Protect kids from pesticides as they go to school

Pesticides Poison Children of All Species

GR: The article below focuses on human children. Many of us would like to focus on wildlife as well. All young creatures are especially sensitive to pesticide poisons. The massive decline in numbers of wild animals is our fault. We need to teach or remind children, parents, teachers, and schools that our wild neighbors need our protection. Everyone is aware of the plight of the bees and Monarch butterflies. However, many other species also suffer from the toxic materials we spread across the land. Without focused effort on wildlife and nature conservation, silence will spread across the Earth like the Nothing in the Neverending Story. Let’s ban pesticides and then move on to eliminating our other destructive impacts too. Neighborhood schools are a great place to start.

“School policies must protect children from pesticides by adopting organic land and building management policies and serving organic food in cafeterias. At the start of the school year, it is critical for school administrators to make sure that students and teachers are learning and teaching in an environment where no hazardous pesticides are used in the school’s buildings or on playing fields. It is also essential that children have access to organic food in food programs and manage school gardens organically.

Send a letter to your local officials urging them to tell school districts to adopt organic management and serve organic food to students.

“In addition, there are other things you can do:

“Whether a parent, teacher, student, school administrator, landscaper or community advocate, there are steps that should be taken to make sure the school environment is a safe from toxic chemicals, as the new school year begins.

For Parents and Teachers

“Because children face unique hazards from pesticide exposure due to their smaller size and developing organ systems, using toxic pesticides to get control insects, germs, and weeds can harm students much more than it helps. The good news is that these poisons are unnecessary, given the availability of practices and green materials that do not poison people or the environment.

“Studies show children’s developing organs create “early windows of great vulnerability” during which exposure to pesticides can cause great damage. This is supported by the findings of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which concluded, “Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity.” You can help to eliminate children’s exposure to toxic chemicals by urging school administrators to implement organic management practices that use cultural, mechanical, and biological management strategies, and, as a last resort, defined least-toxic pesticides. See Beyond Pesticides ManageSafeTM database for managing all insects and weeds without toxic pesticides.” –Beyond Pesticides (Continue reading:  Gmail – Action of the Week: Protect kids from pesticides as they go back to school.)

The Poison Papers – Documenting the history of pesticide hazards in the United States

GR: Many of the documents uncovered by the Poison Papers project have yet to be read. Here’s your chance to become an investigative reporter. Follow the link below to have direct access to the papers.

“The Poison Papers are a diverse set of internal memos, court depositions, and other documents detailing pesticide and chemical safety concerns of companies, government regulators, and their employees.” –PoisonPapers.Org.

Source: The Poison Papers – Documenting the history of pesticide hazards in the United States

Trump Administration One Step Closer to Approving Seismic Airgun Blasting

GR: Seismic prospecting harms marine creatures. The danger is so severe that no reasonable person would permit the practice. However, the corporate assault on nature is taking full advantage of Trump’s presidency. Apparently, Trump offers no resistance to any economic scheme that would harm wild creatures. He appears to be at the egotistical center of the homocentric mind. There, none have concern for other people and probably none for nonhuman creatures. Trump has never had a pet, and is only considering a bringing a dog into the Whitehouse for the sake of appearances. Of course, Obama was willing to permit seismic testing. Public intervention stopped him.  Let’s hope that the public outcry that stopped Obama will be successful with Trump. Sign the petition here.

“The Trump administration issued Monday a draft Incidental Harassment Authorizations for seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean, an extremely loud and dangerous process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean’s surface. By issuing these draft Incidental Harassment Authorizations for public comment, Oceana said the federal government is giving another gift to the oil industry—moving forward with the permitting process that gives geophysical companies permission to harm or disturb marine life in the pursuit of offshore oil.

“According to the government’s own estimates, seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic could injure as many as 138,000 marine mammals like dolphins and whales, while disturbing the vital activities of millions more.

