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.

Wednesday 1 May 2024

Pillow Lessons

When I was a child, around the age of 6 or 7, the pillows we had to lay our head on at night were stuffed with feathers: possibly geese or duck feathers. Stuffed in this way the pillow was sometimes lumpy in places when I got into bed. I would spend the first minute or so pounding and manipulating the pillow so that it wasn’t lumpy – the technical term appears to be “fluffing.”

One of these nights it occurred to me that no matter where on the pillow I would pummel it, the feathers would shift to another part of the pillow. The contents of the pillow – the feathers – would remain. They just shifted position.

I cannot remember exactly what I deduced from this observation at the time, except possibly that my pummelling had no real effect upon the whole pillow. The feathers just shifted from one place to another.

Many years later I learnt what it was I was observing with my attempt to re-shape my pillow as a child.

I learnt the basics of systems theory and chaos theory.

I learnt that what we do to one part of a system (pillow) influences another part (the feathers move.)

I also learnt that systems have boundaries (the pillow slip) and limits.

These were important lessons.

We live on a planet where what we do to one part has consequences for another part. Todays globalised economy and interlinked supply chains ensure this. Furthermore, it may only be a small event or incident that we do in one part, yet the outcome in another part may be significant. Chaos theory calls this the Butterfly Effect.

We also live on a planet that has boundaries. Since 2009 the Stockholm Resilience Centre (based at Stockholm University) has been identifying and enumerating nine planetary boundaries (climate change, biosphere integrity, land-system change, freshwater change, biogeochemical flows, ocean acidification, atmospheric aerosol loading, stratospheric ozone depletion, and novel entities.1)

The latest (2023) update from the Stockholm Resilience Centre warns that “six (of these) boundaries are now transgressed, and pressure is increasing on all boundary processes except ozone depletion.”2

My metaphorical pillow is being torn apart.

We have known for some time too that Earth has limits. Exactly when we reached (or will reach) Peak Oil is still being debated. However, we do know from current reserves and expected new finds that oil is likely to run out within the next 50 or so years. We know too, that of all the Earth’s wild forests, only 25% remain.

Each year more than 90 billion tons of biomass, fossil fuels, metal, and minerals are extracted from the Earth.3 Alarmingly, this rate of extraction has more than tripled in just 50 years.

The feathers in my metaphorical pillow are being depleted, and not replaced.

Somewhere in my 7-year-old consciousness these concepts were embedding themselves. Today, decades later, I know what lessons my pillow was offering me.


1. Novel entities are created and introduced into the environment by humans (e.g. chemicals, and plastics) that have a disruptive impact upon the environment. There are now estimated to be more than 144,000 such artificially created entities, with 2,000 new synthetic chemicals being released every year.

2.  accessed 30 April 2024

3. This is more than 11 tons per person per year for every person on Earth. In the rich nations of the world the extraction rate per capita is staggering: 30 tons per person in North America and over 20 tons for those living in Europe. The extraction rate is highly disproportionate. Data mentioned in these two paragraphs from accessed 30 April 2024

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