Desertification – Agriculturally Induced Ecological And Climatic Shifts Created The Sahara Desert

When thinking about the Sahara do you picture a green landscape, lush with vegetation and teeming with life? Of course not! Because today the Sahara is a desert, dry and arid: a harsh and unforgiving landscape. The ecoregion is the worlds largest hot desert, stretching across North Africa, from the Red Sea to the Atlantic ocean. […]

Very hot climate - Sahara Desert, Libya copy

When thinking about the Sahara do you picture a green landscape, lush with vegetation and teeming with life? Of course not! Because today the Sahara is a desert, dry and arid: a harsh and unforgiving landscape.

The ecoregion is the worlds largest hot desert, stretching across North Africa, from the Red Sea to the Atlantic ocean. Geoarcheological research by Dr. David Wright of Seoul National University has found that human driven ecological and climatic changes, brought about through the advent of agriculture, are the principle cause of the shift from the lush green landscape it once was into the ecoregion we know today.

His research has found that, as vegetation removal increased to introduce domesticated livestock, the amount of sunlight reflected off the earths surface increased, causing shifts in atmospheric conditions that resulted in reduced monsoon rainfall. This then lead to escalating vegetation loss and desertifiction, creating a feedback loop that spread across the ecoregion.

Agriculture owes its roots in shift from hunt-gatherer polycultures into the monoculture of civilisation at approximately 10,000 BC- the cradle of civilisation being the fertile crescent, which spanned from the Persian Gulf to Upper Egypt. Urbanisation and the advent of cities are other defining features of civilisation, whose origins for contemporary global civilisation are found in the fertile crescent.

When discussing the introduction of agriculture by Euroamericans in the Americas, Dr. David Wright states – “(m)ore analogous to the African context, the introduction of domesticated livestock by Euroamericans into semi-arid and arid regions of the Americas profoundly altered the ecosystem, inducing regime shifts in many regions. Grazing and browsing ungulates evolved in the Americas during the Cenozoic and were a critical component of the ecological matrix (Grayson, 2011; Woodburne, 2012). Prior to Euroamerican settlement, vast prairie grasslands spanned the interior upland regions of both North and South America. However, with the exception of Highland South America, there were no domesticated grazers present before the arrival of European settlers. Cattle (Bos taurus)  introduced a new pressure to the landscape that spatially and temporally correlates to a regime shift from grassland to scrubland (Van Auken, 2000).”

Dr. Wright’s research displays how, as well as being an immediately destructive process through the loss in vegetation, agriculture creates conditions for escalating feedback loops, with increasingly worsening results. And with the contemporary food crisis bringing about a global land grab for domestic consumption, changes in climate and soil destruction is worsening too. In Britain, soil degradation through intensive farming has gotten us to the point where we have about 100 harvests left, at current rates of consumption.

Extensive damming and draining projects are now worsening the ecological conditions of the area that once was the fertile crescent, with no efforts by the governments to reduce or reverse the damage. And given that 15% of the worlds human populations currently live in deserts, the importance of Wright’s findings are apparent because, as he states “the implications for how we change ecological systems have a direct impact on whether humans will be able to survive indefinitely in arid environments.”

 

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Oceans Are Warming 13% Faster Than Previously Thought

According to research published by Science Advances, the worlds oceans are warming 13% faster than stated by previous estimates.

In a press release, the research team had this to say –

The oceans are affecting weather and climate through more intense rains. This process is a major reason why 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded at the Earth’s surface, beating out 2015 which was the previous record. Additionally 2015 was a year with record hurricanes, heat waves, droughts, and wild-fires around the world.”

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Ocean warming is already directly affecting bird and fish populations across the globe. Ocean warming is responsible for the drastic decline in the ocean’s phytoplankton, which will only worsen with the continuing rises in temperatures. And the way in which it is affecting weather systems across the planet is a disaster for the biosphere.

Pipeline Resistance Dangers and Quashing Dissent in Florida–Why We Must #StopSabalTrail

This is a report provided by a friend/contact, who is involved in the resistance to stop the Sabal Trail Transmission Pipeline.

