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.

Monday 27 March 2023

What Shall We Don't?

When we realise the reality of climate crisis, social/environmental collapse, or mass extinction, a common question to ask ourselves, or others, is, ‘What shall we do?’

The question seems to be a reasonable one to ask. Perhaps even an obvious question to ask.

If we did not ask questions, then we would not devise answers. And answers to questions around climate change, collapse, and extinction, mean solutions – do they not?

More Beautiful Questions

The answers (solutions) we come up with are shaped by, if not determined by, the questions we ask. To take this understanding further, we must admit that the answers we come up with are limited by the questions we ask. It is possible to contend that it is our questions that are the limiting factors, not the answers.

Warren Berger has spent a lot of time asking questions about questions. In his 2014 book A More Beautiful Question1 Berger defines a beautiful question as one that is:

‘…an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something – and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change.’

Note that Berger asserts that a beautiful question is one that helps to ‘shift the way we perceive or think about something.’ This is a critical observation when it comes to asking questions about climate, collapse and extinction.

What Shall We Do?

When we ask this question, we are asking; what shall we perform, execute, achieve, or carry out? We are asking ourselves, what action shall we take?

Therein lie the limitations around asking this question (what shall we do?) The answers inevitably lead to actions and things to make or do.

It can be argued that asking what shall we do? has steered us towards answers that have led us into the predicaments we face. It is a one way, uni-directional, linear question, with progress (and its twin – perpetual growth) as its favoured answers.

The question itself tempts us into believing that solutions are possible. We get enticed into seeking answers in new technology. It is such a seductive question that we answer it without really considering the by-products or long-term consequences of what we do.

Woefully, many of the answers (solutions) put forward to “solve” the “problems”2 of climate, collapse, and extinction serve only to exacerbate the predicaments, and/or to shift the problem from one ecosystem to another.

What if we were to ask a totally different question? What if we asked a more beautiful question, one that shifts the way we perceive or think about climate, collapse, and extinction?

What could we ask?

What Shall We Don’t?

Asking What shall we don’t? is one such question.

Admittedly, this is an uncomfortable question. What do you mean – what shall I don’t?

Don’t, do not, refrain from, stop, desist, cease, abstain. You can’t be serious!

Indeed, it is this reaction to the question – that it asks for something unnatural of us – that is its potency. It is a question that very few of those facing the predicaments of climate, collapse, and extinction are asking. Perhaps the only movement asking this question is the degrowth movement, although possibly not so explicitly and not as succinctly.

Ask it we must.

If what we have done has led us into the predicaments, then surely asking what we do not do is a viable and useful question to ask.

This blogpiece does not intend answering the question, suffice to say that the question can be applied to every sphere of human life and activity. How we travel, where we shop, what we eat, how we build, what we build – all these domains, and more, can be exposed to such a question.

This blogpiece is simply posing the question as a stimulus to shifting the ways in which we perceive climate, collapse, and extinction.

Furthermore, if the question helps to bring about change then all the better.

What is on your To Don't list?


1. Berger, Warren, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, Bloomsbury, USA, 2014.

2. Problems may or may not have solutions. However, predicaments (as we are currently experiencing) do not have solutions, only outcomes.

Tuesday 21 March 2023

I Can't Vote and I'm Okay

Next weekend in Australia (where I live) citizens go to the polls in their State elections.

As a New Zealander I am ineligible to obtain Australian citizenship, even though I have lived here for the past eleven years. Not having Australian citizenship means that I cannot vote in these coming elections.

And, I am quite okay with that. In fact, I could almost claim to be glad of that.

That seems a strange thing to say, perhaps even paradoxical, unreasonable, or senseless. It may look that way, especially from the perspective of those who claim that ‘voting is our democratic right.’

From my perspective, however, things look quite different.

Voting is not democratic.

That is perhaps an even stranger thing to say, even subversive, or disloyal.

Let us pick voting apart. Usually, when one goes into a polling booth to vote, the following have already taken place:

  • The candidates for election are pre-determined. The number of us who suggest someone stand for parliament, council, senate, congress etc is extremely limited. Most often, it was not the common woman or man who determined who the candidates should be.1
  • The policies of candidates are pre-determined. Often the policies are to a) continue the present policies by an incumbent candidate, or b) offer up counter policies to those of the incumbent. Either way, the voter has no direct input into the policies, only a tick in the box against candidates with pre-determined polices.
  • Candidates have often aligned themselves with one political party or another. Then, once elected, it is party policy that takes precedence over any suggestion of “representing” the local constituency.2
  • The education, social standing, articulateness, economic resources, and/or celebrity status of candidates are strong indicators of the likelihood of someone being elected. These are usually those from elite groups of society. How often do you see your hairdresser, the manual labourer, or local barista on the ballot paper? Even were one of these to be on the ballot, how often do they get elected? Consequently, the decision-making bodies we get are not representative.

For these, and other, reasons, I claim that voting is not democratic.

But that is not all. Because of the above reasons, the electoral process results in a parliament, senate, or council that is little able to offer up the changes we need to see in these troubled times.

