He told us so


Back in 1896 the Swedish chemist Arrhenius warned that if we continued to burn fossil fuels we would heat the Earth.

And we didn’t listen. We never listen. We continued to burn fossil fuels with a vengeance. And because of that, in Melbourne at the moment, we are experiencing 4 consecutive days of temperatures above 40 °C. The weather bureau claims that in 150 years of recording, we haven’t even averaged one 40 degree day a year. Now there are four in a row.

I thought I was watering adequately. This morning I covered up some of the more tender-leaved vegetables with shadecloth. I watered all the others. I stayed inside all day, only venturing out to hose down the soil in the chookyard and to keep up a supply of iceblocks in their drinking water (it’s said they won’t drink water that’s above their body temperature and if they don’t drink they’ll die). The Girls were stressed out, panting. I apologised to them for the human stupidity and ignorance that had caused their discomfort.

After dinner I went down the back to check on the food forest. The leaves on the five tamarillos were hanging limply beside their stems. I can’t afford to lose them. They’re covered in developing fruits.

The leaves on all the citrus trees were curled up and burnt. The redcurrant leaves were crisp and crumbled away when I touched them. The developing apples were all showing burnt spots. They will rot away on the trees. Luckily I had the foresight to pick all the plums, even though they weren’t properly ripe.

I put a thermometer on my workbench in the shade. It went straight to 44 °C and stayed there. I connected the hose to the tap (the tank is too slow) and watered everything. There are two more days of this to go. It is unprecedented. It is the future.

I’m angry.

Thirty years ago I learned about the connection between fossil fuel burning and climate change. I went out of my way to use less energy and tried to encourage other people to do the same. I was called ‘ratbag greenie’ for my trouble.  I won’t ever forget or forgive those stupid, ignorant morons for that. I hope they’re still around, still living in Melbourne and that their gardens are burned to a crisp like mine. Not that they’d care. They’re probably living in air-conditioned luxury and shopping at the supermarket. Why trouble to grow your own food when the shops are full of it and you can drive there (wasting fuel) just for a litre of milk (like my neighbour does).

I watch the people around me still using energy stupidly, still either unconcerned or too stupid to make the connections. I don’t own an energy-guzzling air conditioner or a plasma TV.  I keep driving to a minimum, I’ve just installed solar, I will never fly again.

What’s the point? Why not just join the masses in their energy-guzzling lifestyles. It may cause the human race to drive itself extinct just that little bit sooner.

And that will be a good thing.


I’m off to bed. To try and sleep in a room where the temp is 36 °C.

13 Responses to “He told us so”

  1. narf77 Says:

    Here in Tassie we aren’t much better. When the temperature hits 35C its bloody hot! We don’t have the protection of the ozone layer over us thanks to the same energy guzzling populace and I hope the veggie garden survived the heat yesterday. I watered it well and it seems to have a degree of protection coming from the covering of fish-farm netting (sort of like a little tropical jungle inside). I think you can get angry and you can get indignant or you can just get on with it. We can’t help what morons are doing. If I let myself get bogged down with morons I would go insane within a week. Tasmania is FULL TO THE BRIM with them. The Pulp Mill is back on the agenda as there is a state election coming up and when the only thing holding our entire economy together (apparently) is the Pontville detention centre it becomes apparent that Tasmania is on the bones of it’s arse and any state government is going to have to hunt high and low for any pork to barrel thus the rehash of the pulp mill…sigh… we do the stupidest things but amongst the rubble there are wonderful moments Bev. We have to focus on those moments. On those little personal triumphs and on living our own lives as best we can because the alternative ends in unhappiness and bitterness and a life spent full of regret for someone elses actions.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Thank you Fran. I guess you’re lucky enough to have found those ‘wonderful moments’ I don’t think I have, yet. Methinks I’ll be angry till the day I die (of heatstroke, probably). 😉


  2. Bek Says:

    I know what you mean. I will say though, some of it (the common extravagant use of electricity/fossil fuels) is just ignorance, not necessarily a conscious choice to over consume. I know the result is the same, but it gives a greater potential for change. Most people just live in the bubble of their own and society’s making. I don’t have any problem with popping that bubble, either by questioning their habits or by describing my own. I had a work colleague yesterday lamenting her 3 person family’s electricity bill for the last quarter. It was $1200!!! That would cover my electricity costs for two years. When I suggested if she looked at ways to reduce usage, on peak vs off peak use, daily air on use, appliances left on when not in use etc she was genuinely shocked and asking questions about how to do these things. I couldn’t believe she didn’t ask these questions herself. I do think she was more motivated to change her use for money reasons, but if they environment is saved a little by less demand for coal generated electricity on her family’s part, so much the better.

    You asked: what’s the point? I know it was rhetorical, but I think as long as you have control over your own choices and behaviours, you need to act in whatever way you feel is right. You can’t be responsible for anyone else’s actions, no matter how stupid or uninformed they are, but you are responsible for your own.