“This threat is real and it’s coming fast,” said Nancy Pyne, campaign director at Oceana. “Coastal communities have the most to lose, but unfortunately their overwhelming opposition may be ignored by the Trump administration. The threats of seismic airgun blasting alone are bad enough, but it’s also the first step to offshore drilling, which could lead to the industrialization of coastal communities and the risk of another BP Deepwater Horizon-like disaster. The time to protect our coast is now.”

“In late April, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at expanding offshore drilling and exploration in U.S. waters. Specifically, the order calls for a review of the Five-Year Program (2017-2022) for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf , and directs the administration to fast-track the permitting process for seismic airgun blasting. Following that directive, the Trump administration re-initiated the permitting process for seismic airgun blasting in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida, reversing a decision by the Obama administration to deny these permits.

“As of today, 125 East Coast municipalities, more than 1,200 elected officials, numerous commercial and recreational fishing interests, and an alliance representing more than 41,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families have publicly opposed offshore drilling and/or seismic airgun blasting. An Oceana report in 2015 found that offshore oil and gas development in the Atlantic could jeopardize the nearly 1.4 million jobs and more than $95 billion in gross domestic product that rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation.

“Seismic airguns create one of the loudest man made sounds in the ocean,” said Dr. Ingrid Biedron, marine scientist and campaign manager at Oceana. “Seismic airguns fire intense blasts of compressed air every 10 to 12 seconds, 24 hours a day, for weeks to months on end. The noise from these blasts is so loud that it can be heard up to 2,500 miles from the source, which is approximately the distance of a flight from New York City to Los Angeles.” — Oceana (Continue reading: Trump Administration One Step Closer to Approving Seismic Airgun Blasting.)

We Can Keep Our Open Spaces by Limiting Population

Human Overpopulation

GR:  Human overpopulation results in

  • burning more fossil fuel for energy,
  • conversion of more natural habitats to farms,
  • more destruction of life with pavement and concrete,
  • more toxic pollution,
  • more wildlife lives being taken for food,
  • more noise and light,
  • more crime,
  • more hunger, and
  • more war.

    Why not work on making birth control a free choice for every man and woman on the planet.

Photo credit: Cristina Gottardi

“When the ball recently dropped in Time’s Square, heralding the new year of 2017, the population of the U.S. stood at 324.3 million. That total marked a net gain of 2.5 million people from New Year’s Day 2016. We keep growing and growing, as we add a new person every 17 seconds.

“Another measure of our startling growth is to compare our population today with the total of just 45 years ago. In 1972, U.S. population was only 210 million. Thus, in that relatively short period of our national life, we have added approximately 115 million people. To appreciate the magnitude of this addition, consider that it is not a great deal less than the entire population now living west of the Mississippi River.

“The year 1972 is significant because it was the year when the U.S. Commission on Population Growth and the American Future – often called the Rockefeller Commission – issued its final report. That report stated that “after two years of concentrated effort, we have concluded that, in the long run, no substantial benefits will result from further growth of the nation’s population, rather that the gradual stabilization of our population through voluntary means would contribute significantly to the nation’s ability to solve its problems.”

“If that was the case then, surely it would seem that this verdict would be much truer today with our much higher population. Some may say not to worry because America has always had a high level of population growth. Yes, that is true, and no doubt it was a good thing when we had a pretty much empty country to fill. But why does rapid growth need to continue when we are a developed country, one with the world’s third largest population?” –John Vinson (Continue reading: We Can Keep Our Open Spaces | Californians For Population Stabilization.)

Living Planet Report 2016

GR:  The Living Planet Index, which measures abundance levels of 14,152 monitored populations of 3,706 vertebrate species, continues to show a downward trend. On average, monitored species declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012.  The report ties the decline to humans and human population growth.  Authors of the report struggle to find optimism to share, but they do not directly deal with population. Unless we begin to cut our population, the continuing loss of wildlife is inevitable.

“The Living Planet Report documents the state of the planet—including biodiversity, ecosystems, and demand on natural resources—and what it means for humans and wildlife. Published by WWF every two years, the report brings together a variety of research to provide a comprehensive view of the health of the earth.

