Extirpated, Eradicated, Extinct

Passenger pigeons: From many to none.

We were walking down our pasture loop yesterday, and for some reason, I remembered when we first walked this path in 1999, we often saw flying squirrels that would drive the dog-of-the-day crazy. Not any more. It’s been years since we saw the last one.

And ruffed grouse: We’d hear their low-frequency drumming in the woods almost every time we went down the valley, some times of the year.

Red squirrels: Mountain Boomers, they’re called. I’d see them from the back porch, three or four at a time, chasing each other or the gray squirrels they seem to have a natural loathing for.

Whippoorwills: we heard them without fail every spring for the first ten years we lived here. Nope. None for the past decade.

Fortunately, these species are not gone completely and forever. They are only missing from our local landscape by my observations, and maybe all these kinds of macro-vertebrate animal have come to where you live and you see them regularly. I hope so. But I have little reason to think that’s the case.

It would be hard to tease out exactly why the range of some animals changes from year to year. But looking at global numbers of plant and animals species and populations, the news is not good. And it is not just local range retractions but large-scale ecosystem declines of entire webs of inter-related plants, animals, fungi and microbes taking place with increasing frequency and breadth across all biomes.

Two hundred species go extinct every day, the latest studies project.

Imagine: today, the Eastern Chipmunk. Thursday, the robin. Friday the raven. Saturday, the Monarch Butterflies. Sunday the silver maple.

These are conspicuous, named and familiar creatures we’d miss if they weren’t there. We’d be alarmed if we could actually see extinction, like so many lights across the globe that wink out suddenly. The very last one of its kind dies, and that is the end of the genetic line forever. We can’t see those lights going out, but be assured it is happening. And this Sixth Great Extinction is not new and it is not something we can blame on natural cycles.

The increasing number of humans on the Earth; the voracious appetites we have for stuff and the enormous footprint we leave in our wake of resource consumption; and now the extra heat our carbon era has left in the atmosphere—all of this disturbance of natural checks and balances is rapidly leading to a planet unlike the one experienced by living things, maybe not EVER, but certainly over the 200k years of hominid presence or the 10k years of proto-civilization.

Every living organism on every continent and in every biome is being challenged by the changes Homo sapiens has created. And our arrogance has us thinking we will be just be about our business of doing what is best for our own kin, corporation or country. And in the end, it will be self-absorbed indifference and willful ignorance that will do us in.

Extirpated. Eradicated. Extinct. As species disappear, we are burning the precious books–the last and only existing copies–from the Library of Life. Few of the species whose way of life has brought this about seem bothered by this emergency. Humankind may yet be a self-terminating species, but it will not be because we did not see it coming.

Global Syn-WHAT?

The phrase “global syndemic” immediately drew my sustained attention when it first appeared as a result of an initiative and study produced by the science journal Lancet in January of this year.

tldr: Scroll down to the 3 minute video explanation.

Most folks know PANdemic as an outbreak of illness that brings about large-scale loss of health, impacting whole continents or multiple continents.

A SYNdemic is a cluster of related pandemics–a synergistic epidemic. The bad news is that together, their impact is greater than one pandemic alone. The good news is that, if we do the right thing for long enough and effectively enough, we reduce the risk of all the clustered pandemics–not at once, but over generations.

The Global Syndemic described by Lancet focuses on the inter-related and serious health threats of malnutrition(s)–undernutrition and obesity, along with the impending physical and mental and environmental health impacts of climate change.

I have been encouraged by this broad-brush, wholistic understanding of the ecology of human failure with regard to the future of our species. It seeks to lay the axe to the root of the problems rather than merely addressing the symptoms in the near term.

On the other hand, it would be easy to just go limp and do nothing. Or rage against the machine (insert your despised government, political party or politician) and keep pressing the accelerator of Business as Usual until we run out of runway.

This video does a pretty good job of introducing the concept of global syndemic, so that when you hear about it again, you’ll have some background.

The so-what for Floyd County going forward is that we can think ahead about addressing the Food System locally and its impact on human, soil and forest health, and in so doing, mitigate the combined effect of the looming syndemic.

The wetter wets, drier drys, colder colds and hotter hots of the uncertain climate future, of course, will be a wild card in this effort.

