Rod Oram: Focusing on our relationship with nature, because nature is our life support system

Interviewed by Tim LynchJuly 8, 2020
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When asked about all the issues facing us he replies “what is our ecological relationship with each other and also with the planet as well?”

He says he comes at that - not as to be perceived as a narrow ecological radical - but as somebody who thinks he’s getting to the heart of the issue of
‘what are we doing with our life support system?’

He says he is very aware and cognisant of the trends - the downward trends and the degradation we cause to ‘that’ life support system. And therefore -
what we also need to do to turn that around and that this action will affect every aspect of our lives.

That’s his essential focus and he states that he can take these issues down to (he trusts) to a very practical level and a here and now level - because
it is ‘quite overwhelming’ … to have to think about the shear inter-dependence and the shear integration of all of these issues.

Listening and Being Aware of Nature

Though we produce huge amounts of waste by the 7.7 billion human inhabitants - Rod says that if we ‘listen’ to nature and take our understanding from nature
- it naturally knows, having embedded complete circular systems - so that everything that is used - is reused - everything that is depleted gets replenished
- and that in essence is the living system that is the planet.

So if we make sure that we are working with nature and not against it - and we are making sure that we are giving these incredibly complex ecosystems the
chance to recover - then, because we are taking the pressure off them - then these ecosystems become far more resilient and can deal with far more

Rod says that these ecosystems can then become far more productive - so potentially they can support more people on the planet ‘as long as we are making
sure we are doing everything in sync with nature.

Circular Economy

The ‘circular economy’ was mentioned as one of these concepts and Rod thinks it is a very helpful idea, because it’s a very important bridge between how
we think about our linear system now, which is to extract things from our ecosystems in order in which to make and consume things. Often this causes
more pollution - which obviously is a very negative thing to put back into the ecosystem - or to incur loss of resources in that linear system. So
he says how do we make sure that everything we do loops back so we make sure that we completely understand how to unmake everything that we manufacture?
Stating that all the natural resources that go into what we make - can then be reused again. Or that human made resources and he says we have to be
very careful of these - especially that we are working with nature and not against it. Like they are not building up, for example - heavy metals as
a toxin in ecosystems. E.g. The heavy use of super phosphate in NZ has caused widespread contamination of farmland due to excess cadmium now being
in the soil.

He also mentions our reusing and recycling things but also to repurposing items that we have previously used - to the nth degree so that we completely
are ‘an integral part of the natural systems.’

Cradle to Cradle - came up - William Mcdonough and Dr. Michael Braungart and Rod likes this because it
encapsulates in a sense, the life cycle that brings you back to where you started. So that you can start all over again. He said that this concept
has been around for a while and has been applied to some extent by some ‘real champions ‘ but we have a way to go before all our human activity fits
into that model and has ‘that’ right relationship. (essentially, there is a refusal by business and government due to having to change our whole consciousness
to see that we are all part of a greater whole, and that all of nature has myriads of cycles embedded in it.

We humans have yet to make the effort to understand it. Whereas indigenous people are totally surrendered to the cycles of life, being the seasons, moon
cycles, tidal, ebb and flow and more subtle ones like the water cycle etc -spawning season etc and see themselves as an extension of nature's process.

Conscious Recycling

Tim then mentions that back in 1993 on Deutsch TV he saw a program where BMW showed off a concept that they were working on where computers were used to
follow a blueprint of a vehicle being built from the basic constituent parts by robotic machines. eg, chassis, engine, cab, windows + doors, then windscreen,
wheels etc to lastly internal fittings - to finally that BMW being driven off the factory floor. Then what they showed was that say 10 years later
or 15 years - (depending if planned obsolescence was still in vogue) the car would return to a designated factory and the computer program would be
reversed and the robots would start taking out the internal fittings, the wheels, windscreen, then the doors + windows etc until the cab, engine’ and
chassis was left and then these particular components could be reused, recycled or used in some other way. This was a perfect plan to bring the waste
signature of a manufactured product to the smallest ecological footprint possible - but somewhere in this process hardened attitudes have prevailed
- and this noble idea has been shelved.

Initiating Change and Encouraging to Adapt, Modify and Transform the Way we Live and Work.

Rod also talked about how do we learn to encourage each other to change … and it is now very important since Covid19 became such a focus and influence
on our lives. That the extraordinary statistic of our death rate in NZ was just over 2 people per million - whereas in the UK he said it is 900 people
per million, which is 400 times our death rate. Latest 44,000. And we need to remind ourselves we have done well in NZ, but in the last month
or so we have become rather fractious and anxious and he senses that we are shutting down to a degree, when his hope is that we can emerge out of the
Covid Crisis and head of into a far better direction.

So Rod asks the question - how do we encourage people when obviously many people are struggling with so many things? That they may be unemployed, engaged
in stresses and strains in the family and they are maybe worried about their health- and he is very aware of these important issues - and being able
to support each other through this. But, needing to think and encouraging people to think how we might do things differently and better, is dear to him

However there is a lot going on:

He mentions:

The Aotearoa Circle and the late Sir Rob Fenwick - co founded with Sir Jonathan Porrit. Sadly Rob died in early March. (I was in touch with Rob some years ago for an interview and we just could not tie in a time.)

