Category Archives: Biodiversity

The Good, Bad and the Ugly of Roughshod Chemistry

“When we look at what is truly sustainable, the only real model that has worked over long periods of time is the natural world.”
— Biomimicry Institute founder, Janine Benyus

A selection of the thousands of native potato varieties that grow in Peru.

[Photo: A selection of the thousands of native potato varieties that grow in Peru. Photograph: The International Potato Centre]

It’s paramount to talk about all the untested, all the never-experimented-on synergistic affects of all those “compounds/ingredients/chemicals” the chemical industry has forced upon the public and nature through “better living/eating/drinking through chemistry.”

I was just talking with a 78-year-old woman whose father’s side of the family (56) all were murdered in Germany’s death camps. She grew up in Chile, and alas, ended up Oregon. She is working on stopping the aerial spraying of 2-4-D and other weedicides onto the clear-cuts.

She remarked at how insane the world is with so much lack of common sense and connecting of the dots when it comes to our factory/industrial food systems. She held up a potato:

How did it ever become normal to use poisons on our food? Poisons that have a direct vector not just to your gut and mine. But to the developing guts and brains of fetuses?

How to Remove Pesticides From Your Produce - CNM College of Naturopathic Medicine

Oh, that potato! Originally from Peru, the potato has crossed oceans and ended up in every part of the globe.

Only two things in this world are too serious to be jested on, potatoes and matrimony.
—Irish saying.

Now, they are genetically engineered. And they are part of the monoculture that triggered the Great Famine, also called the Irish Potato Famine. Then, the Irish used a single breed of potato, the Irish Lumper, which was vulnerable to fungus that the breed had no resistance to. However, the Peruvians grow many hundreds of varieties. That diversity of breed/varieties is what keeps a single fungus or other pests from decimating a food stock.

The problems with “conventional” potatoes are tied to the fact the soil is so eroded and decimated in industrial growing models that there is no natural fungi and bacteria, so ungodly amounts of chemical fertilizers have to be applied each season, more and more each season, that is. Again, in the USA, only several varieties of potatoes are grown.

But it’s the pesticides, man! Leave my spuds alone.

The the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program determined 35 different pesticides have been found on “conventionally-grown” (nonorganic) potatoes.

As is true of many of the plastic compounds, these pesticides have some lethal side effects:
– 6 are known or probably carcinogens
– 12 are suspected hormone disruptors
– 7 are neurotoxins
– 6 are developmental or reproductive toxins

One herbicide, chlorpropham,  is used to stop the growth of weeds and to inhibit potatoes sprouting; it’s found on up to 80 percent of all “conventionally-grown” potatoes.

According to the Extension Toxicology Network, this poison is toxic to honey bees. In labs, tests bare out the effects of chronic exposure to the herbicide: animals show “retarded growth, increased liver, kidney and spleen weights, congestion of the spleen, and death.”

Impacts of Pesticides on Honey Bees | IntechOpen

It’s systems thinking that is lacking in the full portrait of industrial farming and how agribusiness thinks and works,  yet holistic (systems thinking) approaches are utilized and integrated into true objective research (mostly by environmental safety and advocating groups) on the benefits, harms, and unintended consequences of this chemicalized world — sometimes we can only work on one chemical at a time, which takes many human lifetimes to drill down into to determine the cradle to cradle impacts of those compounds, the chemicals. The alternative to this entire agribusiness industrial model is actually to go back to the start of good farming. Agroecology is the way to go, according to many groups I have been a part of and interviewed as a journalist. This is the only way to make it through the heating planet, and all the issues tied to soil degradation and productivity falling, droughts, and, well, ocean inundation and changed water cycles throughout the globe. Agroecology, a harmonious system of saving the planet and feeding the people with no genetically engineered “foods” and vegetables and fruits sprayed with toxins. This continues what Benyus states above and ramified here:

Biomimicry offers an empathetic, interconnected understanding of how life works and ultimately where we fit in. It is a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies used by species alive today. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies — new ways of living — that solve our greatest design challenges sustainably and in solidarity with all life on earth. We can use biomimicry to not only learn from nature’s wisdom, but also heal ourselves — and this planet — in the process. — Benyus.

Are you eating frankenfoods?

All those poisons, then, are integrated into the spud, since, as a root vegetable, potatoes absorb all of the pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides sprayed above the ground which eventually spread into the soil.

There are many insider testimonies from potato farmers — Jeff Moyer, CEO at the Rodale Institute and former chair of the National Organic Standards Board, says:

I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.

The potato is a great example of an industrial system gone crazy. Terms like Frankenfoods, fishy tomatoes and assassin seeds are not benign. Imagine, the now defunct DNA Plant Technology of Oakland, California developed the gene therapy (sic) of inserting a fish gene into a tomato. It was the genes that helps a flounder survive in frigid waters. This “anti-freeze” fish gene was spliced into tomato cells to enhance the plant’s resistance to cold.

Monsanto developed the gene technology to create suicide seeds, of all wonderfully bad things: They call it Genetic use restriction technology (GURT), but it’s more commonly referred to as terminator technology or suicide seeds. This keeps farmers from saving seeds from Monsanto crop, as the genetic alterations either activate or deactivate) some genes only in response to certain stimuli. That second generation of seeds is infertile.

That Roundup (Monsanto) is what is sprayed all over our Oregon forests when clear cuts raze stands of trees – to keep opportunistic and invasive brush and other tree species, from overtaking the sawed over hills and valleys.

Bayer, the German company that manufactured Zyklon-B, will merge with Monsanto, the US company that

The history and politics are not lost on people like my Chilean friend — Dow Chemical and Monsanto were the two largest producers of Agent Orange, a fifty-fifty mix of the n-butyl esters 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T).

I’ve worked with military veterans exposed to Agent Orange, and worked with offspring of American veterans who were exposed.

Birth Defects Associated with Female Vietnam Veterans

  • Achondroplasia.
  • Cleft lip and cleft palate.
  • Congenital heart disease.
  • Congenital talipes equinovarus (clubfoot)
  • Esophageal and intestinal atresia.
  • Hallerman-Streiff syndrome.
  • Hip dysplasia.
  • Hirschsprung’s disease (congenital megacolon)

I’ve been to Vietnam and interviewed people working on the long-term and multi-generational effects of all of that defoliant sprayed on citizens of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia.

I reviewed a recent documentary, The People vs. Agent Orange“Eternal Impunity of Capitalism’s Crimes”

Dr. James Clary was with the Air Force in Vietnam, which ran the program. He was ordered to dump the computer and erase all memory. Instead, he printed out a stack of documents two feet high – missions, sorties, coordinates, dates, gallons dropped throughout all of Southeast Asia and Laos.

“We had the information coming from Dow that there were real problems for people associated with this chemical. It was all locked up for 35 years.”

Playing down all the negative effects of this chemical was part of the Dow plan. Dioxin was the byproduct in the brew. Dow told the US government they were having difficulty producing the volume of the chemical the US wanted. The government told them to not worry about safety standards and quality control, and that a fast production process which produced more of the dioxin would not matter, since the crops and forest were being sprayed, and if people got in contact with it, the idea coming from both industrialists at Dow and those in government and the military was, “Hey, so what, this is a war . . . these are the effing Vietnamese.”

