How, on Earth, do we not see the irony?

You need to realise that, these days, we live in the future. We’re so clever and everything.

Weeding is very high-tech now; it’s all done, not with mirrors, but with the internet. People can register the location of a weed and we can view it from a satellite, if we want to. See here, someone has found a Gleditsia (Honey Locust). It’s growing in uncultivated  scrub on the peri-urban fringe of our Nation’s Capital.

Warning! This organism is a NON-NATIVE! Its presence is an affront to decent, patriotic, nativist-Australians with a lot of time on their hands and not much else to worry about.

The target’s location is denoted by the orange dot, clearly it’s aggressively invading that gum tree (The horror! The horror!).

Gleditsia near Canberra

Now, look into my eyes and repeat after me: “I’m very impressed by the technology. Did I hear something about smart-phones?”

Why, yes! Yes you did!

This is iWeeding now. There’s an app!

This is futuristic SEXY iWeeding! Did I mention high-tech? We’re talking glossy-magazine weeding! Supercharged, streamlined and detailed weeding! Weeding for the next millennium! 986 years ahead of its time! This awe-inspiring leap in weeding technology just proves the war on weeds can be won. In fact ‘the end’ is just around the corner.

(But is it really?…no, seriously…).

Obviously, the take home message from all of this awe-inspiring high-tech iWeeding is to ‘keep the government funding coming’. The nativist sector of our economy must be protected. This is getting to be some serious GDP we’re talking about. And because of this, if nativist propaganda did not already exist then it would be necessary for somebody to invent it….and they’d probably be well-paid by the taxpayer to do so.

The ‘weed spotter’ portal for the ACT and Southern Tablelands is an initiative of various groups and government departments. It’s aim is to allow ordinary people to quickly share weed sightings with interested individuals and organisations that will, presumably, do something about them. Preferably something high-tech; preferably from space; preferably with a sexy mobile-phone app.

The reason I ask, ‘How, on Earth, do we not see the irony?‘ is because of how pointless this Gleditsia example makes the entire exercise of weed-spotting and of nativist OCD vigilance seem. What a gloriously naked demonstration of futility and narrow-minded counter-productivity.

If you zoom out a little from the initial view provided in the link, you’ll notice to the west of this tree is ‘Canberra Nature Park’.

……Where nature lives, obviously.

Gleditsia near Canberra 2

Nature’s there, in that space bordered by Erindale Drive and Long Gully Road; right where nature belongs. Luckily, this potential outbreak of future Gleditsia trees was spotted while it was still on the other side of the road from nature, because we wouldn’t want the weeds getting amongst the nature.

It could be the start of a very inconvenient existential crisis…..

…..We’d be, like, all: “Arrgg! A human let weeds into nature again!” Then we’d go, like: “Quick send in some other humans to put it all back to natural!” Then before you know it someone would being saying: “Whoa! What is Nature?” “What is a weed?” “What does it mean to be human?” “What are we doing?” And someone else would start screaming: “OMG! We humans evolved from nonhuman animals!” And, exactly at that moment, all human civilisation would collapse, like a deflated souffle. And you can bet your bottom dollar that’s when the Aliens would choose to invade from outer-space. They’d decide we were kind of pretty and they’d domesticate us and start spreading us all over the galaxy. Then, before you know it, the ‘pristine’ nature on Alpha Centuri 6b (I made that up) would be infested with an outbreak of humanity!

An outbreak of humanity which was having a very messy and inconvenient existential crisis. “Humanity!” “Weeds!” “Nature!” “Aliens!”

Messy, inconvenient, and far-less profitable.

Ahem…, if you look back to the image above, to the north of our “orange dot”, you’ll see ‘Issac’s Ridge Pine Plantation’.

Ask yourself: ‘Would it be a bad thing if a Gleditsia got into the pine plantation?’

Then answer yourself: ‘Well of course! Just like a delicious watermelon growing in a field of cotton, or a truffle in your couch-grass lawn. It’s a weed. It’s out of control!’

So, if you see a plant out of place (like, if it’s threatening the nature beside Erindale Drive, or possibly invading a tidy monoculture of something somewhere), put it on the weed spotters portal.

One day we’ll have sexy lasers on satellites that can excise weeds off the surface of the planet from orbit….or, at least, maybe Monsanto or DuPont will and we can pay for the service.

Mmmmm! Sexy surgical high-tech iWeeding from space!

Now this is living!

But, zoom out a little further (see below), and you’ll notice that our Gleditsia is quite near to the Canberra suburbs of Farrer and Fadden which lie to the northwest and southwest. That patch of bare dirt to the east, which is half the size of a suburb, is the Mugga Lane garbage tip.

Gleditsia near Canberra 3

Zoom out a little further again (below) and you’ll notice more of the sprawling bitumen and tile roofs that comprise Canberra’s coal-powered southern suburbs. To the southeast, all those big whitish-looking sheds make up the Hume industrial area. Northeast, beside the pine monoculture, that big greyish hole in the ground is the Boral quarry and depot.

