Quote of the Moment:

“The trouble with using experience as a guide is that the final exam often comes first and then the lesson.”

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Kachana News

Kachana at the end of 2003

The Christmas Message:

“ ... I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in the city of David your Saviour was born - Christ the Lord! ...” (Luke 2: 11)

2003 on Kachana:

Socially: Although it was physically tiring and sometimes frustrating to be reminded of old age sneaking up, all in all it was an emotionally satisfying year. Our Children are growing up and helping us stay on track. Once again we had great moral and physical support from our regular tireless 'Kachana fans' and a few more new ones who joined in. THANK YOU!

Ecologically: This was the most challenging year yet due to the poor distribution of rainfall and an early cut-off to the last wet season. Plant growth was good, but sparse. Water held up better than expected except in the areas that were burned last year. We just rolled with the punches. Until recently it was hot and dry. We have now had good rain and we are into the next round and as optimistic as ever.

Financially: We still need to tread very cautiously, but we seem to be beyond the half-way mark of the tight-rope we are on. Our biological foundations still need further strengthening before we begin on primary production. To payroll our progress we now rely on income from Environmental Literacy Workshops: a tax-deductible trip to the Kimberley, learning-experience and landcare-adventure all wrapped together... please tell others! Most exciting: thanks to Gail, Lee, Peter, Dean and Craig we now have corporate sponsorship for some new conservation projects starting up on Kachana. (Kachana Pastoral Company is no longer alone in the region in officially promoting the 'triple bottom line'. Check the News Pages on our websites for updates.)

On behalf of the Kachana team I wish you all the blessings and peace of Christmas and a rewarding 2004.


PS If you are not interested in economics, do not bother reading below (Jacqueline's advice!!!)!!!!

Bad news, good news....

To some, much of this will come across as scathing to cynical, but I am serious about the good-news at the end.

I once read a definition of "compassion":

Compassion is when 'A' sees 'B' in distress, and then asks 'C' to do something about it.

Compassion is great and I have great respect for those more compassionate than I, however this reflection is about commitment to removing the root-cause for distress (rather than compassionately handing out band-aids to address symptoms and to relieve consciences). Furthermore it seems to me that 'A', 'B' and 'C' are all about to be on board the same boat... a boat that is being swept out into stormy sea by a receding tide... financially, socially and ecologically.

According to:

http://www.dailyreckoning.com/emailfriend.cfm?id=7577 "Gary North & The Daily Reckoning" 18.12.2003

> While admiring a pretty sapling in the day's news, they
> have failed to notice the thicket growing up around them -
> becoming darker, wilder, and more dangerous every day. It
> now takes $45 billion per month of foreign capital to make
> ends meet in the U.S., while foreigners become less and
> less willing to fly over and drop supplies of new
> money... which is why the dollar is falling.
> Yesterday, the dollar fell again - to a new record low
> against the euro.
> Americans, who keep score in dollars, think their economy
> is growing... their stocks are becoming more
> valuable... their wealth is increasing.
> But it is all a colossal fraud and a scam. The economy is
> 'growing' only insofar as Americans are ruining themselves
> at a faster rate - buying things they don't need with money
> they don't have while counting on the kindness of strangers
> to make up the difference. And in terms of euros or real
> money - gold - neither the stock market nor the economy nor
> even real estate is going up. Since the beginning of the
> year, the value of U.S. assets in global terms has remained
> unchanged... while Americans have gone deeper into debt.

As I understand it: at this rate we are watching debt (in the US) being increasing by:

The same news-letter goes on to say that:

> "What most people probably don't know is that China's
> current boom is unsustainable because it is based on a
> massive expansion of credit (I.e. it's financed by debt).
> This should sound familiar because the same situation has
> existed in the U.S., only on a much larger scale. The
> latest figures show that China's M2 money supply grew by
> 21.6% over the past 12 months. At some point over the next
> year or so China's government will be forced to take
> serious steps to curtail the credit expansion. When this
> happens there will probably be a very sharp downturn in
> growth.

I read earlier this year that China's exports were supposedly increasing at rates similar to the US expansion of money-supply i.e. at something like 11% to 15% per annum....

China has tied its own currency to the US $. As the US $ loses value in relation to Gold and other currencies, so do China's exports become cheaper all over the world. (Meanwhile US consumer-spending is being "cushioned" from the effects of a depreciating US $.)

Question: How will this affect the profitability of existing businesses?

Question: How many businesses (world wide) that produce physical products can afford to wait for China to slow down?

There seems however to be one very real economic issue that is often missed:

Ecological debt: not only the depletion of renewable and non-renewable natural capital, but also the removal of natural wealth from the areas of origin without allowing for the full costs (socially/financially and ecologically)

History repeatedly shows us that ecologically unsound economic activity often leads to the theft of opportunity off others: it used to be off weaker neighbours ("the enemy") and off "mother Nature" (in past centuries Nature always seemed to have had sufficient resilience to compensate for our extractions, and somewhere there would be more reserves that could be found and tapped). In today's "global playing-field" we are running low on tapped and untapped reserves, we have stopped Nature from replenishing renewable reserves and we have extended our theft to depriving future generations of their access to opportunity. We list levels of debt that cannot possibly be repaid as a result of current levels of productivity.

A look at the quality of every-day life in many of the so-called "third world" countries readily shows us the social implications of this accumulating debt.

(Refugee) Migration from crisis zones across national borders and (in more recent decades) into "first world" nations may perhaps be bringing the message closer to some. Escalating financial costs of 'band-aid' efforts (addressing symptoms on both sides of the migration-routes) are being sold to the tax-paying public as "foreign aid" and "social welfare"...

Question: Are not many failing "third world economies" simply a direct result of three to five generations, of first-world ecological theft used to prop up consumerism and life-styles that have now become largely removed from biological and ecological realities? (If a resource-base is depleted and the commodities gained from it are undervalued, is that not the same as theft? I guess it depends on whether there is a will to repay the debt once the long-term effects of the action become obvious...)

Question: Should we not redefine "foreign aid" as "interest payments due" on ecological debts that have been run up over recent decades?

Statement: After several decades of compounding ecological debt perhaps the time is near for some instalments of 'ecological debt-repayment'.

Debt-repayment implies a reduction in actual level of debt: in ecological terms this means that productivity needs to be restored to landscapes that no longer support functional human communities. I do not mean injecting financial payments into Government treasuries or organisational budgets. I mean the undertaking of, and the completing of projects designed to specifically rebuild the productivity of depleted ecological resources. (In other countries as well as in our own…)

The good news is it seems that this can be done using low-cost and low-tech solutions.

... but perhaps there is one big challenge: 'A', 'B' and 'C' need to commit to learning how to navigate by the rules of the waters that surround them.

May 2004 be a productive year for you.

Happy navigating,
Chris (Henggeler)