Genetically Engineered Salmon

The idea for this environmental series is that walk along the wrack line, for sure, which has for me the past two years conjured up all sorts of topics that are worthy of many books. It is a simple walk I conduct on a calm (mostly) sandy and driftwood-strewn beach in Central Oregon. But that solitude allows some of my own decades studying environmental harms to both animals and plants to filter through my thoughts. For this short essay, it is that potato, which is still not the most sprayed crop in the industrial system.

There are many groups looking into industrial vegetables and fruits, but they all have their own very similar Dirty Dozen – These foods should be purchased organic if possible.

  • Apples – at least 99 % have residue
  • Strawberries – contained 13 different pesticides each
  • Grapes — contained 15 different pesticides
  • Celery — 13 different pesticides per sample
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Imported Nectarines – every sample tested positive for pesticides
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes – contained 13 different pesticides each
  • Imported Snap Peas – contained 13 different pesticides each
  • Potatoes – had more pesticides by weight than any other food
Commercial Potato Farming - Non-Organic Vs. Organic - Harvest2U

We go from one chemical exposure – PFAS which is more generally known as flame retardant, and then we go to one or two common chemicals used in our food system – Roundup (glyphosate) and Atrazine – and we are not even scratching the tip of the iceberg in terms of global pesticide use, which is in the billions of pounds yearly, accounting for hundreds and thousands of different types of Herbicides/PGR Insecticides; Fungicides; Fumigants.

Remember, there are literally dozens of active ingredients in one type of herbicide. There are hundreds and sometimes thousands of chemicals in a scoop or pint of poison used in industrial ag. There are no studies on how all those interact with each other as they bioaccumulate and end up  as part of the war against the human biome.

For one of the most common herbicides, atrazine (ATR), and its persistence in the environment has resulted in documented human exposure.

Alterations in hypothalamic catecholamines have been suggested as the mechanistic basis of the toxicity of ATR to hormonal systems in females and the reproductive tract in males. Because multiple catecholamine systems are present in the brain, however, ATR could have far broader effects than are currently understood. Catecholaminergic systems such as the two major long-length dopaminergic tracts of the central nervous system play key roles in mediating a wide array of critical behavioral functions. In this study we examined the hypothesis that ATR would adversely affect these brain dopaminergic systems. Male rats chronically exposed to 5 or 10 mg/kg ATR in the diet for 6 months exhibited persistent hyperactivity and altered behavioral responsivity to amphetamine. Source.

There are many warriors in this battle to stop the war against nature, the war against Homo Sapiens.  UK’s Dr. Rosemary Mason, a retired physician and health and environmental campaigner, is one of hundreds of gutsy go-to thinkers who is pulling away the blinders and cutting through the PR spin.  In addition,  the Institute for Responsible Technology claims that cancers caused by Roundup include non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, bone cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, melanoma, pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer.

Mason also quotes Robert F. Kennedy Jr, the renowned environmental attorney, who in 2018 talked of:

… cascading scientific evidence linking glyphosate to a constellation of other injuries that have become prevalent since its introduction, including obesity, depression, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, kidney disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, brain, breast and prostate cancer, miscarriage, birth defects and declining sperm counts. Strong science suggests glyphosate is the culprit in the exploding epidemics of celiac disease, colitis, gluten sensitivities, diabetes and non-alcoholic liver cancer which, for the first time, is attacking children as young as 10.

All these injuries and diseases are covered here, at Hormones Matter.

As a capstone to this piece, it is both a testament to Rachel Carson’s work, Silent Spring, as she is considered the mother of the environmental movement. She was vilified, and her book on poisons, Silent Spring, is poetic, clear, and was published in 1962, after four years of work writing it ( her lifetime of thinking and honoring nature, that is). She was one of thousands studying at the time the world’s most dangerous pesticide, DDT.

How The Chemical Companies Fought 'Silent Spring's Inconvenient Truth

Appearing on a CBS documentary about Silent Spring shortly before her death from breast cancer in 1964, she remarked, “Man’s attitude toward nature is today critically important simply because we have now acquired a fateful power to alter and destroy nature. But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself? [We are] challenged as mankind has never been challenged before to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature, but of ourselves.”

The Story of Silent Spring | NRDC

Unlike most pesticides at the time, whose effectiveness was supposedly limited to destroying one or two types of insects (though we now know that is basically not true), DDT was capable of killing hundreds of different kinds at once.

Nature writer Edwin Way Teale, warned, “A spray as indiscriminate as DDT can upset the economy of nature as much as a revolution upsets social economy. Ninety percent of all insects are good, and if they are killed, things go out of kilter right away.”

More than 75 years after Way Teale’s warnings, we are seeing the devastating  effects again of DDT. On the ocean floor, near Catalina Island. Leaving Hormones Matter readers with yet another huge gash in their hearts concerning the ill effects of this industrialized agriculture has on future generations, of both Homo Sapiens and all the other species, is possibly yet another trigger warning when reading my articles. However, this is the fabric of my own cloth looking at this all as a systems thinker.

High concentrations of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, an insecticide that was widely used for pest control during the 1940s and 1950s) were previously detected in ocean sediments between the Los Angeles coast and Catalina Island, in 2011 and 2013. At the time, scientists who searched the seafloor in the area identified 60 barrels (possibly containing DDT or other waste) and found DDT contamination in sediments, but the full extent of the area’s contamination was unknown.

Now, a research expedition presents a clearer picture of the deep-sea dump site. Their findings reveal a stretch of ocean bottom studded with at least 27,000 industrial waste barrels — and possibly as many as 100,000, researchers with Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California said in a statement.  Live Science.

Read more?

“Monsanto Manipulates Science” from Food and Water Watch

“Organophosphates: A Common but Deadly Pesticide” from Cornucopia

Beyond Pesticides 
Pesticides Industry: Sales and Usage by EPA
“Pest-Chemgrids” from Nature 

The Future of Food

The post The Good, Bad and the Ugly of Roughshod Chemistry first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Two Degrees of Separation

Zoom Lockup!

There’s this Zoom thing coming round the corner, once again — Earth Day 2021. The people on the Pacific Coast, Oregon, Central Coast with no industries, winds whipping up air vortices, and air as clean as what it might be in the middle of the ocean, and yet, we have the old white folk planning for some more Zoom Doom fun.

And not only is this a Zoom Doom “same old usual suspects yakking fest,” but, in fact, some local yokel and state yokel politicians get to bullshit their way through five minutes of nonsense.

The rules of Zoom like the rules of Earth Day 2021 are make nice, no contrarians, and alas, no one arguing. No criticism. Keep it upbeat and positive. Yep, we got Biden back in office — [Biden Backs Revival of His Brainchild: Plan Colombia 2.0 Set to Begin Next Month — Colombia is set to return to a massive aerial campaign of spraying Monsanto’s glyphosate across the country, a plan Biden once fought hard with his Republican colleagues to enact.]

That’s it, really, in the fake world of Google, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Clubhouse, Slack, and Zoom. There are a thousand major software peddlers readying the schmucks for a digital world of work, world of schooling, world of public engagement (disengagement), world of commerce,  world of culture, the world of arts, music, literature, world of medicine and health care.

