Humus – the essential ingredient

1 09 2016

Last night, I attended the Huon Producers’ Network’ AGM, and at the end they showed this 20 minute TedX talk by Graeme Sait whom I knew fairly well due to my involvement with Permaculture Noosa….. what Graeme doesn’t know about soil isn’t worth knowing as far as I’m concerned.

Why I wasn’t aware he was part of this Ted talk which is now three years old is beyond me, but I guess you can’t be aware of everything. I even recognised a couple of faces in the audience…!

The core message of this talk is so important, I decided to put it up here to share it with all my followers. If there’s anything that needs changing, it’s our farming practices. We must change from farming for money to farming to improve soil. Improve the soil, and the money side of things will simply fall into place (for as long as money remains ‘a thing’!). But the real message here is how we could alleviate the worst of climate change by altering these practices…

Enjoy.





The Lie We Live

25 03 2015

This great video questions our freedom, the education system, corporations, money, the American capitalist system, the US government, world collapse, the environment, climate change, genetically modified food, and our treatment of animals….

“They gave us money, and in exchange we gave them the Earth”

Enjoy, and share widely……..





Origins: Exclusive Worldwide Premiere

16 11 2014

Published on Nov 13, 2014

Watch the exclusive worldwide premiere of the Origins film from November 13th – November 22nd. Get Details: http://origins.well.org

 

Get in quick to see the whole documentary before it’s pulled from youtube…….  uplifting, factual, imspiring, totally worth spending the 1 hour 40 minutes to watch or 1.6GB to download as I have……

Share widely, the word has to get out.





Musings on the sustainability of meat and dairy

13 11 2014

In ‘my circles’, I know a lot of vegetarians and vegans.  Vegans, in particular, are the most zealous about their ideal, and I often clash with them for reasons I will tease out in this article.  Make no mistake, I find the entire industrial animal husbandry system totally abhorrent.  It is only possible because we still have relatively cheap fossil fuels, and because farming has left the hands of the many into the hands of the few who can only produce enough food for everyone by using hundreds if not thousands of fossil fuel slaves.  The Matrix is making it so easy to ‘work’ in its grip, and spend the returns shopping for food so cheap that what else are you to do?  I could never sell the food I produce, it takes me far too long (but what else have I got to do!?) and I would never get the financial return it merits, yet the satisfaction and the quality I get is worth my while…..

Simon Fairley

Recently, SBS TV here in Australia aired a fascinating doco featuring Michael Mosley titled “The Truth About Meat” (which Expires on 24 November 2014, 8:40pm).  I was already aware of the disturbing practices in the meat industry, but this film left me nonetheless gobsmacked.  The cruelty exercised on some of the animals depicted beggars belief.  Greed rules in the Matrix.  I have to say I was uplifted by the ending where Mosley meets Simon Fairley, an old fashioned dairy farmer who among other things milks his cows by hand.  The farmer explains how nothing else but grass would grow on his farm, and as we can’t eat grass, it makes sense to use cows to convert it into something we can use.  Interestingly, for someone who makes his livelihood from selling milk, he espouses that we should all use meat and dairy less.  A lot less.  Half, or maybe even less…..  I never thought I’d see the day a dairy farmer draws an exponential curve, but this one did!  As we hit the Limits to Growth wall, this will happen anyway.  Plus, if you want to continue eating meat and dairy post crash, you will have to source it locally, or grow your own.

In another doco titled “Should I Eat Meat” (which expires on 17 November ’14 – so be quick!), Mosley searches for whether or not eating meat is good or bad for you.  Many vegetarians take great pleasure in telling me meat eating causes cancer or some other terrifying life ending diseases.  Mosley’s doco actually concludes this too as he yet again experiments with his own body to discover ‘the truth’.  His cholesterol went up while bingeing on meat.  It’s actually debatable whether high cholesterol is bad for you, the jury’s still out on that one; and besides, we’re all different…  I eat a lot of cheese, and I have my share of meat too, yet my cholesterol is very low (3.0 last time it was checked, and it was 2.8 for thirty years before that!) while Glenda, who’s on the same diet (she actually eats way less cheese than me) has hers at a level that worries the doctor…  What to make of this, I do not know.  As far as meat causing cancer goes, eat non organic meat poisoned with hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides at your own peril methinks……

