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Biodiversity / Biodevastation

Stories about Biodiversity and Biodevastation.

How Climate Change and Failed Agricultural Policies Have Contributed to Conflict in Syria

By: 
Megan Perry

The government had been pursuing a policy of agricultural intensification and economic liberalisation based on the expansion of irrigated crops for export, such as wheat and cotton that were reliant on chemical fertilisers. The chemical inputs and monoculture cropping contributed to the degradation of Syria’s soils, while poor irrigation infrastructure led to salinisation, particularly in areas such as the Euphrates. Reliance on non-renewable resources such as chemical fertiliser and diesel makes agriculture vulnerable to price fluctuations on the global market. 

Organic Farmers Are Not Anti-Science, but Genetic Engineers Often Are

By: 
Elizabeth Henderson

Does power determine knowledge? Proponents of GMOs like to wrap themselves in the mantle of 'science,' but are we really being shown the way that powerful economic interests determine what is science? Could it be that independent science challenging GMOs is actually more scientific than the establishment is willing to recognize? A thought-provoking article.

Nuclear Radiation, Kierkegaard, and the Philosophy of Denial

By: 
Chris Busby

It used to be, and indeed children are still taught in schools, that the advances that have been made in the last five hundred years (antibiotics, electricity, computers etc) resulted from the application of Science and its overthrow of dogmatic belief.

All ideas are put to the question in the auto da fe of experiment: Galileo’s observations versus the Inquistion’s biblical earth-centric world view and so forth. But over the same period, the power of belief (in Jesus, Marxism, Allah, perhaps ‘Economics’) has continued to flourish alongside the supposedly observation- based, empirical philosophy that we call Science.

Belief is strictly about what we cannot know but I am not going down the Dawkins black hole on this one since there are certainly some very odd things that science cannot explain. But I want to apply the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard’s approach to something that Science can explain and has: the health effects of ionising radiation.

Canadian Capitalism and the Fort McMurray Wildfire

By: 
Roger Jordan

Millions of people across Canada and around the world have been moved by the images of destruction and harrowing tales of escape that have emerged from Fort McMurray, Alberta, over the past week. On short notice and with next to no forewarning, some 90,000 residents were evacuated May 3, as a huge wildfire began to consume large parts of the city that is the hub for Canada’s massive oil tar-sands industry.

As with other environmental disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the extensive damage wrought by the wildfire is the direct product of the capitalist system’s rapacious pursuit of profit. The lives of tens of thousands of workers and their families have been turned upside down by a calamity that at the very least could have been mitigated, if not entirely prevented.

Lakota Lead the Fight Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

By: 
Jason Coppola

The Bakken Oil Field in North Dakota has symbolically acted as a forward operating base for the latest industrial invasion of Indian Treaty Lands, bringing with it corruption, pollution and violence, not unlike the time when gold was discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota during the 1800s.

Biomass Industry Reveals Plans to Turn US into European Resource Colony

By: 
Josh Schlossberg

Think the days of Europe exploiting the U.S. as a resource colony are behind us? Welcome back to the 18th century.

A July Biomass Magazine and Pellet Mill Magazine webinar series, “Satisfying Europe’s Growing Appetite for American Wood Pellets,” lays out the biomass industry’s disturbing plans to convert North American forests into wood pellets to fuel European biomass incinerators—further depleting U.S. forests, soils, and watersheds, while hastening runaway climate change.

Tim Portz of BBI International hosted the industry webinar, joined by guest speakers Seth Ginther of the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association, and Dave Tenny of the National Alliance of Forest Owners, a U.S.-based timber industry front group.

In 2012, the European Union (E.U.) burned 4.36 million metric tons of wood pellets for electricity, according to U.S. Industrial Pellet’s Seth Ginther. The U.K.’s portion was 30%, the Netherlands at 24%, Belgium at 16%, Denmark at 9%, and the rest shared by Sweden, Italy, Poland and a few other nations.

A Rising Tide

By: 
Stan Cox and Paul Cox

“When I started this job, people kept asking me, ‘Why do we have so much flooding now?’ and I said, ‘Well, there’s just one problem: The whole city’s four feet too low—that’s all!’” But as Miami Beach city engineer Bruce Mowry, the person responsible for maintaining and improving the island’s public infrastructure, steered his car through the Flamingo Park neighborhood this past January, his typically cheery mood dimmed. “You know, I drive around a lot, looking at all these streets and trees and homes and thinking about what’s coming,” Mowry said. “If we get the four feet of rise that’s predicted, all of this area will be two-and-a-half feet underwater.”

“This whole beautiful landscape’s going to change,” he said.

Wildlife advocates must address wildfire misinformation

By: 
George Wuerthner

Conservationists, if they wish to succeed in legislating more wilderness and parks in the West, must actively counter the misinformation and flawed logic surrounding forest health, thinning and wildfires. It may seem counter-intuitive, but fighting the fear of fire is, often, the best way to promote new wilderness/park designation.

There is an on-going effort by some in Congress to attach riders to exempt thinning proposals from environmental analysis which will threaten existing proposed wilderness with new logging. Again these efforts are based on faulty understanding of forest ecology and wildfire behavior.

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