Keith Gascoigne





‘Ecology’ can be said to be the study of relationships between living organisms and the environment. Human ecology is the study of human groups and their relationship with the environment. The word ‘ecology’ is popularly used to denote how we human beings perceive, relate and live in our environment.

Many of us are concerned about this as there is much thought and much evidence that we are destroying our environment and causing it to become unstable. Some think the ecosystem could flip into a mode which will kill most living organisms (this has happened before but the causes then were mainly external). Others say that the Earth goes through different climate modes and we are entering an unsettled mode at the moment. As we have to live here and in the results of our own actions perhaps we should consider what can we do at a local level to help our environment rather than simply, and stupidly, let the ‘experts’ sort it out. Not many of us think that this will happen because ‘experts’ often, if not always, have vested interests in maintaining the status quo.

We know that we should stop polluting our environment and we can change our ways of living but habitual behaviour is difficult to change isn’t it? (Not really if you look into this). People with cars are reluctant to give up the freedom to travel easily - and why not? There is no problem with traveling providing we don’t pollute our environment while doing so. We need cars that use nonpolluting, biologically-produced fuel such as biofuel or ecologically-produced electricity and we must stop using polluting and finite oil supplies to produce petroleum spirit, aviation fuel and diesel oil. It is that simple but money complicates certain peoples’ aims and intelligence.

We should also stop using toxic, polluting materials where there is an easily accessible alternative. This ‘living lightly on the land’ and moving toward a nonpolluting, sustainable way of living can be tried out locally - by people alone or in small communities - in ecovillages and ecohousing. It is obvious to every intelligent person that very few if any major companies care about ecology. The majority care about profit alone. That is easy to see, if people bother to look.

There are many centres in the UK and the world where people look for and test new technology for moving toward a less damaging and more sustainable way of living on our finite Earth.

One such place place where practical solutions for a less destructive, more sustainable life are explored is at the Centre for Alternative Technology, also known as CAT, near Machynlleth in Wales. CAT was where I was enlightened in ecology many years ago (early 1980s). The first exhibition I saw there concerned the absolute lack of any food value in supermarket bread, stating that rats who where fed on it, as the major part of their diet, died after a short time.

Another centre of ecological living is Brithdir Mawr in Wales, which is a farm run on ecological principles and where Tony Wrench, Jane Faith and countless helpers built ‘That Roundhouse’ - so despised by the very people who should really have known so much better.

Anyone can see and smell that our air is badly polluted now. Even where I presently live, in the country, the air gets foul when it drifts from the surrounding cities 60 and more miles away. Cities are extremely hazardous now for poeple with breathing problems and even without. Breathing in poisonous air is an idiotic and senseless way to live.

The seas are full of toxic chemicals: heavy metals; radioactive compounds; DDT; plastic bags and plastic beads et al. It has taken the politicians well over 30 years to see this ever-growing problem and these are the ‘experts’ that we rely on to keep our environment safe? We, all of us, must be crazy.

There is no point in relying on politicians or the directors of multinational companies. They have proved over and over that they do not care about our environment.

John Seymour, the famous self-sufficient gardener, called this age ‘The Age of Plunder’ and with good reason. Most intelligent people know who is doing the plundering; the ignorant masses do not care. Seymour called for an Age of Healing and some listen but are there enough?

There are two main ways to address the problem of the bad relationship the powerful and rich elite minority of us seem to be having with our environment. One is pragmatic, for instance, fix the problems as some see them. This is the method mostly offered by those in control of us.

However, the most important way is to enlighten the perception which causes this problem, which if left, will kill us all.

Many spiritual thinkers state that we act as we do because of our perception of the world around us and if we change the way that we think and see our surroundings we will change how we relate, react, proact with them. We need to ascribe real value to our environment and see it less as a resource to plunder for profit and gain. One such visionary was Buckminster Fuller who said,

‘We only have one earth but it didn’t come with an operating manual.’ He called our Earth ‘Spaceship Earth’ stating that ‘we only have the one’.

James Lovelock was another visionary who gave us a longer perspective on our environment.

Another, who gave us a closer and uncomfortable perspective on the problem was J. Krishnarmurti who said, throughout his long life, that we are the cause of all our problems and that all we have to do is change our perceptions instantly. His honesty and pointed truths are unacceptable to many but are highly important and well worth taking time to understand.

While the problems mount around us people are hardly encouraged to act locally while technologically advanced nations are rushing into space so they can colonize other worlds to spoil and pillage and gain power over the rest of us. We should not let this blind us to the fact that all is not well in our garden.

The idea of ecohouses is one solution operating at a family and personal level. This method is within reach of many people although building some types of ecohouse can be expensive when compared with the normal building methods. The higher costs can be recouped over twenty years or so in saved energy bills as they use minimal energy to heat them and are made from natural materials found locally, such as mature, managed woodland trees, locally sourced clay for roof tiles and thick natural insulation to cut down heat loss and, of course, locally produced electricity.

You might not agree with what is said here but I hope it has provoked some thought about a problem that is affecting every living organism on our planet. We are going to leave the world to our children; will we leave a garden or a desert?

You might want to read the poem written by a cockroach about this many years ago - if you have the time? See Archy


(This page originally uploaded 2004 and edited over the years.)