Why I think Avaaz is pants but bogs are brilliant

Katharine and David Lowrie

irrigatingchacoforgmcrop 300x172 Why I think Avaaz is pants but bogs are brilliantHarsh. Really I should like Avaaz, the online petition forum which uses international people-power to lobby for defenceless minorities on a global scale. Why, just this week in less than 24 hours, 500,000 people were moved to sign a petition to help rid Ecuador of an oil project which would threaten virgin rainforest habitat – so what’s so very bad about that?

Well, the most likely thing this half a million people did after wielding their “mouse” so valiantly to rid the scourge of oil wells from the homes of countless endemic species (hurrah) was to throw back their chair in celebration, waft over to the fridge with the airily light conscience of one who has just stuck it to “da-man” and throw open the heavy door with its comforting little swoosh of inhalation as the bright light illuminates shelves of delightful prizes! “Perhaps an Italian chicken sandwich for sir?” it whispers, “or maybe something lighter, a wholemeal biscuit with some delicious, rich, fresh coffee beans – you deserve  it madam, you have just saved the world, haven’t you?”

Silently, indirectly and anonymously the contract is penned on the sale of millions of hectares of Matto Grosso province in Brazil, or newly cleared areas of northern Argentina, formerly hotbeds of biodiversity, two areas of South America being hit hardest in the global scramble to produce Soya Bean grain, of which the EU is the biggest importer. Some 83 per cent of the protein rich Soya grain finds its way into swine and poultry feed (that would be the Herbicide Tolerant GM type by the way). Those biscuits will be full of Palm oil no doubt, which has driven the clearance of countless rainforests in South East Asia.

Harsh but true. Actions speak louder than words – so what should people do to help our under-pressure planet?  I believe the first vital step to take is to understand her better, and thankfully it’s an easy first step to take and one which will excite your every sense. Knowledge is power after all and with that knowledge you can ruthlessly and courageously wield your most deadly weapon which is your wallet, not your mouse. Where should consumers seek this knowledge or brush up where it’s just a little rusty?

Why not start this weekend in a bog near you? The 2 February is host to Wetlands & Water Management Day, a celebration of the vital role that wetlands play in the natural management of the planet – “Wetlands take care of water!” so they say. As an island with plenty of rain, Britain is blessed with many protected wetland areas. Don’t worry about the rain, a coat will keep it at bay, it’s what’s feeding the whole system.

Head down to your local RSPB reserve, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, or local Wildlife Trust reserve and just see how it all works. Read a sign or two or ask the warden a couple of questions – you’ll be arming yourself with a battalion of understanding about how the planet self-regulates and how fascinating it all is.

It’s a good time too as the mass migration of over-wintering birds will be at play in front of you, the UK’s answer to an African safari! Such beautifully evolved birds reside here, naturally engineered to perfection to live in these specific areas. Geese and swans, the curious Avocet with his upturned bill, or the deadly Peregrine falcon tending to the weak, all performing  in front of your eyes, explaining to you their unique function through the memories you will leave with.

Ok, that wasn’t so painful. Now you’re much better placed to un-sheath your wallet and your mouse, and because you know how lovely a wetland is (or any other wild area for that matter), next time a story hits the news about saving one you can happily click the button and then comfortably sit down to a beautiful Devon cream tea safe in the knowledge that you have sourced all the ingredients carefully, locally and full of flavour. Because you won’t want anything to do with spending on certain products which are the real cause driving wild areas into destruction.

And if that wasn’t enough and your mouse trigger-finger is still particularly itchy, then click here for more excellent ideas on how small and painless changes to your lifestyle can help the planet.

You can follow Katharine and David’s expedition at and

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  • Alexander Taylor

    They seem to have taken a very dodgy stance. This usually happens with ‘lifestyle’ activists shortly before they settle down to a conservative way of life!

  • Alexander Taylor

    Are you their mum?

  • redsoloman

    I kind of agree with the point, it’s not that I think avaaz is ‘bad’, its just ‘not nealry enough’. Clicking an online petition has almost no personal cost, and loads of friends of mine do it but still buy environmentally harmful foods, throw out loads of food, etc. They click on something which takes 30 seconds but avoid anything that involves a personal cost. The article reminded me I also need to do more. Not sure why everyone is so angry about it, I’m sure you are all very nice people but maan… (I guess that’s the internet for you). these guys are saying we all should do as much as we can, and avaaz is a tiny part of that. it’s a talking point. bit more green love.

  • Peter Hack

    Oh come on

  • anewview

    Hmm, well perhaps the approach should be for users to pay £1 for every Avaaz vote, then by the time the campaign is over they will have raised £2m, which buys a lot of rainforest for managed protection under local governance etc? The problem with this type of low-fat mass market clicking is that soon the Ecuadorian govt wont have to take notice – boy that cried wolf syndrome, and the demand for the resources remains un-fulfilled

  • anewview

    By the context of the market described (livestock feed in EU) then highly likely Soya bean “meal” was the target word (or Soybean if you are in USA). EU don’t import much Soya bean oil or just beans, in comparison to other global markets. Don’ think it changes much though, the land we use to supply the UK is still well beyond our borders and I for one have no traceability of what was foregone to grow these crops (grains or legumes).

  • Eleanor Rylance

    Lol! I’d have been a very young mum… They are friends of friends.

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