    Thanks for the rant. Keep up the good work.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Yes, Bek, I know it’s just ignorance; that’s what makes it so maddening. Most people have internet access, which opens them up to all the world’s accumulated knowledge, but they just aren’t interested enough to use it to add value to their lives and to the ecosystems that support those lives.

      Thanks for the comment. I was exhausted, hot and angry when I did the post and did wonder, in the calm light of morning whether I should take it down, but decided in the end to leave it up. Sometimes you’ve just got to say what you think.


  3. Chris Says:

    Think of it as resilience training, as we will see more of it in the future. We had several consecutive days over 40 degrees in south-east Qld a few weeks ago (it got up to 45 degrees). It was not pleasant. Life seemed to stand still as I was pent up inside for most of the day. I was glad to have a verandah and all my pot plants under cover for most of the day.

    Pretty much all my fruit trees dropped their developing fruit, but true to the resilience of nature, once the cool change arrived, the trees were forcing so many blooms to provide seed for the next season.

    It’s pointless to waste energy grieving about what others are or not doing. Spend that time developing resilience in your garden. I like the Jackie French approach, to grow your fruit trees on the edge of a really hardy canopy tree. I’ve seen that work here. Where all my other plants were shriveling in the heat, those plants tucked under our canopy tree, didn’t burn or wilt.

    If you really value the yield of your fruit trees, and have waited years to get them to produce, consider planting a canopy tree to shelter them. Even if you don’t get as many fruit because they might get a little more shade – at least you will still get fruit in the temperature extremes that will arise in the future.

    Just as humans keep destroying the environment, plants will become more our shelter belts into the future. I hope the cool change arrives for you soon.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Thanks for the comment, Chris. I know I’m not alone. I know others will be grieving for lost gardens. I’ll do some research into suitable canopy trees and give it a go. Jackie French is always good value. I must read her book again.


  4. notsomethingelse Says:

    Yes, it’s hard to be sanguine about the situation we face. Even though we don’t know what the next few weeks will bring I think that last year was my worst year, when temperatures were not quite so high as recent ones but there was no rain for three months. Yet through all that, including having wallabies eat all my first year fruit tree foliage (there was nothing else for them to eat so I didn’t mind too much), I only lost around four trees. The rest came back strong and healthy during Spring and should be better placed this year to cope (I hope). Hoping your losses, if there are to be any, are just as few.

    It is ok to be angry, and it shouldn’t be suppressed, but channeled into positive action that will take you further along in your preparations towards resilience. Sometimes not easy to do, but necessary. The people and situations that you are angry about will not even notice.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Thanks for the comment, Bernie. I know I should channel the anger into more positive action and generally I do, but 4 days of 40 plus is just way too much!!


  5. rabidlittlehippy Says:

    It’s funny but I had a conversation with a friend who was asking the “why do we bother” question. Sometimes I do too. I mean, what we can do is but a drop in the ocean really BUT if I don’t then how can I expect others to do it? How can I expect people to live simpler lives, not go shopping, not participate in all the madness that is doing everything but actively picking up and throwing our planet to the dogs? It might make bugger all difference now but it is and example that someone needs to set. It’s also going to set us up as the future teachers. It will be us that have the skills and the tools to be able to survive and we will become the leaders of our local communities that can share and assist and keep the world spinning, albeit to a different tune. I feel that bignotes us all but truly, it’s fact. I live as I live because one day I want to be able to sit there in a post peak oil destroyed world and have the gods honest right to sit there and hold my head high whilst I explain to my children and grandchildren why the world is as it is. I want to be able to say that once I might have contributed to this but I changed before things collapsed and I did what I could to make a difference. I tried.

    I too lost half my tomato plants. The garden was ok when I last looked but the tomatoes in pots are mostly shrivelled to nothing and my little peach tree that was potted up and in the greenhouse appears to be gone to the compst heap. 54.1C inside the greenhouse is truly extreme.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Thanks Jess. Your kids will be really proud of you. I would love to teach this stuff too, but people just don’t want to know at present and when things get really bad, it may not be too late, but it will be harder.

      My polyhouse gets like an oven too.


      • rabidlittlehippy Says:

        Oh I meant teah it when it is survive or die. People won’t be interested learning until then.

        My kids might well be but I have my days when I fall into despair or when i rage against the machine. Ask my poor long-suffering husband when I get in a tirade over the latest idiocy from our supposed leader of the country. Even thinking about him has me steaming from the ears.

        And you’re not quite right there Bev. Some people do want to learn. I want to learn what you have to teach and I would shed blood to have an hour to ander around your gardens and pick your brains. 🙂
        Sending you cool rain and the slight cool change that came through here an hour ago.


  6. kayepea Says:

    I was going to comment too Bev about not worrying yourself with anger…but others have taken the words from my mouth and beaten me to the punch (I was waaaaay too hot to sit at the computer any earlier!! 🙂 ) Channel the anger wisely before you have stroke or worse, dear friend!


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