So, can we raise our own animals ethically and sustainably?  The ethical part of it is easily dealt with as far as I am concerned.  We care for our animals,

Zeb, our British Alpine buck, saved from the knackery at one day of age, hand/bottle raised, a real sweety

Zeb, our British Alpine buck, saved from the knackery at one day of age, hand/bottle raised, a real sweety

and those we kill (like the recent four ducks that were born in our incubator) had a great life roaming around the orchard, only locked up at night for their own security and released again at sunrise.  I’ve become an expert at dispatching chickens and ducks painlessly (for both them and me..) and with virtually zero stress on the animal.  Killing a stressed animal simply gives you bad meat tainted with adrenaline.  When we raised the only two pigs we’ve ever kept here, the mobile butcher came with his .22 rifle to do the dispatching for me.  We put some food on the ground a few metres apart for the pair of them, and when he shot the first one at point blank range killing it immediately, the second pig did not even flinch, so quiet and stress free was the whole affair.  The second pig never knew what him either.  The butcher said the animals were of the very best condition, something he can tell immediately by just looking at their livers.  He’d worked in abattoirs and said that after seeing what went on there and how bad the meat quality was, he never buys supermarket meat, and he raises his own meat too.

In the end, the resulting pork meat cost us just the same as buying organic free range pork from the shop (if you can even find some), but we knew where they’d been and what they were fed, and the meat was outstanding……  in fact the quality of the chicken and duck meat we raise leaves supermarket produce for dead (pardon the pun).

Yellow coloured grass fed free range chicken

Yellow coloured grass fed free range chicken

We don’t feed any grains to our chickens at all, instead giving them loads of organic food scraps we are lucky enough to have access to (it was the food we also fed the pigs). We also make sure our chooks eat a lot of grass.  The Muscovy ducks do this naturally, it’s their preferred staple.  A couple of years ago, I saw Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall expose the British chicken industry for what it was really worth, and showed how grass fed free range chickens have twenty times the Omega3 fatty acids of ordinary birds.  The way to tell if a bird is grass fed and truly free range is by the colour of its skin and fat, bright yellow….  you won’t find those on supermarket shelves.

I realise that there is nowhere near enough waste food around for everyone to do this, but it has occurred to me we could easily grow wheat here, as it self seeds easily whenever grain is spilled on the ground, and we’ve had moderate success with sunflowers, which I must plant again soon.  Our biggest concern here for doing all this is that we run the whole show on tank water, and really, we need at least one more tank.  This requires money and resources, and that’s where the sustainability side of things kicks in for me.  Nothing we do is sustainable, really…..

But think about this.  If we did not have the goats, I would have to mow 3/4 of an acre.  I can’t do the maths on that, but there must surely be some greenhouse tradeoff.  Besides, because we recycle all the animals’ manures and turn them into compost, we don’t buy fertilisers made and packaged with fossil fuels.  That alone must save at least as much greenhouse emissions are the goats’ belching….

In the end, there are no silver bullets.  Too many people, wanting too many meals made up of protein is the real problem, and I see no answer to that curly problem.  The Matrix must simply wind down, that’s all there is to it.





I’d be happier if I didn’t write this stuff!

20 08 2014

Kurt Cobb

A guest post from Kurt Cobb who kindly gave me permission to reproduce this piece from his own blog.  In reply to my email, Kurt wrote…:

I think we are already in the crisis. The economy is not growing very much and in some places it is contracting.  For 90 percent of the people on planet Earth, growth has stopped.  Their material well-being is either stagnant or declining.  Many more people are finding it difficult if not impossible to afford the things they used to afford before 2008.  I don’t believe we are facing a definitive one-off event, but a serious of periodic crises which the public and government will respond to with measures designed to get us back to business-as-usual.  Of course, for the vast majority of people, these measures will be insufficient because our objective circumstances have changed.  We now face high energy prices and a wobbly financial system that is stressed because of the high energy prices.
There is a better path forward, but it won’t come from the top.  We must build it ourselves from the bottom up.

