The Battle for Land Rights of the Mapuche People

Invisible in the minds of many Europeans, colonialism in the 21st century continues. On the basis of atrocities committed against a sovriegn people over the past five hundred years, billionaires, their unaccountable international corporations and the governments who legitimize them, deny the indigenous Mapuche communities the right to access their traditional lands. This article gives an overview of ongoing colonisation of the Mapuche Wallmapu nation in the states of Argentina and Chile.

The latest battle of a bloody war of conquest:

police gatherOn the 27th of May, police and infantry from Argentina and Chile, both federal, local and special Intelligence police, amassed to evict Mapuche from their attempts to reclaim some of their ancestral lands from Luciano Benetton’s 970,000 hectare estate near Esquel in Chubut, Patagonia.

The police are reported to have: separated babies as young as one month old from mothers, beat women they held by the hair, punched a 13 year old girl and used threats of “disappearing” people. police surrounding women

The brutality of the government officials continued for nine hours and several arrests were made.

These attempts to subdue resistance to colonisation are founded legally on a brutal period of ethnic cleansing and conquest in the 1870s.

I had the chance to speak to a Mapuche Lamuen (Warrior) who was arrested on the 27th of May. I won’t give a name for fear of reprisals. I asked:

Could you explain what lead to the events of the 27th of May 2016?

“Since the 13th of March 2015 our community has been undergoing the process of reclaiming a productive, spiritually important piece of land from the hands of multi-billionaire Luciano Benetton. Benetton’s estate encroaches on 970,000 hectares of Puelmapu (the part of Wallmapu, the Mapuche nation, in Argentina) near the city of Esquel, in so called Chubut. We form part of the M.A.P. (Movement for Mapuche Autonomy in Puelmapu) which struggles towards national liberation for our marginalized, oppressed population. We assert our legitimate right to self-determination for our communities and our right to rebel against occupation by the state of Argentina and the capitalist objective of extracting wealth from the destruction of ecosystems that support life.”

Why did the police forces assemble on the 27th?

“They came with the objective of achieving an eviction of our camp. The eviction resulted in the arrest and subsequent release of seven peñi and lamuen. However, they continue to detain our Lonco Weichafe (leader), Facundo Jones Huala. Two mothers with their children (one of them a newborn baby just a month) bravely spent the night in the open with temperatures 8 degrees below zero to maintain our presence and resist eviction.

“This arrest follows a systematic political persecution in which both the Argentine State and the Chilean State seek the criminalization of the Mapuche struggle to reclaim sovrienty over our land.”

Why did the police forces want to detain your Lonco and why is he important to your community?

“Our Lonco is accused of poaching the businessmens animals, for food, and carrying arms in Chile. They are using Chilean anti-terrorism laws, which don’t exist in Argentina, and extradition treaties to take him away from our community. It’s difficult to explain his importance to us. To us, he is the embodyment of the eternal spirit of resistance of the Mapuche. In times of struggle, this spirit guides our community through rituals and wisdom. Only he is able to lead certain rituals where we seek insight from the spirit realm. He is a herbalist and has knowledge of many medicines only the Lonco can use. He is our leader in war when we are under attack. His loss is very distressing to our community in many ways.”

What is happening to him now?

“They are using Chilean laws in Argentina to hold him without charge. They are saying he will be sent to a prison far away from us, on the Atlantic coast in the south, to wait for extradition. This is a terrible situation for our Lonco. This man has never lived in city. You know, our people don’t know anything of the colonising civilisation, they live outside of it as something altogether different. I think it’s very distressing for him to be trapped indoors in a place he doesn’t understand based on ideas he doesn’t understand. What’s more, if they take him to the other prison, it’s 600 miles from us. How can we get there to bring him supplies and speak to him?”

This battle in the context of a historical war of colonisation and genocide:

Benetton’s legal claim to the land is based on the original and bloody colonial theft of the Wallmapu nation by the Spanish and later, the continuation of this theft by independent Chile and Argentina.

The Mapuche first encountered Europeans in 1536 as an offshoot of the conquest of Peru. Diego de Almagro and an expedition of around 500 Spaniards and a thousand African slaves, made first contact and a battle ensued. 24,000 Mapuche warriors attacked a 200 strong scouting party yet many Mapuche died and were taken captive, not being used to steel weapons, armour and horses. The expedition retreated in the face of Mapuche ferocity.

The Arauco war ensued, from this first contact until the 1880’s, the Mapuche managed to maintain national sovrienty amidst an ongoing Spanish colonisation, city and fort building, pillaging, raids and slave taking. Over three centuries, the Spanish colonised, were defeated and recolonised. Each cycle was more brutal than the last, with larger and larger armies each time. Slowly the Mapuche lost ground, not least because of small pox epidemics which first struck the Mapuche nation in the 1560’s.

In the 1860s, 70s and 80s, the Mapuche territory was brutally attacked with renewed vigour by the colonial forces of Spain, Britain, Chile and Argentina. They sought territorial continuity and an expansion of agriculture which would be met through a campaign of ethnic cleansing:

Between 1861 and 1883 the Republic of Chile conducted a series of campaigns that ended Mapuche independence causing the death of thousands of Mapuche through combat, pillaging, starvation and smallpox epidemics. Argentina conducted similar campaigns on the eastern side of the Andes in the 1870s. In large parts of the Mapuche lands the traditional economy collapsed forcing thousands to seek themselves to the large cities and live in impoverished conditions as housemaids, hawkers or labourers.

As a result of the final fall of Arunco 1881, the Mapuche population of Chile was reduced from 500,000 to 25,00 within one generation according to Ward Churchill’s A Little Matter of Genocide, p109.

The Argentine ethnic cleansing campaign of 1878, ‘The Conquest of the Desert’, also saw thousands of people killed and 15,000 captives who “became servants or prisoners and were prevented from having children” according to George V. Rauch. The massacre is still disturbingly commemorated on the 100 peso bank note. See this article from where the following is quoted:

Under [General Julio Argentino Roca’s] orders thousands of indigenous inhabitants were assassinated and their land taken away. Soldiers were rewarded for each pair of testicles they brought back from the ‘Indian hunts’. The British offered 1 pound sterling for every Indian’s head given in. Children were taken away from their parents and forced to be adopted in Buenos Aires. The interbreeding has a striking resemblance to Australia’s stolen generation. General Roca personally seized 30 000 hectares of indigenous land.