At the heart of much of the current predicaments we face is how we go about our collective decision-making. Electoral processes result in decision-making bodies that are adversarial in nature – hardly a system that allows for the collective creativity we need.

What then? How do we go about selecting public decision-makers if not by voting?

Toss a die, draw lots, generate random numbers (with numbers allocated to individual citizens,) flip a coin. These may sound flippant. Only in their simplicity. At the core of each of these is a very simple, and fair, means of selection.

Random selection.

Random selection has generated a lot of interest, research, and experimentation over the past few decades. It has a technical name – sortition.

The idea and practical use of sortition, and other forms of democracy (aside from electoral) go back millennia. The most famous is to the very birthplace of democracy – Athens.

The Athenians used sortition for most of their selection processes for their public decision-makers.3 Voting was generally restricted to electing those who would be their military leaders. Indeed, Athenians did not trust voting as a fair and democratic method.

There is even evidence showing sortition to have been used some 1,500 years before the Athenians. See this blogpost for more on these earlier forms of decision-making.

I have written extensively in this blog about sortition: what it is, how it works, and cited historical and contemporary examples of its practice. [Go to the “Categories” column to the right of this page and click on “sortition” and/or “democracy” – for these blogpieces.]

For now, I am quite comfortable in the knowledge that I cannot vote this coming weekend. I am also comfortable in the knowledge that until we shift from electoral democracy to more representative and/or direct means of selection and public decision-making then nothing will fundamentally change.

Hence, I can’t vote and I’m okay.


1. I use the term ‘common’ (or ‘commoner’), not in its somewhat disparaging sense, but in its literal sense of ko = together and moi = to move, to change, hence to move and change together.

2. Even “independents’ are not immune to this. Recently in Australian politics we have seen the emergence of Teal candidates – a loose coalition of independent candidates. Furthermore, many of those who are presently ‘independents’ in Australian politics have either resigned or been expelled from political parties they were once members of. Others have gone on to form their own party.

3. Sometimes when I mention the use of sortition in Athens I am reminded that a “citizen” in Athens did not include women or slaves. That is true. However, that is not a critique of sortition; that is a critique of social structure.

Tuesday 14 March 2023


Artist: Dave Derret
(used with permission)
Obesity for a human is not good for human health.

Autobesity is not good for the Earth’s health.

A comment relating to a recent “New Yorker” article1 on SUVs suggesting that that this was a case of “car obesity” prompted me to coin the word autobesity to label one of the world’s most pressing environmental health problems.

A standard measurement of how underweight or overweight a person is uses the Body Mass Index (BMI.)2 The most extreme score used to be known as morbid obesity (although now it is referred to by the less emotive term obese (class III).)

If such a measurement were to be applied to our use of vehicles (Perhaps an AMI – Automobile Mass Index) then we would have to make the diagnosis that we are suffering morbid autobesity.

Autobesity has become steadily worse since WW2, and morbidly so in the past 7 years. In 2015 there were 618 million vehicles in the world. In the seven years since then that figure has more than doubled to an estimated 1,446 million (yes! – that is 1.446 billion.)3 We went from autobese to extremely autobese to morbidly autobese in just a few years.4

Autobesity (as with human obesity) carries with it harmful health outcomes. As we know, obesity in humans is a risk factor for clogged arteries.

So too, it is with autobesity. Automotive arteries (roads, parking, and right-of-ways (ROWs)) get clogged. Unlike a human body though, instead of removing the blockages, more arteries get built. In rich nations of the world the amount of land relinquished to roads, parking, and ROWs is around 2% of the total land area. In cities, the figure is substantial. New York has 22% of its land area devoted to roads and parking. In London the proportion is 23%, Tokyo 24%, and 25% in Paris. Between one-fifth and one quarter of the land in the world’s major cities is set aside for automobiles.

That is autobesity.

Other harmful effects of autobesity are well known, such as the poisons and pollution emitted from vehicle exhausts – i.e. CO2, nitrous oxides, benzene, fine and ultra-fine particulates etc.

What may be less well known, however, is that these emissions (due mainly to increased exhaust regulations around the world) are not the most harmful feature of vehicle use.

Tyre wear is responsible for around 2,000 times more particulate pollution than are exhausts. These particulates include Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)5 and toxic compounds (including carcinogens.) These seep into all parts of the body of the earth – air, water, and soil.6

As with human obesity, the weight of the vehicle contributes to this problem. To add to the issue of soaring numbers of automobiles, the weight of automobiles has also increased. In 1908, when Henry Ford began producing the Model T Ford, the heaviest of his vehicles weighed 750 kg. The average vehicle weight today is 1,800 kg. What is more, vehicles are getting heavier (contributing further to tyre wear), and likely to put on even more weight if EVs (Electric Vehicles) become more prevalent (as EV proponents predict and promote.)

