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Tolkien about the environment

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Today sees the UK launch of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, in which Bilbo Baggins and a band of dwarves set off on an adventure to reclaim a treasure stolen by the dragon Smaug. While this has caused a certain degree of childish glee here, JRR Tolkien’s work has a message for us all.

Despite our best laid plans, we were pipped at the post by The Guardian on this angle when Larry Elliot wrote brilliantly about how the original short tale of an unadventurous fellow, The Hobbit, and subsequent The Lord of the Rings can be claimed by both counter culture and small state, self-regulators. If The Guardian can grab the economic argument so effectively, we will bag(gins) the environmental angle.

In Ents, Elves and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J. R. R. Tolkien, Matthew Dickerson sets out the Tolkien’s complex and comprehensive ecological philosophy: “The ecology of Middle-earth portrayed in The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion brings together three potent and convincing elements of preservation and conservation – sustainable agriculture and agrarianism, horticulture independent of utilitarianism, and protection of unspoiled wilderness. Throughout his work, Tolkien reveals his vision of the natural world and environmental responsibility.”

For those who have read or watched The Lord of the Rings and have read and/or intend to watch The Hobbit, both journeys begin in the pastoral and idyllic Shire. While all the books contain the distant threat of a rapacious and amoral enemy, the beloved Shire is only finally reached at the end of The Lord of the Rings (but not in the film) by industrialisation.

The recurring theme throughout the books is of nature and her defenders, at war with uncaring industry and its advocates. Orcs ravage the forests, goblins mine indiscriminately and burn trees, cruel gods and wizards mutate pure creatures to create evil ones, and even the ‘good’ dwarves’ unleash a devilry by delving too greedily in their mines. While Tolkien despised analogy (similarity), he may have grumpily accepted an allegorical (symbolic) reference or two.

Global austerity meant Peter Jackson had to rethink his casting strategy.

One of the distinct phases in industrialisation is mass production. The white hand of Saruman, the single eye of Sauron and the uniformity of their armies, represent single-minded visions and ‘reckless hate’. By comparison, Tolkien gathers a diverse group of four races to defeat the enemy. The elves, by far Tolkien’s favourite race, are flawed but wise and responsible stewards of the forests and wildlife.

Tolkien had described the period in which he lived as a child in the countryside outside Birmingham as, “the longest-seeming and most formative time of my life.” He had also witnessed conflict waged on an industrial scale during the first world war. It could be argued that he remained a conservationist and anti-industrialist and expounded this perspective in his works.

One of the main lessons of The Hobbit is that those who are consumed by greed, by pursuing personal profit at any cost, are ultimately brought low by it, taking many down with them. It is only when the people are willing to sacrifice and collaborate for the common good that evil is beaten.

We know The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are works of fiction, and some will sneer at the fantasy genre on paper and on screen. Nevertheless, for the millions who have read the books (250 million copies of the two works) and flock to see the films ($2.92 billion box office for the original trilogy), a deeper message about living in balance with your planet, rather than in conflict with it is being shared.

They are also ripping good yarns.

We say sneer all you like; our very carefully chosen seats are booked and the 3D glasses polished.

What do you think of Blue & Green Tomorrow? Complete our short reader survey and be in with a chance to win an iPad mini or a Kindle Fire. Survey closes December 21.

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

Environment

How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life

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how climate change affect our lives
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Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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Lifestyle

5 Things You Can Do Yourself to Improve the Value of Your House

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home renovation and improvement
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Whether you want to own it or list it, every once in a while, a house needs a facelift. This will not only improve quality of your life but will capitalize your home’s value significantly, too.

The best way to improve home value by yourself is to upgrade only what is necessary and nothing more. For instance, why would you buy a new bathroom door when a little retouch and a coat of fresh paint will suffice? By taking this approach, you are allowing yourself to make several small improvements instead of venturing just one or bigger ones. Select projects thoughtfully and know when you should stop.

Pitch in for the kitchen

If you really want a return on investment one day, start in the kitchen. By many, the kitchen still represents the heart and the soul of the house, the central hub of a property and it will all on its own add colossal value to your home. Moreover, the kitchen can be a breaking point in selling the house, so you should not hold on to your wallet in this area.

There are many little things you can do to spruce up the overall image of your kitchen. You may paint the kitchen cabinets, replace old door handles, add additional storage space with a sliding wall or a kitchen island if there is enough room for it. In addition, you may open the living space up by taking a kitchen wall down. Possibilities for do-it-yourself are many.

Add an attic or a basement bedroom

Properties are usually valued by two things: land size and the number of bedrooms. The price range between a three to four-bedroom home is two to four hundred thousand. Since you can’t change the size of your land, you can at least increase the number of bedrooms.

If you are prepared to go full-scale, converting the attic or the basement into the bedroom is another especially favored project that will by far boost up your home’s value once you decide to put it on the market. Until you decide to list it you will enjoy in your own extra space for entertainment, living, sleeping, playing, exercising, or whatever you fancy.

Transformation with paint

If your walls have scrapes and stained paint, a vintage color or shabby wallpaper, several cans of paint can make a striking distinction. In order to increase the value of your home, it is recommended to go with neutral colors that will unify the whole house and make the space visually bigger.

transformation with paint

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Poznyakov > https://www.shutterstock.com/g/poznyakov

Bottom line, nothing can transform a home like a cast of fresh new paint. It is the number one way to beef up a property value of any budget. Additionally, painting the house is still one of the easiest, fastest and highest value drivers.

Secure with style

All of your effort and money would be wasted if you can’t protect the investments you made. A good security door costs as little as a few hundred dollars but if it saves you just once from being robbed it instantly pays itself off. People avoid putting security screens on windows because they mostly do not look stylish enough, but there are other options, such as installing shutters. There are so many elegant and cool shutter options that we found at Independent Blinds & Awnings that it’s really hard not to find something for you.

Basic maintenance for a worry-free mind

A clean house is a healthier house for you and your family. By making a clean house your number one on the list for improving, you accomplish a couple of things at once.

First, you stay on track with maintenance issues and, consequently you are able to recognize future problems before they become costly ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and garbage to pile up over time. Thirdly, smudged, dirty windows can have a bad impact on the overall perception of the house. Same as eyes are windows to the soul, windows are for the home. Therefore, you need to wash them properly.

Spice up the landscaping

Big backyard is an all Australian dream and still, it is more often than not the most ignored area of the house. However, landscaping is really important as it frames a property from every corner.

Simple, low budget cosmetic changes in the front yard including installing garden beds, adding plants, pebbles or mulch, and paving or painting the front walls will positively lift the curb appeal as well as the property value. As for the backyard, you may span a lawn to create more open space for you and your family to move freely, cut and reduce unruly trees and vegetation, and fix the fence if needed.

Adding value to your home through a cosmetic or structural renovation is an actual way to quickly enhance your money invested in a property. In the end, you need to make sure that if you will continue to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations will contribute to a good lifestyle and that it will give the impression of a “ready to move in” property once you decide to list it.

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