In 1891, as part of the division of the spoils of the conquest, 900,000 hectares of this traditional Mapuche territory was conceded to the British held Argentine Southern Land Company. This concession was reached through the Avellaneda Law (The Immigration and Settlement Act of 1876), where European settlers were offered the conquered land at 2 pesos per hectare, the first 100ha given for free. This law was changed in 1891 to no longer require settlement of the land which allowed the ASL Co. to obtain the plot for agricultural exploitation. They were also helped to obtain the concession from the Argentine government thanks in part to the fact that ASL Co. had employees who also held office in the government at the time.

In 1991 the ASL Co. sold a 970,000ha plot to Luciano Benetton for $50 million. Benetton, who continues the history of agricultural exploitation, uses the land to rear sheep for his woolen clothes firm United Colours of Benetton, outlets and the products of which can be found in a highstreet near you. Benetton and other modern terratientes including Joe Lewis of Hard Rock Cafe also use this conquered land to keep cattle for the international beef market or grow GM soya which use an average of 2kg of toxic herbicide per hectare per harvest. Incidentally, Benetton, as well as Primark, Matalon and Mango, was implicated in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh which killed 382 workers who were forced to work in the illegal building in 2013.

Impoverishment, Dislocation and Colonization of the Minds of Mapuche People

RauchmuerteIt is incredible that the Mapuches managed to resist colonisation from 1536 to the 1880s. However, the years following the final conquest have seen widespread impoverishment of the Mapuche people. In 1903 Mapuche lands of Puelmapu (Argentina) had been reduce 100,000 hectares. Today they have access to about 12,500 hectares with roughly 26,000 people still living by traditional means.

Over the last century, 15.88 million hectares in Argentina have accumulated into foreign wall-mapuhands, almost 6% of all agricultural land, an area the size of Tunisia. In Chubut, over 30% of the land is owner by foreigners.

I asked my friend the Mapuche Lamuen about what this has meant for Mapuche people. I was told:

“There are not many Mapuche still living in the traditional ways. They have been dislocated from their lands and live now in cities. They don’t speak our language as they have been schooled by the colonizers. They believe in the importance of things like jobs and money and have no idea how we live. It was a real crime when our children were first forced into Argentine schools. We are still not allowed to teach our own children. We are told that all children in Argentina have the right to an Argentine education.”

I asked how people respond to the struggle to re-occupy conquered lands.

“In the south of Argentina there are lots of Mapuche people. They support us largely, like when we protest outside factories processing mined minerals. The people who work there are all Mapuche. The people who work in the plantations, they are all Mapuche too. Its like they are exploited twice. First taken from their land, then paid terribly to work their land for the profit of someone else. They don’t even know that the land they stand on is theirs. This is very very sad. When the police come to evict us they are Mapuche people as well. We tell them ‘don’t you know this is your land as well?'”

“The problem is that for the last century, people have been forced to go to the cities and a lot of them live in shanty towns and get poorly paid jobs. They are second class citizens. The ones who do get jobs think they are lucky. For 100 years they have been taught to behave like capitalists. That’s all they know. It is the saddest part of it. Their minds have also been colonised.”

I asked if there was any initiative to teach people their origins and history.

“We do. We encourage people to look at their surnames and to be interested in their ancestors. We ask them to question who they are and where they came from. It is an enormous task and we are just at the beginning. We want to teach people that they come from a culture with many thousands of years of history. A history which contains thousands of years worth of knowledge and wisdom on how to treat the land. Did you know, in the past, the Wallmapu was a source of inspiration for the development of a certain type of humanity. One that was part of Earth without being her owner. However, in a context of absolute violence, [the colonisers] have supressed our ability to transmit our ancestral knowledge. We need people to understand this.”

The importance of this discussion at this point in history

I wanted to find out if there was something I could do, or some aid I could try to campaign for in the English speaking world. I had imagined assembling a crack team of lawers to work on the release of the political prisoner, Lonco Weichefe Facundo Jones Huala; or work to undermine the violent genocidal foundations of Benetton’s legal claim on the land. However, the response was not what I expected. I ask directly, what can we do to support your struggle:

“We would like to see boycotts, we also want people to know what is happening and to find out more. We don’t want people to interfere, not NGOs or lawyers. This is something our nation has the capacity to deal with by itself. We want people to identify and work in solidarity with our cause. We don’t want money. Money is not part of our culture, it comes from our enemy. We identify our ememy as specific cultural ideas from the colonisers, namely capitalism, and money is part of our enemy. Also, ‘help’ usually comes with a catch. Money gets spent by people who desire a certain outcome from their purchase. We don’t want to be beholden to anything like that. Any decisions we make will not be influenced from the outside. That’s just the way it’s going to be.

“Our land is being consumed by capitalism. Wild forests are being destroyed and replaced with foreign species of trees, particularly pine. We are losing the diversity of species upon which everyone on earth benefits from. Together, these species give our community the food and resources we rely on, but they provide medicines, clean air and naturally limit pests and disease. These are things which we all need in polluted and toxified world. Mining here is polluting rivers and the air. The toxins kill and sicke us locally. But these same toxins go into the wider environment, effecting everyone.

“This insane destruction of our home the Earth and the disreguard for the suffering and impoverishment of peoples and nature that this causes everywhere has got to stop. The basis for an ever expanding economy is genocide, metal colonisation and destruction of the natural systems which support life. People don’t know this.

“What I really want to ask from people in other parts of the world is that they wake up from their own mental colonisation. Work against the system which destroys life, not for it.”

For me this message comes as an important reminder in a year of horrendous realities across the globe. More than 60 million refugees fleeing war and climate degraded land. The Arctic could be completely free of ice as early as this year, according to Professor Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University. One third of the Great Barrier Reef irriversibly bleached, set to get worse, was a source of oxygen equivalent to the Amazon rainforest and a very large sink for industrially produced CO2.

Now is the time to stop this. We must drop everything to stop the machine and build another way of life. If our blind consumption allows indigenous cultures, like the Mapuche, disappear at the hands of monstrous international institutions, institutions based in our countries, then we lose our most valuable, knowlegeble allies in the fight to build a better world for the future.


You can see some brilliant texts on Mapuche thinking and resistance, here. Please use translate functions in browsers, it’s worth it.

Many thanks to the Lamuen who spoke to me in early June for the patience and help I recieved.





Overcoming Grief and Censorship

Journalists have been lying to us. I didn’t really want to believe the BBC is anything but 100% impartial at first, but I have main-stream-media-liesbeen convinced they are nothing but serial liars. What’s more, the only apparent reason for their lying is to make it easier for capitalists to connive you and me out of more money and stop us from questioning our allegiance to capital.

