Completely wet summer of 2017 and completely dry summer of 2018 prove the reality of climate change. In order to grow something we had to intensively water the crops and cover them with plastic film. Plastic film is against my principles, but I must admit that it helps to prevent moisture to evaporate away from the soil. I know that mulch works in similar way, but it is far more work.
I am quite convinced that climate change is caused by human activity, in particular – use of fossil fuels and materials made of crude oil, including plastic. We must use more and more technology to deal with climate change consequences which is like trying to stop the fire by blowing on it. And only human activity can stop climate change. By activity I also mean social activity. It is nice that some hipsters move to the country to radically change their impact on environment, but there is little effect of such a small number of lonely individuals on small properties surrounded by deserts of industrial farming and deforestration.
That’s why I decided that it is necessary to speak in public on ecology. So I decided to join a political party Progressives http://www.progresivie.lv, which represents a social democrat and young green movement in the country founded in 2017. I even managed to become a political candidate for parliament elections this year. I was aware that my chances of getting a seat in the parliament were too little, but I felt that I must act somehow, anyhow. We gathered ~20000 votes, which is ~2,5% of all votes, not bad, but not enough to reach the 5 % barrier in order to gain places in parliament. That means no ecological thought in Latvian parliament until 2022. I had 320 pluses (when people mark for priority within a list of candidates), and this is far more than a lonely forest creature like me expected.
United Nations promise us climate catastrophe after 12 years unless we start significant action now in 2018. But there will be no significant action in Latvia for one third of this time.
So who won and how people voted? Leaders always were promoscow party “Unison/Agreement” (Soglasiye or Tsentr Soglasiya, they prefer to translate their name as Harmony, which in my opinion is incorrect russian-english translation), they get the most votes. Fortunately this year they got one seat less than before, because of some separatism resulting in creation of another Russian party which did not manage the 5% but still chopped of ~3 % of votes. Second and third places were taken by two “anticorruption” parties – emotional demagogues http://www.KPV.LV and more pragmatic conservatives http://www.konservativie.lv. The rest of the votes went to different branches of soviet communist party which collapsed in 90’s but still managed to rule the country until today by pretending to be liberals. Only ~54% of population participated in elections in 2018.
How did I participate?
Joining a political party nowadays can be done online. This is good and I wish that we could vote online one day, too.
First, I developed ideas and published them on my facebook page, I introduced progressives party logo on my facebook profile picture. Second, organic bread campaign. Third, 5% barrier campaign.
My main ideas that I want to introduce to the government are better opportunities for ecological individuals, free public transport, change of farming practices to organic with goal 100% bio-certified, that is all farming lands in Latvia, better opportunities for people to manage their waste.
What can be done for better opportunities for ecological individuals? I though, for this an eco-NGO incubator would be necessary – a place, government institution with set of building and some land, that would help individuals to come together and cross the bureaucracy barriers – tax management, bookkeeping and application writing to receive a support from government programmes and other funds. Eco-NGO examples are independent school founder parents NGO and the resulting independent schools with emphasis on nature education, direct buying group, vegan food farming and food storage, natural materials and traditional crafts, recycling and repair center and free shop, tools library and more. So I spread over social networks an idea that such eco-NGO incubator agency is necessary.
Free public transport. It already is reality in Estonia. Only thing is, that it is limited to Tallinn city and some regions, and only to registered citizens of respective regions. I think that there are no schemes necessary that discriminate people. We need to get people off the cars, so nationwide free public transport is necessary. And it is not only about removing expensive e-tickets systems, control, discount and finance management, but also improving bus routes.
100% organic farming. We need to stop using toxic pesticides. There is no more time to discuss, research and prove how destructive industrial farming is. In October two famous young Latvians died of cancer – Valters Frīdenbergs and Toms Lipskis. Crowd-funding websites are full of calls to help people gather huge sums of money for cancer treatment. 30 year olds die of cancer, this is reality, but youth and cancer does not go together. There is a reason why cancer develops and it can be prevented. If farming machinery offers many opportunities for plowing and cultivating the land, then it should not be necessary to use herbicides in 21st century. The problem is that farmers are farming large areas today and especially in climate change conditions it becomes difficult to work with land on time. It is necessary to introduce free organic farming higher education and give young people opportunities to start the farms. Government should take over bankrupted farms instead of letting the banks to take the land. Then land of the farms should be separated in smaller areas, small enough to manage without pesticides, and give these areas to young farmers. Another problem is lack of plant varieties with good taste, because nowadays farms trend to produce larger fruits with bigger yields. More support is necessary for breeding institutes and seed banks in order to restore old breeds. No more support should be granted for large farms and pesticide use. I presented this idea by offering organic bread from http://www.cesumaize.lv to the people and explaining the situation, that mostly farmers choose to grow grain with higher yield but less taste, so called animal feed grain. Such grain cannot make a good bread. Only few farmers specialize on bread grain varieties and government should indicate on products what variety of the grain is used for food or what variety of cows or other animals is used for milk, eggs and other animal products. People did not care about politics as much as where can they buy this bread.
Better opportunity for people to manage waste. This is important topic outside of the city where people choose to burn their trash or dump it in the nature. Some of my neighbours confessed that their relatives in towns bring trash to the country, i.e., furniture, construction waste and fabric, to be burnt on a fireplace. People in the country do not know the difference of natural and synthetic fabrics and burn both without realizing that synthetic fabrics, i.e. polyester, polyamide, acrilic fabrics are producing dioxines and furanes if burnt in low temperatures. Many people do so with plastic package. Government should provide a place where people can bring their trash to be given away mostly for free and this trash must be managed for recycling instead of burning or burying. I especially think that a good start would be giving more recylcling opportunities for ecology individuals that wish to sort their trash. There are also many individuals that collect trash on everyday basis by plogging and they should be granted opportunity to give this trash away for free.
Elections are over. What now?
Now we continue a campaign. I’m still posting “smart” comments on facebook posts. After elections progressives party received a new wave of entrance applications. Many people did not know of progressives on election day. And I must develop my farm and use it to give opportunities to people. During “bread campaign” people asked me if I am baking. So for next elections I must bake myself instead of ordering from far away. And people want bread baked in bread oven heated by firewood, not electricity. Besides bread baking I must develop permaculture garden. People do not believe in words anymore, they believe in what you can produce. I bought 2000W electric cultivator to speed up my work with land, and I found out about seeds of geographically local vegetable breeds sold in Estonia with mark “Eesti sort”, german handplow made by FHS Friedrichstal, a gift by Betuwe Wereldwijd , has very much improved gardening by enabling easy forming of high beds, and there is significant help from wwoofers, so I must be able to grow more next year. I still hope to acquire more land to expand pastures for the sheep and horses. I had to give up the cows. It was not the right breed and also not the right time to take them, however a new experience is never a shame.
As a conclusion I will tell a story. After elections, when I already voted for myself, huh, I stopped by at second hand shop to see if there is some old stuff. I usually have a good eye for ecological garments, which is a rarity, but yes, this time there was Earth Collection jacket for sale. A light color. Previously I wore a black jacket of the same brand. So I decided to buy this light color jacket to change the mood. For a more light colored future. Good luck to you everyone! The change to a better world lies in the change of our own selves.