Weed killer designed to save farms is devastating them

GR: With the chemical industry in control of Congress and government regulators, every plant and animal of every country on Earth is in danger. Toxic chemicals added to the land, air, and water cause death, disease, and disruption of natural ecosystems. They poison the insects and spread through the food chain weakening and killing wildlife. As biodiversity declines, natural flood control and soil protection is lost and air and water filtering declines. The result is a great loss productivity and ever-increasing toxicity of the environment.

BLYTHEVILLE, ARK. — “Clay Mayes slams on the brakes of his Chevy Silverado and jumps out with the engine running, yelling at a dogwood by the side of the dirt road as if it had said something insulting.

“Its leaves curl downward and in on themselves like tiny, broken umbrellas. It’s the telltale mark of inadvertent exposure to a controversial herbicide called dicamba.

“This is crazy. Crazy!” shouts Mayes, a farm manager, gesticulating toward the shriveled canopy off Highway 61. “I just think if this keeps going on . . .”

“Everything’ll be dead,” says Brian Smith, his passenger.

“The damage here in northeast Arkansas and across the Midwest — sickly soybeans, trees and other crops — has become emblematic of a deepening crisis in American agriculture.

“Farmers are locked in an arms race between ever-stronger weeds and ever-stronger weed killers.

“The dicamba system, approved for use for the first time this spring, was supposed to break the cycle and guarantee weed control in soybeans and cotton. The herbicide — used in combination with a genetically modified dicamba-resistant soybean — promises better control of unwanted plants such as pigweed, which has become resistant to common weed killers.

“The problem, farmers and weed scientists say, is that dicamba has drifted from the fields where it was sprayed, damaging millions of acres of unprotected soybeans and other crops in what some are calling a man-made disaster. Critics say that the herbicide was approved by federal officials without enough data, particularly on the critical question of whether it could drift off target.

“Government officials and manufacturers Monsanto and BASF deny the charge, saying the system worked as Congress designed it.” –Caitlin Dewey (Continue: Weed killer designed to save farms is devastating them).

Thanks to Bob Vella the Secular Jurist for finding this story.

Floodplain Restoration – Defenders of Wildlife Blog

GR:  If you’ve ever wondered if we could get along without nature, if you’d like to know if the only plants we need are those we plant for food, and if you wonder if the only animals we need are those we ride or eat, you may find this article interesting. It’s concerned with maintaining and restoring one of nature’s essential functions and one of the richest types of ecosystems.

Restoring Floodplains: A Multi-Benefit Strategy in a Warming Climate

“The dramatic failure of the spillway at Oroville Dam and the evacuation of 188,000 downstream residents highlight the importance of effective flood management in California. After years of drought, Californians are suffering from water whiplash, with the current swing from drought to flood conditions.

“If you think something strange is happening here, you’re right. The last seven years have included a wet 2011, five years of drought (2012-2016) – four of which were the driest four-year period in state history – and now an extraordinarily wet 2017.

“This fluctuation from wet to dry – without anything approaching average conditions – is consistent with the projections of climate scientists. In 2011, the State of California warned “(a)s the climate warms, extreme events are expected to become more frequent, including wildfires, floods, droughts, and heat waves.”

“You don’t need to make a trek to the arctic to see on-the-ground impacts of climate change. Californians can simply look to their local rivers or the Sierra Nevada. The Sierra snowpack is now the largest in two decades – 177 percent of average. This comes just two years after a record low snowpack that was only 6 percent of average. Californians are already seeing more extreme weather events.

“The last five years taught Californians that we need to make conservation a way of life and that we must invest in tools like water recycling that are drought resilient. This year – and the weather patterns of the past seven years – teach us that California must prepare for floods as well.

How can we prepare for floods?

Floodplain:  The normal overflow zone that fills with water after rainfall. It must be large enough to handle the runoff from heavy rainfall, and it must be well vegetated with flood-tolerant shrubs and trees that slow the water. This is necessary to prevent erosion and the sudden arrival of too much water downstream. (Diagram from Wired.)

“One of the best ways is to restore portions of our historic floodplains to increase the ability of our rivers to handle high flows. We’ve seen the flood-protection benefits of floodplains this year. By opening gates to the Yolo Bypass floodplain, flood managers have lowered the risk to the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento, and avoided potentially catastrophic flooding.” –Rachel Zwillinger (Continue reading:  Floodplain Restoration – Defenders of Wildlife Blog).

Political Platform for Nature-Conservation

Nature Conservation Platform

We must apply much more effort to conservation if we want to keep the benefits we derive from natural ecosystems. We need leaders that can promote activities that improve living conditions and guarantee long-term benefits from nature.

Children playing outdoors.

Children playing outdoors.

Political platforms usually emphasize human social and economic equality. The Justice Democrats platform is an example that lays out a set of goals for leaders focused on human society. It includes climate change. Here are the nature-conservation goals I recommend we add to political platforms.

I’ve listed subjects and actions in rough order of priority. I don’t think the first items are more important than the ones that follow. They are first because the emergency conditions we’ve created require that we act on them immediately.

