the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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insect numbers fall by 76% in 27 years signaling an impending ‘ecological armageddon’

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The Guardian are warning of an ecological armageddon due to the data published in a study released yesterday which shows that insect populations have declined by over 75% in the last quarter century.

“Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth [but] there has been some kind of horrific decline,” said Prof Dave Goulson of Sussex University, UK, and part of the team behind the new study. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”

Insects are one of the most crucial elements in the global ecosystem as vital pollinators and as a food source for animals further up the food chain such as bats, birds and amphibians. The research was carried out in Germany which has been a popular location for recent studies on entomology with specific focus on the decline of pollinators. We have written before about the role of widespread pesticide use in the decline of insect population. Although researchers in this most recent study were unable to confirm the exact impact of pesticide use on the mass extinction of insects, other similar and more specific field studies have confirmed that there is a causal link between the two.

It is becoming more and more clear with every passing day that our current agricultural practices that require enormous chemical inputs and the clearing of natural wildlife refuges cannot be continued. Large scale industrial agriculture, rather than feeding the world is killing it. Once we exceed the ecological tipping point of an ecosystem, irreversible collapse is imminent.

You can read the full study on which the Guardian article was based article HERE


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largest field study of its kind shows that pesticide use is killing bees.

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We posted last week about a study carried out on bee populations in NNY and the effects that pathogens and parasites are having on bee populations in the region, however it seems as though bee health is the flavour of the month as another, much larger study has just been released which studied the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on honey bees and wild bees. While this is not the first study of its kind, and it largely confirms what we already knew, it is more comprehensive than previous lab-based studies  which have indicated that neonicotinoid pesticides cause considerable harm to bee populations and health.

Continue reading


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a mushroom with a story

book review by Samuel Oslund

Salvage capitalism, ecological assemblages, and precarity… These are a few concepts that Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing fleshes out in The Mushroom At the End of the World, a genre bending book that tracks the global economy by way of the Matsutake mushroom.

As a farmer, I have noticed that my own ways of thinking and seeing the world have shifted with each passing season. I have felt something akin to love for an animal that I knew would one day be dinner, have felt tremendous connection to invisible soil critters and life webs as I hoed through pea patches. Social scientists refer to this process as affect, the suggestion that other-than-human-beings (plants, animals, earth elements) can impact and shape our ways of being.  Continue reading


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a legal step forward in the fight against herbicides

Monsanto’s Roundup is facing increasing legal pressure with it’s active ingredient being labeled as potential carcinogen.  From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s marquee product, Roundup, is coming under fire from hundreds of legal challenges across the U.S., with individuals alleging that the herbicide is carcinogenic and linked to cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Whether the cases pay out for plaintiffs remains to be seen. But at the very least, they represent a big opportunity for litigators, with some thinking “glyphosate” could become a legal buzzword on par with asbestos.

The article suggests that the increasing legal cases against Monsanto is related to a recent change in the statute of limitations that allows individuals 2 years to file a lawsuit after they are aware of a possible health concern. Over the course of the next few weeks and months the number of cases good be in the thousands.

It’s hopeful trend in the longstanding legal battle farm workers and communities have been waging against the biotech giant.

You can see the full article here.


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seedy films

Misleading title perhaps… but for those of you that are curious about seed production, consider checking out this series of tutorials by Martina Widmer et Sylvie Seguin from the Coopérative Longomaï and the Forum Civique Européen.

Beautifully captured, this series takes you through all the stages of seed production for 32 different crops.

There are a ton of great books out there on seed saving, but it can be a bit of a challenge to find such consistent and well documented video tutorials.

And if you want a little more inspiration for why you might consider saving seed, have a look at this lovely post by greenhorns contributor Sophie Mendelson.

 


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buy nothing catalogue

milk-thistle

photo: Samuel Oslund

It’s that time of year.

The gifts are torn apart,the wrapping paper lays warm next to the dying tree, boots are on, and people are piling into cars, lining up at shops, trampling and fighting for deals, deals, deals!

We’re doing a little internal shopping. Check out the buy nothing catalogue, a list of things you already have and can appreciate free of cost.

click me!

Best wishes,

the greenhorns blog team.