Greening the blog

Tue, Sep 7, 2021

Greening the blog

The world is green. You can see how green in the photo of my wee green tent beside the loch deep in the wilds of Affric, surrounded by very green mountains. Nature is green. Nature is wonderful. On a trip into her bower this summer solstice she gave me gifts I could never have imagined. The calm solitude of a midsummer night by the loch, watching a heron being mobbed by a fish. The sound of the splashing bringing the silence deeper into me. The sunset singing colourfully across the sky, burning red to gold to pink to grey as I stood on the shore for an hour and a half, barely moving an inch. Standing, watching and hearing the sun stir the silence with a thousand colours. Thinking on the troubles of our world I realised the destruction going on had stirred nature into action. Nature is fed up with humans. Nature wants her planet back. The thought made me wonder, how green am I?

I recently found out my hosting provider uses 100% renewable energy to power its infrastructure. Quite how green is the construction of the technology, well that’s highly debatable. And once in operation all those slashing blades under the water, all those slashing blades scything through the air, all that habitat purloined for solar panels, all that concrete and tarmac that surrounds and supports wind and solar farms. The vast amounts of diesel required to get boats out to inspect tidal turbines and offshore wind farms. Add to that the adjunct to green, the carbon offset, which involves stealing habitat to plant trees where trees shouldn’t really be, to offset the carbonisation of consumerism. Only humans could turn the meaning of “green” into “less toxic”.

Having the blog on a green machine still leaves an issue for me, which is where the images are stored. So I decided to look into migrating from Flickr and hosting everything on my own, apparently 100% renewable energy powered site. I have no interest in social media. Flickr has always been a grey area for me in terms of “social” as it’s just been a place to keep photos for the blog. Occasionally someone interacts with an image but I don’t actively follow anyone or use the app or browse or anything other than upload and copy the url of a few images to put in a new blog post. Traffic to the flickr site is low although one day a few years ago it went off the scale as one of my photos of the Innaccessible Pinnacle in winter was chosen as a photo of the day, or something. Quite how an out of focus photo of a snowy and rocky mountain made it to flickr stardom is beyond me but there you go. Social media!

The other issue that’s bugging me about flickr is the amount of photos just sitting there doing nothing, not being looked at, just taking up space on hard disks, consuming energy, causing carbons to be emitted for no reason whatsoever, other than they exist. In ye olden times it may have been the case those images might have been found and interacted with but these days the torrent of images is impossible to deal with and anything older than a few seconds seems to disappear into the ether, forever. I try to inspire with images, to show how beautiful the planet is. How beautiful nature, wildlife, stars are but it falls on digital ears deaf with the noise of social media. So I thought it best to remove myself from that noise and host the images in the same place as the blog. So the eBothy is now an island in an ocean of data. Powered by 100% renewable energy and out of the mainstream deluges of social platforms. An artisan shop on an increasingly deserted high street as everyone else races down the information superhighway to Social City. Instead, I’m sitting outside my little shop on the edge of the fields, a quiet space to browse and think, on a nice old chair with a nice mug of coffee, watching the clouds and the crow on the other side of the river, perched on her tree, cawing into the late evening sunshine.

The process of flickr extrication wasn’t trivial and required poking around in the images themselves and the API to work out how they are displayed and where the originals are. Once I’d figured that lot out it was just a case of writing lots of code to first download all my images, then index them and finally go through all the blog posts, replacing flickr links with local image links. All done in ruby code. The site and blog are now “local”. The site is a lot bigger in terms of the amount of space it requires as it now hosts images used by the blog but I’ve kept the largest size to 1024 pixels so the overall digital footprint is vastly reduced and renewable energy is keeping it going. The vast, stagnant lake of flickr pics of much larger sizes will be no more. No-one will know these images exist unless they visit the blog, unless they pop in to my little artisan shop on the edge of the village, across from the fields and I nod a good day to my visitor from my nice chair. There’s nothing to like, nothing to share. Just stuff to look at and read and hopefully inspire.

It feels like filling the moat and raising the drawbridge. It feels like closing the bothy door against the winter winds and rain. While billionaires pollute the skies in search of a few seconds of space, while ancient peat bogs are dug up and concreted over to send rockets into space, dumping tons of carbon and steel into the Pentland Firth in the process. While human reproduction fills the planet with mouths it cannot feed and the heat intensifies all over the world. Was it always like this? Nature has always been exploited and destroyed by humans. Humans have always hacked at the tree of life but now humanity has realised we’re all dangling from the branches while we saw at the trunk, wondering why our world up in the canopy is swaying precariously. Now we know why.

What difference does deleting a load of old fusty photos make? Turning the telly off at the wall at night make? Turning off the light when leaving a room make? Not much if it’s just the odd person here and there but think on the story of the girl on the beach. One day she was walking along the sand and came across a mass of stranded starfish. As far as her eye could see, starfish high and dry on the edge of the surf. She began throwing them back into the sea, one by one. An old man came by and asked her what she was doing.

“I’m saving them. If I don’t throw them back they’ll die”. She replied.

The old man said,

“Can’t you see? There are miles and miles of sand and thousands and thousands of starfish. You can’t make a difference”.

The girl picked up a starfish and threw it into the sea.

“It made a difference to that one”.

In the spirit of John Muir, switch off the streaming, turn off that light, go out in the world and

“do something for wildness and make the mountains glad.”

Rescue your starfish.