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Biodiversity / Biodevastation
Stories about Biodiversity and Biodevastation.
The ecosystem is the quintessential essence of life on our planet, and this crucial life system is showing signs of breaking down. It is likely a more pressing problem than climate change. Time will tell but time is short.
The ecosystem consists of all living organisms that interact with nonliving components like air, water, and soil contained within the biosphere, which extends from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the mountains. Although unannounced by authorities or professional orgs, it is already becoming evident that the ecosystem is breaking down. Alas, it’s our only ecosystem.
How intertwined are governments and big conservation NGOs? And to what extent do they view fundamental human rights - particularly for powerless minorities - through a lens of self-interest tinted by self-delusion? And what happens when they're challenged?
Survival International is closer to some answers after engaging with a process devised by the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) (a grouping of the world's richer, Western-facing countries). Survival submitted evidence that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has colluded with the Cameroonian government in evicting Baka "Pygmies" from their homelands, and in keeping them out.
The climate crisis is the ultimate symptom of the extractivist dynamic, and is an entirely new species of crisis that requires our movements to enact an entirely different logic — including entirely different values, morals, assumptions and strategies — if we are to confront it. Confronting climate change means confronting the system and the culture that has caused it, and providing a scalable alternative. More than merely constructing a new politics to confront the “issue” of climate change, the task of the left in the Capitalocene is to cultivate new processes for engagement in politics. The culture of organizing itself becomes key.
The perspective of social ecology allows us to see that fossil fuels have long been central to the capitalist mythos of perpetual growth. They have driven ever-increasing concentrations of capital in many economic sectors, and advanced both the regimentation and increasing precarity of human labor worldwide. In Fossil Capital, Andreas Malm explains in detail how early British industrialists opted to switch from abundant water power to coal-fired steam engines to run their mills, despite increased costs and uncertain reliability. The ability to control labor was central to their decision, as the urban poor proved to be vastly more amenable to factory discipline than the more independent-minded rural dwellers who lived along Britain’s rapidly flowing rivers. A century later, massive new oil discoveries in the Middle East and elsewhere would drive previously unfathomable increases in the productivity of human labor and breathe new life into the capitalist myth of unlimited economic expansion.
An anthropogenic mass extinction is underway that will affect all life on the planet and humans will struggle to survive the phenomenon. So claims Dr Rosemary Mason in a paper (2015) in the Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry. Loss of biodiversity is the most urgent of the environmental problems because this type of diversity is critical to ecosystem services and human health. Mason argues that the modern chemical-intensive industrialised system of food and agriculture is the main culprit.
Is the supposed safety advantage of GMO crops over conventional chemical pesticides a mirage?
According to biotech lore, the Bt pesticides introduced into many GMO food crops are natural proteins whose toxic activity extends only to narrow groups of insect species. Therefore, says the industry, these pesticides can all be safely eaten, e.g. by humans.
Sixth-extinction estimates are “biased towards a very small portion of biodiversity”. When it comes to invertebrates – the slugs, crabs, worms, snails, spiders, octopuses and, above all, insects that make up the bulk of the world’s animal species – we are guessing.
Dr James Hansen is rightly admired for his scientific and political work drawing attention to climate change. His advocacy of nuclear power ‒ and in particular novel Generation IV nuclear concepts ‒ deserves serious scrutiny.
In a nutshell, Dr Hansen (among others) claims that some Generation IV reactors are a triple threat: they can convert weapons-usable (fissile) material and long-lived nuclear waste into low-carbon electricity. Let's take the weapons and waste issues in turn.
The EPA was only four years old when glyphosate entered the market in 1974, and the agency was faced with a large collection of chemicals to review. At the time, protocols for toxicology testing were relatively fluid, and it took the EPA until 1986 to finalize its guidelines. Yet the EPA’s analysis of glyphosate still relies heavily on the initial data.