I could see that the Guardian, Independent, and Times, not to mention the tabloid rest, are funded by advertising as much as sales. But what I didn’t realise was that advertisers had quite a lot of control over editors and what they choose to print. It comes down to a matter of “I won’t pay for an advert next to that anti-capitalist piece!” for example.

It isn’t that the media is not talking about war costs in money and comparing it to the amount in the deficit, the cost of austerity, the size of the bankers bonuses, or the size of the bank bail out. They do.

It’s not that there aren’t discussions of how current climate information is getting scary and how about we accept not going on holiday by aeroplane, or stop drilling for more oil. They are.

For example, things are still getting worse: In 2000, Yann Arthus-Bertrand noted: “since the 1970s, Earth’s natural wealth has diminished by one third.” The WWF noted in September 2014 that Earth has now lost half of it’s natural wealth since the 1970’s.

It’s clear we need to act, and drastically, as soon as possible. Journalists seem to be letting us know. And yet nothing is happening. Even if they are producing widely read articles, like the Guardian piece linked above, they being reported next to adverts for cars, holidays and banks.

Accoding to Medialens, a sort of media watchdog that attempts to hold big media to account when they leave things out, this is a message that says “quit worrying and embrace the consumerism that has precisely created the crisis – a message that the crisis isn’t that serious, things aren’t that bad.” Medialens has succinctly put this point together in Drinking Water From The Corporate Well, about two thirds the way down in this article.

Whilst it is certainly true that we are bedazzled by advertising every time we screen or buy a corporate press paper, surely this isn’t enough to engender apathy and inaction on the part of us. We are surely going to suffer terrifically as the ravages of climate change take hold and have effect over the next coming decades. So why aren’t we doing anything, even in light of stark warnings?

Perhaps it is because the situation seems hopeless. Take this stark warning: a 50 billion tonne carbon emission over a ten year period is within the realms of possibility at a global average temperature of 1.5°C above norm according to Arctic Oceanographers. We’re currently at 0.9°C global average above norm and the UN Climate Talks suggest we shoot for no more that 2.0°C above norm!

I found this out on a Facebook support group with 3000 members from all over the world. They offer personal support “for people who have accepted that human extinction is inevitable in the near term due to anthropogenic global warming based on trends determined by scientific research.” It seems sad to me that so many have simply given up hope and are now dealing with a sort of perverse grief for what is only one possible future outcome.

Can we draw links between apathy and advertising?

I feel such apathy must be one of several things, or a combination:

  • They don’t know any possible solutions they can enact themselves.

  • They are uniformed about the potential for political resistance.

  • They don’t want to enter into political action to change the way things are going.

  • They sadly value nothing in their lives.

  • They are childish and apathy is just a cool game.

  • They are lazy.

120403_FUTURE_cubanFarmers.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-largeI can help offer a good solution, although that group is unfortunately lost. They term what I have to say here ‘hopium’ and delete posts pertaining to this sort of thing..

We can get help with a lot of the scary implications of global warming by strategically planting forest around our settlements and food producing land. What’s more, these forests may alleviate the carbon load in the atmosphere and start to bring it down. BUT, and it’s a big one, we can’t use fossil fuels to do it.

In Cuba, the embargo minimised fuel availability drastically, ditto industrial fertilisers. Over time, the resulting need for food lead the Cuban people to demand access to land so they could figure out the problem themselves. It was very successful and scientists became interested in what they had done. They called it ‘agro-ecology’ because it’s success relied mimicing nature to cycle nutrients through the crop system. See this article and links:

Modern farming turns fields into factories. Inorganic fertilizer adds nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous to the soil; pesticides kill anything that crawls; herbicides nuke anything green and unwanted—all to create an assembly line that spits out a single crop. This is modern monoculture.

Agro-ecology uses nature’s far more complex systems to do the same thing more efficiently and without the chemistry set. Nitrogen-fixing beans are grown instead of inorganic fertilizer; flowers are used to attract beneficial insects to manage pests; weeds are crowded out with more intensive planting. The result is a sophisticated polyculture—that is, it produces many crops simultaneously, instead of just one.

Fine, but what is stopping us actually getting on with this? Why aren’t these messages getting beyond words on our screens/pages?

We are insidiously trapped by those profiting from the continuation of our current societal arrangements. And they are prepared to play dirty.

Medialens documents how big media corporations like the Guardian will sack anyone who sneaks subversive material past editorial gatekeepers. Nafeez Ahmed was recently fired from the Guardian for writing about Israel’s aim to pump gas in Gaza’s territorial waters:

“Ahmed’s July 9 piece has received a massive 68,000 social media shares and is far and away the most popular Guardian article on the Gaza conflict. In the event, however, it was the last article published by him in the Guardian. The following day, his valuable Earth Insight blog, covering environmental, energy and economic crises, was killed off.”

See full article here.

This is censorship. They don’t want writers who make people angry and prepared to bash bin lids in the street. They want writers who fill peoples minds with fear and the impossibility of the situation, as it breeds apathy. And it is precisely apathy and hopelessness that is allowing things to keep on as they are. We need to get angry if we’re to retake the fields and throw our bodies in the machine.

I’m all for being well informed about what is going on in the world. Particularly when it comes to things like 50 billion ton carbon releases just over the possibility horizon. It makes me more focused. It makes me want to start making positive changes in the world in any way that my insignificant self can.

But what we all hanker for is the sense of empowerment that comes when a community of people work together to take on and overcome their problems together. In some ways I can see the attraction in support groups for my own extinction. I could have the community, overcome the grief problem and I don’t have to do something! But what I’d prefer is a bunch of angry folk dedicated to the fight for change.

I’ve compiled this list of things you might consider and some possible actions, if you are brave enough.

By the way, I need help making the following into a spoof Guardian article that I can print and slip into papers. Can anyone help?


  • We need to learn to live without electricity completely. We don’t have any more room for burning Coal, oil or gas. And, if nuclear, wind and solar are ramped up to the industrial level required to supply everyone with electricity then they will destroy the Earth just as completely, if a little slower. We need the power plants and producers of these things to be shut down, closed. I hope some will be destroyed by environmental saboteurs. I think people like this should exists on the grounds that they are acting on self defence.

  • I bet I can find 1,000,000 people with ideas that make living without electricity easy.

  • We need to learn to live without money, or learn to make do with a tiny income. This will both starve corporations of their profits and their power. It will also diminish government tax which they can spend on war.

  • We must put more pressure on war mongers to stop.

