Oct 152008

This morning I took the 10,000th photo with my Nikon D70. In the old days, that would have been about 278 rolls of film! This is significant, since it means rolling over the 4 digit sequential count in the filenames back to “0001” (for some reason it seemed to skip “0000”). I purchased my D70 second hand, and the exif metadata for my 10,000th photo shows a “picture number” of 31640 – so the previous owner must have taken 21640 photos before selling.

In a striking coincidence, my cycle computer ticked over to 1000 km on the odometer today as I rode to University. It started counting when I got the bike at Christmas, and most of those kilometres have been clocked up simply commuting to and from Uni. Cycling is such a regular mode of transport for me that I even forgot it was National Ride to Work day!

Both of these “milestones” are merely artefacts of our base-10 numbering system. In base-8 (octal) notation all I’ve done is ridden 1750 km and taken 23420 photographs, neither of which sounds particularly special. There are other milestones which should be taken much more seriously.

The Millennium Development Goals, which all 189 member states of the United Nations signed on to in September 2000, include halving poverty by the year 2015. Half of that time frame has already gone; how far are we towards reducing poverty? How many people are even aware of that goal?

Yesterday I went to Parliament House to see the opening of a new art exhibition sponsored by Micah Challenge, called Create to Advocate. I went along mainly because one of the artworks in the exhibition was created by Jo Darby, a friend of mine. I got quite close to Peter Garrett (yay!), and it was pleasant to see politicians supporting this exhibition in our Australian “Home of Parliament”. As was pointed out by a number of the artists who spoke during the opening ceremony, too many people on earth live without an adequate home.

So what needs to be done to halve poverty? Well, we can cancel third world debt and share our money around more equitably as prominent people like Bono suggest. And this is probably necessary. But, as I pointed out in some thoughts a year ago, it is not sufficient. There might be enough money to go around, but there is simply not enough earth. If everyone on earth lived like the average Australian we would require about 6 earths; and even with most of us in poverty, humanity already uses more resources each year than the earth can produce in that time.

And the worst bit is that the problem spirals: the negative effects of climate change are felt most severly by those in poverty. We who are rich need to sacrifice some of our ecological footprint if we are ever to reduce global poverty.

So although I might have have cycled 1000 km this year, I am endeavouring to use my bike instead of the car even more often. I refuse to buy products that are over-packaged, and we are continually expanding our vegetable garden at home. I buy accredited GreenPower (100% wind generated) in an attempt not only to be more ecologically friendly, but also to exercise my consumer power on the market. Keeping environmental issues in the forefront of my mind throughout daily activities is not just good for the environment, it is an act of compassion that can tangibly contribute to eliminating poverty.

So what was the 10,000th photograph that I captured with my D70? Well, it was this image of the little stray kitten we rescued on Monday evening – climbing straight up the safe enclosure we had made her. When faced with this poor helpless needy kitten on (actually, under) our doorstep, our natural response was to sacrifice our own time and energy to help as best we could.

May we focus on the important milestones, and all work together to halve poverty by 2015. And then eliminate it altogether. There is always something that we can do, and even riding your bike can help.

Happy Blog Action Day!

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