The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Tuesday 25 October 2022

Giving Away Your Gift

Pablo Picasso is reputed to have given us the saying: ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.’

However, this appears to be a misattribution. The real source of the quote seems to be from an American psychiatrist and host of a radio show offering counselling to callers. In 1993 David Viscott published the book Finding Your Strength in Difficult Times: A book of meditations. In that book Viscott included this three-part offering:

‘The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.’1

Viscott’s advice is germane in its succinctness. After 30 years it is perhaps even more so, as it could be argued that we are living in more difficult times now than in 1993.

I wonder what sort of gift people are discovering, and where they are finding it? Are the gifts we discover appropriate and meaningful?

How many of us search for our gift outside of ourselves, as if we were looking for a gift to buy for a friend in a store? We go into the store with no real sense of the person we are wanting to give a gift to; we just want to buy a gift, almost any gift will do. We buy the gift to satisfy ourselves rather than thinking about the recipient of the gift.

Then there are those of us who wait until the last minute and join the rush, such as at Christmas time with hundreds of others, to heedlessly buy anything simply so that we have something to wrap in gift paper to pass on.

Or, are we the gift-giver who looks for the latest gadget because it has been hyped up on television by some celebrity or other. We purchase it because it is new, because it is the latest thing, or because it shows that we are “up with the fashion.”

Maybe we are none of these. Maybe we are one of those rare people who create our own gift, Maybe we are aware of the talents we have been gifted with. Maybe we explore those talents and work to develop them (as Viscott recommends) so that we become proficient and skilled. Then perhaps, we think about who we intend the gift for, and we design a gift, utilising our talents, specifically for the person we wish to give the gift to.

Undoubtedly, if we are one of those in the last of these metaphorical scenarios then the gift is likely to be greatly appreciated and is likely to be of lasting quality.

These scenarios are, of course, all metaphorical. How many of us discover our gift in life? Then, how many of us work to develop that gift? Ultimately, how many of us give that gift away?

Viscott’s gift bears remarkable resemblance to Bill Plotkin’s concept of a person’s unique ecological niche (which he also refers to as one’s personal soul.) Discovering our eco-niche is, according to Plotkin, ‘what provides us with our ultimate personal meaning, our truest identity.’2

For more than four decades Plotkin has possibly done more than any other psychologist or psychiatrist to help people discover their eco-niche. He would agree with Viscott that ‘the work of life is to develop it.’ This work is crucial. One does not just discover one’s gift and then give it away. One must work with it, refine it, and explore it fully before it can be given away in the most beneficial manner possible.

Furthermore, our gift is not found outside of ourselves (in a store,) nor can it be rushed into (like the last-minute Christmas shopper.) Certainly, our gift (eco-niche) is not the latest thing, it is not something we purchase simply because it is fashionable.

Our true gift is that of the fourth scenario above. Once we discover it, we learn to craft it, and we learn how to use it so that it is of benefit to those around us, including the more-than-human species.

In these difficult times it is our personal gift (our unique ecological niche) that we must discover and develop, so that true Adults and true Elders can emerge.3

What gift are we developing?


1. Note that Viscott reverses the order of purpose and meaning. This is significant; meaning follows purpose. This is the same order that Plotkin (see later in the main text) ascribes. Note also that Viscott includes the vital second step (development of one’s gift) which has been left out of the supposed-Picasso quotation.

2. Bill Plotkin, The Journey of Soul Initiation: A Field Guide for Visionaries, Evolutionaries, and Revolutionaries, New World Library, Novato, California, 2021.

3. Bill Plotkin writes that, ‘…contemporary societies have very few real elders – plenty of “olders” but not many people of wisdom capable of effectively caring for the greater Earth community. However, a much more devastating and incisive cultural critique is to observe that the modern world has very few true adults – and that this is precisely the root cause of our current crises.’ Op. cit., p 11

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Where Have All The Environmentalists Gone? (10 Principles/Practices)

The first two parts of this blog series lamented the loss of the environmental movement that began with such promise in the 1960s and 70s. This Part 3 asks whether it is possible to resurrect and/or resuscitate the movement from within the climate change movement? Failing that, is there any chance of rekindling a truly environmental movement?