Thus happiness depends, as Nature shows,
Less on exterior things than most suppose.

                  –William Cowper

For years my father–who is a really great guy–has been telling me that I’d be a happier person if I didn’t write about all the converging threats bearing down on the human race. Turns out he’s right!

Here’s what a new study said on the matter:

Recent evidence suggests that a state of good mental health is associated with biased processing of information that supports a positively skewed view of the future. Depression, on the other hand, is associated with unbiased processing of such information.

Let me translate: If you fool yourself about what you are really seeing in the world and convince yourself that it will lead to a good future for you and whomever else you care about, you’ll maintain good mental health. If, on the other hand, you look reality squarely in the eye, you are more likely to get depressed. Life, as it turns out, isn’t a bed of roses.

Now, I would put the “positively skewed” person in the same category as turkeys. You may be familiar with philosopher Bertrand Russell’s story of the turkey. A farmer feeds this turkey every morning. Using inductive reasoning, the turkey becomes more and more convinced each day that the morning feedings will extend indefinitely. One day the farmer appears with an ax, demonstrating the weakness of inductive reasoning.

It’s easy to see that the turkey is happier up to the point of slaughter NOT knowing what is coming. (I’m assuming the turkey, in this case, would be powerless even with foreknowledge to prevent his own demise.) Not knowing, he is better adjusted to his surroundings, and he’s not busily writing columns about the impending turkey slaughter that all turkeys should be aware of. This lack of knowledge certainly prevents stress and stress-related diseases, both mental and physical. One has to admit that the turkey has a good life (for a turkey) up to a certain point.

We should also note that there is no way that examining his past–i.e., previous feedings–would allow the turkey to understand the danger. The slaughter of turkeys is nowhere to be found in the time series of his feedings or his life in general. (The analogy for the human race would be the last 150 years or so in which the notion of perpetual progress has become entrenched in the human psyche.)

We can learn two things from the turkey’s story. First, if you are a turkey, it is better to be ignorant of your own demise if you are be unable to do anything about it (even with foreknowledge). Second, information about the nature and timing of your demise may not be available through an examination of your past–though an examination of the past of many turkeys might shed light on the situation.

Let’s expand on this. Since I am, in fact, not a turkey, or more particularly the turkey in the story above, it is possible that I might be able to do something to avoid my premature demise if I have information about it. But, of course, anyone who writes about our converging environmental and resource-related threats, isn’t really writing about individuals, but about humans as a species.

So, it is possible that one path to relative happiness is to remain ignorant of such challenges so as not to suffer anxiety about them. Then, if society cannot head off these catastrophes, at least you wouldn’t suffer anxiety about them prior to their arrival at your doorstep. And, it’s possible they may never reach your doorstep during your lifetime. This, however, sounds more like a dereliction of one’s civic duty than a path to enlightenment.

That’s because if my efforts and the efforts of millions of others around the globe are able to move the needle of society toward sustainability, those uninvolved and untroubled by our problems would be getting a free ride. We sustainability types do all the work and then have to share the benefits.

But, the more people who join in the work of moving society toward sustainability, the more likely it is that this work will succeed. The failure to achieve a sustainable society might be the direct result of too few participants trying to achieve it. The free ride problem just got a lot more deadly.

There is also the problem of the definition of “good mental health” or more speculatively, the meaning of “happiness,” and whether these ought to be one’s goals in life. Human life, no matter how materially advantaged, is bound to be filled with pain, disappointment and loss. The unpredictability of our lives makes it certain that you cannot plan to have a happy life. You may get what you believe to be a happy existence. But it is likely to be the result of luck more than choice and planning.

And, if the definition of happiness includes all kinds of unhappiness experienced in the pursuit of one’s goals–even if those goals are achieved–I would say that such a definition is drained of all intelligibility. It may have some mystical significance that I don’t understand. The everyday meaning of happiness, so far as I know, does not include excessive suffering, pain and loss.