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Photo of Manatee by Jill Yelverton

The pipeline broke ground the first week of September 2016 and according to some accounts is 90 to 95% completed. Some articles make it sound like they just began construction. The plans for this pipeline were implemented in 2013 to transport fracked gas/methane from various areas up north. We were talking to citizens back then but few heard us and there were almost no stories in the mainstream media. In many places right now, the pipe is already installed and covered with soil. The product from this pipeline is going for export. It will not do anything to help Americans in the way of jobs or lowering energy costs.

A Spectra employee told one of our legal people that once the pipe is installed, anything can be run through it. Tar sands, bitumen, crude oil, etc. This pipe infrastructure can be used to steal our water, though few have thought of that possibility. There are 44 pipelines being planned or built in North America right now. They are all connected in some manner. This is an infrastructure that the powers that be will be able to do almost anything with. I am sure that eventually they will be stealing our water and that the fracking industry is waiting to gain a foothold in this state. The US has become the latest sacrifice zone. The robbing of natural resources in foreign lands has come home to the US. As Russell Means, indigenous leader and activist said before he passed, “…we are ALL living on the reservation now.”

People have been affected everywhere. Property owners in the path of the pipeline have become victims of eminent domain. And other property owners NEAR or CONTIGUOUS to the pipeline path are in just as much danger. They can’t even sell their properties for $1. They have to walk away from them. Communities of color have either no idea what the pipeline is for, how damaging it is or possess the resources to fight legally.

The impact to flora, fauna, our soil and water and even the human impact cannot be measured. The danger from explosions which are a common occurrence anywhere there is a pipeline is rarely mentioned. We have sinkholes here, the pipelines can shift under the ground; there is no way to keep them stable. And our governor has proposed transporting this product via passenger rail. The processing centers are being planned next to nuclear facilities and our shipping ports. What could possibly go wrong?

As evidenced by #StandingRock and other pipeline fights across the country, it is no longer safe to resist or actively resist. Bodily injury, legal implications resulting in financial costs, losing employment and having a criminal record takes a toll on grassroots activists. The need for financial backing to continue to resist has been made a priority and sometimes results in scams. Even environmental groups have taken payouts by the polluters. Sincere activists have no idea who or what group or individual activist to support.

With a police shooting at the pipeline on February 26th that resulted in a death, activists are asking themselves if their current methods of dissent are working or if new strategies to resist are needed. Of further concern now are the attempts to quash resistance and opposition organizing online. There is a blatant disregard of those laws that are supposed to maintain our personal sovereignty, allow for us to be truly free people and guarantee an open and free press as evidenced by the following document:
ACLU CHALLENGES WARRANT TO SEARCH DATA OF FACEBOOK PAGE FOR GROUP PROTESTING DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE
https://www.aclu.org/…/aclu-challenges-warrant-search-data-…

Projected date for completion of the Sabal Trail Pipeline is June 1, 2017. The fight is on to #stopsabaltrail. Are we too late?

http://www.stopsabaltrail.com.
http://www.facebook.com/groups/stopsabaltrailpipeline
http://www.facebook.com/stopsabaltrail
http://www.twitter.com/stopsabaltrail

PLEASE HELP US FIGHT THIS PIPELINE THROUGH ART! Read about it: http://www.gofundme.com/bluedtrees

#nodapl #waterislife #waterissacred #stopsabaltrail #stopsabaltrailpipeline #SST#STT #nopipelinesever #rezpectourwater #mniwiconi #bluedtreessymphony#economicjustice

Disposable Plastic Bottles – A Disaster For Wildlife And Rivers

Plastic bottles are a common part of daily life in the western world. In the US 1,500 plastic bottles are consumed every second, 80% of which end up on landfill sites, leaching chemicals into the ground. They contain Bisphenol A and phthalates, which have a harmful impact on human health and are released with heat. […]

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Plastic bottles are a common part of daily life in the western world. In the US 1,500 plastic bottles are consumed every second, 80% of which end up on landfill sites, leaching chemicals into the ground.

They contain Bisphenol A and phthalates, which have a harmful impact on human health and are released with heat.

They are made from the petroleum product called polyethylene terephthalate, which requires fossil fuels to produce and be transported. In their production, they require two gallons of water for the purification process of one gallon of water. They take longer than a human lifetime to decompose – 450 years as one estimate states.

