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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

What Will Happen If We Lose The Bees To Pesticides? Let's Not Find Out

If we were to lose the bees, as now seems increasingly likely, humanity would collapse after four years. They pollinate about a third of our food. But if the insects were to disappear altogether, then even more than our food supply and quality of life would be affected. Entire ecosystems and inevitably civilization itself would collapse. Even now an enormous proportion of world insect species are endangered. Without them half of all birds would disappear and our world would become unrecognizable, a world we would not want to inhabit.

We have visited the Monarch butterfly sanctuary in Michoacan, Mexico, where the butterflies arrive after a 3000-mile journey from Canada through the United States in the longest insect migration on earth. To see the butterflies engaged in their aerial acrobatic flights is one of the world’s great spectacles. Everyone in North America should be concerned that the population of this unique iconic species has dropped by 80 percent in the last generation due to habitat destruction – and to genetically engineered crops which have been modified to resist Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide which destroys the Monarch species’ main food supply.

Spellbound by the numbers and huddled masses of the Monarchs we beheld in the oyamel forests over 16 years ago, we left the refuge very slowly. Local rangers made sure no-one drove more than five miles an hour so that not a single monarch would be hurt or hit by our vehicle. Yet all the while, in the United States our agricultural policies are committing mass murder of one of nature’s most exquisite species .

But it is not just the Monarch Butterfly that is threatened. Many bee species and nearly half of all insects have seen their numbers drop worldwide. As climate change exacerbates the destruction of their habitat, insects and fauna of all kinds face a very uncertain future. The United States still permits the use of 72 pesticides that are outright banned or will soon be in Europe, Brazil, and even China. More than 300 million pounds of pesticides banned in other countries are used in this country annually, in a military-type assault on agricultural lands. The banning of these pesticides will be largely up to the very industries that use them, but the people need to make their voices known. Until these chemicals are outlawed, we are committing ecocide on our own lands.

These chemical can also kill human beings, of course. The glyphosate-based weedkiller in Roundup has finally been brought to justice in the first cancer trial exposing that pesticide’s effect. After using the Monsanto insecticide, a farmer named DeWayne Johnson got non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a deadly form of cancer. Now Monsanto will have to pay $289 million in damages to Johnson. The only hitch is that he will probably not survive much longer.

Monsanto has allegedly concealed the facts about Roundup ever since its introduction on the market in 1974. Since then over 1.6 billion kilograms of glyphosate have been distributed over the American food supply – and over the past 20 years, the average amount of glyphosate assimilated into humans has increased by 1000 percent. The Johnson lawsuit only begins to reflect the damage done to the environment and people, with 8000 additional plaintiffs awaiting trial.

Anyone who believes they can escape the ill effects of pesticides should realize that breakfast cereals also contain glyphosate – and the average American consumes 10 pounds of cereal every year. The Lucky Charms leprechaun and that jolly Quaker fellow on the oatmeal box should be replaced with a death’s head. Too little and too late, the Environmental Protection Agency is reconsidering the impact of glyphosate and Roundup on human health and the environment, including the Monarch butterfly habitats. But the World Health Organization has determined already that glyphosphate is a deadly carcinogen.

Farmers have been using glyphosphate on crops at the time of harvest, incuding peas, carrots, soy products, sweet potatoes, corn, almonds, quinoa, and others. The impact on the body’s biochemistry, especially as it pertains to inflammation and the gut is substantial. We are all being affected.

Critically endangered species are being harmed by pesticides and herbicides daily, as is our vulnerable topsoil. Retailers such as Home Depot need to be persuaded to stop supplying Roundup before our food system crashes. In this time of extreme climate change, the last thing we need is to lose the insects, those very beings we have taken granted for millennia.

In Europe, regulators have taken a far tougher position on pesticides. France has been careful to ban five neonicotinoid chemicals from agricultural use because they are known to wreak havoc on pollinating bees. Europe’s top court ruled that the chemicals posed a “serious risk to human or animal health or to the environment.”

