My neighbor Alex and his wife Marie were good enough to lend me their SUP. IT was my first time ever, so naturally I was hesitant. But I didn’t fall in the water, not even once. All you have to do is keep your feet wide apart, legs bent and take long paddle strokes. It’s a cinch.
New Caledonia’s Ile des Pins at the southern tip of the archipelago is a botanical outlier. The endemic columnar pine trees and the improbable colossal ferns, straight out of Jurassic Park, vie for living space with the ubiquitous coconut trees, giant agaves and the lowly eucalyptus trees.
But this tropical paradise would not make the top ten adventure travel destinations without papaya, mango, passion fruit and grapefruit, growing wild and waiting to be picked by the intrepid adventurer. Indeed, mother nature at its tropical best on the Ile des Pins, New Caledonia.
I seem to be broadening my horizons regressively in terms of conventional human development. A websurfer-hyperconsumer from Luxembourg is turning into a hunter-gatherer in the tropics. Yesterday’s catch of the day included bamboo sticks, heart of palm, oranges, bamboo shoots, coconuts, avocados and a “Frozen” baseball cap. Today’s take was eight avocados, two coconuts and four oranges. I gotta fight this hunter-gatherer urge. The boat is beginning to list.
It’s dead calm at anchor in the Bay of Noumea but two days ago, a south-westerly was blowing hard at the exposed anchorage of Îlot Maître two miles out of Nouméa. Before nightfall, Romain motored in on his steel ketch and tied up to a mooring buoy next to me. In the middle of the night, his mooring line chafed through, the boat broke loose and started drifting towards the reef. All I heard was the sound of the steel hull, scraping against the coral reef. What with the lack of visibility and high waves, there was nothing I could do.
As soon as it got light, I scooted over in my dinghy to eyeball the situation. I asked captain Romain to lower the two uphauls from the two masts. I tied one uphaul to my dinghy, while my neighbor tied the second one to his dinghy. My plan was to pull on the two uphauls laterally to tilt the ketch far enough to dislodge the keel from the reef. Nothing doing. The ketch was made of heavy steel and didn’t budge. Plan B. The tide was coming in, so we tied two mooring lines to the boat’s stern and started pulling the ketch to deeper waters, while Romain put the engine in reverse. Inch by inch the boat was released from the watery embrace and was refloated. Romain dropped anchor and we all went to my boat for a nice beer breakfast.
Earlier I made a bold statement that there’s no such thing as a sustainable energy source. Lat’s take say solar panels:
No air pollution
No carbon footprint
Minimal environmental impact
A perfect source of green energy. Well, not quite. Factor in the production of cadmium, gallium, germanium, indium, selenium and tellurium used in the manufacture of solar panels; factor in the labor, energy, transportation and installation costs; factor in the life span, decommissioning, dismantling, disposing and recycling costs and you’ve got yourself one of the dirtiest sources of energy.
Environmentalism has been hijacked by the capitalist corporate bastards who discovered yet another way of turning a buck. I can just imagine the Koch brothers, Goldman and Sachs and that man of the century and Oscar winner, Al Gore, going into a corporate huddle. Al says:
Listen, you guys. I know these tree huggers at Sierra and Greenpeace. Let’s give’m a bunch of grants to swing public opinion. Then we jump on the bandwagon, build a bunch of biomass plants, solar and wind farms, open rare earth mines and log the shit out of the Amazon rain forest. Also, we start up a couple of green investment funds to finance the whole shabam and we’re laughing all the way to the bank.
And they all have a good belly laugh. (to be continued)
I had a rough night. This environmental thing would not leave me alone. Couldn’t get any shut-eye. This morning I put on my critical thinking cap and googled a little bit deeper to come up with my take on this environmental thing. My mind started buzzing with sexy environmental buzz words:
Zero carbon emission
Sustainable energy generation
Solar panel arrays
Off-shore wind farms
Clean energy ethanol
The folks at Sierra and Greenpeace keep using this environmental newspeak, so it’s got to be true, good for the planet, I thought. Fact is, there isn’t a single method of generating energy that’s environmentally sustainable. What happened to environmentalism? What happened to the dogma of green energy? What happened to sustainability?