  • We need to learn to grow most of what we eat on a day to day basis. Perhaps 4 days out of 7 we must be increasing the fertility of soil for the next ten years in order to grow a vast variety of plants, trees and livestock. This will nourish us physically and emotionally as we re-connect with where we live, not to mention provide tastier food than the supermarkets can provide. This will also help topple the agribusinesses and their attempted grab at genetic copyrights and our genetic inheritance represented by seeds. This will help sequester excess carbon dioxide in our soils.

  • In order that we can live without electricity, we must live outside of the major cities and towns in a much simpler manner. We must use horse and animal power to aid us in our lives. Our work will be more human scale and relate to the human individuals around us. This will help to reverse the isolation we feel all the time in the current system.

  • We need to learn to live without industrial scales. We cannot grow food through industrial farming. It is in effect soil mining, encourages deforestation, and relies on replacing diverse ecosystems with one or two species.

  • Modern farming turns fields into factories. Inorganic fertilizer adds nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous to the soil; pesticides kill anything that crawls; herbicides nuke anything green and unwanted—all to create an assembly line that spits out a single crop. This is modern monoculture.

  • Agro-ecology uses nature’s far more complex systems to do the same thing more efficiently and without the chemistry set. Nitrogen-fixing beans are grown instead of inorganic fertilizer; flowers are used to attract beneficial insects to manage pests; weeds are crowded out with more intensive planting. The result is a sophisticated polyculture—that is, it produces many crops simultaneously, instead of just one.

  • Agro-ecological farms actually resemble forests more than farms. Again, this has benefits for fresh water management in a water constrained and water problematic near future.

These points are all fine but they are not very practical in the here and now. I want to go a step further and actually give readers an idea of how they can personally get on with this stuff, step by step.

  • So, you’ve realised that continuing to indulge in the consumerist world is going to destroy you and everything else. Here’s what you can do:

  • Give yourself a deadline. Say, five years. More, or less, according to your circumstances.

  • Get out of a consumerist lifestyle. Join or start a land project. See www.hartwoodcommunity.coop for ideas and connecting with other people working in similar veins where you live.

  • Work together within your family or friendship group and pool funds and look for bits of land for sale. You must endeavour to attempt to detach yourself from capitalism and provide for yourself with what you need as much as possible. This means you will be trying to grow most of your own food. Realise now that it will take about 10 years before any soil you buy will be fertile enough for you to relax. It will be a struggle but worth it!

  • Do some courses on basket making, wood working, animal husbandry (looking after baby goats, awesome!), wild foods, mushrooms, gardening, agro-forestry and get an idea of the depth of knowledge out there and where to tap into these resources. Remember that courses are good places to meet people, however, you can avoid the costs of these things by volunteering on WWOOF and looking for specific skills available during voluntary placement.

  • Try to free up your time. Quit the job/career. What’s the point supporting corporate masters? What’s the point if you keep your job but don’t have the necessary survival skills to deal with the next couple of decades? Instead, travel a bit and work on farms. Work outside and get fit. Do manual cash in hand harvesting jobs. You can earn good wages doing this in breadbasket regions. France, notably, in western Europe.

  • Sell your stuff. Try to live in a van/yurt or bike/tarp. You are aiming to get onto a homestead as soon as possible. What you have now only weighs you down and probably won’t be suited to a small holding environment. You need to sell up and start learning how to be self sustaining, breath life back into the pillaged soils, work for increases in biodiversity and you will need the biggest float you can get to get you through the first ten years. A float combined with seasonal work requiring you for only a couple of months at a time is best suited for this set up period.

  • You are aiming to live with virtually no money within your deadline. That means you have to save and consolidate what you have now for your transition effort.

  • You should be attempting to do this with no money as well. If we can reach a critical mass, then write Community Declarations allowing the re-appropriation of lands owned by the gentry. This is a harder slog than selling up, but if your position in capitalist society is shitty, then you have all the more reason to fight it in this way. We only have each other. Foster solidarity across class lines. Organise farm squats and plant your seedlings without permission. Write to land owners and ask for their assistance. Look for community buy outs and work with your neighbours for nearby land to grow on. I know a community woodland project that has just won a £1 per year lease on about 30 acres owned by the crown in Roslin Glen, Scotland. We have a right to vote no confidence in the system at large. These actions could be political. If large scale, we can retake the commons.

  • Again, encourage your friends and family to join you. They will call you mad, but you will find many already doing this, particularly if you make it to the stage where you can join WWOOF. This is already an international movement.  Explaining your intentions to family will help you raise support for your plan and raise awareness of the issues you want to tackle. The more people taking these actions and talking about them, the more chance we have of shutting down the destructive economy through non participation.

  • Remember that it is now or never time for humanity. We have already burned too many fossil fuels. If we don’t attempt to reforest and end consumption then we are looking at ever increasing hardship with the death knell for the bulk of people being food supply disruptions. Any progress you can make to feed yourself and encourage non-participation amongst friends, family and the wider community around you will stand you in better stead. We’re not getting out of this alive if we don’t try to live in this way. You will be better skilled to deal with worsening global crisis if you attempt this.


Renegging on the environmental movement’s allegiance to renewables


Road through wind farm to tree planting site

I’ve recently been planting trees at a wind farm. Every morning, we’ve had to drive up a forestry road and top a large hill covered in hectare upon hectare of Sitka spruce. At the top of the hill, the spruce forest has been levelled and a giant construction project has taken place. Wind turbines twenty or thirty stories high spin with alarming speed.

Siemens headed the project, receiving the contract to build the turbines to be owned by Scottish and Southern Energy. The resulting moonscape, crisscrossed by individual access roads, reminds me of the areal shots I’ve seen of fracked well pads dotted all over the American and Australian landscapes. Twisted interconnected roads leading nowhere in a bizarre irregular grid pattern. I guess this is the signature of new and upcoming energy extraction projects: each productive unit, whether it be wind turbine or fracking well, is only nominally productive on it’s own when compared to industrial demand and ‘conventional’ power plant outputs.

Fracking well pads (in the US)

Turbines only produce about 2 or 3 Mega Watts (MW) of electricity each. Drax, the Yorkshire coal power plant, the largest in Europe produces 3,960MW. You can easily see here that to get into meaningful production ranges you need thousands of these wind turbines. I calculated this hill to be about 7 miles wide taking roughly 30 minutes to drive through from one side to the other at the mandatory 15mph limit. I would estimate there were about 30 to 40 windmills that we could see and they were only on the very top in an area I would guess at about 2 miles wide.