The United Nations has issued an alert that half of pollinators, bees and butterflies included, are at immediate risk of disappearing forever. Worsening floods, drought, and serious climate disruption are occurring already. If we don’t reverse course, we will have poisoned the very foundation of this country, its soil. Without the soil there can be no civilization. In the corn belt, America has already lost half of its topsoil. By 2050, as much as 75 percent of the world will be suffering from drought.

Global famine is just around the corner if we don’t save the insects by adopting sustainable farming methods. The industrial use of pesticides is eliminating the insects we depend on and will eventually undermine the viability of our species. The insects, those tiny creatures that uphold the world, have warned us.

How To Postpone The End Of The World

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO -- Amazonian elders are telling us what the dominant society desperately needs to hear: The world is not merchandise. The planet is not a resource. The “thing-making machine” turning out more and more merchandise is killing us .

Over a decade ago, the Yanomami tribal elder Davi Kopenawa told us inThe Falling Skythat money -- “the sad leaves” to which we are so beholden -- will not save us. Amazonian elder Ailton Krenak, alludes to Kopenawa in Ideas to Postpone the End of the World, his much humbler book of only 69 pages, a bracing exegesis that says we either produce the conditions to keep ourselves alive or we perish. The ‘necropolitics’ that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is pushing upon the indigenous peoples and Brazil as a whole, and which the world is hellbent on following, is a “ death sentence" for humanity.

In the American southwest, elders shared the same message over a quarter of a century ago . We have just experienced the largest firestorm ever in New Mexico. Kopenawa warned that whatever is happening to his people will happen to us. Native peoples were fed the story, mostly from missionaries, that humanity “stood apart from the great big organism of Earth.” But the native peoples all over the world believe the world is sacred and their cosmology is one of honoring existence, from the humblest being to the most imposing. Now is the time to “abandon our anthropocentrism” as Ailton urges or it will be the death of untold millions.

Here in New Mexico, where some of the indigenous peoples passed through on the way to South America millennia ago, we have seen ominous changes. They are happening. They are not mystical confabulations. We have experienced winds such as we have never seen. The tornadoes will get worse. The soil is drying up and there are reasons to believe that the dustbowl will return.The inability to grow food will haunt us here in America and even in Europe -- not just in Sudan, Afghanistan or India.

Western civilization has forgotten humanity’s original instruction, which was to honor the world. Colonialism’s premise that there was an “ enlightened humanity that had to go in search of the benighted humanity and bring those savages into their incredible light” is coming back to haunt us. Native elders in New Mexico told me over a generation ago that the technological society will go to them for answers, to discover how to reverse the disasters we have unleashed upon the earth. But by that time it will be too late.

The small minority of the ruling elite, those who are “ high on progress” have created a false narrative that is costing the life force of every insect, and whale, every man, woman and child on earth.We are letting the world be devoured by mining operations, soon to be pursued even under the sea. How can the world and its geological and hydrological cycles remain stable? Our arrogance is madness.

I have been told by Hopi elders in Arizona that we are going through purification, but it is really purgatory. Fields and forests have been converted into favelas and outlying slums. The native people who hold the world's biodiversity in their care have been literally flung into the great big blender of humanity.”

Much of the blame, says Krenak, is owed to corporations that he maintain are not sustainable, “no matter what they say.” He adds, "Corporate sustainability managers have become the sacerdotes of a new planetary order, self-righteously preaching something their employers, by their very nature, can’t practice.”

We no longer speak to the mountains as our ancestors did. We are going to end up living in totally synthetic environments and the children will quite simply no longer be children. We have not even listened to one of the key messengers of our own culture, Greta Thunberg, who said, "I want you to panic." The native people fleeing forest fires are panicking. Abuse of the world's environment is passed off as reason, but it is treason. We either listen to those who have been on the ground for 20,000 years and change direction or our civilization will perish by fire and flood.

