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By James Minter, Mar 24 2020 01:09PM

There are almost 7.8 billion people in the world today. 7,794,798,739, to be more precise.

One hundred years ago, the world’s population totalled just over 1.8 billion, growing exponentially over the course of a century with no sign of abating. Our amazing planet has sustained this growth, providing the requisites necessary for each living creature to survive, but its resources are finite.

Not one of us fully understands how the Earth was created, yet here it is in all its complexity and beauty. Stepping back to observe it, you can see a single, gigantic ecosystem in which each component sustains itself for the good of all that breathes and functions on the Earth’s surface. Human beings are included in such an ecosystem, but we have also been given a gift no other living creature has: self-awareness.

We believe that this extra ability has made us superior, granting us the power to make choices that affect the lives of other species. To a point, this is true: our awareness of self has led to major technical and scientific achievements, to unbridled creativity and the ability to problem solve. What’s more, we have learned to harness other animals and the Earth’s resources for our benefit. However, we seem to have forgotten that with power comes responsibility, and that we too are all part of this greater, singular entity. Each individual is like a drop of water in the ocean, each part of the whole.

We have decimated nature with our egotistical attempts to control every piece of the planet, and we are now beginning to believe that we can do the same in space. Some believe that we should settle on another planet, flawed behaviour in tow, without acknowledging the damage we have done to the one we're leaving behind.

We have neglected the planet’s ecosystem. We have totally under-estimated Mother Nature herself, but she is no longer holding her tongue. Nature is transmuting from prey into predator, knowing that it has to counter the human species in order to survive. This is Mother Nature’s way of saying, “enough is enough”.

We are currently at the mercy of Covid-19, a threatening pathogen to which there is no existing immunity. This is the seventh Coronavirus in our history but, due to the high transmission rate of this particular strain, it has the potential to impact every single human in every single country.

Within the space of three months, all we take for granted has come under threat. Our freedom has been snatched, and despite our intelligence and effective coping-strategies we now find ourselves with limited options. This virus is coming after us and is creating, as all predators do, a landscape of total fear.

This virus is not a plague which automatically kills all humans. Instead, this predator is subtle. It has come by stealth. In the majority of cases it provokes a brief period of sickness, and we are fortunate for its high recovery rate and hardly affecting children. However, it is far more serious - and potentially deadly - for the elderly and those with pre-existing or life-threatening medical conditions. Furthermore, it has completely overwhelmed our economic, political and governmental systems, sending us into a terror of self-distancing and selfish panic-buying.

In spite of everything, this is still a compassionate war. We're experiencing disruption rather than death. We are not being sent into oblivion rather the predator is sending us a message, as it searches for nature’s path back to homeostasis. Perhaps this message is granting us one final chance to respond to nature’s cry for help, changing our thoughts and behaviour in order to create a different future.

The purpose of life consciousness is to provide collective joy. Yet in our individualistic, selfish quests for social and economic gain we have forgotten why we are here. We only think of ourselves, harming other species and the planet in the process.

In reality, we are here to be connected. We are put on this Earth to be compassionate, generous and above all of service.

We have all bought into the belief that the grass is greener on the other side, and we often strive to achieve a dream devised by someone else. China and the Far East are diverging from their traditional cultures, replacing their spiritual and medicinal customs with a Western philosophy largely based on desire and greed. They believe this to be the key to life’s joy, forgetting that joy cannot be found in external sources or another person’s dreams.

We may try to blame others for the situation we find ourselves and the world in, when in fact we are staring at our reflection in the mirror. We are the cause. We are the problem. We are everything we shouldn't be.

However, there is still time to turn everything around before nature gives up on us completely. We can put a stop to the damage and devastation we have inflicted on the planet, on nature and on all other living creatures.

Some companies are fighting hard against the tide of capitalism and helping people change their thinking. The climate crisis is finally getting people’s attention, thanks to the efforts of pioneers such as David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg. Despite this, those in power are doing everything possible to resist these ideas.

Covid-19 is Mother Nature’s latest disruptor and demand for change. Luckily, she stays true to her role of mother with her compassionate, caring soul. She is endeavouring to wake us up, giving us another chance to think and act in a different, more responsible manner.

Think about how you can:

BECOME a conscious human being. Take time to analyse what you are thinking, saying and doing.

BECOME connected with others and the planet, being kind and compassionate towards all fellow beings.

BECOME the best version of yourself, for your own good and for the good of all.

Be the person who focuses on the renewal, regeneration and revitalisation of the entirety of our planet’s resources. Help the person who doesn't yet have your insight. One by one, we can make the change necessary for our own and our planet’s survival.

If we spread these words as quickly as nature is spreading the Covid-19 virus, it would take just a few months to put us on a different path. Simply changing the way we think could be the answer to living a more connected, joyful life in harmony with the planet and with one another.

That being said, let’s not be under the illusion that this will be the last major pandemic we are going to experience; we have plundered the Earth’s resources too much for this to be the case, and our warming of the planet has made it hospitable to novel viruses and bacteria.

We truly show our weakness as a species during a crisis such as the one in which we find ourselves. No amount of quarantine will be enough to contain the virus if each country continues to work separately. Trying to deal with the issue in this way leads to a delay in repressing the virus and a lack necessary supplies for our health professionals.

However, we can plan ahead for the next outbreak by building an inclusive, global health system and improving our epidemiological infrastructure so that, whenever and wherever a virus emerges, we can provide an immediate response. This would allow us to isolate and treat those first infected, whilst also reporting and sharing critical information with the rest of the world. This would be done long before a virus could have a global impact.