The Aotearoa Circle is composed of leading NZ businesses and Government Agencies, and the senior members of the entities involved. The central theme of
this is about putting Natural Capital - i.e ecosystems as the centre of everything that we do. He says that rather conventional companies are starting
to think in these terms. And he sees some real thought going on in the Circle as to what this future looks like.

Also here in NZ we had Vision Week - which a bunch of organisations got off the ground. AnewNZ was mentioned. This link was an interview
with Dave Breuer - the initiator of AnewNZ.

Aotearoa 2020 vision and Rod says
that we have all these good ideas going on - but we have a very tired and exhausted political system.

Politically - NZ is tired and exhausted

Rod proffers up the meme that rather than reverting to tribal politics i.e just automatically voting for the party that you usually vote for or identify
with - but instead - prioritise in your own life and in your own thinking - what is important to you. Therefore finding the part that best
aligns with that thinking, and it may not be your traditional party. So vote for the two top issues rather than your normal default
tribal loyalty vote. He says this will be a big help in this coming election.

Transcending Party Politics - with a Long Term Societal Consensus.

Rod talks about the short 3 years election cycle so that in this short time, a Government can’t get things done - but … it also ignores the fact
that the issues we are working on, are very long term so …

He says we need a very strong ‘societal consensus’ on what we are doing that can completely transcend the short term election cycle. Because,
we could never have an election cycle long enough for a Government to really have an impact.

Grand Coalition of the Major Parties?

Rod talks about Ireland where they, after much talking with each other and a stalemate of some months, they have finally agreed to a ‘grand coalition’
of the two major parties. This he says is a very encouraging idea.

He said the Germans have had them too, and though they are very complicated to organise and keep functioning - Rod sees this as a good sign to see that
society has a common sense and a common understanding of what needs to be done and a real strong sense of a ‘commonwealth’ and about what needs to be done for the common good. Wealth not seen as a narrow monetary and financial sense - but a common inner wealth that is embedded throughout society as a whole.

NZ becoming a Cashless Country.

Youth today are not carrying cash - so when will NZ become a cashless society? Sweden is supposedly 80% cashless. What are the benefits and what are the
challenges. The financial records of a country will be instantly at the fingers of the Minister of Finance, as well as the Minister of Inland revenue.
Far less counting of cash and printing and smelting of money. It will start to stamp out the dark economy.

Will this happen in NZ and virtually overnight? Tim proffers up a scenario to Rob that this could be very detrimental to ecological, health or political activists - in that if the ruling government at the time, does not agree with your democratic right to call out shortfalls in Government policy or even practices that could be deemed corrupt. What is to stop ‘them’ phoning your bank to put a stop on all your EFTPOS and Credit card transactions and you are caught 200 ks away from home, with an empty gas tank at 3pm in the morning? Where you find yourself marooned, running late and unable to travel?

Rob says that there have to be safeguards specifically put in place like the ‘Bill of Rights’ - to make sure this does not happen. My retort, that I did
not air is, providing we have a government of the people for the people. But, who is to say that a Government may, under ‘urgency’ pass through legislation
in 24 hours - that makes ‘activists illegal’ and this comes under the umbrella of you being classified as terrorists?

Blockchain and bitcoin was mentioned - but we never got into it as it’s a one hour subject in itself.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution - basically followed on from the 3rd Industrial Revolution with transistorised technology and the start of computerisation
in the 1970s and now it is ramping into a fully fledged omnipresent and ubiquitous presence planetary wide from near earth orbit to every area on the

With the rapid deployment of 40,000 new satellites in geostationary orbit around our planet and with 5G technologies all working ubiquitously and microwaving
our biosphere what are the health implications for humans, animals, plants and the microorganisms that are all interconnected for the health and well
being of healthy biota?

Rob says that at the highest level he is in favour of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the cashless society too as it is only an evolution of human
ingenuity. (providing that the controllers and bankers are honest and full of integrity).

Stating - that ecosystems have to have precedence as they are our life support system.

But, he is open about his concerns and stresses that there is nowhere near a strong enough connection back into the eco systems. So this has to be focused
on. Stating, that it's not about remaking or reinventing ecosystems - but it is to make sure that what we do - fits in with them. And he says that we can then align with this.

He says with the integration of 5G it will help us hugely in being able to access and share information that will allow us to understand all the societal
systems, communications banking transactions etc as well as monitor all ecological systems and that as we become more complex as a civilisation there
will be this need to have essentially real time info so as to keep the whole system in balance and operating coherently.

Rod said he has done some research and reading and he states that he comes down firmly - that 5G is Ok for us, health wise.

Stating that 5G is not a source of Covid 19 - (Which was never a health point in the discussion, as 5G has been going on for over 18 months - and Covid only hit us early this year - but this is where the narrative gets hijacked - Tim)

Transportation in the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Electric cars - are not the answer for city commuting. Electric public transport can be. Rob states - we have to change our lifestyles.