Littering means many end up in ecosystems, such as rivers, where they create a plethora of problems for the animals who live there, such as their tops being mistaken for food by fish and birds, with 90% of seabirds now consuming trash.

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In Britain, plastic pollution is an environmental catastrophe for rivers, such as the Thames, with plastic bottles being one of the more common items found by those attempting to reduce the damage. The situation has gotten so bad that the Environmental Audit Committee has launched an inquiry into the damage caused by disposable drinking products.

Rather than tackling the issue at hand, most of the proposed solutions and strategies in place are based in industrial recycling measures. But, besides being ineffective and inefficient, the industrial recycling industry comes with an entirety of its own toxic problems and pollutants.

Solving the problems created by plastic pollution appear too vast to comprehend, especially when so many believe in the false promises of the bright-green business-as-usual-environmentalism that dominates discussion. But with techno-utopians and those in positions of institutional authority being less than helpful, it is clear that it is up to individuals and communities who value the health of the ecosystems they are part of to do what they can to reduce the damage of this culture and resist its relentless violence towards the living world.

I leave you with this quote from prominent environmentalist writer Derrick Jensen –

“By now plastic is almost everywhere. By everywhere I mean in a huge portion of consumer products, in food and packaging, in liquid containers and the liquids they contain. By everywhere I mean in the oceans and in the air and on the land. By everywhere I mean on Mount Everest and in the Marianas Trench and in remote forests.”

The Confusion Regarding Air Pollution In The UK And Its Consequences: Human and Non-Human

In February last year, the far-right wing newspaper The Daily Mail reported that air pollution is “killing” 40,000 British people a year. Several months later, Greenpeace posted on their website that air pollution is causing 40,000 lives to be “cut short”.

These claims have been criticised within the British media and by scientists. And the truth seems to indicate that air pollution, rather than being the sole cause of these deaths, is actually a contributing factor in a situation that is highly complex and difficult to understand.

One of the central issues is throughout this debate has been that the figure of 40,000 was produced through statistical research. The problem here is that, statistical evidence, while it can be beneficial in some areas of scientific research, is reductive to the extent that it often limits the variables so as to remove all context from the findings and produce numbers that are don’t actually reflect the situational truth.

So the questions we really need to ask is, what is the truth, in its situated context? What can we say we really know, given that most of us aren’t scientists and are relying on evidence produced by those with personal agendas? Because the lies told by Exxon scientists regarding the harmful effects of oil and global warming serve as a reminder that scientific research isn’t performed in a non-political vacuum, free from authoritarian dynamics that serve the interests of elites.

It is highly likely that air pollution globally causes the death of more than 3 million people, 75% of which are in Asia, where economic globalisation has taken a foothold in, leading to the escalation of industrialism (often in the guise of “development) across the continent. This stands to reason, given the how much air pollution has risen across the worlds cities and the encroachment of urbanisation in the “developing” world. In fact, The World Health Organisation has previously reported that air pollution kills 6.5 million people a year and that pollution causes the deaths of 1.7 children a year. Proposed solutions to this problem, such as a new type of inhaler, are reliant on the production of technologies – technologies whose production are reliant on industrial production and distribution, which are the leading contributing factors in the global air crisis.

According to Carbon Brief, the UK’s carbon emissions fell by 6% in 2016, which would indicate a (slightly) improved situation. But primary air pollutants include – carbon dioxide, sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, particulates, persistent free radicals, toxic metals, ammonia, chlorofluorocarbons, odours from sewage and industrial processes, and radioactive pollutants. So does this statistic reflect the situated truth? Professor Stephen Holgate, Medical Research Council Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology and Honorary Consultant Physician within Medicine at the University of Southampton, states in the video below that air pollution is “affecting our health in many different ways, that we’re only just beginning to understand”.

So far the focus here has been entirely anthropocentric – that is, with a focus on the impact on humans. So what of the non-human impact?

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Air pollutants like sulphuric acid, when combined with the water droplets in clouds, can cause the water droplets to become acidic and form acid rain. This leads to physiological damage to plant cells and geochemical changes in soils and soil waters that obstruct growth by affecting absorption of nutrients by roots and by leaching nutrients from soil. In British trees this causes damage to their leaves, which limits the nutrients available to them.