For any or all of this to happen, any emergent environmental movement will surely come to recognise and accept the following ten principles and practices:

1.     Think in systems and take a wide-angled view. See the big picture. Rather than looking through carbon-tinted glasses, the movement will not privilege or prefer one part of the world, or one species, over any other parts. Specifically, it cannot descend into anthropocentrism.

2.     In doing so, the movement will understand and work with local diversity, ecosystems, and bioregions. It will understand that harming any part of the whole damages the whole.

3.     Make connections between “issues.” This includes recognising the desire for comfort in one part may be of immense discomfort to another. For example, slavery and child labour is an “issue” that must be considered in all environmental campaigns.

4.     Gain a long-term understanding of history. This includes understanding the mechanisms of colonisation (still evident today), especially how that process contributes significantly to environmental degradation. Furthermore, such an understanding will recognise that the basic reason we are in an environmental mess is because of overshoot.

5.     Question the imperatives of modernity, especially what Vanessa Machado de Oliveira calls ‘…our ego-logical desires for the 6 “Cs” of comfort, convenience, consumption, certainty, control, and coherence.’ 1

6.     Overcome our fixation on fixing. This includes overcoming our techno-addiction. Technology never has been, and never will be, the solution to any of our environmental problems, let alone the predicament we are now in. Eco-psychologist Chellis Glendinning argues that modern humans suffer a trauma of disconnection from nature and that we attempt to “heal” this trauma by an addiction to technology.2 

7.     Remember some of the slogans of 30, 40, or 50 years ago: “Think global, act local.’” “The personal is planetary, the planetary personal.”

8.     Work through the grief process. Being stuck in some parts of the grief cycle is not a good place from which to undertake environmental action.

9.     Tell the truth. This is the first of the three ‘demands’ of Extinction UK. The movement must tell the truth about the inter-connected, and self-reinforcing, dangers facing the whole world. Furthermore, it must tell the truth about the inadequacy of the solutions being offered (see 6 above.)

10.  Find a spiritual/soulful home/place. Our place is an integral part of the whole of nature, not separated from nature. Our socio-environmental predicament is less about what we do, or will do; it is more about who we are – and that is a question of spirituality, soulfulness, and inner being.3

It will also be useful for any reclaimed environmental movement to re-read some of the seminal books of the environmental movement from before the focus on carbon emissions. Some possibilities include:

·       Limits to Growth, Meadows et al

·       Silent Spring, Carson

·       Small Is Beautiful, Schumacher

·       The Population Bomb, Ehrlich

·       Walden, Thoreau

·       Overshoot, Catton

Eco-psychology is the branch of psychology that recognises our human place within nature, and has emerged significantly since the awareness of global warming. This is an important area for the environmental movement to take into consideration. Contributions from Indigenous writers also need to be recognised. Some readings include:

·       My Name is Chellis and I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization, Glendinning

·       Nature and the Human Soul, Plotkin

·       Active Hope, Macy

·       Coming of Age, Jenkinson

·       Dream of the Earth, Berry

·       Sand Talk, Yunkaporta

·       Last Child in the Woods, Louv

·       Facing Extinction (essay), Ingram

Primarily, any resuscitated, resurrected, or re-kindled environmental movement must think differently. It will have to recognise Einstein’s famous dictum: ‘We cannot solve the world’s problems with the same thinking with which we created them.’ Einstein was not talking simply about thinking creatively (as de Bono would suggest,) he was talking about the very foundations of our thinking. He meant changing the very paradigms of thinking. He was talking about simplicity, cooperation, connections. He understood the importance of making mistakes, and he fostered curiosity, including a curiosity (and hence a wariness) of consequences of our thinking. I have addressed Einstein’s famous quotation and what he possibly meant in a prior blog here.