Gleditsia near Canberra 4

But forget about all that stuff, because the real issue is that Gleditsia tree. It’s threatening EVERYTHING! Look at it!

Remember, as long as you keep up the flow of tax-dollars to the ‘War on Weeds’, threats like this Gleditsia (which would otherwise get completely out of control and start invading the suburbs, and the pine monocultures, and the quarries, and the acres of bare dirt around the garbage tips) will be taken care of. We’ve got it all under control. There are clever bureaucrats who will manage everything; never doubt it; never question; never stop believing; or the weeds’ll take over our whole planet!

Imagine, the weeds could actually win the War on Weeds!

We can’t let that happen.

Since starting up in 2012 the ACT and southern tablelands weed spotter portal has registered 170 sightings of a weed somewhere-or-other. 132 of these 170 were spotted by one well-meaning enthusiast in Canberra. The next highest number of weeds to be spotted and registered by an individual is 12.

There must be a few more weeds out there somewhere, so why are so few being registered? Probably because it takes most people about 10 seconds to see the futility of this exercise. Even from space you can see what looks like blackberry growing all around this Gleditsia; why not put an orange dot on every one of them?

Every blackberry? Well, how long have you got?

What about every saffron thistle, or every briar rose, or every St. John’s wort? And what about not ‘or’ but ‘and’; like, every blackberry and every saffron thistle, and every briar rose, and every St John’s wort, and……Really, every few steps you’ll find a new “weed” if you look hard enough.


…How, on Earth, do we not see the irony?

Well, maybe, because we’re not on Earth anymore.

Maybe we’re just sitting in a comfy office, enjoying the view from space…

2 responses to “How, on Earth, do we not see the irony?

  1. Iron ( y ) In The Mud

    The Eye in the Sky sees all , but what capability does it have on the ground ?

    Puts me in mind of a story from my old Vietnam Vet mate , call sign Caligula .

    Cal was a terrified 19 year old in 1969 , Phuoc Tuy Province .

    Most frightening was to receive the command to head out on patrol . He spent many days in old style triple canopy jungle ( they aren’t making it anymore ) , swamps and regrowth and spiney bamboo thickets .

    Wait A Whiles and Lawyer Vines wrapped around the ankles at every turn . To tug one and make a little noise could get you killed by mortar fire or AP mine .

    One time Cal got hung up by his webbing in spiney bamboo , helpless while a firefight raged all around him . That experience revisited him in his sleep for the next forty years.

    Having made contact patrols had the option to call on all of the terrible hardware nearby . With a radio call from a few leech covered riflemen the war could immediately escalate to howitzers and Spookies and F4s out of Bien Hoa .
    Technology clear up to the stratosphere . Few enemy killed , but lots of locals . He dreamed of that too .

    All through their anxious service each soldier hoped for the great luck of Sgt Foxtrot as patrol leader . No one got killed under his command . The Man was a dead set legend , phantom of the jungle .His patrols covered twice the ground , twice as fast and quiet as can be . Rarely did they have need for Fire Support .

    Soldier gossip abounded .
    Sgt F had served in the Kommandos under Otto Skorzeny ( ‘ Most dangerous man in Europe ‘ said Churchill ) , Sgt F was too tough for the French Foreign Legion , F could see in the dark and slip through the narrowest rat hole .
    F could walk on ( swamp ) water and pass through walls . He had been touched by an angel or met with the devil at the midnight crossroads .

    Caligula knew the simple truth of it . On Foxtrots webbing an ammo pouch held a weapon of mystical powers , a magic wand to melt away the vines and give safe passage .

    You guessed it . Sgt F was the son of Austrian apple farmers . He carried his Dads Swiss secateurs . Those sweet little loppers saved lives.

    The secret to stealth in the jungle.

    And so to my point . All the remote sensing and GIS and satellite expenditure in the world is a fancy hobby if you don’t have people on the ground with sharp tools in their hands .

    I remain astonished by the numbers of Permaculture Design Certificate waifs and would be truffle farmers and right minded environmental activists who turn up at our place with zero skills with hand tools.

    No wonder landcare riverine projects reach for the Kato or the herbicides and the huge dollar expenditure . They just don’t know what other tools and techniques to use .

    Without a graded and complete suite of capabilities escalation is inevitable , probably destructive and very likely a waste of resources .

    Incidentally Cal died of Agent Orange poisoning . Give me a handtool to a spray pack any day .

    Shadow Charlie Foxtrot


    • It’s true Peter; often the more sophisticated and powerful the equipment, the less capable and aware the individuals who wield it.

      Many of us in the industrialised world have lost touch with the realities of the biotic landscapes we live in through our preference for more and more powerful technology. It often acts as a buffer between us and the real world.

      To various degrees no one is immune, but it’s a concern to see so many would-be environmentalists getting caught up in the worship of human industrial and technological control of the biosphere. It’s the enlightenment dream is it not? Perfected human knowledge and control over all creation.

      We’re so clever and everything.

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