What? No Birds?

A couple of species that just might outlast us...
Buzz… Buzz… Buzz… B??

Whaaattt? No birds?

Looks like the environmental Rip Van Winkles among us, after letting Monsanto, Bayer et al. poison everything that isn’t a profitable crop, are finally getting a rude awakening:

CBC’s Ontario Today asked people to call in and report what species they’re not seeing now that they used to see. The many responses were scary. Here’s one dramatic example:

Russ, a farmer from Acton, ON, has seen 50 barn swallows every year in his barn. This year: NONE. Suddenly, none.

The 23-minute podcast is here.

We snored through the Monsanto Roundup years and even the recent Bayer Neonicotinoid bee-killing years. “Health Canada” is a disgrace to its name, in recent years just a follower and a pawn of agribusiness and big pharma. And, down south, Monsanto is close to being favoured with draconian legislation that will nullify a ton of existing local American laws against GE crops!!

Maybe the accelerated vanishing of our feathered, fellow-vertebrate friends like barn swallows and (in our back yard) hummingbirds, will wake us up to the global threat to the entire food chain caused by pesticides that are hugely potent and woefully undertested. We are blind to the critical importance of the tiny, even microscopic, living things in this world, without which the bigger things like us can not continue to survive.

Gotta be a better way than snoozing our way to mass extinction…

We must learn to tread gently on our earth. We’ve been struttin’ way too long, John…

Hummingbird at feeder
Ruby-throated at our feeder in 2012
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Bayer Just Never Quits :(

A petition to sign (see below):

Europe has had the courage to place a moratorium on neonicotinic pesticides since many scientists suspect that the widespread use of these toxins seems to have the world’s bees dropping, er, like flies. Bayer is, like a good, immortal “corporate person,” suing the pants off Europe for placing insects, pollination and the long term health of the biosphere above Bayer’s somewhat narrower goals. Continue reading “Bayer Just Never Quits :(“

Unbridled Capitalism – Incompatible With Human Survival

A couple of species that just might outlast us...
A couple of species that just might outlast us…

This has been a week of cautious hope for me:

First: Naomi Klein has laboured for 5 years and come out with a new book called This Changes Everything. I have pre-ordered it from our big Canadian book chain as it comes out soon. Klein was just interviewed about this book by Michael Enright on his great Sunday morning program, The Sunday Edition. You can listen to the podcast here. Klein argues in her book that nothing short of a revolution is needed to remove the current impasse between where we need to be (i.e. in a sustainable biosphere) and where our capitalism-dominated model will inevitably keep us until we run out of oxygen. We could have taken a gradual route to sustainability had we taken action in the late eighties when the problem became obvious to anyone with a brain connected to a heart, but now no gradual options are left. Years ago I used the analogy of putting on the brakes before our runaway species careens into Mother Earth’s equivalent of a brick wall. A gentle slowdown vs flying through the windshield.

Bill Clinton’s America held out for a market-driven solution – LULUCF-based carbon sinks – as the basis for the doomed 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Ironically, after insisting on this complicated approach, they never signed the treaty.

I was saddened to hear that The Sunday Edition has been shortened from three hours to two. I had hoped that the best of CBC radio would somehow escape the partisan, anti-CBC financial butchering performed by Harper’s regime. Michael’s interviews are long enough to intelligently explore an issue. As a result, the 2-hour format limits the program to two in-depth conversations.

Second: I just received this really superb, easy-to-watch, four minute YouTube video produced by the Council of Canadians that efficiently (and charmingly) destroys the idea of building a pipeline to carry DILBIT (diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands) across Canada to our East Coast for export. Among other damning bits of info, the lively artboard presentation points out that the “cleanup” of  Enbridge’s 2010 Kalamazoo oil spill is entering its fifth year and has already cost a billion dollars.

So where’s the hope in all that?

Well, I do still believe there is a chance (rapidly diminishing, of course) for humans to avoid being perhaps the first species on the planet to engineer its own extinction. The intelligent presentations about these two, related, huge and urgent issues I witnessed this week have combined to nudge me ever so slightly above my normal bed of depression and despair.

We are not faced by a dilemma – to shit or get off the pot. We are left with this single choice: to get off the pot, and fast.

 

A Garden Speaks

A solitary sweet pea grows in our garden
A solitary sweet pea grows in our garden

A messy garden doesn’t reveal much about the occupant – basically like you have other priorities in life, leaving your neighbours to guess – or inquire – what they might be. You remain a private and, to the house-proud, a frustrating enigma.

A well-gardened property says a lot about who you are and what you value. It says that you have an eye for beauty if it’s mostly flowers and shrubs. Plantings of tomatoes, beans or onions on their own or among the flowers says you like fresh, home-grown fruit and/or vegetables. Our garden is mostly beauty with some edible stuff mixed in. We have several gardens, a small shed and a two-story house on our ~ 50′ by 145′ lot. We bought this place in 1985. It was one year old then, so we get the credit or the blame for how it looks now.

In the mid-1970’s I planted some corn outside our ground floor apartment in Etobicoke. It was cool to wake up and see the corn stalks waving in the morning breeze through our bedroom window. The message to our neighbours was probably that we were a little nuts. I was raised in the city, so there was no nostalgia involved. I didn’t say that a garden reveals everything about you.

Continue reading “A Garden Speaks”