Younger Generations

Finally, a few words about the younger generations, especially those who are worried, scared, and fearful of the world we are in and what this means for their futures.

The phenomenon of School Strikes for Climate is prescient and necessary. This is a world-wide movement that must be listened to. Older generations have stolen the future from these young people. Sadly, this is not all that new. William Catton, wrote in 1982 on page 1 of his must-read book - Overshoot – that, ‘humankind is locked into stealing ravenously from the future.’

Consequently, I will continue to support young people, and challenge others to listen to them. I will not, however, condone older generations lying to them about the future, proposing non-environmental techno-solutions, nor offering young people false hope.

Post scriptum

If there is a movement that took up, and extended, the radical potential of the mid 20th century environmental movement then it is the Deep Ecology movement.4 The term Deep ecology was coined by Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss. Deep ecology recognises that the existence of any organism is co-dependent upon the existence of all organisms (including humans.) It promotes the inherent worth of all living beings, not just those that have utility value to humans.


1. Vanessa Machado de Oliveira, Hospicing Modernity: Facing Humanity’s Wrongs and the Implications for Social Activism, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California, 2021.

2. Chellis Glendinning, My Name is Chellis and I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization, Shambhala Publications, Boston & London, 1994

3. Please note, I am not advocating religion here. Spirituality is not synonymous with religion, although your particular religion may be how you approach your spirituality.

4. Seed, Macy, Fleming, Næss, Thinking Like A Mountain, New Society Publishers, Philladelphia, 1988

Thursday 13 October 2022

Where Have All The Environmentalists Gone? (Part 2)

Wrong answers
Last week I lamented the demise (or loss) of the environmental movement. This week I wish to outline some of the reasons for that lamentation. First, let me suggest some principles of environmentalism (as I understand them, at least.)

Environmentalism is, first and foremost, the conscious desire to protect and preserve nature from the ravages and plundering by humans. Those with an environmental understanding recognise some important ecological principles: the integrity of the whole is nourished and sustained by the diversity of species living and existing within niche ecosystems and bioregions. This diversity is mediated through a rich, vast, and complex array of inter-connections. (Note that none of this privileges or prioritises humanity, let alone humanity’s industrial-consumer society of perpetual growth.)

However, when ‘environmentalism’ is simplified and comprehended as single-focussed, and single-issued, then ‘environmentalism’ is misunderstood. This is what has happened as ‘environmental activism’ became increasingly fixated on carbon emissions as the one-and-only environmental issue. In a rush to propose - and promote - solutions, this movement concentrated on ‘renewable’ sources of electricity production.

And, with that concentration, the movement cut itself off from environmentalism.

Let me suggest just a few ways in which the ‘solutions’ offered are not environmental solutions.


Mining has been described as “…the most important activity destroying the ecological environment and causing pollution and disasters.” Yet, ‘renewable’ sources of electricity (primarily solar and wind) require immense amounts of digging into the Earth for the minerals and elements that go into the building and infrastructure of such sources.

Solar and wind electricity generating plants require fifteen to twenty times as much base-material input per TW1 as does coal, gas, and nuclear electricity generating plants.2 For instance, for wind turbines to produce 1 TW of electricity requires more than 7,500 tons of cement/concrete. A coal fired electricity plant requires about 1,000 tons for the same amount of electricity.

A further example is the amount of digging required to make the battery in an electric vehicle (EV.) An EV battery weighs approximately 450 kg. To mine and process the ores and materials needed for that battery necessitates the removal of approximately 250 tons of earth – let alone the plants and animals that lived on that earth. The largest EV manufacturer in the world (Tesla) produced more than 2,500 EVs per day in 2021 – that’s lot of earth! Tell me that is an environmental solution!!?