Earth Day 2021 . . . 2022 . . .  2030!

On the one measly day of the year for celebrating ecosystems, waves, wind, soil, beach, harbor seals, eagles, gulls, cormorants, firs, pines and grasses, the decision to take this one indoors is emblematic of the colonized minds of the, shall I say, liberal class (sic). Neoliberal or demented Democratic minds.

No use asking me to make an alternative earth day for Lincoln County, some gathering on the beach or along a river (we have limitless beaches and thousands of creeks and rivers). In a rural community, in a community based on retirement, and then making dollars from travelers clogging Highway 101, clogging hotels, restaurants, rest stops, you can’t expect any solidarity. The fact that this school system and those white collar jobs are now Zoom Rooms/Jobs, brought to us in the privacy of their closets or garages or fancy offices, that baseline has shifted big time since the lock down of a year ago.

Talk about disruptive and destructive and killer technological shifts. No plan? Right!

Earth Day is Indigenous People’s Year

Yet, on a day of earth benediction, the day of bringing some socialist political zest to the table, a day when Native Americans and First Nations should be front and center, when consumerism-commercialism should be immolated in a symbolic burning of the sales receipts around a big fire, instead we have the Visual Display Terminal (as in terminal disease terminal) as our entry point and end point. One face to the crowd on the 14 inch screen, then our three minutes of Andy Warhol fame, and then, please move on. I am not on it this year, for sure, and last year I dragged myself to the thing.

Again, no expletives, no anti-Americanism, no antiwar, anti-patriotism or anti-politician rhetoric or song or poem. Keep it quaint, upbeat, positive.

I’ve been in this rodeo before — and I polemicized it too, here, at Dissident Voice:  “Zooming Newport’s Climate Awareness Earth Day 2020/April 21st, 2020“.

It is, of course, deja vu, and that’s how the lords of capital want it — triangulation, and fear and, well, push those outliers out. I have found in the past year, more of the jobs, gigs, people I interface/associate with, and other movements I have been a part of have turned into an “us (them) against them (me)” sick Nazi-like defamation of truth. Any critique of the one-party duopoly, any criticism of Harris or Biden, any criticism of the reality of this hegemon, USA, sick before Trump, sick during Trump, sick after Trump, and you not only get ostracized, but penalized. Stitched on Scarlet Letter A for ‘anarchist,’ red being the underpinning of what it means to be a ‘communist-socialist.’

Take the money and run — that’s the motto, and so, before introducing a short animated video about climate heating and those two degrees Celsius, we have a bit of Haeder banter.

Particles in the Atmosphere and Ozone

Don’t let them fool you that 100 or so rocket launches a year (thus far on average, about to go to 200 and then 500) don’t emit much pollution and carbon dioxide in the scheme of things. How much embedded energy to mine that crap, all those wires, metals, plastics, strategic shit, and the electricity, and the transportation? All those human lifetimes expended for Whitey on the Moon, as opposed to stopping the eviscerations of the planet. Right, that isn’t doled out as carbon dioxide emissions. Off-shored, out-sourced, embedded pollution. Forget about the destabilization of those countries where this shit is illegally mined and stolen. Again, science is broken when the capitalists hire scientists to help them steal, pollute, harvest, ruin, destroy, butcher.

See the source image

With that, how can we not rethink a 51-year-old poem, wisdom in a jazz bottle, Gil Scott Heron and Whitey on the Moon. The point of the song-poem runs deeper now than what Gil was alluding to then, because, if you think about cooptation, think about how many other cultures and nationalities are racing for the moon, for the red planet, the song’s updated title might be “Capitalists on the Moon.”

There’s no getting around the fact China and USA are capitalist, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (devolution) is about mastering control of the entire populations of those countries (and that is now Canada, India, EU, Japan, Australia, et al), outside the super-class of folk in the capital dictatorships.

What China or USA or UK or Japan or Musk or DoD or any of them want on the moon or mars, well, it’s not for the good of mankind, womankind, children-kind.

The inverse is the actual affect — more 5 and 6 G, more wasted and polluting energy. More rockets and blasting satellites and millions of human lifetimes spent on this project, and the outcome/outflow are less solutions for the commons here on terra firma. There will be no reversing ocean acidification or ocean inundation or blasting heat waves, or deluges or dwindling snow-pack, or melting ice with these money-drenched projects of megalomania in space.

The fact is, food can be grown agro-dynamically. People can live off a much much smaller energy footprint. Industries can be owned by the people for real durable goods that last, hmm, half a lifetime or more? Public trains and trolleys and light-rail, that’s not what the Musk-DoD-China projects are about.  Fisheries can’t be restored, Fukushima isotopes can’t be corralled in, human global health and universal “correct” education can never be the end product of these space flights. They are a complete and utter contradiction.

We know it, and they know it, and we the people have been bamboozled into disbelieving what we see-hear-touch right in front of us. They (masters of finance) are in it for more money, power, wealth, control.

You can have atom splitters, neutrino collectors, sunspot probes, but, again, don’t try to pull the bullshit capitalist-militarist wool over my eyes: none of that stops the toll of poverty-hunger-war physically weathering billions of people’s lives to the point of lifespans cut down by 10 years or more compared to the stem-cell sucking, human growth hormone eating great white hopes in the Lizard Clan.

Water on mars? Asteroids with ancient ice? Club Meds in orbit?  You know, none of that is for humanity.

[Drifting plumes created by the Space Shuttle Atlantis]

Alumina and black carbon from rockets can stick around in the stratosphere for three to five years. As these materials collect high above the Earth, they can have interesting effects on the air. Black carbon forms a thin layer that intercepts and absorbs the sunlight that hits Earth. “It would act as a thin, black umbrella,” says Martin Ross, a senior project engineer at the Aerospace Corporation who studies the effects of rockets on the atmosphere. That may help keep the lower atmosphere cool, but the intercepted energy from the Sun doesn’t just go away; it gets deposited into the stratosphere, warming it up. This warming ultimately causes chemical reactions that could lead to the depletion of the ozone layer.

The reflective alumina particles can also affect the ozone but in a different way. Whereas the soot acts like a black umbrella, the alumina acts like a white one, reflecting sunlight back into space. However, chemical reactions occur on the surface of these white particles, which, in turn, destroy the ozone layer, Ross says.

Diet for Parasites of Capitalism — 8 by 10 condo on Devils Island

It’s sort of like the anti-diabetes diet — cut down on white food (rice, bread, pasta, potatoes), walk more, drink water, take a few natural herbs, suck on cinnamon, get flavonoids, pig out on leafy vegetables, stop the EMF’s in  your sleeping space, stop the anxiety of TV-Movies-Facebook. Or, what about the real process of land reclamation? It takes removing the trash, the toxins, and then rebuilding the soil, replanting with native plants, readjusting the land to its natural eco-state.

Simple solutions. And, it’s never going to be rocket science that helps the planet, people or others in the animal and plant kingdoms.

Don’t be fooled by Netflix, the Dystopia Stories, the Bizarre Bumbling Cop-Spy-Soldier-Super Hero soap operas. None of that is reality, and, the shortcuts that capitalism has exacted on Mother Earth, well, after more than 300 years of the trillions of lies, here we are, Whitey on the Moon, 51 years after Gil Scott Heron sang it” !!