Because of the battery in an EV, an average EV weighs around 30% more than an equivalent fossil-fuelled vehicle. In terms of our autobesity, EVs are not helping.7

Although EVs reached 10% of global vehicle sales in 2022, they are not replacing vehicle stock – but adding to it. Between 2015 and 2020 the total number of EVs in the world increased from less than one million to 10.2 million. Impressive – maybe? However, in the same period the total number of vehicles in the world rose from 618 million to over 1,100 million. That is just one EV for every 50 or so conventional vehicles.

What Are We Doing About Our Autobesity?

Not much, is the short answer.

A doctor, cardiologist, or other medical professional will usually prescribe a combination of diet and exercise for a person suffering obesity.

Shouldn’t we adopt a similar regime with autobesity?

But we aren’t. A significant proportion of vehicle trips are short, very short. In the U.S. 60% of all car trips are less than 10km in length. In Australian cities the distance varies from city to city, with between 30% - 60% being less then 5km in length. Melbourne takes the lack of exercise to the extreme, with 47% of vehicle trips being less than 2.5km long.8 

All these distances are easily achieved by walking or using a bicycle.

Our autobesity is now morbid and epidemic (at least in the rich nations,) so much so that (as with obesity) it is propelled by addictive mechanisms. Replacing one type of vehicle with another (EV, hybrid, hydrogen fuelled, or whatever) will not reduce our addiction, and hence autobesity will continue to harm the planet.

Many working in the addiction field tell us that abstinence is a crucial factor in helping addicts to overcome their addiction and then maintaining a more healthy lifestyle.

It is now clear that autobesity is no different.

Only total auto-abstinence will help to heal the harm caused by autobesity.


1. Elizabeth Kolbert, Why S.U.V.s are Still a Huge Environmental Problem¸ The New Yorker, 3 March 2023, accessed 13 March 2023

2. A person’s BMI is calculated by dividing their weight (in kg) by the square of their height (in metres.

3. Source: PD Insurance, 22 April 2022, accessed 13 March 2023

4. If you line up all the world’s vehicles bumper-to-bumper around the Earth’s equator they would encircle the Earth more than 160 times!

5. Laura Kokko, Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Tyre Production, M.Sc. thesis, Tampere University of Technology, February 2017

6, accessed 13 March 2023

7. Research at a Netherlands University shows that EVs are contributing significantly to the deterioration of road surfaces. accessed 13 March 2023

8. accessed 14 March 2023. Although this paper is from 1999, there is little reason to believe that the proportions have changed. If anything, personal observation suggests the figure may now be more dire.

Tuesday 7 March 2023

Landawariar Rituals

Last week I had the pleasure and the privilege of attending a performance by the Nordic band Heilung. Heilung speak of their music as amplified history. This is not modern history, it is history of the Viking era, and even earlier. Their music predates the Modern Era (M.E.) and gains inspiration from a number of Nordic and other European cultures, especially those of pagan origins.

Attending an Heilung performance is more akin to participating in a ritual: a ritual that acknowledges our roots in the Earth and our shared humanity.

Oftentimes those of us from a European background and heritage can feel lost and disconnected from nature, especially in comparison to the connections we see and hear within indigenous and nature-based cultures.

Heilung remind us that we too, do in fact encompass a spiritual connection with Mother Earth. We may have forgotten this. Through their music, performance, and ritual, Heilung wish to remind us of our historical and cultural roots.

One of Heilung’s songs – Anoana – lyrically and symbolically reminds us of this connection with the earth and our responsibility to the land. Anoana can be translated as ancestral grandmother, and the band’s promo video of the song personifies and illustrates that translation.

One of the lines of the song - ‘Athilr Rikithir Ai Landawariar Anoana.’ - mentions the word landawariar. Maria Franz (the band’s lead female vocalist) admits to not knowing the meanings of the other words in this line. However, she is clear that the meaning of landawariar is protector, or guardian, of the land. (Listen to Maria talk about the meaning of Anoana in this interview.)

As I listened to this song being sung last Thursday night in Sydney, I was struck yet again by the possibility of, yet the lack of, ritual around our human responsibility to act as guardians of the earth. That is, at least for those of us from a European heritage.

Perhaps one of the reasons that westernised (largely Christian) cultures have failed to recognise the responsibility to protect, care for, and act as earth guardians is a mis-reading of Genesis in the Bible.  

Genesis 1: 26-28 speaks of humans having dominion over the fish, birds, cattle, and all the earth. Western culture has mostly interpreted dominion to mean domination, subjugation, and exploitation.

Yet, the Hebrew word radah (translated as dominion), ‘…is not what we think of as forceful, but the kind of authority that enables the ruled things to develop and open as they should rather than that which uses them as resources for our own sakes.’1

If westernised peoples are to renew our roles as guardians, protectors, and sustainers of life and the earth, then we must also re-acquaint ourselves with this understanding of dominion and our earth connection. It also suggests that we discover (and invent) rituals that remind us of this responsibility and obligation.

The music of Heilung is a start on that journey of renewal and invention.


1. Andrew Basden, Writings on Christian Topics, accessed 6 March 2023.