But back to my father. He also contends that he is very good at dealing with “reality.” And, he is. He’s one of those rare people who, when he looks at what he has to do each day, realizes that the task which seems most disagreeable is probably the most important.

I take this as a clue that he has not pursued happiness as his main goal in life. Rather, he saw his highest calling as his duty to others, to his family, to his friends, to his community, to his country, to the people who worked for him while he was running several companies. There is a certain satisfaction in living this way, some might even say a certain joy in the commitment itself. But it is not a path that leads to a persistent state of happiness.

It really should be no surprise to him that “being happy” is not my highest priority, and that his wish for all his children to “be happy” could easily turn into a curse of ignorance. Admittedly, trying to understand the world around us can end up being burdensome, especially if one concentrates on the human prospect in the face of the emerging multiple threats to the stability of our civilization.

But trying to understand our place in the universe and on the Earth can also be exciting and stimulating. And, trying to move society in a more sustainable direction in concert with others can be both rewarding and fun. It turns out that even people who don’t put their personal happiness first on their list of priorities can have a good time in this world. And, sometimes they can even be happy!

P.S. Doing something which gives our lives a broader meaning can give us a kind of satisfaction that the “pursuit of happiness” can never provide. I am reminded of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s story about a meeting with the religious leader of the Taos pueblo. The leader related the following:

“The Americans should stop meddling with our religion, for when it dies and we can no longer help the sun our Father cross the sky, the Americans and the whole world will learn something in ten years’ time, for then the sun won’t rise any more.”*

The leader and his people were not just doing their ceremonies to the sun for themselves. They were doing them for the whole world.

P.P.S. This excellent cartoon nicely summarizes one of the main points of this piece.

*From The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Volume 9,I of The Collected Works of C.G. Jung. p. 22.

Kurt Cobb is an author, speaker, and columnist focusing on energy and the environment. He is a regular contributor to the Energy Voices section of The Christian Science Monitor and author of the peak-oil-themed novel Prelude. In addition, he has written columns for the Paris-based science news site Scitizen, and his work has been featured on Energy Bulletin (now Resilience.org), The Oil Drum, OilPrice.com, Econ Matters, Peak Oil Review, 321energy, Common Dreams, Le Monde Diplomatique and many other sites. He maintains a blog called Resource Insights and can be contacted at kurtcobb2001@yahoo.com.





More on Depression

16 08 2014

It’s a miserable day today.  Cold, rainy, and worst of all…….  the AGA’s flue looks like it’s blocked up, and getting up on the roof to clean it out in this weather is simply out of the question!  My fault, I had scrap pine left over, and I decided to put it through the stove to get rid of it, and now I pay the price……. at least, all things being equal, we might end up with full tanks again by the time this deluge ends, we do need the rain.

thornton

Nicole Thornton

The passing of Robin Williams by his own hand has caused much gnashing of teeth on the internet, and a rebound in posts about depression and suicide.  So this is what I’m writing about on this rainy afternoon.  The post I put up about ‘everyone I know is heartbroken’ attracted a lot of attention; then the other day this very interesting article turned up in my intray… it’s from the Sydney Morning Herald, and is titled “A climate of despair”, written by

Nicole Thornton remembers the exact moment her curious case of depression became too real to ignore. It was five years ago and the environmental scientist – a trained biologist and ecologist – was writing a rather dry PhD on responsible household water use.

After a two-decade career in green awareness and eco-tourism, Thornton was happy to finally be researching her pet project at the University of Technology in Sydney – but she was also on edge.
Thornton had always been easily upset by apathy towards, and denial of, environmental issues. But now she began to notice an oddly powerful personal reaction to “the small stuff” – like people littering, or neighbours chopping down an old tree.
She found herself suddenly and strongly enveloped by unfamiliar feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, anger and anxiety.

“It’s strange. Sometimes you just don’t feel you’re making headway in the time you’ve got, before it’s too late for the planet,” Thornton says. “All these little things weigh you down, and then the big stuff breaks you.”