We have a poem here
It’s called “Whitey on the Moon”
And, uh, it was inspired, it was inspired
By some whiteys on the moon
So I wanna give credit where credit is due

A rat done bit my sister Nell
With whitey on the moon
Her face and arms began to swell
And whitey’s on the moon

I can’t pay no doctor bills
But whitey’s on the moon
Ten years from now, I’ll be paying still
While whitey’s on the moon

You know, the man just upped my rent last night
‘Cause whitey’s on the moon
No hot water, no toilets, no lights
But whitey’s on the moon

I wonder why he’s uppin’ me
‘Cause whitey’s on the moon?
Well I was already given him fifty a week
And now whitey’s on the moon

Taxes takin’ my whole damn check
The junkies make me a nervous wreck
The price of food is goin’ up
And as if all that crap wasn’t enough

A rat done bit my sister Nell
With whitey on the moon
Her face and arms began to swell
And whitey’s on the moon

With all that money I made last year
For whitey on the moon
How come I ain’t got no money here
Hmm, whitey’s on the moon

You know I just about had my fill
Of whitey on the moon
I think I’ll send these doctor bills
Airmail special (to whitey on the moon)

To whitey on the moon
Thank you

Old whitey now ready to build millions of carbon dioxide sucking machines. Old whitey ready for terra-forming on Mars. Old whitey looking to mess with the water cycle, the cloud systems, the first 15 meters of biological life on the oceans with iron shavings. Old whitey and his and her geoengineering.

Whitey is way beyond just blasting to the moon. Old whitey is messing with DNA, genetically engineering not just crops. Welcome the GMO human, a la vaccines.

It’s not such a far cry from Zoom Earth Day to Genetically Modified Humanity.

The Future of Food (2004) is an older documentary, but shit-dog, says it all, says it all:

Again, this is not some super complicated Jungian and Freudian hierarchy of needs intellectual jujitsu. Food, water, shelter, home, hearth, community, safety. Yes, art and communal education. Intergenerational and multi-diverse communities. Again, it is about eating and living, music and art, forests and savannas, mountains and valleys, rivers and wetlands, reefs and mangroves, and, well, you get the picture.

It’s not about 5 or 6 G, or about Whitey on the Moon. Many of us know that, inherently. And, many of us who are devoted followers of democracy on top and socialism as the under girder, we also are in “their house,” that is, as the African slave on Turtle Island stated, “It’s the slave master’s house I’m working in, and not one second of a day do I believe I am in my house, that any aspect of this house negro status puts me in any better position than the field slave who slaves under a hot sun, battles cottonmouths, the toil of an ox.”

The Future of Food is really the future is food!!

The reality is back to those global average rise in temperature, that so-called two degrees Celsius.

Global heating affects ecosystems that provide food.

Oceans  provide people with about 20 percent of their dietary protein. Ocean acidification caused by climate change makes it difficult  for thousands of species, including oysters, crabs and corals, to form protective shells, which in turn disrupts the food web.

On land, an increase of 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) would double our water deficit leading a drop in wheat and maize harvests.

Thermometer on beach

Pat DeLaquil contacted me. I included him in on another piece in DV “Plastic Meets the Road and Capitalism’s Role in Climate Change” with the subtitle, Earth Day & Capitalism Like Vinegar and Oil?

Here’s what Pat stated a year ago —

What drives capitalism to extremes? Two things: this hyper-individualism of the Ayn Rand economic school which purports everyone is unique and must fight for himself or herself to acquire as much as possible. And, two, patriarchy which indoctrinates young children into believing this hierarchy of male control. This belief that males are not caring about social issues, the environment, and females are not supposed to speak their minds when confronted with this apparent destructive system.

He reached out to me just recently:

Public awareness of the climate crisis is growing but support for mitigation efforts is still insufficient to reach the goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial.  This is partially due to the fact that some aspects of the science, which are truly alarming for those who are able to understand them, are confusing and mysterious to many others.   Humans all over the planet conduct their daily lives in temperatures that range from -50°F to over 100°F.  So they are understandably confused when scientists describe the dire consequences of a further increase in Earth’s annual average temperature of only 1.8°F (1°C).  The Metro Climate Action Team made this short video to help build understanding of why so little means so much!

I sent Pat a quick email with some softball questions. What follows it the Q & A to: ‘Just a short response for each one. Thanks, Paul!’

Paul Haeder: What was your role in producing this animated film?

Pat DeLaquil: I came up with the concept and bounced the idea around with several MCAT members using clip art.  Then we developed a script with where several of us contributed to editing and refining the message.  Once we were happy with the storyboard and script, I placed the task on a platform called Upwork, and found an artist that did motion graphics, which are much cheaper than real animation.  The entire process took well over 6 months.

PH: Who is the intended audience for this and how does that audience access this?

PDL: We believe we have several target audiences among people who accept that climate change is happening, but don’t realize how bad the crisis can quickly get and why strong action is needed now.  We believe this group broadly includes people with children and grandparents, as well as civic groups and the faith community.

PH: Explain your background in research climate change — two sentences.

PDL: I have been a leader in the commercialization of clean and renewable energy technologies for over 40 years, and for the last 20 years I have run a small business that develops and uses models to perform policy analyses on behalf of donors, governments and the private sector to identify optimal pathways for achieving economic development and environmental goals.   I have lead the formation of two clean energy start-up companies and earlier lead the development of two key solar energy development projects: PV for Utility Scale Applications (PV-USA)  and the 10 MW Solar Two Power Tower Project.

I have a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a B.Sc. in Marine Engineering from the US Merchant Marine Academy, and have authored of over 90 papers, reports, and articles on solar and renewable energy including chapters in two books on renewable energy technology.

PH: Three reasons you believe people in the USA still have difficulty understanding global warming, ocean warming, ice and glacial melting.

PDL: It’s very much like the responses we’ve seen to the pandemic.  Disinformation and deliberate politicization of the issue are strategies used by the right (dominated by fossil fuel interests and their fellow corporate oligarchs).  The second reason is that most people are busy with life – just making end meet between jobs, kids and – even before the pandemic, so it’s easy to ignore or deny the severity of the issue or just hope someone does something.  Third, some people in industries that rely of fossil fuels feel threatened that all this is just a plot to take away their lifestyles.

PH: What do you hope this short animated flick will do to move policy makers, capitalists, businesses and national governments to work on the very difficult issue of ocean level rise, inundation, extreme weather events, crop failures, unlivable conditions in many many tropical or subtropical urban spaces.

PDL: We really hope that this video will motivate people, who are not yet active, to become more engaged in pushing their elected officials to act quickly to combat climate change.

And so another earth day, couched on Zoom (how much energy does a Google search use, how much energy for Facebook servers, how much energy for Bezos and his Global Cloud Server monopoly?).