Mining leaves behind highly toxic residues and tailings. Ask the local indigenous people in the infamous “lithium triangle” (encompassing areas of Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia) and they will speak of this. A protest sign by one indigenous resident reads: “We don’t eat batteries. They take the water. Life is gone.”3

This is the very opposite of the environmental principle of the diversity of local ecosystems. Sadly too, it is an example of “out-of-sight-out of-mind.” So long as we in the rich nations of the world can drive our EVs, proclaiming that in doing so we are ‘saving the world,’ what does it matter that communities living in poorer areas of the world must shift, having seen their environment polluted and destroyed?

Bird deaths.

Wind farms are known to kill birds, especially larger raptors and other birds of prey. A common rejoinder to this is to claim that the fossil fuel industry kills more birds. This argument is akin to me claiming that the road toll in my country is acceptable because it is less than that of other nations. I would prefer that we set the bar against a higher standard, not that we measure ourselves against the worst case possible.

Furthermore, assenting to the killing of raptors and birds of prey is a dismissal of another important environmental principle: that of the complex interconnections between species in a bioregion. The lessons of the removal, and later reintroduction, of wolves in Yellowstone Park should have been well learned by now – especially by environmentalists.4

Neodymium and Friends.

Neodymium is a Rare Earth Element (REE.) It is a crucial element in wind turbines (as well as mobile phones, EVs, hard drives, and audio devices.) Along with the other 16 REEs it is mined mostly in China which accounts for more than half of the world’s supply.

These REEs come at a significant environmental cost. Included in that cost is CO2 equivalent emissions. Estimates vary between 12 kg up to 66 kg CO2 equivalent per single kg of neodymium over the full life-cycle.5 A standard 2 MW wind turbine contains about 360 kg of neodymium. Simple arithmetic results in carbon-equivalent emissions of between 4,320 kg and 23,760 kg – and that is just for the neodymium component. For a technology that is supposedly carbon-free this is not good news.

Neglecting to take into account the environmental devastation of REE mining and manufacture (including CO2 emissions) is an example of not recognising the environmental principle of inter-connectivity, and thus the need to take a long term, whole of life-cycle, perspective.

It hasn’t even worked.

Solar and wind electricity generation began to be noticed within the global energy mix around 1990. Since then, solar and wind generating capacity has increased by a combined 7,560 TWh (from just 12 TWh in 1990.) Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? It does, until you realise that in the same period, coal and oil capacity increased by 32,130 TWh. Fossil fuels outstripped ‘renewables’ by more than a factor of four.6

In the same timeframe carbon emissions have increased from 22.75 billion tons per year to 34.81 billion tons.

The introduction of ‘renewables’ has made no difference. None, zilch! Even though ‘renewables’ have increased capacity in the last thirty years by a whopping 630% there has been absolutely no reduction in energy use, and no reduction in annual carbon emissions.

We might ask why?

We might answer: Because ‘renewables’ are not a solution to the basic problem.

Significantly, the only two times in the past thirty years when there has been a reduction in annual carbon emissions have been in 2008/09 during the ‘financial crisis’ and in 2019/20 during the coronavirus crisis. Carbon emissions dropped by 1.4% and 5.2% respectively.

‘Renewables’ were not responsible for these reductions. A reduction in consumption and production was. I will not spell out the obvious conclusions that can be drawn from this. (Maybe another blogpiece.) I might give a taste however; and suggest reading what Greta Thunberg has to say. She was on track recently when she noted that, “We cannot live sustainably within today’s economic system.”7 Too right Greta. That is the problem. ‘Renewables’ are not the answer. Furthermore, Greta made no mention whatsoever of ‘renewables’ in this article.

What then?

Can we reclaim or resurrect the environment movement? Can we restructure the climate change movement so that it becomes an environmental movement again? A movement that will seek to protect and preserve the Earth and all those creatures that live on or under the earth? In short – can we re-discover a movement that will seek to give voice to the creatures that have no voice?