  1. Global warming. Make an immediate switch to renewable energy. This is part of the Justice Democrats platform, but the best statement is in the Our Revolution platform. I’m repeating the item because it deserves emphasis (climate-change*).
  2. Population. Make knowledge and technology for family planning free or inexpensive worldwide (population).
  3. Habitat Loss. Stop ecosystem destruction resulting from these human activities: construction, farming, spreading invasive species, mining, releasing toxic wastes, and water diversion (construction, farming, invasive species, mining, pollution, water).
  4. Sustainability. End fishing, grazing, and logging harvests that take more than natural processes produce (deforestation, desertification, fishing, forestry, hunting, livestock grazing, logging, soil erosion).
  5. Equality. Respect the right of sentient beings to live wild and free according to their natural instincts (animal cruelty, animal rights, sentient beings, wildlife)
  6. Restore. Restore and set aside half the Earth’s lands and seas for wild plants and animals (ecological restoration, half for nature).
    *Search terms for information and discussions on this website. The most recent search results will appear at the top of the list.
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Destroying the land for material that will destroy the air.

Conservationists, land managers, wildlife biologists, and educators will see nothing new here. We have years of observations, research, and experimentation on each of these topics. It is time to start full-scale application of what we’ve learned. For this, we need dedicated leaders that understand the value of watersheds, soils, pollinators, and ecosystems. We need leaders who recognize that we are in the midst of both a climate and an extinction crisis. We need leaders who are convinced that humanity cannot survive without healthy ecosystems.

Conditions are in flux. I would be delighted to have your suggestions and questions.  Thanks.

Ecological Special Forces

GR.–No guns and bombs.  We need commando units specializing in background investigations and exposure of perpetrators of ecological harm.  Let’s have more hacker gumshoes working for nature.  We need more ecological whistleblowers and we need more support for whistleblowers.  And we need more organized legal representation for nature (the link takes you to a list of organizations and resources for nature protection).

Deep Green Resistance.–

“The planet needs commandos”

“It wasn’t until the 1940’s that what we think of as the “commando” or special forces units were standardized by the British Army. With the goal of disrupting German forces in western France and later in the Mediterranean and North Africa, the first commando units were modeled on small groups of Arab fighters who had great success pinning down much larger British Army units during the uprisings in Palestine in the 1930’s.

“These units proved to be very effective during World War II and have since become a staple of modern warfare. Today, the U.S. empire largely projects military force through targeted special forces operations and bombing campaigns, rather than outright warfare and traditional military maneuvers.

The Case for Ecological Commandos

“Our planet is on the verge of total ecological collapse. Nothing is getting better. Governments and corporations continue business as usual while every day, carbon dioxide levels rise, forests are cut down, and 200 species are driven extinct. Forty percent of all human deaths can be attributed to pollution. Ocean fish may not exist by 2050.

“Even in ecological preserves, life is suffering; there has been an 85% decline in mammals in West Africa’s parks. Major dams continue to be built. Environmentalists are being murdered around the world. African lions are in precipitous decline, as are tigers, leopards, elephants, polar bears, rhino, and countless other species. Most of the species who are driven extinct haven’t even ever been described by western science; they slip into extinction with barely a ripple.” –Deep Green Resistance.  Ecological Special Forces: A Proposal | Deep Green Resistance Blog

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.

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.

 

Civic Disobedience and Climate Change

On July 30, the whole world watched as 13 Greenpeace activists dangled from ropes tied to the St. John’s bridge in Portland, Ore., red and yellow streamers catching the wind. They were blocking the exit of the Fennica, Shell’s ice breaker headed to the Arctic to facilitate drilling. These young activists hung there for 40 hours in makeshift platforms and slings during some of the hottest days on record, before the police and Coast Guard brought them down. One hundred feet below them, filling the river with their colorful small boats, were Portland’s “kayactivists” from the local Climate Action Coalition — some were experienced paddlers, others kayaking for the very first time. On shore stood over 500 people, cheering and chanting “Stop that boat!” Some were moved to tears by this unprecedented spectacle and by the courage of the protesters.  Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.huffingtonpost.com

GR:  Civil disobedience must often be disagreeable and even unlawful.  The term implies an argument with existing practices and laws.  Whistleblowing, marching, and gathering are essential to maintain a healthy democracy.

Human rights and welfare are the common focus of civil disobedience, but some, like the Greenpeace activists in the photo, believe that animal and ecosystem rights are equally important reasons for civil disobedience.  This is usually justified by arguing that humans cannot survive without healthy ecosystems occupied by healthy animal and plant populations.  There is another, rarer, form of this justification:  Nature, consisting of air, rocks, water, soil, animals, and plants has inherent importance unrelated to humans, not because of how humans benefit from nature, but because nature has equal rights to exist.

Sightings of Australia’s common birds are declining

Sightings of some of Australia’s most common birds, including those that have inspired folk songs and become mascots of football teams, are decreasing in parts of Australia, according to a major report on the health of the country’s bird population.

Among the species for which fewer sightings have been recorded are the laughing kookaburra, magpie and willie wagtail.

Released by Environment Minister Greg Hunt on the eve of Thursday’s Threatened Species Summit at Melbourne Zoo, the State of Australia’s Birds 2015 report’s surprise finding was that it was the country’s “common birds” that weren’t faring so well.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.theage.com.au

GR:  This is being reported around the world, and not just for birds; most species are declining.

A Camera Does Just as Well

The challenge and thrill of a great photograph leave a lasting pride that you can share with multitudes. Here’s my photography-bio: https://garryrogers.com/garryrogers-photography.

Exposing the Big Game

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