Pat’s sincere about this short animated PSA, and he wants to do the right thing. Of course, earth day should be indigenous people’s day, farmer-land steward day, animal and ocean day. But we will continue to get “Whitey on Mars” day coming out of the voice boxes of the  masters for this co-opted Bono-DiCaprio Earth Day– financial masters. That Fourth Industrial revolution, that globalized capital blitzkrieg, the eugenics of Gates and the GMO Generals, and  that digital dashboard, the compliancy demanded of the majority of people on earth, all for Whitey on the Moon . . . or Mars.

See the source image

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Complex Life Threatened

Throughout the world, scientists are speaking out like never before. They’re talking about an emergency situation of the health of the planet threatening “complex life,” including, by default, human life.

It’s scary stuff. On this subject, America’s green NGOs prefer to address the danger by sticking to a middle ground, don’t scare people, too much doom and gloom backfires, turns people off, it’s counterproductive.

However, emergencies have been happening for some time now. So, it’s kinda hard to ignore. In fact, that’s why it’s so obviously easy to declare emergencies today, yesterday, and the day before yesterday and many yesterdays before that. In other words, the house has been on fire for some time but the fire engines never show up.

A recent fundamental study discusses the all-important issue of failing support of complex life:

Humanity is causing a rapid loss of biodiversity and, with it, Earth’s ability to support complex life. 1

The ramifications are unnerving. Accordingly, Earth’s ability to support complex life is officially at risk. That’s what the scientists are implying within the meaning of the article’s title: “Understanding the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future.”

Indeed, the article identifies a life or death chronology, or summation, of all of the emergencies already underway. That’s real! Moreover, the risk of a “ghastly future” is not taken lightly; rather, the heavily researched article includes high-powered renowned scientists authoring one of the most significant articles of the 21st century, boldly describing risks of an offbeat pathway to a ghastly future, therefore begging the question of what a ghastly future really looks like.

An armchair description of a ghastly future is a planet wheezing, coughing, and gasping for air, searching for non-toxic water, as biodiversity dwindles to nothingness alongside excessive levels of atmospheric CO2-e, bringing on too much heat for complex life to survive. Sound familiar? In part, it is.

Along the way, the irretrievable loss of vertebrates, or complex life forms like wild mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians have reduced to 5% of the planet’s total biomass.  The remaining 95%: (1) livestock (59%) and (2) humans (36%). (Bradshaw, et al) How long does that cozy relationship last?

It’ll likely last for decades, maybe, but probably not for centuries. But then again, nobody really knows for sure how long it’ll last. Meanwhile, the human version of complex life resides in comfortable artificial lifestyles framed by cement, steel, glass, wood, and plastic, and surrounded by harmful fertilizers, toxic insecticides, and tons of untested chemicals. There are more than 80,000 chemicals registered for use in the U.S., most of which have not been studied for safety or toxicity to humans. 2

As a consequence of how artificial lifestyles influence how people view the world, it’s no surprise that Disneyland is a huge success, a big hit, with its flawless artificiality that offers a comfort zone for families within its mastery of hilarious bio-diverse imagery, all fake.

But, while Disneyland prospers, biodiversity is on a slippery slope, barely hanging on for dear life at 5% of total biomass. Once that final 5% goes down the drain, which now looks promising, human life will be all that remains along with herds of cows, pens of pigs, and coops of chickens. Phew!

Already, it is mind-blowing that two-thirds of wild vertebrate species have disappeared from the face of the planet within only 50 years, a world-class speed record for extinction events. At that rate, the infamous Anthropocene will usher in the bleakest century since commencement of the Holocene Epoch of the past 10,000-plus years, especially in consideration of the remorseful fact that, over the past 300 years, global wetlands have been reduced to 15% of their original composition.

That one fact alone, as highlighted in the Bradshaw report, describes an enormous hole in the lifeblood of the planet. Wetlands are the “kidneys for the world’s landscape” (a) cleansing water (b) mitigating floods (c) recharging underground aquifers, and (d) providing habitat for biodiversity. What else does that?

Once wetlands are gone, there’s no hope for complex life support systems. And, how will aquifers be recharged? Aquifers are the world’s most important water supply. Yet, NASA says 13 of the planet’s 37 largest aquifers are classified as overstressed because they have almost no new water flowing in to offset usage. No wetlands, no replenishment. Ipso facto, the Middle East is on special alert!

Meanwhile, dying crumbling ecosystems all across the world are dropping like flies with kelp forests down >40%, coral reefs down >50%, and 40% of all plant life endangered, as well as massive insect losses of 70% to 90% in some regions approaching wholesale annihilation. It’s entirely possible that the planet has never before experienced this rate of loss.

Alas, the loss of biodiversity brings a plethora of reductions in associated benefits of a healthy planet: (1) reduced carbon sequestration (CO2-e already at all-time highs), (2) reduced pollination (insect wipe-out), (3) degraded soil (especially Africa), (4) foul air, bad water (especially India), (5) intense flooding (especially America’s Midwest), (6) colossal wildfires (Siberia, California, Amazon, Australia), (7) compromised health (rampaging viruses and 140 million Americans with at least one chronic disease, likely caused, in part, by environmental degradation and too much toxicity).

Barring a universal all-hands-on-deck recovery effort of Earth’s support systems for complex life; e.g., revival of wetlands, it’s difficult to conceive of a future without the protection of Hazmat suits.

Integral to the continual loss of nature’s bounty, an overcrowded planet brings in its wake regenerative resource limitations. Accordingly, some estimates claim 700-800 million people already are currently starving and 1-2 billion malnourished and unable to function fully. Um, does that describe life or is it sub-life?

One of the most telling statistics within the Bradshaw report states: “Simultaneous with population growth, humanity’s consumption as a fraction of Earth’s regenerative capacity has grown from ~ 73% in 1960 to 170% in 2016.” Ipso facto, humans are consuming more than one Earth. How long does that last, especially considering the deflating fact that regeneration turned negative, circa 1970s?

Ecological overshoot is a centerpiece of the loss of biodiversity:

This massive ecological overshoot is largely enabled by the increasing use of fossil fuels. These convenient fuels have allowed us to decouple human demand from biological regeneration: 85% of commercial energy, 65% of fibers, and most plastics are now produced from fossil fuels. Also, food production depends on fossil-fuel input, with every unit of food energy produced requiring a multiple in fossil-fuel energy (e.g., 3 × for high-consuming countries like Canada, Australia, USA, and China; overshootday.org). (Bradshaw, et al).

As loss of biodiversity delves deeper into the lifeblood of the planet, it becomes a festering problem that knows no end. Still:

Stopping biodiversity loss is nowhere close to the top of any country’s priorities, trailing far behind other concerns such as employment, healthcare, economic growth, or currency stability. It is therefore no surprise that none of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets for 2020 set at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD.int) 2010 conference was met.  (Bradshaw, et al)

No surprise there.

Making matters much, much worse:

Most of the nature-related United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (e.g., SDGs 6, 13–15) are also on track for failure.  (Bradshaw, et al)

No surprise there.

Even the World Economic Forum, which is captive of dangerous green-washing propaganda, now recognizes biodiversity loss as one of the top threats to the global economy.  (Bradshaw, et al)

No surprise there.

So, where, when, and how are solutions to be found? As stated above, there’s no shortage of ideas, but nobody does the work because solutions are overwhelming, too expensive, too complicated. Yet, plans are underway to send people to Mars!