“What’s the status of some animal populations?

“Populations of vertebrate animals—such as mammals, birds, and fish—have declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012. And we’re seeing the largest drop in freshwater species: on average, there’s been a whopping 81% decline in that time period.

“- 38 % The terrestrial LPI shows that populations have declined by thirty-eight percent overall between 1970 and 2012.

“- 81 % The freshwater LPI shows that on average the abundance of populations monitored in the freshwater system has declined by eighty-one percent between 1970 and 2012.

“- 36 % The marine LPI shows a thirty-six percent overall decline between 1970 and 2012.

“This loss of wildlife is startling, and people are at risk, too. Without action, the Earth will become much less hospitable for all of us. We must consider our impact on nature as we make development, economic, business, and lifestyle choices. A shared understanding of the link between humanity and nature is essential to making profound changes that will allow all life to thrive for generations to come.” — Living Planet Report 2016 | Pages | WWF

Biodiversity Day – May 22

A Day for Biodiversity

Biodiversity Day - 2016The United Nations has declared that May 22 is Biodiversity Day.  The goal this year is to publicize biodiversity.  After studying the text of the UN Convention on Biodiversity, I believe that the UN is doing little or nothing for biodiversity.  I have studied plants and animals for many years.  What I’ve seen, and what others report, is that all of nature is in steep decline.  Humans are the cause.  I fear that people might be led to believe that the United Nations is taking effective action to protect biodiversity.  It is not.

The theme of the UN Convention on Biodiversity is sustainable development.  It’s text has lofty goals with vague strategies for their attainment.  The text makes clear the Convention’s desire for acceptance by even the most growth oriented government.  Each Article begins with phrases such as:  “Each Contracting Party shall, in accordance with its particular conditions and capabilities. . . .” and this:  “Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate. . . .”  Since human desires are the conditions that define what is appropriate, the phrases prohibit no “contractor” from full-bore growth and development if they say that these are needed to provide jobs and improved standards of living.

This is the UN’s definition of the Convention:

Signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. Conceived as a practical tool for translating the principles of Agenda 21 into reality, the Convention recognizes that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live (United Nations).

Biodiversity is definitely not about the needs of only one species.  It is a general term that gives equal importance to all species.  By placing humans ahead of all other species, the Convention’s definition replaces biological validity with the human bias that is destroying the Earth.

This year’s meeting focus is on promoting biodiversity. The meetings never do much more than report on small achievements.  They serve as an opportunity to search for funding for their development-friendly activities and they let governments reward their environmental managers with a two-week vacation in an international resort.

Homo sapiens’ unrelenting rape of the Earth and the rapid decline of biodiversity is taking us toward the greatest mass extinction of all time.  No one has found an effective means to stop this.  In 1992, the United Nations decided to formalize their support for continued devastation by sugar-coating human impacts with the term “sustainable.” A genuine Biodiversity Day would focus on curtailing human:

  • Population growth
  • Habitat destruction
  • Material aspirations

Over and over, our leading biologists call for emergency responses to our impacts on the Earth.  This blog has more than a thousand well-reasoned warnings and suggestions related to biodiversity.  However, biodiversity decline continues.  What do we do?  Even as our impacts grow beyond the hope of remediation, our environmental managers lay by the pool sipping rum punch, eying the pretty young servers, and discussing funding proposals and plans for more meetings.

What can we do for biodiversity?

I intend to look for ways to oppose development, call for population control, live a simpler life, and learn more about plants and animals.

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859)

Humboldt’s Importance

Alexander von Humboldt was the most influential man of his age.  His contributions helped unify our understanding of nature and how human alterations could lead to dangerous changes.  Heads of government, scientists, engineers, artists, and authors were inspired by and consulted with him on a range of topics. Around the world, there are more cities, parks, mountains, and rivers named for Humboldt than anyone else that ever lived.

 Dr. Ulloa Ulloa (front, left) and field assistants at the Humboldt statue on Chimborazo in 2009.