Sustainable Prosperity

There are many who don’t hear the music; and many of the more powerful who hear it, and don’t want to get to the end of the dance. It is a new rhythm and meter called the Next Economy. And it is stepping on a lot of toes.

No wonder that it seems discordant and unfamiliar to the Growth Forever economy folk. It seems strange—dangerous even—to ears that cannot hear the words when it is suggested that so much must change so quickly. We can’t go forward much farther with BAU. Business has been as usual for a half century, or a century, depending on how you measure it.

And we have waltzed so near the edge of the precipice it makes one giddy, should they dare to look down. Most BAU folk don’t look down.

And those audacious enough to do so look to the other side of the chasm, across a long bit of stumbling and occasionally purposeful staggering to the music, with their eye on the world that has changed partners. Some argue you can’t get there from here, just accept that and live out your lives, best you can.

But others see it clearly, and they are becoming vocal about the reasons their future will no longer tolerate their father’s economics, built on the backs of our carbon energy slaves; powered by a disempowered workforce whose poverty is only now becoming so clear to them–a dis-ease given increase at the same rate at which the living planet and its non-human creatures have become impoverished and its habitats despoiled.

The New Economy folks don’t fully know the how, but they see the end-goal what, more or less clearly. And the bar has never been set any higher for our species. In the end, regardless of the pejorative labels attached to the awkward, difficult and disruptive dance ahead of us, the new waltz will come, if somehow we can strike up the band. Now.

And my children’s generation or the next or the one after that may see a sustainable, just, and equitable prosperity and true well-being that goes far beyond the “happiness” whose pursuit has, at best, failed to satisfy and turned citizens into mere customers and consumers.

Read more on this topic from Resilience.com…

Dance Me to the End of Love ~ An Economics for Tomorrow

Bottled Water: The Biggest Con of All Time?

Last night at the Floyd Country Store (and more at a new venue perhaps next year) we viewed the 38th movie in six and a half years of this SustainFloyd program of information-sharing (not to mention Pot Luck Suppers).

Some of these movies have lead to direct action within the community, others to targeted discussions in other organizations about environmental or community well-being issues; and most movies have shed a different light on some aspect of life on Earth that makes the viewer see the ordinary understandings–of things like cargo shipping, gas fracking, food waste–through a different lens.

The movie last evening was released in 2009. It paints a bleak picture and sounds a warning–and things have gotten worse since a decade ago. The threat to person and planet is water. Specifically, water taken from municipal sources or stolen from community commons and put in plastic, then made sexy by the same marketing psychology and massive money resources that promoted cigarettes.

This has to stop. And it will. Nature bats last. We are going into a late inning and are at bat. What will we do–in Floyd County, in our own neighborhoods, our own homes–to become part of the solution?

The discussion following the film heard more than one person saying “we should see to it that more people, and especially school-age kids, see this, know this, and act on this information.” Lives literally could depend on it, as more plastic microbits end up in sea creatures and our diet, not to even consider the toxins leaching from the plastic and commonly contained in the unregulated water inside the “spring water” from municipal big-city sources.

Links below let you view it on Amazon Prime; watch it free (in low quality with Spanish subtitles) on YouTube; and read a review of the health issues raised in the movie.

Amazon.com: Watch Tapped | Prime Video https://www.amazon.com/Tapped-Dennis-Kucinich/dp/B079TKTPDG/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1544787544&sr=1-1&keywords=tapped

https://youtu.be/CadgGSVRZNo Watch full movie, low quality with Spanish subtitles

The Dangers in Your Drinking Water | Tapped: The Movie https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/26/why-is-water-the-next-empire.aspx

The Wraiths of Riches Who Rule the Earth

…Brazil has elected a new far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who favors abolishing protected indigenous lands. He has promised to scale back enforcement of environmental laws, calling them an impediment to economic growth, and has made his intentions for the Amazon clear.

“Where there is indigenous land,” he said last year, “there is wealth underneath it.”

The elected Gods of Mammon will dig under cities, under schools, under parks and islands and mountains and rainforests–will turn Earth into profit; into temporary freedom from the certainty of death. They will do this as long and as often as we let them.

They will convert any living spaces or living creatures into money and power until there is nothing left to consume. If we let them.

…From 2006 through 2017, Brazil’s part of the Amazon lost roughly 91,890 square miles of forest cover — an area larger than New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Connecticut combined, according to an analysis of satellite images by Global Forest Watch.