of it ceasing to function. They reckon that happened at least once before and Earth went into an ice age within months of the Gulf Stream and the Belt ceasing to flow.
So I’ve been reading about it, this great river that endlessly circles Earth and controls our weather, climate, food production and, ultimately, the making and use of every lift in every office building, every bike tyre tube, Google search, and even my walk in the park.
For a description of the Gulf Stream I can find no better than this (I wish Shakespeare and James Joyce had known about it and written of it):
“70 There is a river in the ocean: in the severest droughts it never fails, and in the mightiest floods it never overflows; its banks and bottom are of cold water, while its current is of warm; the Gulf of Mexico is its fountain, and its mouth is in the Arctic Seas. It is the Gulf Stream. There is in the world no other such majestic flow of waters. Its current is more rapid than the Mississippi or the Amazon, and its volume more than a thousand times greater. Its waters, as far out from the Gulf as the Carolina coasts, are of an indigo blue. They are so distinctly marked that their line of junction with the common sea-water may be traced by the eye. Often one half of the vessel may be perceived floating in Gulf Stream water, while the other half is in common water of the sea – so sharp a line, and such the want of affinity between those waters, and such, too, the reluctance, so to speak, on the part of those of the Gulf Stream to mingle with the littoral waters of the sea.” (The Physical Geography of the Sea and its Meteorology, Matthew Fontaine Maury).
Makes you think, doesn’t it.
This one thing upon which all life as we know it depends. Not taught at the schools I went to. Not discussed in the media except for odd passing mentions. No political parties have policies about it. None of the green groups make it their chief concern. And, of course, the scientists who know most about it don’t bang the table on its behalf.
Seems we just assume it’s going to keep on being there, keeping us alive.
We’ve never ruined a planet before, or fixed one.
It makes sense then, I suppose, that we pay no attention to the one thing which really makes the winds blow, the rains fall, the droughts, the crops, our food . . .
There’s a funny rightness, don’t you agree, that we ignore the one thing that, if it’s not there, will wipe us out, perhaps in a few months?
(1) The Gulf Stream and The Great Conveyor Belt are described here:
Michael Mobbs is a sustainability coach who advises, teaches and speaks on sustainability issues. He works with developers, governments and communities to design and obtain approvals for houses, units and subdivisions. He is based in the inner Sydney suburb of Chippendale, where in 1996 he pioneered the conversion of his inner city terrace into a sustainable house, which has now been disconnected to mains water and sewerage and is powered by solar energy.
Michael Mobb’s book “Sustainable House 2nd Edition” has sold out its first print run, but new copies are expected soon. Place your order through www.sustainablehouse.com.au