I don’t know about you, but this really resonates with me……  At my age, I have way less time than Nicole Thornton does, and if she feels like she’s running out of time, imagine how it feels from behind this nearly white beard.

If the term “climate depression” is new to you, it should be. No such condition is recognised by the world of psychiatry. There is no formalised syndrome. If there is a disorder of this kind, it has not been acknowledged by the medical community. Thornton herself wonders whether the moniker is misleading – whether “despair and disempowerment” might be better.

 

From what I’ve read about Robin Williams, he too felt a bit like that.  Depression  is thought to be caused by an  imbalance in brain chemistry in many cases, or an extreme traumatic experience…. but I have my own theory; when you live in a depressing world, how else can you feel?  Depression is now so widespread, it’s become ‘normal’.  Someone recently told me half of New Zealanders are on anti depressants…  how depressing is THAT?

From Think Progress..:

Williams took global warming seriously in the way only a great comic can. Back in 2002, he did this riff:

… And they say there is no global warming, but right now the North Pole is a pool. There’s things just floating away….
It is beyond global warming at this point. It is cooking.
It is 105 in the middle of the country and people come up going “Is it hot enough for you?”
“No I like sweat to be rolling down the crack of my ass like Niagara. I like my old man titties to lactate.”
And you see people in shorts and you’re going, “Please don’t wear those…. Oh please don’t put those on.”

In the “Happy Feet” movies, penguins deal with the effects of global warming. In “FernGully,” the “magical inhabitants of a rain-forest fight to save their home, which is threatened by logging and a polluting force of destruction called Hexxus,” as Think Progress explains in their piece, “7 Social Issues Robin Williams Brought To The Screen.”

Williams provides colourful comic relief in the story, though not without a message against deforestation and unchecked development: “First thing, all these trees go,” he says, “Then come your highways, then come your shopping malls, and your parking lots, and your convenience stores…” The film was shown at the U.N. General Assembly on Earth Day, 1992.

So I ask, might not Robin have been affected by the state of the environment too?  Pure speculation, I agree, but all the things in his life added up to unhappiness.  At least I have a plan for the future to keep me going….  but I worry about all those who don’t, and form the majority of the people I know who all think I’m nuts.  When in fact it’s they who are nuts!

“Doomer depression” and “apocalypse fatigue”), despondency over a what many, myself included, believe is societal failure to adequately acknowledge or address environmental issues has, become a line of psychological inquiry. Susie Burke, a senior psychologist with the Australian Psychological Society, has done extensive work on the mental impact of climate change.  Only last month, she made a presentation on mental health and the environment, as part of the Climate Reality Project, hosted by former US vice-president Al Gore at Rod Laver Arena and attended by hundreds of committed weary campaigners.  Don’t know if Clive Palmer attended….  Several experts suggest that the overall intersection of mental health and climate change is one we ignore at our peril.

To finish, here is a really lovely epitaph to Robin Williams.  It really touched me.  Enjoy.





Confessions of a CSG Drill Rig worker (22nd April 2014)

27 06 2014

[This article did the rounds on the interweb yesterday, but seems to have been pulled from the source site. We’ll retain the anonymity of the author and the source site – but you MUST read this one!]

 

I contacted the Gasfield Community Support group after hearing Laurence Springborg saying on the radio that no workers in the CSG industry had become sick, and the air and water tests were good quality.

I started in the industry in 2008, and worked for 3-½ years on a mobile drill rig. Initially I was employed by Mitchell drilling who were taken over by AJ Lucas. With the exception of one well, at all other times Mitchell drilling /AJ Lucas were contracted to Santos. I was employed as the “offsider” initially, graduating to senior drillers assistant.

One of the tasks was mixing chemicals into the mud pits to pump down the drill string. There were different polymers used. They pumped “mud” down the drill string. (Salt water, KCL and polymer JK261, (a lubricant)). On an average lease, if they were not taking losses, you would use an average of 12 tons of KCL and 15 pallets (720 drums /10,800kg of polymer) to keep the viscosity up and lubricate the drill bit. The polymer was mixed in the pits through a hopper. The polymer had to be sprinkled into the hopper and it was blowing in the face, in the eyes; we were constantly breathing it in. This happened for hours at a time. We had masks, with a diaphragm sometimes, otherwise paper.