These things were big. I looked up some typical volumes of material for windmills and found this (Imperial tons, not metric tonnes – about half a tonne or 500kg):

“In the GE 1.5-megawatt model, the nacelle alone weighs more than 56 tons, the blade assembly weighs more than 36 tons, and the tower itself weighs about 71 tons — a total weight of 164 tons.


Notice Nessa standing under this thing for scale.

The steel tower is anchored in a platform of more than 1,000 tons of concrete and steel rebar, 30 to 50 feet across and anywhere from 6 to 30 feet deep. Shafts are sometimes driven down farther to help anchor it. Mountain tops must be blasted to create a level area of at least 3 acres.”

This is a huge volume of material by any means. Certainly on the industrial scale. You would need about 88 wind turbines’ concrete bases to produce a chimney the size of Drax’s: 44,000 tonnes of concrete, 260m high.

Cement is made by first mining limestone, crushing it, mixing it with a bit of (mined) clay and then heating it to 1450 centigrade using a fossil fuel, crushing it again and mixing it with a bit of mined gypsum. The heating process is for the purpose of removing some of the carbonate, which comes out as carbon dioxide. Yey! Then you need to mix it with water and mined and crushed rock. There is another added carbon cost to consider: that of transporting all this stuff around the world from where it was produced to the point of use.

Steel is hardly any better. To make steel you need to first mine iron ore, get rid of the overburden (trees, soils, rivers and rock), smelt the ore, which means heat it to 1375 centigrade (to burn off carbon dioxide) and then, strangely, add 2% carbon. Again you have to transport all of this stuff around to processing plants and points of use and then finally melt it down and pour it into moulds for the final shape.

Therefore, the construction of thousands of these turbines has huge costs in terms of mining and carbon dioxide production. And all for only about 20 years of use. Have a look at these points on Wikipedia about mining. My least favourite part of them is the industry’s reduction of things like ecosystems, streams, rivers, forests and soil into one waste product called ‘overburden’, possibly followed by groundwater pollution with heavy metals.

These are the things going through my head as we drive through first mile upon mile of dense monocrop Sitka spruce and then through a brightly lit south facing moonscape, where the trees have been mulched, surrounded by tricorned monoliths. I am told that we are not allowed out of the car to take photos as a blade flew off one at the Whitelee wind farm near Glasgow – another Sitka haven. As if the car is going to give us any safety against a giant steel blade the radius of an acre in length?! We took photos anyway. Bugger the rules!

None of this makes any sense.

Industrial scale wind farms are just as damaging as industrial scale anything. How can we hope to mine thousands of tonnes of limestone, iron ore, coal and petroleum (for the transport of all this stuff), process all of the wastes, pollutants and overburden, and call it sustainable, every twenty years?

What are we doing when we arrive? We have 925 willow and juniper trees, 925 Sitka wood stakes and 925 light green plastic tubes complete with plastic zip ties. We are to descend through a Sitka plantation to a burn running down the hill side surrounded by Sitka. We’re to put them intermixed between 3500 other tubes containing a variety of native broadleaf trees. Great!

We plant Sitka at 2700 trees per hectare, averaging about 2000 trees per day for up to 8 months of the year. 4425 broadleaf trees vs. a block of Sitka some 7 miles across. There are so many deer in this Sitka that the broadleaves will have trouble growing to much height out of the tubes, never mind their offspring’s un-tubed chances. We have planted a dead forest. Once these trees are mature enough to pass away, all that will be left will be the plastic tubes.

None of this makes any sense.

Where are the wolves? Without a top predator, the ecosystem in Scotland is effectively dead, with no hope of natural regeneration of forest. This island is a dead island. Or at least, mortally wounded. These systems are already stressed, diminished and have no hope of becoming primary forest once again.

It must be noted that is natural, primary forest that provides the key ecosystem services upon which life depends. For example:

“Trees clean our atmosphere by intercepting airborne particles, and by absorbing ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and other greenhouse gases. A single tree can absorb 10 pounds of air pollutants a year, and produce nearly 260 pounds of oxygen- enough to support two people.

Forests provide natural filtration and storage systems that process nearly two-thirds of the water supply in the United States. In their natural and healthy state, riparian forests help to keep the water in streams clear. When you drink a glass of tap water in a New York City restaurant, you’re drinking water that was filtered largely by the forests of upstate New York.”

There must be a better way to exist that to be both pumping the environment full of pollutants, for a wee bit of phone charge, and simultaneously irreversibly stymying our forests’ future. It is forests, not renewables, that represent our best hope for cleaning up the present mess.

I must say here that while it is hard to deny that windmills are certainly far less polluting than coal or nuclear, any arguments for them will inherently accept the premise that electricity must be generated. This forms part of the wider premise that industrial civilization must continue. It is industrial civilization that is the cause of global warming, not to mention the gross inequalities which allowed the 2008 banking crisis and following austerity, the 26 wars the UK was involved in since WWII and up to 350 chemicals found in breast milk. Surely the premise that it must continue is due for review?

Anyway, we could do a lot, given custodian of the land. A lot better than the current profit idiots. There’s a lot you can do on one acre. But that is if you are still fighting over the specs of land available to the average middle class Joe, of which there are, apparently, 1.8 billion on Earth, mostly in Europe, Asia and North America. These people could go for this 1 acre self sufficiency right now under the current rule. Have a look at this plot. Save your pennies middle classers!

Imagine 1.8 billion people planting fruit trees, fire wood trees, keeping milking cows and entering giant vegetable competitions with each other! Imagine the diversity of plants they would grow. After 10 years, each of their patches would have soil more complex and fertile than any artificially fertilised soil. Their work would be easy after this time and they could diversify their activities with all that free time on their hands. Think of the carbon sequestered in that soil!

I know this is a silly example that cuts out the many, many poorer than middle class on Earth – at least 4 billion. But that is because we are still working within the premise that this industrial civilization must continue and we cannot hope for an end to inequality within it. Borders must remain. The poor must remain in order for there to even be profit.

Lets say that we rise up, cut the power cables, demolish Westminster, ban corporations entirely, shut the banks, do away with money, borders, ownership of anything and redistribute the land equally amongst all people. No small task. It sounds mad to one accustomed to being the virtual slave to money. But this is how human communities have existed for the majority of human history. It is in our nature to behave this way. We have been on Earth for about 200,000 years. Humans did not settle on any one area until the end of the last ice age, when sea levels first stabilised and humans developed agriculture. Jared Diamond thinks this was about 11,500 years ago. I would suggest that while bartering had existed before this, money certainly did not.