Meanwhile, the irrepressible global warming fiasco is subject of a spaghetti-type formula of voluntary commitments by nations of the world (Paris 2015) to contain the CO2-e villain, all of which has proven to be nightmarishly inadequate. Human-induced greenhouse gases continue hitting record levels year-over-year. That’s the antithesis of success. According to the Bradshaw report: “Without such commitments, the projected rise of Earth’s temperature will be catastrophic for biodiversity.” Hmm — maybe declare one more emergency. Yes, no?

Alas, it’s difficult to imagine loss of biodiversity beyond what’s already happened with 2/3rds of wild vertebrate life gone in only 40-50 years. Also, not to forget invertebrates. When’s the last time a bug splattered on a windshield anywhere in America?

Looking ahead, the best advice may be to make preparations for universal pandemonium, which coincidentally is the namesake of the Capitol (Pandemonium) of Hell in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, circa 17th century England.

What to do? Maybe forego any new emergency declarations (the current crop of emergencies, like impending loss of The Great Barrier Reef, are already happening and too much to absorb) and remediation plans that go nowhere, leaving behind a stream of broken promises and false hope, especially after so many years of broken promises and protocols and meetings and orgs that go nowhere, but meanwhile, they preach stewardship of the planet. What’s with that?

Postscript: The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its life forms—including humanity—is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well informed experts. (“Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future”)

  1. Corey J.A. Bradshaw, et al, “Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future”, Frontiers in Conservation Science, January 13, 2021.
  2. “It Could Take Centuries for EPA to Test all the Unregulated Chemicals Under a New Landmark Bill”, PBS News Hour, June, 22, 2016.
The post Complex Life Threatened first appeared on Dissident Voice.

In the Eye of the Eagle: From Strict Catholic School to Adventures in Rainforests

A slow, tacking flight: float then flap. Then a pirouette and it has swung on to a different tack, following another seam through the moor as if it is tracking a scent. It is like a disembodied spirit searching for its host…” — description of the strongest of all harriers, the goshawk, by James Macdonald Lockhart in his book, Raptor: A Journey Through Birds

We’re watching a female red-tail hawk rejecting the smaller male’s romantic overtures barely 50 yards overhead.

There it is. Ahh, the male has full extension. So does his girlfriend. I see this every day from here. This courting ritual . . . testing each other’s loyalty. Watching them in a talon lock, spiraling down, now that’s an amazing sight.

I’m with Chris Hatten on his 10 acres overlooking the Siletz estuary along a gravel road. Saying he lives for that typical red-tail hawk behavior would be an understatement. His passion for raptors has taken him to many parts of the globe, and those trips involved exhilaration, danger, risks to his life, and the trials and tribulations of living primitively in tropical zones which Westerners sometimes deridingly call undeveloped countries or third world nations.

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 Wild Harpy eagle being recaptured and treated after being shot in leg, northern Guatemala.

We are traipsing around his property where Chris is ninety percent finished with a two-story 1,400 square foot home, a modern efficient house he’s been building for two years from a kit out of Lynnwood, Washington.

He told me he’ll never do that again – building a full-sized house.

The 42-year-old Hatten got a hold of my name when he found out I write about Oregon coastal people with compellingly interesting lives. He is in the midst of witnessing adjoining land (more than a hundred acres) to his property about to be clear-cut – forested hillside owned by Hancock Timber Resource Group, part of John Hancock Insurance (now owned by a Canadian group, Manulife Financial).

When he first bought the land eight years ago, representatives of Hancock told him that the company had so much timberland it would take years, maybe a decade, to get to this piece of property.

We discuss how Lincoln City and Lincoln County might prevent a clear cut from the side of the hill all the way down to Highway 101. “It’s amazing to witness in this coastal area — that depends on tourism — all this land clear-cut as far as the eye can see.”

The red-tail hawk pair circles above us again, while a Merlin flits about alighting on a big Doug fir.

When he first saw the property — an old homestead which was once a producing dairy farm — Chris said two eagles cawed above where he was standing, which for a bird-man is a positive omen and spiritual sign of good health. He calls his place “The Double-Eagle.”

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Hands on bio blitz Northern Brazil.

Non-Traditional Student Backpacks into Jungles

He’s not living in the house, per se, but rather he has a tent he calls home. “I feel suffocated inside four walls. I want to hear animals, hear the wind, be on the ground.” He’s hoping to rent out the house.

His current kip is set up near a black bear den, where mother bruin and her two cubs share an area he is willing to stay away from. “The mother bear and I have an understanding. We don’t bother each other.”

He’s part Doctor Dolittle, part Jim Fowler (from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom), and part John Muir. My own intersections with blokes and women around the world like him have put me eye-to-eye with pygmy elephants in Vietnam, great hammerheads off Baja, king cobras in Thailand, schools of barracudas off Honduras, and a pack of 20 javelina chasing me along the Arizona-Mexico border.

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Jaguar rescue northern Belize.

Hatten’s wildlife adventures indeed take it up a few notches.

“When I finished high school, I wanted to follow my dreams.” That was at Saint Mary’s in Salem, a school that was so constricting to Chris he had already been saving up dollars for a one-way ticket out of the country.

He had started working young – aged 8 – picking zucchini and broccoli in fields near where his family of six lived. “You feel invincible when you are young. You’re also more adaptable and more resilient.”

He ended up in Malaysia which then turned into trekking throughout Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, East Timor, and even down south to Darwin, Australia.

Those two years, from age 17 to 19, are enough to fill two thick memoirs. Upon returning to Salem, he applied to the National Park service and bought a one-way ticket to Alaska, working the trails in small groups who lived in tents and cleared trails with 19-Century equipment – saws, shovels, picks, pry bars.

With his cash stake growing, he headed back south, by mountain bike, along the Prudhoe-Dalton Highway. He hit Prince George, Vancouver Island, and stopped in the Olympics.

He then worked summers and attended Chemeketa College in Salem.

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Finding small spot fire Colombia River Gorge, Oregon, working for U.S.F.S.

Homeless-but-inspired at Evergreen State College

He wanted to study temperature rainforests, so he showed up unannounced hoping for an audience with a well-known scientist and faculty member — Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, who is an expert in temperate forests and sap maples. Chris had read the book she co-authored, Forest Canopies.

Before showing up to Evergreen, Chris had developed a sling-shot contraption to propel ropes into forest canopy. He barged into Nadkarni’s office with his invention. She was surprised Chris wasn’t already student, but she quickly made sure he enrolled in the environmental studies program.

Spending his last dollar on tuition, Chris resorted to sleeping in a tent and inside his 1988 Honda Civic while using campus rec department showers. He told me he received free produce on Tuesdays when the farmer’s market would pass out vegetables and fruit after a day’s sales.

Another faculty member, Dr. Steve Herman, motivated Chris to really delve into ornithology. Chris recalls coastal dune ecology trips, from Olympia in motor pool vans, all the way into the southern reaches of Baja. “We looked at every dune system from Baja all the way back north to Florence.”

The ornithologist Herman was also a tango aficionado, and Chris recalled the professor announcing to his students many times, in the middle of dunes in Mexico, it was time for some tango lessons. “He told us there was more to life than just science.”