I’ll attempt to answer this. Nah – I might leave that to Part 3, this piece is already far longer than I normally write.


1. TW (Terawatt) is one million million Watts. That is equivalent to 10,000,000,000 average 100 W lightbulbs.

2. Schernikau, Smith, & Falcon, Full Cost of Electricity “FCOE” and Energy Returns “eROI,” in Journal of Management and Sustainability, Vol 12, No. 1; 2022, published 23 May 2022. Please note, I am not arguing for coal fired electricity plants; simply noting that ‘renewables’ are not the environmental solution they are made out to be.

3. Indigenous people are left poor as tech world takes lithium from under their feet, in Washington Post, first published 19 December 2016, updated 2 February 2017.

4. The removal and reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park is a well-documented example of how an ecosystem needs all its diverse species. Watch this YouTube video for a short account of what happened.

5. Julio Navarro & Fu Zhao, Life cycle assessment of the production of rare-earth elements for energy applications: a review, in Frontiers in Energy Research, November 2014.

6. The data in this section are from accessed 11 October 2022.

7. The Guardian, 8 October 2022.

Thursday 6 October 2022

Where Have All The Environmentalists Gone? (Part 1)

The "growth" curve.
In 1955 Pete Seeger penned the famous song, Where have all the flowers gone? The song was a lament for the loss of beauty as well as the loss of youthful innocence. Pete Seeger recognised the connection between the loss of nature (represented by the flowers) and the devastation of war.

Just seven years after that song was released, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring. With the publication of that book the modern environmental movement was spawned. Within two decades the environmental movement was global and large. A number of international environmental organisations arose, notably Greenpeace and Friends Of the Earth (FOE). Books were being published almost monthly it seemed, along with environmental journals and magazines.

The movement began with a desire to protect and preserve animals, birds, fish, and other non-human species. The desire to protect and preserve extended not just to living creatures but also to natural ecosystems: forests, rivers, lakes, mountain tops, and “wilderness” areas.

It wasn’t long before the environmental movement became a vocal critic of the systems that were exploiting and damaging the environment. Books such as Limits to Growth, The Population Bomb, Small Is Beautiful, and a plethora of others clearly articulated the systemic mechanisms that were causing environmental destruction. In 1982 William Catton stated the basic problem up front, right on the cover of his classic, Overshoot.1 “Overshoot” he wrote, is “growth beyond an areas carrying capacity.” Catton was not one to mince his words. On the first page of his opening chapter, he claimed that “Today mankind is locked into stealing ravenously from the future.” Furthermore, the subtitle of his book was: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change (my emphasis.) This was no tinkering with systems.

Indeed, the environmental movement began as a movement critical of our myths of: progress, growth, the superiority of humans (anthropocentrism,) and our faith in technology. The environmental movement introduced the concept of zero growth: zero population growth, zero energy growth, and zero economic growth. This was developing into a radical movement.

The environmental movement of the 1960s through to the 1980s concerned itself with a number of issues: deforestation, the damming of rivers, the plight of ocean creatures (e.g. Save the Whales,) air and water pollution, nuclear proliferation and the storage of nuclear waste. It was this last issue that brought the environmental and peace movements together. In the Pacific, the issue of Indigenous rights was also to the forefront and the three movements merged into the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) movement.

Then, towards the end of the 20th century a new concern emerged. Initially known as global warming this challenge began to be noticed by those with environmental concerns. However, things were to change.

Leap forward forty years. Where is this environmental movement today? Were Pete Seeger to write another verse to his classic song, he might ask, Where have all the environmentalists gone?

Oh, individual environmentalists are still with us. But an environmental movement is very difficult to find. It is hidden away behind the movement that claims to be its descendent – the climate change movement.