Krenak’s people were stuffed into a reserve, a container. Water now must be delivered in trucks when it was all free. Now the gold hoarders have arrived and have unleashed hell on earth. Those who trade gold have abetted this nightmare.. They have uprooted life and sapped the “ meaning of experience from life.” It is time to give the four percent of the world that are indigenous people their basic Rights, because they hold the future of the planet in their hands. If the technological society does not change its ways, it will simply not survive. The logging companies, miners, and gold prospectors are the terrors of civilization.

We need to listen instead to the native people’s story. “ If we can make time for that, then we’ll be forever putting off the world’s demise.” The “poetics of existence," meaning the subjective realm of dreams and visions offered by prophetic voices had that kind of understanding, but they were always marginalized. Now our entire civilization needs to come to terms with a different perspective. The economists do not have the answers to our existential dilemma. In this time of biological havoc, only the native peoples have the wisdom of millennia to help navigate life on this fragile planet. They do not take part in subjugation, they are not responsible for the toxic mud from a burst tailings dam that completely overwhelmed Krenak’s world. Now that sludge of the extractive industries is about to overwhelm our world. The first peoples were never savages. Vanity, arrogance, and abject greed are killing the Earth.

The dominant society is the savage.



Our world has transformed into a factory for consuming innocence, and it is equipped and fine tuned to ensure that none of it remains anywhere on the face of the earth. Ailton Krenak

Our Carnivorous Excesses Are Rapidly Consuming Planet Earth

In the West the cowboy way of life has ruled since the first pioneers and their covered wagons.

After a generation living out here, I can vouch that the earth and snow pack have changed. It feels as if everything is geared to the cow, setting up the kind of environment that dissolved the Anasazi people a thousand years ago. Our current drought is the worst in 1200 years. One reason is that the average American eats more meat than anyone on earth – nearly 500 pounds of meat a year -- followed by the Australians. The pollutants and gases discharged into the atmosphere by meat production are killing the planet. If we changed the way we eat worldwide, the forests of the world might have a chance.

Everything seems to bow to cows out West, from fences and water waste to alfalfa fields that could be used for far more efficient food, all for cattle. The condition in which cows and livestock are raised in the factory farms is a horror story. Predators are killed in the thousands in the name of saving cows, although domestic dogs do far more damage to heifers than coyotes or wolves. When the dustbowl erupts again in the Midwest, and there are signs that it is, people will remember this warning.

America has been built on beef and pork since the beginning as a measure of good health and social standing. After World War II, the hamburger craze exploded. Nearly half of all meat consumed after 1990 was hamburgers. We see the consequences in the obesity rate. Already in the late seventies we were warned of the cholesterol, cancer, diabetes and coronary complications of eating a diet rich in red meat . Today we have became a country of chicken eaters primarily because it has less fat, but the bird flu affecting tens of millions of chickens is a clear sign that we are treating domestic animals with untold cruelty and abhorrent living conditions. Humans and Big Ag animals account for 96 percent of the mammalian biomass on earth. Only four percent is wildlife. The earth will simply not be able to feed 10 billion carnivores. We will cannibalize ourselves long before that.

Forty percent of the world’s land area has been degraded since America’s inception. The flaying of the old growth forests is a crime for which we cannot atone. Much of the deforestation in the Amazon is due to America’s and the world’s meat consumption. The Amazon is close to dieback, the point at which the great green miracle with the greatest biodiversity on earth, will become savannah. We are insane. Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has given free rein to illegal logging and miners to promote cattle ranching and other exploitive activities. How much of this devastation was abetted by our banks such as JP Morgan-Chase and the average American consumer? Listen to the scientists who protested at Chase Bank in LA, one of them gluing his hand to the bank’s window, exclaiming,” We will lose everything.”

Meat consumption, with its methane producing by-product, is also melting the Arctic and Antartica. We are losing 1,2 trillion tons of ice every year. The cooling system of the planet is collapsing. We have seen it up close. It is a horror story.. If those who don’t believe in climate change take charge again in the midterms and 2024, we may well lose the planet…for good.

