Category Archives: environment

The wrong kind of trees: Ireland’s afforestation meets resistance | World news | The Guardian

Coillte, a state-owned commercial forestry business, started buying land and planting here in the 1960s. Private companies, encouraged by tax breaks, followed. Farm land vanished as Sitkas multiplied. They now number an estimated 34.5m – more than 1,000 for each inhabitant. The trees mature in about 30 years – exponentially faster than oak – and are then felled, making way for a fresh plantation. “The forest closed in bit by bit,” said McCaffrey, a farmer, who now feels surrounded. The trees eclipse sunlight, exude mist and block wifi and phone networks, inducing isolation, he said. “It’s a death sentence for the townlands.” These non-native trees carpet the soil with acidic needles and smother wildlife, said Natalia Beylis, an artist. “A lot of people find them spooky because they don’t have life in them. They’re silent except on the edges.”

Source: The wrong kind of trees: Ireland’s afforestation meets resistance | World news | The Guardian

Vietnam’s Ongoing Fight Against Agent Orange – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese suffer from gene mutations resulting from the Americans’ use of Agent Orange during the war. Birth defects are still a regular occurrence. Now, 44 years later, the U.S. has suddenly pledged more aid.

Source: Vietnam’s Ongoing Fight Against Agent Orange – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Avian Flu Diary: Nature: Bat Influenza Receptors In Other Mammals (Including Humans) Bats flourish and overpopulate when humans overproduce fruits that bats feed on! Game on! and who knows when we strike out!

#13,894 Exactly 7 years ago today ( Feb 27, 2012 ) we looked at an announcement from scientists from the U.S. CDC and the Universid…

Source: Avian Flu Diary: Nature: Bat Influenza Receptors In Other Mammals (Including Humans)

MSF suspends work at Katwa Ebola center as WHO seeks more support | CIDRAP

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said today that it has suspended all activities at the Ebola treatment center in Katwa, following a violent attack over the weekend, severely limiting access to care in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) main hot spot.

Source: MSF suspends work at Katwa Ebola center as WHO seeks more support | CIDRAP

What the pesticides in our urine tell us about organic food | Kendra Klein and Anna Lappé | Opinion | The Guardian

Of the 14 chemicals tested, every single member of every family had detectable levels. After switching to an organic diet, these levels dropped dramatically. Levels across all pesticides dropped by more than half on average. Detectable levels for the pesticide malathion, a probable human carcinogen according to the World Health Organization, decreased a dramatic 95% . Malathion was just one of the pesticides found in this study that are part of a group called organophosphates, which have long concerned public health experts because of their impact on children’s developing brains. Created as nerve agents in World War II, organophosphates have been linked to increased rates of autism, learning disabilities, and reduced IQ in children. The organophosphate chlorpyrifos, found in all of the family members, is so worrisome to public health that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) planned to ban it in 2017 – a proposal dropped by the Trump administration. In the wake of inaction from the administration, Hawaii passed the first state level chlorpyrifos ban in 2018; and Representative Nydia Velázquez introduced a federal bill to ban it.

Source: What the pesticides in our urine tell us about organic food | Kendra Klein and Anna Lappé | Opinion | The Guardian

Top Leader at Interior Dept. Pushes a Policy Favoring His Former Client – The New York Times

As a lobbyist and lawyer, David Bernhardt fought for years on behalf of a group of California farmers to weaken Endangered Species Act protections for a finger-size fish, the delta smelt, to gain access to irrigation water. As a top official since 2017 at the Interior Department, Mr. Bernhardt has been finishing the job: He is working to strip away the rules the farmers had hired him to oppose.

Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’ | Environment | The Guardian

“The main cause of the decline is agricultural intensification,” Sánchez-Bayo said. “That means the elimination of all trees and shrubs that normally surround the fields, so there are plain, bare fields that are treated with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides.” He said the demise of insects appears to have started at the dawn of the 20th century, accelerated during the 1950s and 1960s and reached “alarming proportions” over the last two decades. Advertisement He thinks new classes of insecticides introduced in the last 20 years, including neonicotinoids and fipronil, have been particularly damaging as they are used routinely and persist in the environment: “They sterilise the soil, killing all the grubs.” This has effects even in nature reserves nearby; the 75% insect losses recorded in Germany were in protected areas.

Source: Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’ | Environment | The Guardian