I suggest in this day and age, it could be suggested to all, that we are all capable of getting on and sharing equally everything, within the limits of this finite planet so as not to damage the biosphere that supports life on Earth.

That would be good for several reasons. Sharing the land, using it to produce food on scales workable by human and animal labour, without fossil fuel assistance, would require most people to partake in the endeavour. Most people therefore, would spend a large amount of time outside co-operating with each other and animals, getting to know them on first name terms, celebrating successes with them, getting fit in the process and eating organic, local food tasting all the more delicious because of the chemical free living soil. With long rotations of forest, 90+ years for Oak, the countryside would be reforested to provide sufficient fuel for stoves and heating (and charcoal for cooling in sunny places). This forest cover would help massively to reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere as well as provide habitat for game and forage such as mushrooms, aiding in the diversity of foods available to this society of egalitarian peasants.

Without borders and without property, if a small community really needed something then others might want to help out where they could in a neighbourly fashion. Fantastic.

I know this idea seems childish. It probably is. It needs fleshing out. But tell me what is more insane? Knowingly standing by defending the system that is destroying the biosphere saying that it is: “the only system possible” or “human nature”?

We must begin to open this up and start getting creative. We are an advanced race of conscious people. Look at all the amazing things our society has created! We are capable of imagining a better way and working together to create it.

What is stopping us is governments, corporations, modern media, the imperative to earn money eating up our creative time and hopelessness. DGR vouch for a resistance movement to form against these forces. They vouch for a movement much like the resistance movement formed by women against sexist voting rights, that used a variety of tactics over and above peacegul protest. They took on the establishment and won a battle against idiocy. I think it’s time we took people like DGR seriously and started resisting this current prevelance of idiocy.

There’s lots of technology that can help us turn the carbon overshoot around out there. See Allan Savory and Geoff Lawton for some ideas. What we need now is the revolt which will allow them to happen.

antarctic ice shelves melt rate

Capitalism’s status quo, why and how it’s kept, and what keeping it allows.

Updated with links!

The basic reason for climate change hasn’t changed. However, now we are seeing predicted consequences of climate change coming into reality. Notably in my mind were the recent announcements that Antarctic glaciers are now in a state of irreversible collapse guaranteeing at least 2m sea level rise eventually as well as methane releases starting occur in the Arctic.

I think the reasons that the status quo persists, even in light of news like this, are many fold and mutually reinforcing. Primarily, I see the main driver being private profit. There are still billions and billions to be made from fossil fuel extraction. There are still billions to be made shipping useless junk around the Earth for sale and consumption. Put simply, people are still getting very rich from the status quo and they will work to keep it that way committing vast sums of money into pressuring governments, running for government and, importantly, paying for advertising.

Advertising is easy to ignore. However, it pays for our broadcasters and media publishers on the TV, the Internet, Newspapers and Magazines. You don’t see adverts in the Guardian for window cleaners, you see them from banks, mobile phone companies and oil companies. These company are making big bucks and they aren’t about to start paying for journalists to expose the full humanitarian costs of oil wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lybia and Palestine. Equally they aren’t about to pay for journalists to write critically about the level of inaction on climate change and the predicted consequences. Editors know that advertising revenue may be withdrawn from their publication if they publish articles the advertisers don’t like and so they squash anything truly insightful entering public debate. Have a look what happened recently to Guardian journalist Nafeez Ahmed. Also, see some more www.medialens.org for details of the lies and omissions in todays press.

Now that we are seeing the depletion of conventional oil, even though there is still lots left, to continue to provide the energy backbone of the capitalist system, oil drillers are looking at harder to reach, more technologically difficult oil deposits in the form of fracking and tar sands. These deposits lie in heavily populated parts of the UK and other countries. Unfortunately, it will be easy for these drillers to drill. They have to deal with one or two land barons. They don’t have to deal with unified communities with a sense of their right to the land and a sense that the land they live on provides their livelihoods and food. They don’t have to deal with communities that have a connection with the land around them. They do not work it, they cannot access it, they cannot use it. In Scotland, land owners working under the Enclosures Act, violently evicted such communities.. People are now kept isolated and are in competition with each other (in a capitalistic sense) over money, cars, jobs and houses – all in limited supply.. These fractured and competing peoples learn through practice that food comes from supermarkets when you have money. You can then say to these people that we need fracked methane gas to use a feedstock for nitrogen fertilisers or we won’t be able to grow beans in Kenya for ASDA. People will then rally around the frackers and supermarkets saying “we demand our food”. This is why we do not see vast numbers of people rallying to defend their land – it’s not theirs and modern life does not demonstrate that food comes from the fields around them. People have become, in the work or starve jail that is capitalism, estranged from the land and earth around them. This is not their fault, but rather a testament to the efficacy of the miseducation provided by our governments and continued misinformation of the media.

Advertising gatekeepers of our information will have their say in any land reform debates taking place across media. They will seek to ignore specific pieces of the puzzle, like the one I have just put forward, and frame the debate in such a way as to make any change meaningless. They will not allow articles into wide circulation that address this issue of estrangement from the land. This is exactly why we haven’t seen any meaningful action to change society away from it’s dependance on fossil fuel and why the majority of people in the UK, in a recent poll, think the death toll in Iraq was under 10,000 (it was actually closer to 1 million). Before we have a press independent from the need of advertising revenue we will not be given the full picture on any issue and we will not see meaningful change to the capitalist status quo.

Fortunately, I think there are cracks beginning to appear in mainstream media. The lies are becoming too blatant and people are starting to take it upon themselves to search for better information on the internet. Wikileaks, Ed Snowden, Medialens, Nafeez Ahmed, Arundhati Roy, Vandana Shiva, Chomsky and The Rap News all provide critical analysis of the media and the status quo and are found all over the internet. People are looking and organising but it really does take people turning off the TV, Facebook, stopping buying newspapers and knowing the right questions to ask in order to find them, so unfortunately there is a long way to go. We should take the fight to the media as well as the government, oil barons and land barons. People aren’t being given the right information and we need to fight for it to be given in order for timely and meaningful change.


The state of Earth and the land which comprises it

The MFing Tar Sands

In the modern day, the Earth’s surface is 0.8 centigrade hotter than it used to be. This is because it is having difficulty radiating the sun’s heat back into space after it has arrived. Carbon dioxide has a specific interaction with ‘infrared radiation’, a physics synonym for ‘heat energy’. When infrared radiation hits a carbon dioxide molecule it is absorbed and the energy it contains causes the molecule to vibrate. Eventually the energy is emitted again as infrared radiation into its surroundings. This emitted infrared radiation will be absorbed by another carbon dioxide molecule if it hits one. The process of absorption, emission, absorption means that heat in the atmosphere is effectively stored by atmospheric carbon dioxide. Now that there are 400 parts per million (compared to 315 in 1960 and around 250 in 1800) there are more carbon dioxide molecules storing heat in this way than there were before.