Only a few years ago, climate change felt like science fiction. Those who still disbelieve the scientific and ecological realities are sacrificing their children’s future. The economic fallacy of endless growth is costing us the lifeline to existence. Perpetual growth on a finite planet is a fallacy and going to the moon, Mars, or Enceladus will not solve our dilemma. We have precisely this decade to turn things around or our civilization politically, financially and ecologically may not make it to 2030, let alone 2050.

Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson have been bearing witness to the interaction between tribal people and wildlife in Africa for over a generation.They have published four books on Africa including the latest with their son Lysander,Lords of the Earth -The Entwined Destiny of Wildlife and Humanity. Their most recent film isWalking Thunder- Ode to the African Elephant.

Why Deep Sea Mining Threatens An End To Our Oceans -- And Us

The privilege of beholding the corals of Belize, the second largest reef system on earth, is a complete marvel that can never be taken for granted. The school of nine squid in perfect alignment that stared at us like transparent sentinels ,the green barracuda that floated as if in suspended animation, looking for prey. Those moments of utter awe were soul transformative not only for a child, but also for parents nurturing a young human to the ultimate reason to exist on this earth, to care for life.

Over the next few years, a battle was waged between environmentalists and those who saw dollars in the form of oil extraction in the reef. Thankfully on December 1, 2015, right after the Cop21 Paris Climate Accord, Belize made the tremendous decision to ban drilling outright -- and is working hard to restore coral. The same cannot be said for many other fragile parts of the world particularly the warming Arctic, where Russia has a near stranglehold of more than half the Arctic Ocean.

Sea weed from the Great Sargassum Atlantic Belt has started to wreak havoc on many of the beaches of the Caribbean, including Florida, over the last decade, often to the great annoyance of visitors. Christopher Columbus observed them over 500 years ago, Vast mats of these brown macroalgae growths, sometimes six feet tall, first starting polluting its waters in 2011 and have not only affected tourists but also turtles who could not lay their eggs in the sand. Stripping oxygen from the water and killing fish, these blooms of seaweed have been exacerbated by nitrogen pollution from industrial runoff from as far away as the Amazon, and even dust particles that contain phosphorus, iron, and nitrogen from the Sahara that have helped fertilize plankton growth.

While humanity has been pouring pollutants and plastic into the overheated oceans for decades, the newest industrial craze of undersea mining is the last human activity the oceans need if they are going to survive.

Is there really such as thing as sustainable seabed mining? The Deep Sea Mining Summit that just occurred in London may not question the manic rush for deep sea gold mining and other such operations. Under discussion is not the present health of the oceans, or their future .There will be assurances and promises and arguments that the technicians have a plan to make doubly sure little will be harmed. Those assurances have never worked. We are at an inflection point in time, where our civilization either does an about face in terms of pollution and the subjugation of the oceans -- or they die. By 2060, the fisheries of the world will have collapsed. It is perhaps no coincidence that England, the very country that started the Industrial Revolution, hosted The Deep Sea Mining Summit.

Scientists who have seen what has happened to the Barrier Reef, are crying. The bleaching events there have been devastating. The Chinese fishing fleets, of which there are 400 vessels, have been sent to the waters near the Galapagos and have pillaged the seas near the mythic islands. A true Darwinian nightmare.The list of horrors we have unleashed on the oceans is endless. Witness the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Witness Fukushima and what radioactive elements have done to sea life in the Pacific .

As of 2021 there had been no commercial deep sea mining. But deep sea extraction of polymetallic nodules is considered by some to be the salvation of the electric car industry and other industries that run civilization. Some proclaim these resources could mitigate global warming . The chief executive of Florida’s Ocean Minerals says,” We desperately need substantial amounts of manganese, nickel, cobalt, and copper to build electric cars and power plants.” Is mining the ocean floor and potentially ravaging it the answer to our overheated planet? Helen Scales ,a marine biologist, sees the mining of the oceans as devastating : “ Mining means destruction and in this case it means the destruction of an ecosystem about which we know pathetically little.”