The masks were also used when mixing the cement for the casing if Halliburton did not come in and we were doing the cement job ourselves.

When drilling down, going through the Permian or Jurassic riverbeds which were very permeable, sometimes the drilling muds would disappear.

They could take huge losses We took core samples when Santos told us to. They took core samples on every drill hole, usually about 600 metres in depth. 80% of the time they got pretty good returns – getting most of the returns back up the drill into the pits. But 20% of the time, especially in Fairview, east of Injune, they couldn’t stop the losses.

They could use approximately 20 tons of KCL (semi-trailer loads full) with water. There was 50,000 litres of water in each of three pits. On one rig, in a 12 hour shift we used 27tons of KCL along with 100,000 litres of water and multiple other chemicals.

The next 12 hour shift would then come on and this could go on for days doing exactly the same thing until the losses were stopped. They would use 9.4 heavy – saturation point- lots of KCL, JK261, CR650-polymer. The KCL was to “weigh down” the gas bubble. When they were taking losses they would use ‘frac seal fine’, composed of silver paper, coarse saw dust, trying to fill the hole, to block it.

They tried to stop the loss by plugging the hole. They would use maybe 10 different chemicals including bentonite, they would keep pumping down, trying to fill the losses. If the muds were going disappearing) gases could be coming in; they had to try and block it off with a different medium, and keep pumping it down the drill string to seal the hole. They tried to weigh down the gas bubble. They were worried about gases coming back in and the risk of explosion; it was a very dangerous time and happened often (maybe 20% of the time)

In the Gunnedah basin south of Coonabarrabin, they drilled a hole and hit the fresh water aquifer.

Fresh water was pouring out of the hole, diluting the salt content. They had to bring trucks in to take the water away; they put the casing in and tried sealing it off with cement on the outside of the drill string. There were problems in the Gunnedah basin because the aquifers were close to the surface, they had to get through the aquifers and keep drilling to get to the coal seam. They got a drill string stuck in one particular hole. They brought in black stuff in a 1000 litre container, called “pipe free”. I’m not sure how it worked. I think they pumped it down the drill string to try to free up the soil and recover the expensive equipment from the hole. It stunk to high heaven. It was very smelly, dangerous: we were told not to get any on our skin. It happened in a hole in Fairview; Santos owned the property near Injune.

On every fifth hole or so they got stuck but could get the tool free without major problems apart from patience and time. But if the tool sheared off they fished for the tool or cemented the hole up and moved on a couple metres, cutting their losses and started drilling again. (This happened about three times when I was there but there was only one time they used “pipe free”.) It is a big problem for them and expensive if they lose tools down the hole.

Weatherfords did the logging. They used radiation sources. I heard that they had lost tools down the hole, but not at the time I was there.

At times there were problems with the end plug with gas bubbling through the cement, they couldn’t stop it. There were bubbles coming up through the water that was sitting over the cement in the cellar. I saw it three or four times.

On Fairview, there were lots of drill holes, it was like a porcupine. Drill holes could be as little as 150 metres apart at times, at other places kilometres apart. There are now a lot of production wells there.

I started getting sick, with nose bleeds on a regular basis in 2011. I had never had a nose bleed in my life before. My work schedule was– out for 18 days, home for 9 with 2 days travelling out of it. (I am an organic farmer, totally self-sufficient and solar powered, and I was trying to set myself-up for older life. I was working out there for the money. I was cautious about saying anything- I had lost a job before for speaking out). I was better when got home on days off; when I went back out, again there was blood dripping from my nose. I had nose bleeds in the shower.

We broke up earlier than expected at the end of 2011 because of wet weather. I was coughing and couldn’t clear my chest. I went to the doctor in late November/ early December. He listened to my lungs and sent me for a CXR.