Dr. Ulloa Ulloa (front, left) and field assistants at the Humboldt statue on Chimborazo in 2009.

Humboldt’s strengths were his curiosity, his tireless desire to record his experiences, his ability to see connections, and his ability to write about objective facts with lyrical prose.  He described nature as a web of life, noting and mapping the plant and animal changes with elevation on Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador a century before C. Hart Merriam mapped life zones in central Arizona.  He invented isotherms, the lines on maps connecting areas of equal temperatures, and he warned that human destruction of nature was having widespread consequences.  He described the drop in stream flow, lake level, and general climate change resulting from cutting forests and diverting streams for monoculture farming.  Humboldt influenced and inspired Goethe, Darwin, Hooker, Bolivar, Thoreau, Muir, and many more.  Without Humboldt’s books, Darwin might never have gone to sea, South America might have remained a slave-holding Spanish colony for another century, and nature conservation might have lagged even farther behind human alteration of the land.

Humboldt1805-chimborazo-live zones

Humboldt’s zonal flora and fauna map of Chimborazo.

I am delighted to report that my grandson born in October, 2014 bears the name Alexander.  Alex’s birthplace is just 15 miles west of my home in Humboldt, AZ.

The essay introduced below provides links to some the books by and about Humboldt.  The one by Andrea Wulf is one of my all-time favorite biographical works.

Humboldt and Bonpland’s Essai sur la géographie des plantes and its significance

By: Randy Smith, Image Technician | Metadata Librarian. Peter H. Raven Library, Missouri Botanical Garden

“Over 210 years after Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland’s work titled Essai sur la géographie des plantes was published, climate science, book conservation, and botanical research have converged around this 1805 work. This book was digitized and made available in 2008 by the Missouri Botanical Garden for the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Modern science meets historic data

“In 2015, scientists published a paper detailing their findings as they retraced the path that Humboldt and Bonpland took on their ascent up the dormant volcano, Chimborazo, in Ecuador. The paper, “Strong upslope shifts in Chimborazo’s vegetation over two centuries since Humboldt,” utilized the data and map contained in Essai sur la géographie des plantes and presented modern data from the same locations as detailed in Essai to reveal the effects of climate change on the volcano.

“As Stephen T. Jackson writes in the 2009 book, Essay on the geography of plants, the significance of Humboldt and Bonpland’s work describing their ascent up Chimborazo lies in the detailed data they collected at various elevations. Jackson and historian Andrea Wulf have noted that while most people have forgotten Humboldt, his significance in unifying early scientific disciplines into an inter-connected web of life cannot be understated. Measurements taken on Chimborazo include light intensity, temperature, barometric pressure, and gravitational force. Descriptions of the flora and fauna at various levels of Chimborazo were described and illustrated on the map contained with Essai sur la géographie des plantes.”  Continue reading.

Invasive Species and the Bighorn Sheep Die-off in Montana Mountains, Nevada

Invasive Species

GarryRogersGR: Human-introduced animals, plants, and disease organisms have destroyed many species and ecosystems. This aspect of the human impact on nature became a global disaster in the 1500’s as we began crossing the oceans. In the lands we reached, we rampaged about with no thought of the seeds stuck to our boots or the diseases carried by our livestock. Then we developed nature. We cut the soil and filled it with pipes and wires and then we entombed its microorganism ecosystem with pavement. We damned streams, dried up springs, cut the forests, stripped the land with cattle and sheep, and we poisoned the water and air. Now comes our grand slam: We’ve added sufficient greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere to give our climate warmer temperatures, droughts, fires, and stronger storms.

How do we react to all that we’ve done? In the current time of competition between oil producers, for example, the temptation to burn more of the cheaper gasoline doesn’t horrify us, no, we call the lower prices a consumer blessing. Fuels Supplied

And so, in all that we do, our species appears to be striving for maximum destruction of earth ecosystems. Here are a few essays I wrote about how this works with invasive plants.

