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" Live out of your imagination

not your history "

Stephen R. Covey

Bricks by Leon Jenner Stirs It Up

October 17th, 2011

A beautifully produced but highly provocative book has been delighting some people and infuriating others this summer – and it’s about a Druid. Bricks by Leon Jenner is one of those ‘Marmite’ books that you’ll either spit out with a shriek of disgust or wolf down with relish and ask for more. There’s no way you can be luke-warm about Bricks that Mark Booth of Coronet chose to publish after hearing of its runaway success as an audio-book. Mark is author, under the nom-de-plume of Jonathan Black, of the equally controversial Secret History of the World, and with Jenner’s manuscript he has created a book that is a joy to behold – with artwork commissioned by him and paper stock and design that most authors long for but seldom get from their publisher. In addition two short videos have been made to promote the book which I’ll paste in below.

To show you just how Marmite-like this book is, I’ll give you the reactions of two friends: both published authors steeped in Druid learning, both of whose opinions I respect:

Kris Hughes, author of Natural Druidry, writes: ‘Bricks is perhaps the strangest book I have ever read – I kept finding myself looking up from the book muttering “What the….!!!!”. All in all, I really don’t know what to make of it, except that I find it oddly disturbing…Does anybody know anything about this guy?’

John Matthews, well-known author of many books on the Grail and Celtic and Druid matters, said to me: ‘Have you read Bricks? It’s extraordinary – I loved it.’

My reaction? Like Kris, I couldn’t handle it, but I suppose if we are to stay with the Marmite analogy, the trick is to eat another slice of toast with it on – even if you found you couldn’t bear it the first time!

UN Report Urges Global Dietary Changes

October 17th, 2011

I’ve been aware for some time that meat consumption is a major contributor to the destruction of the environment, but I didn’t know the UN was backing a global move to a meat and dairy-free diet. See this Guardian article by Felicity Carus which explains why the UN is urging us all to do this:

Lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change, UN report says

A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said today.
As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report from United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management.
It says: “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”
Professor Edgar Hertwich, the lead author of the report, said: “Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels.”
The recommendation follows advice last year that a vegetarian diet was better for the planet from Lord Nicholas Stern, former adviser to the Labour government on the economics of climate change. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has also urged people to observe one meat-free day a week to curb carbon emissions.
The panel of experts ranked products, resources, economic activities and transport according to their environmental impacts. Agriculture was on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth, they said.
Ernst von Weizsaecker, an environmental scientist who co-chaired the panel, said: “Rising affluence is triggering a shift in diets towards meat and dairy products – livestock now consumes much of the world’s crops and by inference a great deal of freshwater, fertilisers and pesticides.”
Both energy and agriculture need to be “decoupled” from economic growth because environmental impacts rise roughly 80% with a doubling of income, the report found.
Achim Steiner, the UN under-secretary general and executive director of the UNEP, said: “Decoupling growth from environmental degradation is the number one challenge facing governments in a world of rising numbers of people, rising incomes, rising consumption demands and the persistent challenge of poverty alleviation.”
The panel, which drew on numerous studies including the Millennium ecosystem assessment, cites the following pressures on the environment as priorities for governments around the world: climate change, habitat change, wasteful use of nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilisers, over-exploitation of fisheries, forests and other resources, invasive species, unsafe drinking water and sanitation, lead exposure, urban air pollution and occupational exposure to particulate matter.
Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, says the report, which has been launched to coincide with UN World Environment day on Saturday.
Last year the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said that food production would have to increase globally by 70% by 2050 to feed the world’s surging population. The panel says that efficiency gains in agriculture will be overwhelmed by the expected population growth.
Prof Hertwich, who is also the director of the industrial ecology programme at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said that developing countries – where much of this population growth will take place – must not follow the western world’s pattern of increasing consumption: “Developing countries should not follow our model. But it’s up to us to develop the technologies in, say, renewable energy or irrigation methods.”