I had a terrible feeling of anxiety and just felt terrible. The anxiety was there all day from the minute I woke up to when I went to bed. I was sent for a CT scan and told I had moderate emphysema. I had only smoked for a couple of years, age 19 and 20, not since. I looked up the internet and seen Dr Roger Allen near the Wesley. I did a test lasting 6 hours and had a lung biopsy. I was told I had inflammation, lung infection, bronchitis. I wanted compensation, adamant that the cause was what I had been using at work. Dr Allen wouldn’t commit to what was causing it. I had sickness benefit for a couple of months – I was off for a couple of months then they told me I was fit to work. I wouldn’t go back to mixing chemicals; they told me there was nothing else for me – got nothing for me. They wiped their hands of me.

Now I am back on the farm. I am not coughing as much. I still haven’t 100% capacity in my lungs. I have cough and phlegm and loss of lung function. When I was working on the rigs I would have spasm of my hands. I would grab a set of stilsons to do up a drill joint, when trying to let go I couldn’t open my hand. I had to use the other hand to open the knuckles back up.

There was lead based grease, real thick grease, used on the drill joints, also a zinc based grease called ZN50. The young fellows I was working with here getting it all over themselves. It is carcinogenic.

They were using 20kg buckets in a 10 day period. The other driller, age 27, had bad skin. It looked like dermatitis. He had red skin around his eyes and hairline. It would look better each time he came back from break. We lost contact.

A lot of people are out of work, with a downturn in the industry. It was a 24 hour rig, 12 hour shift, 4 on crew, driller, and senior offsider, 2 junior offsiders. There was always a crew on break. Apart from the people you work with you don’t know other people.

There were big camps. We lived in camps or hotel accommodation, up to 80% of the time in camps.

People complained about the water at times. The truck just didn’t look hygienic. The water was next to the septic tank which overflowed several times. People were getting stomach bugs. I am unsure if the drinking water was bore water.

Santos took the drinking water away a couple of times because of complaints.

The water in the mud pits was recycled to the next lease for drilling. The drill cuttings went back into the pits. When in the Gunnedah basin they started lining the pits with big plastic liners. They didn’t tend to line them in Queensland. There were hundreds of tons of cuttings. It was a problem. I’m not sure what happened to the pits, or the plastic or the cuttings.

When we were out there, if there was 4 inches of rain the salt water in the pits started flowing over.

If they knew the rain was coming, they would try and pump the mud out and dump it somewhere else like in new pits Santos planted fodder trees, not Australian natives. I think they planted them to get rid of coal seam gas water by using it for irrigation. There were maybe 10,000acres that Santos planted. That then became a problem. Now seeds have washed out and are growing on the sides of the road, in waterways. They have become a pest now.

The industry took off very quickly; it went from a controlled Australian industry with a few different Australian companies and rigs, to overnight rigs coming in from Canada, Mexico, everywhere.

Whatever controls they went through in the past seemed to have disappeared over night.

When I worked in the Gunnedah basin, there was lots of protest by the locals, and road blocks to go through. There were also open cut coal mines being licenced to overseas buyers (particularly the Chinese) who were buying the land up. The farmers didn’t like it. Because of the protest our image had to be squeaky clean and there was a lot more control on the industry than in Queensland. Problems with farmers were not such a problem in Western Queensland. There was an occasional well on their property, maybe up to 10 wells on big properties. Santos was building a big airport. I didn’t see any protest by farmers in Queensland. It was not a problem on big properties. Santos and Origin own some big properties.

Arcadia Valley, north of Injune is a magic pristine country of big aboriginal significance. It is a rift valley, with a huge escarpment and caves. It shouldn’t have been touched, it should be heritage listed.

AJ Lucas had one rig in the Arcadia valley and disturbed sacred aboriginal sites. There were maybe six holes. There was no more or no less care than in Fairview. I think it was a shame. The wastage was immense. In a 12 hour shift 2000 litres of diesel was used just for an exploration rig. (For the production rig to get the gas out of the ground, the fuel usage would be astronomical.) In addition to the drilling there were air conditioners and generators running all the time. There were 100’s of rigs in the area. There were diesel spills and leaks.

Other waste, Industrial bins full of plastic drums were emptied twice a week; there was a huge amount of food wasted.