The most disquieting thing wasn’t the disappearance of certain insect species; it was the deeper worry that a whole insect world might be quietly going missing, a loss of abundance that could alter the planet in unknowable ways. “We notice the losses,” says David Wagner. “It’s the diminishment that we don’t see.” (New York Times)
Bayer’s $66 billion takeover of Monsanto represents another big click on the ratchet of corporate power over farming and food. With the ‘Big-Six’ of global agribusiness now set to turn into the ‘even bigger three’, farmers and consumers face more GMOs and pesticides, less choice, and deeper price gouging. Agroecology has never looked more attractive.
From The Guardian: Insects are multitudinous beyond our imagining, and have triumphed for hundreds of millions of years, in every habitat. This makes all the more alarming the great truth now dawning upon us: insects as a group are in terrible trouble and the remorselessly expanding human enterprise has become too much, even for them.
From The Guardian: Chemicals and agribusiness giant Bayer has approached the European Union to approve its $65bn takeover of Monsanto, eliminating direct competition between two of the biggest players in the industry. If approved, the merger would be an extremely risky consolidation of corporate power, and a serious threat to food supplies and farmers worldwide.
From Scroll.in: Honeybees, which play a vital role in pollinating food crops, are declining at an alarming rate in India. It is not just pesticides that are contributing to their decline. Ironically, it might be the very efforts to promote bees in India that could be leading to a further decline in their diversity and prevalence.
From The Intercept: In a lifetime spent battling the chemical industry while enduring extreme personal tragedy, 72-year-old Carol Van Strum amassed disturbing evidence about the dangers of industrial chemicals —and the practices of the companies that make them, including Dow and Monsanto. Now, her archive, dubbed ‘The Poison Papers’, is finally in the public domain.
From The Independent: Scientists warn in a new study that Earth is undergoing a sixth mass extinction that’s “more severe than perceived.” Not only that, human activity —including pollution, deforestation, overpopulation, poaching, warming oceans and extreme weather events tied to climate change— is to blame for this massive loss in biodiversity, according to the analysis.
From Counterview.org: The Sabarmati River Front has been in the news lately as a model of “river beautification”. When in reality, it is a dead river, filled with effluents and sewage. It was “rejuvenated” with Narmada water, which came at a great cost of the displacement of lakhs of people and destruction of the environment.
From Truthout.org: This superbly researched 2015 paper explains why China’s unfolding environmental crisis is so horrific, so much worse than “normal” capitalism almost everywhere else, and why the government is incapable of suppressing pollution even from its own industries. It should serve as a warning for India, whose official policies increasingly mimic the ‘China model’.
From The Guardian: Zambia’s Kabwe is the world’s most toxic town, according to pollution experts, where mass lead poisoning has almost certainly damaged the brains and other organs of generations of children –who continue to be poisoned every day. The lead levels in Kabwe are as much as 100 times that of recommended safety levels.
Hundreds of Endosulfan-affected people, this time from Karnataka, are threatening to sit on a fast until death from May 27 to demand better care from the government. Here are exhaustive reports from Down to Earth magazine, which first exposed the issue in 2001, chronicling one of the worst and longest-running pesticide poisoning episodes in history.
We’re all on track to use at least 29 phones in our lifetimes. This rapid turnover of devices leads to record profits for smartphone manufacturers year after year. It also leads to many damaging impacts on people and our planet. Greenpeace USA’s new report, ‘From Smart to Senseless’, explores the high cost of smartphone use.
From The Wire: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is currently assessing the likely adverse effects on competition of the proposed merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont. If it goes through, the merger will create the world’s biggest chemical and materials company. But there are a dozen reasons and more why it must be stopped.
The Wire reports: Using satellite data of the last 14 years, researchers have shown that a thick blanket of toxic ammonia lies over the world’s major agricultural areas, with India being the worst affected. It’s emitted mainly by fertilisers as well as poorly managed animal waste. However, India has no policy to regulate ammonia emissions.
Somehow, most people seem to believe that our economy of 7.5 billion people can get along with a very short list of energy supplies. Given climate change, this short list cannot include fossil fuels, but we believe Wind and Solar can save us. Unfortunately, a transition to such alternative fuels can’t really work. Here’s why.
Debutant director Aparnaa Singh’s Irada is said to have been inspired by real events –the pollution of groundwater by a chemical manufacturer with the blessings of a state’s ruling party. Set in Punjab, Irada advocates solutions that viewers will be hard-pressed to replicate, but its concerns are timely, character sketches memorable, and its empathy unmistakable.
Alexei Yablokov, the towering grandfather of Russian ecology who worked to unmask Cold War nuclear dumping practices in the Arctic region, died in Moscow last week. Yablokov commanded a broad environmental and political mandate in Russia, founded Russia’s branch of Greenpeace and was the leader of the Green Russia faction of the Yabloko opposition party.
Growing numbers of scientists have asserted that our planet might soon see a sixth massive extinction— driven by the escalating impacts of humanity. Others, such as the Swedish economist Bjørn Lomborg, have characterised such claims as ill-informed. We argue that the jury is in and the debate is over: Earth’s sixth great extinction has arrived.
There’s no such thing as ‘healthy food’ if it’s not produced by sustainable farming systems on living soils, Patrick Holden told the recent ‘Food: The Forgotten Medicine’ conference. But after 70 years of industrial farming, there’s a huge job to be done to restore depleted soils and the impoverished genetic diversity of seeds and crops.
Robin Delobel writes: The issue is rarely raised, but renewable energies have a heavy environmental impact when the total production chain and overall product life-cycle is taken into account– particularly, the stage of mining the metals needed in their production. In addition, chemical products used in the mining operations often lead to severe long-term pollution.