The HMS Challenger in 1872 was the first to discover these metal nodules in its round the world voyage.The nodules form around an object like a rock at the rate of one centimeter every million years. One zone of salvation or destruction -- however one looks at the argument -- is located between Mexico and Hawaii. Known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, it is four million square kilometers of seabed that will be explored, extracted, and very possibly exploited beyond recognition . At stake are six time more cobalt and three times more nickel than found anywhere on land. The question is what will be left of the remarkable sea floor and its life forms, most of which we know so very little about.

Twenty contracts have already been awarded to the International Seabed Authority by the UN, which is quite ironic considering the UN is supposed to be helping humanity avoid conflict . Some vessels will be able to collect 400 tons of nodules per hour, 100,000 tons in two weeks. Sediment plumes will disrupt and pollute ecosystems many miles away. Acidification of the sea bed from toxic metals will be largely unavoidable. Most pernicious of all, the biological pump which draws carbon from the atmosphere will also be adversely affected.

Marine biologists are sounding the alarm and with very good reason.Species of all kinds from sponges, to corals and worms and tiny creatures called tartigrades will be inevitably sacrificed, though many are new to science. Scales warns in her book The Brilliant Abyss that many creatures will quite simply be obliterated and lost forever before they are even known to science. The scale of the operations and size of the extractive machines used may well overwhelm near pristine environments for all time.

Pippa Howard, director at Fauna & Flora International warns, “The conclusions we have come to after extensive study could hardly be more troubling. From methane release to disruption of the ocean’s life-support systems and the destruction of unstudied ecosystems, the risks of deep sea mining are numerous and potentially disastrous.”

The oceans have already been stressed beyond recognition and denuded of so many species. The immune system of Earth's oceans is on life support . By 2100, half of all marine species may disappear. Some of the priceless eco-systems like the Barrier Reef are scarcely holding on to dear life. We may well be beyond our depths with respect to deep sea mining. We need an international moratorium now while we still have the oceans beating the original life pulse of the world.

The great prophetic writer Loren Eiseley divined truths unmatched in our time, revelations that science is only coming to understand very late in the game. “ Can it be, one inevitably wonders, that man is so linked to a prehensile, grasping hand giving him power over his environment- that he is unable to comprehend the intellectual life of a highly endowed creature from another domain such as the sea? “ On the eve of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China, humanity has to make the right decisions. This is the last decade in which we can come to our senses. The plundering of the seas, cannot be allowed to match what we have done to the land. Or we will drown.

We Must Stop Killing Wildlife Before No Animals Are Left

Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one for whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself. --James Anthony Froude, Oceana,1866

On an entirely manmade earth there can no room for man either. All that will be left of us is robots. -- Romain Gary, The Roots of Heaven 1956

The latest act of debauchery and murder happened in Botswana several days ago, where one of the last great tuskers on earth was killed for its eight foot long tusks as a trophy. This elephant bull, more than 50 years old with magnificently huge teeth that grazed the ground when it walked, will now lifelessly stare into the void -- and into the soul of the monster in some men, as an inert mantel object somewhere in South Africa or perhaps Texas. For $50,000 one of the titans of the world is no more.

Botswana used to have a conservation ethos worth admiring under its former president Seretse Khama.'The pressure on the world’s natural resources is immense and not sustainable without change,” Seretse Khama once said. “The short-term approach that leaves nothing for the future. We will not let this happen here.”

Well it is happening -- and next door the oil group ReconAfrica from Canada has undertaken tests to drill right next to the greatest refuge left on earth for the African elephant, the miraculous Okavango Delta in Botswana. This is sheer madness. And now under the new president of Botswana, Africa’s greatest treasure, the elephant, is being yearly sacrificed in the hundreds. Over the last decade 130,000 were destroyed for their ivory. Now 300 elephants will be sacrificed annually to appease the bloodlust of killers. It is not what the late Julius Nyerere of Tanzania had in mind when he vowed in that country’s constitution to protect the natural splendors that make his country unique on earth.