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Educational Harpy eagle to take into classrooms Panama city, Panama, has one blind eye, could not be released into wild.

Adventures and Misadventures of a Bird Fanatic

My life’s work has been to produce scientists who will seek to protect wildness. But I also just really enjoy teaching people about birds. I’ve been lucky to get to do that for a very long time.

— Steve Herman, Evergreen State College faculty emeritus Steve Herman, 2017

Chris laments the lack of real stretches of wilderness in Oregon, most notably along our coast. These are postage stamp areas, he emphasizes, around Drift Creek, Rock Creek, Cape Perpetua, but “it’s abysmal.”

We have the Cascades in Washington and the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, and lots of wilderness in Alaska. But really, nothing along the Pacific in Oregon.

After camping in the forest around Evergreen College, Chris still had the travel bug bad. On one foray, he went to Thailand, studying the mangrove forests there. He traveled with Thai army anti-poaching teams who went after poachers. He came across poachers’ camps, witnessed firefights and saw a few poachers laid out dead. “The captain gave me a pistol and one bullet. He said the torture would be so bad if I got captured by tiger poachers that I’d beg for a bullet.”

He’s worked on the island of Hawaii with the USGS focusing on a biocomplexity project looking at how mosquitoes are moving higher and higher because of global warming. The consequences are pretty connected to other invasives – pigs introduced to the islands several centuries ago – disturbing the entire natural ecosystem.

Pigs chew down the ferns, and places that have never seen pooled water before are now wet troughs where mosquitoes can now breed.

Those insects carry avian malaria, and alas, endangered honey creepers can’t adjust to the mosquitoes like their cousins elsewhere who have evolved over millennia to just rub off the insects. The honey creeper is being decimated by this minor but monumental change.

Peregrine Fund

Right after matriculating from Evergreen with a bachelor’s of science, Chris ended up in Panama, working throughout Central America rehabilitating, breeding and introducing Harpy Eagles – the biggest forest eagle in the world with a wingspan of six and a half feet – into their native jungle habitat.

These are massive birds. They dwarf our American bald eagle, for sure. My job was to follow them when the fledglings were grown and released.

He acted like an adult Harpy who catches prey and puts it in the trees for the youngster to eat and learn some hunting skills. Frozen rats, GPS backpack transmitter fashioned on the birds, and orienteering throughout Belize and Southern Mexico were his tools.

It sort of blew me away that here I was living the dream of studying birds in a rainforest.

Territorial ranges for these birds spread into Honduras and south to Colombia. Wild Harpies eat sloth, aunt eaters, howler monkeys, even giant Military Macaws.

He ended up in the Petén, Tikal (originally dating back 2000 years), one of Central America’s premier Mayan archeological and tourist sites.

His role was to study the orange-breasted falcon, a tropical raptor which is both endangered and stealth. “We got to live on top of pyramids off limits to anyone else,” he says, since the bird was using the pyramids as nesting and breeding grounds.

He recalled tiring of the tourists down below repeating the fact that one of the Star Wars movies was filmed here – “I got tired of hearing, ‘Wow, is this really where Yavin 4,  A New Hope, was filmed? We’re really here.’”

Imagine respecting this ancient Mayan capital, and studying amazing raptors as the antithesis of goofy tourista comments.

No 9 to 5 Working Stiff

He tells me that his idols are people like Jane Goodall and David Attenborough. While he went to school in a conservative Catholic setting where his peers were mostly farm kids —  and some were already pregnant and married (before graduation), his family was not of the same stripe.

“We were like the people in the movie ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’’’ he says with a laugh. His parents took the brood to the Oregon Coast a lot, and that 1976 yellow VW van’s starter was always going out. “I remember we had my sister and mom blocking the intersections in places like Lincoln City while we pushed the van to get it started.”

He’s got a brother, Steve, an RN in Portland, and another Portland-based brother, Mark, owner of a micro-car shop. His older sister, Amy, is a newspaper journalist in Grand Junction, Colorado – a real lifer, with the written word coursing through her blood. She’s encouraged Chris to write down his story.

Their mother went to UC-Berkley, and has been a public education teacher for over 25 years. Their father (divorced when he was 12) got into real estate but is now living in New Zealand.

That one-way ticket to Singapore that got him into Southeast Asia, ended with him running out of money after a year, but he was able to get to Darwin, Australia, by paying a fishing boat in East Timor to get him down under illegally. He spent time picking Aussie Chardonnay grapes to stake himself in order to see that continent.

He was blown away by the kangaroo migration, a scene that involved a few million ‘roos kicking up great clouds of red dust. He ended up going through Alice Springs to see the sacred Uluru (formally known as Ayers Rock). He met undocumented immigrants from El Salvador and Greece while making money picking oranges.

We talk about some frightening times in our travels, and per usual, the worst incidents involved criminals or bad hombres, not with wildlife. For Chris, his close call with death occurred in Guatemala where he, his female supervisor (a Panamanian) and another raptor specialist were confronted by men on horses, brandishing machetes and leading tracker dogs.

“’We’ll let you live if you give us the woman.’ That’s what they gave us as our option.” The bird team went back into the jungle, the two male researchers buried their female companion with leaves, and then Chris and the other guy took off running all night long.

The banditos chased them through the jungle. He laughed saying they ran virtually blind in places where eyelash vipers (one bite, and three steps and you’re dead), coral snakes and tropical rattlesnakes lived in abundance.

“It’s a very creepy feeling being hunted by men with dogs.” Luckily, the female team member headed out the opposite direction, with a radio. All in a day’s work for environmentalists.

That’s saying, “all in a day’s work,” is ominous since we both talk about how most indigenous and local environmental leaders in so many countries have been murdered by loggers, miners, oil men, ranchers, and coca processors (many times executed by paid-for military soldiers).

Never Return or There Will Be Tears

Two telling quotes from world-renown traveler and writer, Paul Theroux, strike me as apropos for a story about Chris Hatten:

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.

You go away for a long time and return a different person – you never come all the way back.

We talk about a crackling campfire being the original TV, and how being out in wilderness with 5 or 10 people for an extended period gets one really connected to working with people and counting on them to be friends and support.

“It’s tough going back to places I’ve been,” he says with great lamentation. In Borneo, a return trip years later discombobulated him. “The rainforest is being plowed over daily. I couldn’t tell where I was walking miles and miles through palm oil plantations. It was as if the jungle had been swallowed up.”

What once was a vibrant, multilayered super rich and diverse place of amazing flora and fauna has been turned into a virtual desert of a monocrop.

This reality is some of the once most abundant and ecologically distinct places on earth are no longer that. “This is the problem with any wildlife reintroduction program. You can breed captive animals like, for instance, the orangutan but there’s nowhere to release them. Everywhere is stripped of jungle, healthy habitat.”

The concept of rewilding any place is becoming more and more theoretical.

We climb the hill where the clear-cut will occur. Chris and I talk about a serious outdoor education center – a place where Lincoln County students could show up for one, two or three days of outdoor learning. We’re serious about reframing the role of schools and what youth need to have in order to be engaged and desirous of learning.

That theoretical school could be right here, with Chris as the lead outdoor/ecological instructor.