Methane is a greenhouse gas. It absorbs infrared radiation and releases it later, like carbon dioxide. However, it absorbs up 22 times more energy than carbon dioxide over 100 years before it breaks down into carbon dioxide, trapping a lot more heat over a short time period.

Since the end of the last ice age, around 17,000 years ago, organic matter has accumulated in the soils of northern hemisphere that lie within the Arctic Circle. Pine needles have fallen on ground that spends all of the year frozen. In the Arctic Ocean, dying microorganisms have sunk and hit an ocean floor that spends all of the year at sub zero temperatures. This organic matter decays very slowly as, below zero, bacteria and fungi don’t operate very quickly. Over this 17,000 year period, a deep layer that is part frozen water and part fossilised organic material has built up. Scientists call it methane hydrate as the organic matter can be released from its icy cage as methane, should the ice melt. Warmer, longer summers and warmer, shorter winters are causing permafrost in both the ocean and land to melt and methane is being released.

In Earth’s history, there have been about five mass extinctions of species, the last one being 65 million years ago. It is thought that a huge volcano, called a flood basalt – where a huge plume of magma from the core – surfaced, melting through the crust and forming an ocean of lava in what is now modern day Siberia. This lava flow is huge, covering most of Siberia. It is called the Siberian Traps by geologists, and you can see it if you have a digger that can take you down to the bedrock there. In case you were worried, it doesn’t look like there are any more coming our way soon!

It is thought that the eruption hit first coal seams, as it melted though the crust, and then hit permafrost methane hydrates on the surface. This released huge volumes of carbon dioxide and methane over a (geologically) small time period of a few hundred thousand years. At this mass extinction event, an estimated 75% of all species went extinct including the dinosaurs. The primary culprit being the greenhouse effect of all the suddenly released carbon dioxide and methane causing the Earth’s average temperature to rise too quickly for organisms to evolve to cope with the changing climate.

Methane Jan 2014

The situation of climate change induced melting of permafrost in the Arctic is analogous to the last mass extinction event in this regard, a sudden release of carbon dioxide and methane from methane hydrates. Methane is already being recorded as well above normal. The picture above shows atmospheric methane levels above the (normal) average of 1750 parts per billion with red areas being at 1950 or more parts per billion. It was made with data collected in January this year.

How much time do we have before we’re experiencing a mass extinction? Actually, arguably, we are already within one. It is estimated that around 73,000 species are going extinct every year. The background rate of extinction on earth a million years ago is estimated to be around 100 to 1000 species per year. While the current rate is not solely to do with climate change, as it is also due to habitat loss and environmental degradation through human activity, atmospheric methane levels could lead to even more rapid change in climate than we are now seeing.

Estimated volumes of methane trapped in permafrost are around 1000 billion tonnes. To put that in context, humanity has released approximately 500 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in the last 160 years – think all cars and all industry. David Shindell and Gavin Schmidt suggest that a real-world disaster scenario would be an instantaneous release of about 10 billion tonnes of methane into the atmosphere.

Although such a release seems unlikely to occur this year, we have 30 years of warming before we know the full effects of carbon dioxide released by today’s machines and industries. This is due to lag in the system; heat accumulation takes around this long before we feel it. I can only ask: How many more years will we pollute the atmosphere with carbon dioxide and how many more years will permafrost continue to melt? It doesn’t seem like we’ll have to wait too long before a 10 billion tonne release of methane from the 1000 billion tonne store.

This is a land rights issue moving forward. If we are fighting for our right to access the life-giving thing that is the soil, what state will it be in when we get it?

It seems odd to point out that an extinction event on Earth would be bad, but here’s a couple of points: firstly, our health relies on our eating a variety of foods containing complex nutrients. Whilst we could live on synthesised fungus slime if there were no bees to pollinate elder trees, we would certainly be grotesquely unwell. Secondly, our atmosphere is maintained largely by the forests and (somewhat surprisingly) the coral reefs of the Earth. They are the primary photosynthesisers capable of producing oxygen in quantities matching the levels required by the respiration of all living things. Simply put, if they were damaged sufficiently we would lose a stable oxygen level on Earth.

We can look after the land in non-destructive ways. From permaculture principles to far eastern food forests with species densities resembling natural forest, Allan Savory’s bizarre animal husbandry techniques in deserts (check him out!) and even biodynamics, we have proof this is possible. The personal chance to be doing some of these things is one reason we fight for access to the land.

However, all will be to naught if we burn yet more carbon and further heat the atmosphere. We have little chance of using plants to sequester the carbon already overloading the atmosphere if it is already too hot and dry for them to seed. There is some hope that by using diverse crops we could collectively reduce the carbon content the atmosphere and feed all of us. However, there is a point of no return with climate change. The prospect of a 10 billion tonne release of methane in the not so distant future is it. Finally it.

In my vision of the future where the commoner is reunited with the land stolen from under her feet, I worry she will be unable to sustain herself and community from it.

I guess my conclusion is mixed. Whilst we have the knowledge to save the biosphere for our own benefit, what comes first? Access to the land or fighting for it to be preserved in some form useful to us in the future?


How to be a Tree-Planter, 2014





As some of you may know, I am frequently employed to plant trees in the hills of Scotland for cash. Most of the trees I plant are Sitka Spruce, a conifer bought over from Sitka Island, a small cold island off the west coast of Canada. The victorians, as I understand it, decided it was simply the best tree for the job of replacing the British Isle’s decimated native woodland. Wikipedia has this to say:

Sitka spruce is of major importance in forestry for timber and paper production. Outside its native range, it is particularly valued for its fast growth on poor soils and exposed sites where few other trees can be grown successfully; in ideal conditions young trees may grow 1.5 m per year. It is naturalized in some parts of Ireland and Great Britain where it was introduced in 1831 (Mitchell, 1978) and New Zealand, though not so extensively as to be considered invasive. Sitka spruce is also planted extensively in Denmark, Norway and Iceland.[8][9] In Norway, Sitka spruce was introduced in the early 1900s. An estimated 50,000 hectares have been planted in Norway, mainly along the coast from Vest-Agder in the south to Troms in the north. It is more tolerant to wind and saline ocean air, and grows faster than the native Norway spruce

My job is to go into blocks of Sitka that have been felled and plant in wee baby ones for the next crop. It ggggginvolves dragging trees in bags weighing up to 8kg up steep slopes in a car trailer, filling a harness/bag thing (herein referred to as: bags) with trees and marching up even steeper slopes and bending over repeatedly with a glorified, forged steel, handled trowel on a stick. Fairly simple so far? You get paid 5p to 9p per tree aiming for about 2000 every day, it works out at between £100 and £180 daily wage. Sounds good? Ok, now do this 4 days on, one day off in all winter’s finest for 6 months straight, live in your choice of leaky tent or live in van, eeking out a lonely existence 100’s of miles away from your friends and family every year! You have to be nuts to do it but you see sunrise everyday and you can swear and fart near your boss and not get fired! And the farts are huge when you eat twice your normal calorie intake a day!