Caveat lector (Reader beware)

These next paragraphs may upset some readers, they may even get me labelled as a traitor. Indeed, it is with some sadness that I write this.2 However, we can no longer keep thinking that the climate change movement of today is an environmental movement – it is not. The solutions it offers and promotes are those of an anthropocentric movement. In other words, it is a movement that seeks to find ways to perpetuate human life, without changing our lifestyles and the systems that have contributed to the problems that beset us. Permit me, at least briefly, to outline some of the reasons for writing this, seemingly treasonous statement.

Perhaps the shift was a tactical one. To get the message out there, the nascent climate change movement had to couch its message in a way that suggested to citizens that climate change would harm human existence and undo the comforts of human (especially westernised) life. If so, it came to be a tactical error.

Like any movement, this new movement looked around and analysed what was going on. The planet was warming, the climate was changing. What was causing this, the movement rightly asked. The answer was obvious: Rising CO2 in the atmosphere. The next question became: Why is this rising? The answer: Humans are burning fossil fuels that emit CO2 into the atmosphere, thus causing the planet to warm, and that in turn leads to climate change. All very logical, and all backed with scientific evidence. So far, so good.

The enquiry then recognised that fossil fuels are burnt for energy production (including the production of electricity.) So, what to do about this? The solution seemed to be obvious. We had to reduce CO2 emissions, and that meant we had to shift from fossil fuels to alternative sources of energy.

And, therein was the fateful error. The climate change movement assumed, as a given, that we must find alternatives to our energy sources. There were little, if any, other solutions proposed. There was no talk of reducing our dependence upon energy. There was no talk of zero growth in our energy supply. We simply had to swap one form of energy for another.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. But, like many “good ideas of the time” this one, too, had adverse outcomes.

So it was that the climate change movement offered “renewable, alternative, and green” energy sources as the solution to climate change and the increasing amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

We can now look back over the past 10, 20, 30, even 40 years and find that “renewable” energy sources have not made any dent in either the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, nor in how much energy we use. There has been no replacement of fossil fuels by renewables. Renewable energy sources have simply been added on top of energy derived from fossil fuels. Not surprising really, especially as renewables have become cheaper. Stanley Jevons in the 19th century noticed our human propensity to use more of something once it became more efficient to use it. Nowadays, this trait of humans is named after him – the Jevons Paradox. It could almost be argued (although I am reluctant to do so) that the increased use of renewables has increased our use of fossil fuels.

Before continuing further, it is worth pointing out a couple of unfortunate misuses of words. First, let’s be clear: “Renewables” are not renewable. They are simply re-buildable. The materials used to construct solar panels, wind turbines, dams, and even nuclear power stations require materials dug from the earth. Second, energy and electricity are not synonymous terms. Electricity is a form of energy. And, when it comes to “renewable energy” it is electricity that is being generated – and electricity is only about 20% of total energy in almost every country on the planet. (Hence, to claim that Germany, for example, has managed 100% renewable energy production at any one time is a falsification of the true picture. 100% electricity production is not 100% energy production – far from it.)

This blog has only begun to touch on the question of Where have all the environmentalists gone? Next week’s blog will explore more in depth the reasons for claiming that the climate change movement is no longer an environmental movement. Indeed, I have (reluctantly) come to the conclusion that the climate change movement is exacerbating environmental problems, and is an impediment to the drastic structural and systemic changes that we need to make.

The climate change movement has not failed because of its opposition to fossil fuels (that is to be applauded.) It has failed because it is offering the wrong solutions, including solutions that are doing environmental harm.

Before I finish, and before I get to next week’s blog, I wish to add this rider. This blog should in no way be read as endorsing the continued burning and reliance upon fossil fuels. Our use of fossil fuels since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution have undoubtedly been one of the most tragic uses of the earth’s resources that humans have ever invented.


1. William R. Catton, Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, 1882

2. My involvement with the environmental movement began in the early 1970s. It was a movement I was passionate about. So, it is sad to see a movement that seemed able to rigorously critique the growth-fetishism and the socio-economic systems of society become a movement that is more determined to save humans in the lifestyles we have become accustomed to than it is to preserve the environment.