Picnic or Plunder?

Picnic or Plunder?

Sometimes I hate the sky because it steals my children. I stand keening in the windy grass beyond Hobart airport as they’re borne beyond the silky blue hills, and vanish as wholly as if they’d never been. The wrench is placental. Comings are short, and goings over-long.

During one quick, rare coming we spent a halcyon day on Bruny Island. Two Tree Point was once the home of the Nuenonne people. Captain Cook watered here. Then came whalers, clear-fellers, a murrain of shacks. While my tribe constructed a sand-city, I beach-combed, probing the disquiet within the idyll.

The sea, luciloquent and turquoise in this sheltered bay, was acidifying. Phytoplankton – a million of these exquisitely diverse plants live in every litre of sea-water – generate half Earth’s oxygen, catalyse cloud formation hence weather, are a major carbon sink and the basis of the marine food chain. Plankton cannot form skeletons in acidifying oceans; a biospheric matrix is dying.

Acidification is caused by the very carbon dioxide pollution our excursion was generating; the true price of this day at the beach included one flight from Europe and two from Sydney, plus a hire-car that embodied the violence, implicit and explicit, of our addiction to private, noisome mobility. We’d googled Earth to see where we were, instant knowledge mediated by Congolese women raped then enslaved to mine coltan, an essential component of e-toys. The plastic enshrining those toys is oil-based, fuels ecological mayhem and war. Our e-excrement is traded by criminals and dumped on the poor.

I watched my tribe – ears and love-handles scarlet – divert Resolution Creek into the moat, and wondered if our descendants would find our expedition as horrifying as we find colonisation, genocide and whaling, all culturally mandated in their own time. For we too were usurpers, an ecocidal fractal treating lifekind and the future as terra nullius. Picnic with aggravated burglary?

If most of humanity is in infantile relationship with Earth – exploitation and dominance – then we at the greener pole are adolescent. We push wantonly at the boundaries; are experts at self-exculpation and self-justification; own everything except shit and shadow; simultaneously embrace and debauch the biosphere. We still want to have our planet and keep it. I perjure myself with

an i-phone (second-hand, I whine) that cannibalises the future of the small grandson whose mother I bought it to cherish. Where’s integrity in this schizoid straddling?

Integrity requires a radical commitment to living within one’s carbon and ecological footprint, one’s seven-billionth. In the Middle East, women and men are risking their lives – not just their egos, comfort zones and false entitlements – for truth and freedom. This is about truth and freedom too; the non-heroic, impossible, inevitable shift from the narrative of the enthralling ecocidal lie to lifestyles recalibrated in ecological verities and adult accountability. And justice for all the children – Huon pine saplings, sea-dragonets, tadpoles, tiger-cubs – in perpetuity.

I keen for the whole Earth.

© Annie March 2013


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