All those trees, terrestrial animals, avian creatures, smack dab on an estuary leading to a bay which leads to the Pacific is highly unique – and a perfect place from which to really get hands on learning as the core curriculum.

We imagine young people learning the history, geology, biology, and ecology of where they live. Elders in the woods teaching them how to smoke salmon, how to build a lean-to, how to see outside the frame of consumption/purchasing/screen-time.

Interestingly, while Chris has no desire to have children, he has taught tropical biology/ecology to an international student body at the Richmond Vale Academy on the island of Saint Vincent (part of the Grenadines).

Koreans, Russians, Venezuelans, Peruvians and Vincennes learned organic farming, bio-fuel production, solar power design, how to grow passion and star fruit. There is even a little horse program in the school, founded by two Danes.

Chris said that the local population is taught about medicinal plants, recycling and responsible waste disposal. “Everything used to be wrapped in banana leaves in their grandparents’ time. Now there is all this single-use plastic waste littering the island.

Like the dynamic rainforest that once carpeted the Central Coast – with herds of elk, wolves, grizzlies and myriad other species – much of the world is being bulldozed over, dammed and mined. Wildlife leave, stop breeding, never repopulate fractured areas where human activities are the norm.

But given that, when I asked Chris where he might like to go now, he mentioned Croatia, his mother’s side of the family roots. He may have swum with 60-foot-long whale sharks and kayaked over orcas, but Chris is still jazzed up about raptors – maybe he’d end up on the Croatian island of Cres which is a refuge for the spectacular griffon vulture.

“Nature has a purpose beyond anything an extraction-based society puts its monetary value on trees. We have to show young people there is value to natural ecosystems beyond extracting everything for a profit.”

One-Minute Q and A

Paul Haeder: What is your life philosophy?

Chris Hatten: Make the best use of your time. Time is short.

PH: How do we fix this extractive “resources” system that is so rapacious?

CH: We need to value forests for the many multitude of services they provide, not just quick rotations. Forests are not the same as fields of crops.

PH: Give any young person currently in high school, say, in Lincoln County, advice on what they might get out of life if they took your advice? What’s that advice?

CH: Get off your phone, lift up your head, see the world for yourself as it really is, then make necessary changes to it and yourself.

PH: What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve experienced — what, where, when, why, how?

CH: I have had very poor people offer to give me all they had in several different countries. Strangers have come to my aid with no thought of reward.

PH: In a nutshell, define the Timber Unity movement to say someone new to Oregon.

CH: They are people who mostly work in rural Oregon in resource extraction industries and believe they are forgotten.

PH: If you were to have a tombstone, what would be on it once you kick the bucket?

CH: “Lived.”

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Running in step, at sunset on the beach with horse St. Vincent and Grenadines

Bavarians Vote to Stop Extinction

The world is in the throes of an extinction crisis unlike any throughout paleoclimate history, aka: the Sixth Mass Extinction, keeping in mind that the normal “background rate” for extinction is 1-to-5 species gone per year. But, what if it’s five (5) every 24 hours?

Answer: It’s a lot more than that.

The current worldwide extinction rate is more than 1,000xs the normal background rate, or, in the simplest of terms, instead of 1-to-5 species extinct per year, it’s alarmingly somewhere between 25-to-250 (maybe more) species of plant, insect, bird, and mammal extinct every 24 hours.

In fact, crucial resources for sustaining life have already been severely weakened, as demonstrated in studies of mass loss of arthropods, and other key elements of biodiversity happening all over the planet from Australia to pristine European nature preserves to uninhabited tropical rainforests, as the Anthropocene (the current geological age during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment) haphazardly destroys and poisons life-sourcing ecosystems.

For example, ecosystems are negatively impacted far and wide by chemicals to such an extreme that chemical toxins are now found in Mt. Everest’s snow at 29,000 feet as well as in deep-water squid at 3,800 feet, proving that what’s ordinarily considered “hard to believe” is, in fact, “almost beyond comprehension.”

Meanwhile, the world has started taking notice, and it’s Germany where the Age of Enlightenment has fortunately been resurrected by enlightened skeptics, known as “liberals” back in the 18th century, challenging current societal values and exposing false truths.

This quasi-enlightenment surge is happening in Bavaria, Germany’s most conservative of 16 federal states, led by the Christian Social Union (“CSU”) ever since 1946, as this powerful bastion of political conservatism responds to grassroots citizen campaigns and a recently passed referendum to “Protect Nature,” primarily via major changes in industrial farming.

As one conservationist remarked upon passage of the referendum: “The times when it was enough for politicians to pay lip service to biodiversity are over.”1

Henceforth, Bavarians will implement a sweeping set of conservation measures, including: (1) Setting aside 13% of state land in special ecological zones, inclusive of ecosystem infrastructure of hedgerows, meadows, and wetlands  (2) Organic agriculture must be practiced in 1/3 of Bavarian farmland, as well as cutting out fertilizers on all state-owned farms to reduce nitrogen pollution (3) Protection of wetlands, waterways, and threatened insect populations by eliminating insecticides as much as possible.

Already, three more German states are considering biodiversity referendums, as well as inquiries from Sweden and Australian.  Another proposal would designate large portions of EU agricultural subsidies diverted for protection of biodiversity.

The motivation behind Bavarian citizens reacting so strongly in the face of opposition by the ruling political establishment was awareness that native landscapes had turned monotonous, overly developed, and strikingly “empty of life.”

Another motivating catalyst was the landmark 2017 Krefeld Insect Study conducted by German researchers, as well as citizen scientists, that clearly delineated a mouth-dropping 75% loss in biomass of flying insects in a large number of nature reserves over a period of 25 years.

Krefeld Entomological Society, est. 1905 in Germany, trapped insect samples in 63 nature preserves. They consistently found massive declines of up to 80% in every kind of habitat sampled.

For example, data for hoverflies, a pollinator often mistaken for a bee, registered 17,291 trapped in a reserve in 1989. Twenty-five years later at the same location, it was 2,737 or a whopping loss of 84%! That number is well beyond classification for an extinction event. Thereafter, the only question going forward is whether species comeback is possible.

Today’s Sixth Extinction is so prevalent that scientists prefer to designate species loss as “functional extinctions,” which means functionally extinct animals and plants are still present but no longer prevalent enough to affect an ecosystem; e.g., a shortage of insect pollinators in the Maoxian Valley in China forced farmers to hire human workers at $19 per worker/per day to replace bees. Each worker pollinated 5-to-10 apple trees by hand per day.

Scientists from Bavaria’s leading research institutions are hopeful that their referendum will trigger a massive worldwide reduction in the use of insecticides and herbicides in agriculture, which should, in turn, boost insect populations.

According to the renowned Harvard entomologist E.O. Wilson, without insects and other land-based arthropods, humanity would last all of a few months.

It’s been nearly six decades since Rachel Carson wrote:

The more I learned about the use of pesticides, the more appalled I became. I realized that here was the material for a book (Silent Spring). What I discovered was that everything which meant most to me as a naturalist was being threatened.

Well, finally, Bavarians discovered that fact 60 years later (whew!)

  1. Christian Schwägerl, “In Conservative Bavaria, Citizens Force Bold Action on Protecting Nature”, Yale Environment 360, April 25, 2019.