As fun as that sounds, usually something goes wrong. This, our first week in, ahem, December of the November to June season, has been something of a nadir.

burnI decided this year to ditch the leaky tent and go full tramp with a dodgy early ’90’s caravan, replete with wood burning stove, solar panel and 60 watt laptop for movies to burn away the 18 hour nights near the solstice. The maiden voyage of which came to calendar on Sunday 6th December 2014. Finally, the nursery delivered the Oaks and Junipers, stakes and tubes, for the burn side beautification of a windmill cum Sitka farm on a bleak hill in Western Aberdeen. Finally, after three weeks, the nursery stopped saying: “This isn’t winter, the trees are not dormant enough to move” and let us at ’em.

Great, I thought, I can stop hammering the overdraft and actually earn some cash.

On pulling out of a wee farmhoose, the ‘van’s wheel struck a steel I bar girder that had been placed to stop such vehicles sliding off the farmer’s track, into the field. Bump. Pop. Unfortunately, in the towing car, where I sat, this wasn’t audible and off I rolled onto the A71 and got up to 40mph before urgent flashes from the person behind me led me to pull the F off the road. The wheel hub was hot and battered. I was stuck in pretty much the worst place.

kevI called the polis to let ’em know and they said alright go get your spare. Off to Fala, where I live, and Kev let me rob the wheels off his trailer. Amazing mateship of Kev! Thanks! Back to the ‘van and the wheels don’t fit. Another call to the polis and it’s not going to stay there the night. The AA want to charge me £120 to have it moved. Nice. So they come 4 hours later, after a polis car turns up, and drag it to an impound costing a further £25 a day for the pleasure.

Next day I have to run James, my tree-planter partner in crime, 50 miles to Stirling to rendezvous with Eric, our boss, who can only meet the Forester that day to get the job started. A mandatory formality where they tell you honest, simple, health and safety concerns which, although vital to safety, don’t rarely change from site to site..

So off I took James at 5am the following and he makes a 3 hour trip for a 15 minute chat in lieu of us starting at the caravan’s first convenience. I trek back to Edinburgh to start searching scrap yards for the right wheels for a ’91 Abi Ace Viceroy caravan.

On about the 8th scrap yard I am trapped in my car by two builders in their van who refuse to let me out. After half pulling out of my parking spot, they turn into the road I’m on and race towards me and won’t let me finish my manoeuvre. Do they have right of way? I’m pulling from the right into the left lane.. Still, I go back in cussing at their impatience. They sidle up and park their van next to my car. No hope out, their start menacing stares and I loose patience with the universe and impolitely tell them they can beat me up now if that is their preference.. Off they bugger and I can’t believe it.

Next scrap yard features a wonderful array of piled up junk. Just my sort of place. After some perusal a friendly staff member is finally the first nice person I meet that day. He tell’s me that the recovery crew who got my van are indeed less that favourable and that his dad used to have the same caravan as me and that he knows the exact wheel I need. He gives me a £20 discount seemingly because of no more than I’m having a bad day and off I go to the ‘van’s pound.

After a long wait, I get at the van, jack it up on it’s stability feet and replace the wheels. I am surrounded by cars that have had to have been cut open by the fire brigade to get the folk out..

Back on the road finally. Wait, they didn’t charge me for the recovery! YASSS!

That night a tempest rolls in. After seeing the cut up cars I don’t fancy a high sided drive in a gale. It’s Tuesday. Time for food and sleep.

nessaOn Wednesday we set off. On seeing the ‘van in the morning I realise the gale has blown off the sun roof right above the bed and, indeed, the bed is saturated. Oh well. I jimmy up a web of string to hold the busted thing on and Nessa and I embark with £50 in the tank. We meet James in Dalkieth after a bungled attempt to get the bus to a convenient Park and Ride. The journey, although in the last throes of the tempest, goes smoothly, even though the Forth Road Bridge is closed to us. Slowly we get into Aberdeenshire and quickly find a nice spot to set up. We start playing cards and eat before trekking into the plantation to find some sticks for the burner. It’s a blizzard.

This morning I awake at 6 to start the fire and brew a pot of Turkish coffee. The fire’s lit in 5 minutes but the pot takes another hour to boil so I doze with Nessa, James on the sofa after crashing his live-in £3000 van the month earlier.. At 7 I smell the coffee. There is just the hint of light on the horizon. Bacon started, I watch what seems to be the sunrise, although it’s full 8:20 by the time the sun actually crests and we’ve already slid down the snowy road to the site by that time. Can’t get in that way. 17 miles away the other road is also ice.

I doze a bit back at the ‘van and we moot the decision to drive back to Edinburgh and leave the caravan where she is. By the way, she needs a name! The weather man says it’ll be Sunday before 6 centigrade at midday might thaw it. Hurriedly we pack. That’s another 4 days and Sunday is Nessa’s birthday. We’ll be back monday.

Not a single tree planted. Not a penny made.

Getting back to Ed, we’ve spent the £50 on fuel. I realise, in our rush and packing while dozing means I left the caravan’s tow hitch unlocked. Someone could just pull the whole lot, burner, solar panel, bed, all our effort decorating, food and nice pans in a oner. Maybe her name could be ‘Stolen’ or perhaps ‘Burnt’.

More hopefully – folk are generally nice in Scotland – those two in the van who threatened me were the first to do so in 6 years’ residence here – it could be called ‘Residence’ or ‘Heavy Arse’, so long as it doesn’t get pinched.




Mr William Todd’s New Blog!


Dear Friends,

I finally had to do it. I am starting a blog. I have a lot to say and I have too much time on the internet for various reasons including snowy forestry roads.

I am going to rant and rave at times but please bear with me. I will also post up interesting article
s, hopefully with a few comments about where this fits in with my world view.