Merry Xmas

Christmas morning here in Kaikoura.

It is thick drizzly fog outside.
Ailsa, Jewelia, Huia and I are warm enough inside.
Presents have been exchanged, and we are all doing our own things, each plugged into the internet in different ways.

This is a seriously wet and cold summer, the most so in the 20+ years we have lived in this house.

It has been a strange year.
Over 200 hours of my time in running a 4 month trapping program to eradicate mice from our 2.1Ha predator proof enclosure for our Hutton’s Shearwater colony nearby. 113 mouse traps, each with individual enclosures made by me. No mice in the last 6 weeks – so I think I have achieved eradication. Exactly 250 mice observed dead. Actual cost of materials was small – under $300 total, just a lot of my time, getting used 3l drink bottle from the recycling centre, cutting them to shape, cutting and bending #8 wire staples to hold them in place, putting them in place, preparing sites for each trap, baiting and checking them most days. Discounting my time, it was a relatively cheap process. I wasn’t prepared to see chicks eaten alive by mice on my watch as chair of the Trust. And the mice seem very likely to have gotten in there due to ground cracks that opened up under the fence due to a 2 year drought where we had less than half our average annual rainfall for 2 successive years.

Now we have the summer without a summer.

The boating club facilities are mostly functional, mostly due to the work of Eddie.

Water issues continue to be dominated by earthquake induced factors.

The ongoing issues around rebuilding transport infrastructure continue.
For me, looking at it from the standpoint of an understanding of complex systems, and the sorts of management appropriate to different levels and types of systems; I see an over-reliance on rules; treating complex systems as if applying simple rules is ever appropriate. And bureaucrats and politicians like rules, and the simple measures derived from them, as they allow for accountability, even if they don’t actually do what they are supposed to – at least people can point to having done something, and achieved some metric.

And we have a reasonable approximation to an optimal outcome in many aspects, so not all bad – and we missed some opportunities.

Sometimes I am close to despair, as I look at systems and see depths of complexity and uncertainty and possibility, where others only see simplicity and certainty and there is no possibility.

The idea of money continues to be a focus in my thoughts. Sometimes it terrifies me.

Part of me loves toys, loves doing new things. Yet another part of me knows that playing that game is extremely dangerous long term – the mathematics of that is just so obvious to me, but opaque most others.
When I was making a lot of money I loved being able to play with nice toys, aircraft, cars, motorbikes, boats, high tech etc.
I love working with nature.
I see the impacts of the species we have introduced to this country, threatening to eliminate many of the native species, as we continue to heavily modify the environment without reasonable thought to the entirety of the systems present. We use the short term scarcity based measure of markets, and think it will solve our deep issues. It cannot. It is in fact the single deepest threat we face.

And none of that denies all the many essential functions that markets currently perform, particularly in terms of distributed governance, distributed cognition, distributed risk assessment, management and mitigation. I acknowledge that it is seriously complex systemic territory, and it is all predicated on scarcity, and technology can now largely eliminate that scarcity; except that doing so would break all the systems predicated upon it.
Catch 22!!!

Technology offers the possibility of freeing and empowering everyone (and such freedom and empowerment demands responsibility at all levels if it is to survive in reality – reality does actually demand such things if survival is a desired outcome), but markets demand they remain enslaved and impoverished.

Ailsa has been putting a lot of time into the banded dotterels on the beach, and they are in trouble. Hedgehogs get most of the eggs, and cats get too many of what is left. We have trapped a lot of hedgehogs, and we are getting eggs to hatch now.

And we need to have people keep their cats inside, and keep dogs muzzled on the beaches, except when actually playing fetch the stick or something similar.

We need vehicles to stick to the track, not drive all over the beach – and most are; just a very small minority causing most of the issues now.

It takes so much time to identify new nests. I experimented this season by borrowing a top end thermal imaging scope and it worked beautifully, allowing me to easily and quickly identify all the nests present in the hour of pre-sunrise light. But I don’t have the $7,000 to buy one of those things, and no-one has yet offered to purchase it for me.

And the cats remain a problem.
The trail cams we had on nests identified 3 different cats doing nightly patrols of the beach, and we caught one of them on camera killing four nesting adult birds this season (we only had 2 cameras, and over 10 nests). Cats are smart, they learn quickly. So measures that we developed that worked last year, failed this year. Then someone stole a trailcam.
We have had several traps stolen.
We had two nests burned – people building fires directly on top of them.

The levels of awareness present differ greatly.

Some people, particularly city people, have little or no awareness of or interest in nature (particularly tourists).

So it is an interesting time.
So much potential.
So much possibility.
So many dangers.
And most people oblivious to all of them.
We could actually eradicate poverty, and empower everyone; and that would demand new levels of responsibility from all.
Nothing simple.
Nothing easy.

And it needs to be done.
The dangers of not doing it are too great.

Peace on earth, and good will to all people, all life, is actually a viable strategy; is actually the only viable strategy if one is seriously interested in living a very long time.

Lots of interesting things to do.

Arohanui nga whanau!
[rough translation – Great love my family {taking the broadest definition of family – human and non-human, biological and non-biological}]

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
This entry was posted in Ideas, Longevity, Nature, Our Future, Philosophy, Politics, Technology, understanding and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Merry Xmas

  1. Peace on earth and goodwill to all life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. debyemm says:

    Wishing you Merry & Bright and grateful to call you friend. May 2019 bring you more success and reasons for happiness & joy.

    Liked by 1 person

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