Then why build the Uganda-Tanzania pipeline? Why invade the peat bogs in the northern Congo for oil? Africa will be lost if it is turned into the world’s last repository for the industrial north, with its fauna and indigenous peoples sacrificed for short-term gain. Even India , now undergoing a monstrous heat wave due to climate change, had a hero and tiger champion, in Jim Corbett who said,” A country’s fauna is a sacred trust and I appeal to you not to betray your trust.”

All over the world trophy hunters continue to ransack the unique fauna of the world, many of them endangered species. In the United States, 90 percent of the trophy hunters are believed to be Republicans. A bill introduced in 2019 by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) to amend the Endangered Species Act, along with seven fellow Democrats and one Republican, would have gone a long way to prohibit the slaughter of the great tusker in Botswana that was just destroyed.

So far that bill, HR 4804, has not passed. Who is holding back this urgent piece of legislation? Special interests, including those who willfully continue to persecute innocent species for vainglory, and those in the oil and tobacco industries who have donated to major conservation organizations to influence them.

If there is corruption among top conservation groups, how can we hold onto the wildlife? Ranchers who senselessly trap and kill wolves by the hundreds in Montana and Idaho, and the trophy seekers who go to Africa and lure lions to blow their brains out are of the same ilk. In a time when the earth has already lost 70 percent of its wild animal population, America must act. A recent report showed that 700,000 animal trophies were brought into this country between 2016 and 2020.

We are acting as if we didn’t like life, as if life were expendable. But it is not just the United States that is seeking to stop the maddening pace of the cruelty we have forced on the non human world. Eduardo Goncalves has led the charge in his Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting in the UK which will soon be voted on in Parliament. Ninety percent of the UK public is against trophy hunting and if the Goncalves bill passes it will have repercussions throughout the world. The murder of the innocent wildlife cannot be tolerated anymore. Africans never killed big game for fun. Native Americans didn’t destroy the great buffalo herds for fun.

There have been arguments justifying animal trophies from trophy-hunting groups throughout the world, none more financially endowed than the ones here in America. But the favors bestowed by the oil and tobacco industries on trophy-hunting groups beg the question, how much longer do we accept the lie that trophy hunting benefits the protection of species? Native people derive almost nothing from the billion-dollar trophy industry, which is all about revenue. As Rene Ebersole of Nat Geo writes,” It appears that the United States is the only country in the world where wild animals are killed by the tens of thousands strictly for prizes and entertainment.”

In a time when an enormous number of children are depressed about the future, this continued onslaught on the innocent is something the young among our own species can no longer countenance .

Passing HR 4804 in Congress and safeguarding all life for future generations should be something not to ponder but to act on immediately . It is why the Biden administration with bipartisan support is planning the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which, if passed, would provide $1.4 billion to protect our most endangered species. We ignored the Cop21 Paris Climate Agreement almost completely -- and now on the eve of the Kunming Biological Diversity Conference in China later this year, humanity needs to act. This is the final decade in which we can reverse the apocalyptic scale of biological degradation all over the world.

With all eyes on Ukraine, we nevertheless have been warned: The pandemic now upon is entirely due to how we have treated the animals and the forests of the world, the original true wealth of this planet. We have to stop killing ourselves and the planet’s innocent inhabitants before Earth becomes another Mars. Passage of HR 4804 in tandem with the UK bill to ban trophy imports would allow the wildlife of the world to live on this blessed planet.

Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson have been bearing witness to the interaction between tribal people and wildlife in Africa for over a generation.They have published four books on Africa including the latest with their son Lysander,Lords of the Earth -The Entwined Destiny of Wildlife and Humanity. Their most recent film isWalking Thunder- Ode to the African Elephant.