So let’s make the change. Let’s step out of our current normal and change our behaviour to create a better future, re-balancing the fragile ecosystem by working alongside Mother Nature rather than against her.

Creating this future may feel like entering unknown territory, but we can start by working collectively. We can begin to serve others before ourselves, and combat our fear of change with creativity and positivity. By doing so together, all 7.8 billion of us, we have the potential to re-balance the ecosystem and build a joyful future in which each organism works for the good of the whole.

By James Minter, Nov 1 2019 11:44AM

This essential readIng in this time of climate and environmental crises for everyone. Natalie knows all too well, like other environmental campaigners, that sceptics, deniers, and doubters and even the everyday householder who is too busy with life, that the climate emergency is not real for them, and it's just a way large corporates, using fear, uncertainty and doubt, to get people to spend on replacement technology or other stuff that they may not want or need – hence her emphasis on saving the world for free.

People don't like to be on the other end of persuasive arguments as the more evidence they are offered the more likely they are to shut down. To overcome this, Natalie adopts a writing style that is engaging, sufficiently factual to add credence to her statements without being overbearing, and surprisingly humorous given the enormity and urgent nature of the topic under discussion. But it works.

The scope and breadth of this book is impressive. Natalie adopts a no-holds-barred approach to presenting a plethora of truths you may know but choose to deny -"It's nothing to do with me," - or ignore so you can remain blissfully ignorant while living in your corner of Planet Earth where all is fine. From her extensive research, it's quite clear that all is not fine for anyone no matter how wealthy, powerful or privileged they are. We are all in this together; every man, woman, and child living today or to be born in the next 50 plus years.

For me 'How to …' books are my favourite genre as an enormous amount of hard work, diligence and creative thinking are put in by the author so I can reap the benefits. In this case, it's Natalie who has done a great job. The impact, implications and potential of the climate crisis are far-reaching as shown by the inclusiveness of this book from what we eat to how we live, travel and even have sex! Now it’s down to me to adopt her suggestions.

The hard-hitting narrative doesn't leave you feeling hopeless or despairing. Instead, Natalie brings optimism, promise and a future that is inclusive, positive and full of hope provided we take action now.

This is a book written from the heart appealing to your heart and a set of values directed at the life-sustaining capacities of the Earth in the pursuit of common goals - love, truthfulness, fairness, freedom, cooperation, and oneness with others, tolerance, and a respect for all life.

I wholly recommend this book for teens, young adults and upwards, including grandparents: in short, everyone.

By James Minter, Nov 1 2019 11:24AM

I love ‘How to …’ books – there is so much to learn and so little time to do it in. Well written ‘How to...’ books significantly shorten the time needed to get to grips with a new subject. This is the case with ‘Building With Straw Bales’ by Barbara Jones. For me, entering into the world of self-building using straw was a daunting proposition; this book has removed much of the angst. Ms Jones has over 20 years’ experience and has acquired much hard-won knowledge and hands-on experience, which she gladly shares.

The book is structured in a logical sequence reflecting the building process and covers everything from building techniques, understanding straw, to carpentry, roofs, wall raising, services and fixings; plus many more equally important topics. Even the pre-building stages – planning permission, and the necessary building regulation adherences and safety compliances are covered.

Additionally, the book has many useful and inspiring photographs, graphic images for detailed explanations and a whole series of appendices with links to other valuable resources. Overall, a must-read book for anyone embarking on this exciting journey of building their low impact, environmentally friendly home.

By James Minter, Sep 3 2018 09:09AM

Any author going down the self-publishing road needs all the help they can get. There is a heap of information out there on the internet, but what Ms Inglis has done is make an excellent attempt at bringing it all together into a single place. By doing so this she’s made the information more accessible, as well as presenting it in a logically structured style – you only need to read the Table Of Contents to see that. Moreover, it is massively sourced with her hard-won knowledge and experience gained by going through the process with her books. That’s why I love “How to…” books. They capture hard-won knowledge and experience and make it available in an easily consumable form so saving you making the same mistakes, wasting time, money, or going off tangent.

Self-publishing and book marketing are significant, evolving processes, and a guide such as this cannot be complete or entirely up to date. As with all eBooks, it can be continuously corrected, amended, or added to. Ms Inglis makes good use of live links, and a password-protected resources page on her website to allow the reader to explore the software products and tools she discusses.

In conclusion, this is a book well worth purchasing for potential, new, and existing authors. For the price of your morning coffee and pastry, you gain the knowledge and expertise of successful children’s author who speaks from the heart and shares not only her successes but things that didn’t work out so well. And, that takes courage but gives the book huge credibility.

By James Minter, May 23 2018 03:40PM

For me, the holding of positive values for children and adults is essential. A set of positive values is the most significant legacy any parent can leave their child, and so I applaud any book which promotes and guides the development of values and notable in this case, kindness, respect, and trust.

Our values shape our behaviours and are especially important when we have to deal with difficult situations. Through acquiring positive values children are empowered, they can make better decisions, and are more likely to overcome the challenging issue.

My Actions Matter – A Book on Life Values by Kayla J W Marnach, is aimed both at young children and their carers. Using this book as a vehicle, teachers and carers can start a conversation with children about the issue under discussion. In addition to the illustrated story, the book features a section on behaviours and the needs the child is displaying, and further a section with open-ended question suggestions caregivers can ask children to get a discussion going.

Although the book is well presented – font choice, size and line spacing, and the illustrations are beautiful, the overuse of repetition in the narrative is too much. I know and agree that 5, 6, 7-year-olds need repetition, but in effect, there are four identical double-spread pages which are not necessary. I would have liked to see the messages given on the same pages being built upon as the book progressed.

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