London - has got on top of its congestion, with a big rebuild of its underground system - Plus New York too.

Copenhagen is a very successful city and In Brazil, Curitiba and mayor Jamie Lerner, was very innovative.

Tim said we need campions - but Rob says we also need buy-in …. to get our transport system efficient so that people don’t have to ‘fall back on
private cars’

The interview covers:


With the increase in population and people moving to cities.

The individual = parenting - values and virtues - family values -

To bring children into the world is a huge responsibility and to validate them

Old people too.

Rod said that have always known that it takes a village to raise a child - but the system has fragmented.

Mens Sheds for retirees - this gets the men out of bed in the mornings and gives them a focus to build or repair things. Older women seem to cope more
easily, and can crochet and knit and are able to converse more fluidly.

Old people have stories to tell of their varied experiences - listening - validating them - writing these stories for posterity.

Hospitals in NZ, many were given land by Maori - fresh food for patients - today hospitals dispense seriously poor food and drink.

Living in Urban Areas

That there are 100 community gardens in Auckland - where all cultures can cooperate and grow fresh, vital organic food. Where they can share seeds, experience
and recipes - and learn about each other's cultures and customs.

Globally in the future there will be 80% of people being urban dwellers Growing food in cities is going to be important. Rod talks a lot about bringing
back nature into the cities. This is where we need liveable cities.

Biophilic Cities

Birmingham - In Victorian times, the captains of industry way back believed in the Victorian ideal of parks and outdoor pursuits being really good for
people - Birmingham has a large percentage of parks per population. Also the Cadbury Family started their factory there - being Quakers their venture
with cocoa and chocolate - had very good worker relations - treated with respect and well paid - because Cadbury had a very strong social conscience.

Tim Asked the question in relation to NZ today.

Stating that the glaciers in the South Island are still melting and retreating.

That the seawater around NZ especially on the West Coast is warming.

Where are the Pillars of Society? The Civic Minded Elders, the Kuia and Kaumātua?

Where a hundred years ago Civic pride and giving back to society was in many different ways, the done thing - today there seems to be a void.

However there is a trend for older people to act as a mentor for our young people. Which is excellent.

Rod mentioned that he has been on NZ Town Hall meetings - online - to share and offer advice - which is a superb idea.

He talks about leadership saying that there are some very good community oriented people of all generations and describes this as being like ‘yeast in
bread’ - that they are scattered throughout the community saying ‘we have some good ones’. I say yes, but not nearly enough.

Planet of the Humans, the movie that Michael Moore was the executive director of.

I, Tim said that it was an important documentary - as to me, who has been in the environmental movement since 1974 - it exposed many shortfalls in the
environmental movement as well as some of their so called ‘champions - like Al Gore and Bill McKibben, who wrote an exceptional book - the End of Nature.
Rob disagreed with some of the timings that were produced in the movies saying they were taken ‘out of context’ and that some of the data was dated.

He said that the UK is producing more energy from renewables than gas, coal and oil. (But, I forgot to ask about Nuclear, but the UK still
has 15 reactors generating about 21% of its electricity as of 2020.

Rob’s major criticism of this doco was that they focused on ‘that there were too many people on earth.’ That overpopulation was the cause of our troubles.
But Rob said the human population is only growing at one percent every year, but consumption is growing at 3% every year. This is
where we are putting huge amounts of pressure on our biosphere.

That our trading patterns have to change, where we in NZ can produce the same diary products as the Europeans - so why do we buy their cheese for example
- when the only difference is basically the packaging and the label? Distribution of food for example is another challenge, as there is also a huge
amount of waste. However, we did not have time to discuss this.

That our population growth is projected to taper off at about 10 billion people. That is 2 more billion people coming into the world during this time.
Another subject that we lacked time to speak about.

That we should remember that everything we do from now on, is to work with nature and not against it.

He mentioned that we need to stop strangling the natural world - or words to that affect - as without nature we can not exist.

I thoroughly enjoyed this interview and though I have a good number of differences with Rod - he is an excellent interface of the need to realise that
it’s our planet that loans us a body, free air, free rain water and until recently a free food chain.

That he is constantly among business people, industrialists, farmers and economists - and is the one who can gradually awaken them to the fact that we
are dependent on our planet and nature that so delicately survives within the biosphere. The sooner we recognise this, the sooner we as a civilisation
will acknowledge that we are planetary beings and a ‘global family’ awakening from eons of time to our true inheritance.

That of actually being cosmic beings - expressing through 3 dimensional bodies and sharing and breathing the invisibility of an oxygen system freely given
to us by ocean plankton, trees and foliage from around our ecosphere. Once this connection is fully realised - a major transformation in consciousness
will occur and a new paradigm will be born.

Had we had time I would have liked to have Rod talk about Agenda21 and Agenda2030 and many other topics too.

Next time. 🙂

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Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'

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