The following article is by Ken Cole on the Wildlife News website (February 19, 2016).

Bighorn sheep by Ken Cole

Bighorn sheep photo copyright by Ken Cole

“On Sunday and Monday, February 14-15, 2016, USDA Wildlife Services took to the skies and shot the remaining 24 bighorn sheep in the Montana Mountains of northwest Nevada at the request of Nevada Department of Wildlife.

“While the exact source of the disease outbreak is not known, it is not surprising that the bighorn sheep in this area are suffering this fate because there are two domestic sheep grazing allotments – the Bilk Creek allotment and the Wilder-Quinn allotment – in the middle of this area and BLM ignored the disease threat that they pose to bighorn sheep.

“In 2012 the BLM began the permit renewal process for one of the allotments – the Bilk Creek allotment – and Western Watersheds Project submitted comments notifying them of our concern about the risk that domestic sheep posed to bighorn sheep in this area. It is well know that domestic sheep are carriers of pathogens that result in deadly pneumonia to bighorn sheep and that even just one nose-to-nose contact between these related species can result in a disease outbreak that commonly kills up to 90% of a herd and kills the offspring of the remaining animals for up to a decade.

“In 2013 the BLM issued the Final Environmental Assessment that dismissed those concerns . . . . ”  Read more at:  http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2016/02/19/bighorn-sheep-die-off-in-montana-mountains-nevada-is-it-any-wonder.

2015 poaching stats: what do they mean?

GR:  We can’t seem to put the brakes on for wildlife or habitat. Our population growth and our homocentric lack of concern for other species is devastating nature.

White-Rhino

Fight for Rhinos

South Africa DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) has released the “official” 2015 rhino poaching statistics – 1175. This is a decrease from 2014 which was 1215.

Reason for optimism?

Keep in mind the following: Kruger is the size of Israel, not all carcasses are recovered in a timely manner, or at all.  The statistics also do NOT include the following:

  • poaching survivors (like Hope)
  • orphans whose mothers are killed, but they are NOT rescued and do not survive alone
  • unborn baby rhinos

While the DEA pat themselves on the back for a “decline” in numbers, reality is this month, there have already been 37 poached at the time of this post, and the orphanages are seeing no shortage of rescued orphans.

In fact there had been a 10% INCREASE in poaching activity in Kruger National Park, where the majority of poachings occurred.

Instead of taking the numbers as a fact, we must look at them as only an…

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Blogging for the Earth

Blogging about Nature:  Introducing Garry Rogers on the League of Bloggers for a Better World

GarryRogers

Garry Rogers

My blog posts are about nature, about wildlife and its habitat (posts). They are expressions of my concerns for natural conditions and events.

During the past year, 2015, lethal heat waves and storms, decline of the great iconic species of elephants, lions, and rhinos, whittling away of the tropical rain forests, and massive clouds of air and water pollution made it clear that humanity is changing the Earth.

More than just the great species, we are eliminating many other species hundreds or perhaps thousands of times more quickly than ever achieved by meteorites, volcanic eruptions, or natural climate change.

Total extinction of a species usually happens after decades of decline.  In 2014, the World Wildlife Fund and other organizations carried out an exhaustive analysis of more than 10,000 wildlife studies (download the report).  They wanted to know how wild plants and animals were holding up against human activities. They learned that from 1970 to 2014, just 44 years, the total number of animals on Earth declined by more than 50%!  Rates of decline vary across species groups.  Birds, for instance declined by 40%.  Other groups, especially those dependent on freshwater, have declined by 70%.

What evolution took billions of years to produce, we humans are destroying in a tick of geologic time.  We are changing the planet so quickly, that not by migration, and certainly not by natural selection, can plants and animals cope. If we continue our activities at their current rate, in only a few centuries, we will turn the Earth into a factory farm of cities, farms, feedlots, and roads with only the tiniest fraction of our native creatures surviving on the fringes.

I often write brief comments without listing my sources. I am always happy to respond to requests for explanations.