‘The Grapes of Wrath’

John Steinbeck’s novel was published in 1939.

Eighty years on, after that terrible time in the 1930s that made dust bowls in USA and Canada when droughts destroyed crops, farmers suffered, banks foreclosed and all the warnings about the impact on the ecology of the areas went unheeded, and the Joad family like so many had to take the long, hard road to California, Steinbeck’s title ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ brings those lyrics down to earth. The powerless, like the Joads then, appear the prey today. But people need not be prey. Voters in democracies have power, if we decide to use it well.

And we have had the evidence of our contribution to global warming for so long.

So, where are the signs of hope?

In the Arts and Humanities and Sciences where so many refuse to be silenced.

Rachel Carson’s book has been re-printed!

We need to heed her now.

AND Barbara Kingsolver has woken sleep walkers through ‘Flight Behaviour’.

But, where do politicians stand on global warming? Why, eighty years on from Steinbeck’s warning, are too many politicians listening to a media mogul who jeers at climate change? [Didn’t his employees in USA and in Australia try to blame our terrifying fires on arson?]

Fiery lightning strikes are waking more and more. But not waking enough of those who use their power to refuse to care about the Earth’s ecology.  Look at these English-speaking nations: Canada, where English and French are official languages, Australia and USA.

In Australia a major LNG company is planning fracking on First Nations land. Who remembers ‘Gaslands’ – fracking in American national parks? Those loop holes in the law? There are fears Indigenous owners will be stopped from asking questions at its online AGM.

In USA Trump attacks the EPA in every way. Destroying forests in Alaska. Oil exploration in the melting Arctic. Polar bears moving inland. [Has he just now offered to issue exploration licences?] In Canada, forestry companies are using Monsanto’s toxic pesticide, glyphosate, to spray remote Indigenous forests, when trees and their bio-diversity are our lifeline. And is the Canadian government doing anything to stop it? In Australia our Federal government, funding fossil-fuelled, LNG corporations to the tune of $52.9 million from our revenue, is trying to reduce its responsibility for environmental – with cultural – regulation. And the Prime Minister has cut 29% from funds for Environmental Studies courses in our public universities! Why this attack on education? Why this attack on a core part of learning today for all young and older people?

But the problem with grapes of wrath is that they are sour.

 They feed the bile, make us irritable and liverish, bitter and acrimonious. They do not bring about renewal and regeneration. How do we bring about the change we need?

Where is hope in all of this while the truth of global warming is marching towards us?

There are businesses moving ahead. 64 nations signed the pledge to work to improve bio-diversity. Australia, unhappily, is not one of them. Nor is USA. But ‘green aviation’ is on the agenda in Europe! ‘Future Tense’, on ABC RN, told me about this on Sunday. AND there’s the

Global Battery Alliance – The UN Global Compact

AND the Arts: in drama, painting, plays, music, on film, and always in poetry.

Poets help us find and feel the truths in our humanity.

Judith Wright, one of Australia’s finest poets, called us ‘self poisoners’ in ‘Australia 1970’.

AND, thanks to JoAnne Growney,  https://poetrywithmathematics.blogspot.com

I have discovered an American poet, passionate about environmental science and community.

Leah Naomi Green

Visit her websites.

https://my.wlu.edu/directory/profile?ID=x225 ) and explore some of her work (here is a link to several of her poems:  https://poets.org/poems/leah-naomi-green) !

AND, in the political sphere, despite this pandemic, there is good news. New Zealanders have just voted for a government whose Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has committed New Zealand to zero emissions by 2050.


‘It’s not easy being green.’

‘It’s not easy being green’ – as Ray Charles sings – Warming ice. Massive floods. Dust storms. Top soil gone. The Amazon going. Fires in California and Siberia and Australia. Floods in Pakistan. Extreme weather across Africa. Heat waves. Drought in Europe. Fires in southern Europe. Floods in Greece. India – rain storms. Smoke over Bolivia. Logging. Rising sea levels in the Pacific. And in our Torres Strait Islanders’ homes. [This Australian government is not concerned about that, telling the UN it is not a Human Rights issue for the Council.]

‘It’s not easy being green’. Young people, protesting to be heard about climate change, are told by Ministers in the Australian government to get back to class and get an education!!!!

But we live in hope. We have future-supporters increasing bio-diversity through regenerative farming. In Australia, see the work of Charles Massy. His book, The Call of the Reed Warbler shows how he is doing it. He is not alone. He is now influencing so many more to make the change from the old ways. No more petrochemical pesticides or fertilizers. It is a companion book to ‘For the Love of Soil. See my last blog about the work of Nicole Masters.

Still, ‘It’s not easy being green’ when the Australian government prefers ‘blue’ [gas -generated] hydrogen to ‘green’ [‘clean energy generated’] liquid hydrogen. In 2020 why this in Australia? What direction is promoted by commercial media? Lobbyists here push gas as our ‘transition’ fossil fuel? In NSW, Australia, 800 gas wells in a State forest!! America is planning the destruction of a major forest in Alaska!! See my last blog. And in Brazil now!

A section of the Amazon rainforest stands next to soy fields in Belterra, Para state, Brazil. Photograph:Léo Corrêa/AP

Brazil, China, India, Russia, USA and Australia have refused to pledge to work to restore bio-diversity. So much has been lost. All nations have been asked to make this pledge. Australia has refused. Sixty four national leaders have made this commitment. Australia’s Prime Minister says this pledge is ‘inconsistent with our policies.’

While the New South Wales government supports gas, affecting ground water at the expense of food production in its north west, its Department of Planning and the Environment says “The thin, porous skin of frogs and tadpoles makes them sensitive creatures. Through this skin, they absorb chemicals from the air and water. For this reason, frogs are good indicators of environmental damage.” If we do not ruin their habitats with our market-driven madness.

India, Australia, USA, Brazil are democracies! What on earth are we voting for?

The Prime Minister of Fiji, Mr Frank Bainimarama, gave a powerful address calling for Australia to urgently transition to clean energy at the Smart Energy Council‘s Summit “With other countries investing in clean energies, you have the opportunity now to choose: will you lead or will you follow?”

New Zealand is committed to zero emissions by 2050.