Air pollution can also cause eutrophication. This is the process whereby rain can carry and deposit the nitrogen in some pollutants on rivers and soils, which adversely affects the nutrients in the soil and water bodies. This impacts upon the living beings, such as the fish, frogs, insects and birds who make rivers their homes, which impacts the wider biodiversity of these islands.

The ground-level ozone, produced via air pollution, is also highly harmful for vegetation and can have a drastic impact on ecosystems and the animals who make those ecosystems their homes.

So it is apparent that air pollution is a problem, for the human animal and non-human-living-beings, and the situation is one that is highly complex, confused through the mediums that attempt to reduce the context of the discussion to only those variables that suit their particular interests.

Proposed solutions are highly reliant on the effectiveness of state measures, which have so far failed to improve the situation, and technologies that involve the same industrial processes that are producing this worsening situation. The eco-extremist journal Atassa states – “We are now entering an age of extremes, an age of uncertainty, where leftist illusions and conservative platitudes can no longer prepare us for our future course”. This is a truth than anarchists and environmentalists need to embrace.

I’m going to end this with a quote from a book I am currently reading, available through Little Black Cart (who also published Feral Consciousness).

Biodiversity is the expression of healthy ecology. It may seem distant to these Isles because these Isles are sick. It has been said that civilised man walks the earth leaving deserts in his footprints. As the frontiers of this civilisation opened up, so the cedars of Lebanon and Broadleaf forests of this island were trampled underfoot. With the great forests all but destroyed the soils of Lebanon eroded, and washed and blew away. Thanks to this island’s mild temperate climate, its fate was to remain a different kind of desert. A desert of ploughed fields, of a thousand swaying barley stalks – from Cracks in a Grey Sky an anthology of Do Or Die: Voices from the Ecological Resistance

Into the Gloaming by Ramon Elani

This is a poem written by friend of ours Ramon Elani, taken from his personal blog The Tigers Leap with his consent.

Eland has a PhD in Philosophy, has written for both The Dark Mountain project and the eco-extremist journal Atassa, and draws from Taoist themes in a great deal of his writings.

 

Late autumn hours fall,

the scent of decaying Oak leaves

mix’t with the fragrance of the mist

as it rises, curling from beds of moss

and gently swaying ferns.

A soft wind plays through the pines,

it bears the kennings

deep into the heart of the gloaming time.

Resounder, the One of the Streams, Hoary Beard.

 

We wait for the Stranger at the Door,

the light runs fast

pursued by dreams of the man on the gallows.

When he saw the carved bones in his hands

he fell to screaming.

Word from word,

deed from deed,

do you know the twelfth

that’ll cause the dead to speak?

 

Between this world and the next,

when the dreams and the hours become one,

can we find the strength to remember?

Remember when to quit the grazing ground,

remember to keep to the footpaths

and shun the highways,

remember to hang your clothes between two wooden stakes,

remember why the eagle weeps when it reaches the shore.

Remember the grinning wolf,

the grunting boar,

the dancing bear.

 

Does the moon still know it’s course through the sky?

Do leeks still grow from the green earth?

The sun grows dark and the world slips into forgetful sleep.

Like a fir tree,

limbless and charred,

where once under the roof of gold

and field unsowed.

Who will abide now

in the House of the Wind?

The old woman sits in the Ironwood

while murderers wade deep in the roiling water.

 

It goes hard on earth

when rootless trees stand

among the hail of reeds.

Keep the ancient promise

and travel with me through the mists of night.

Come resolute of horn,

the stalker on the moors.

Cliff-dweller,

Harvest-ruiner,

what the wolf left behind.

Cast your loss into a deep forest tarn,

and the crone of memory shall whisper to you

from its depths:

“Go back,”

“Go back,”

“There’s nothing here for you.”

 

Wolf-Hater,

The one who bends the gallows,

Go down into memory and knowledge

On ravens’ wings!

God of carved knucklebones,

Traveler to nine places only known

By the women of the Stinking Nightshade

Wand weavers, horse penis graspers,

The ones who wrap tattered rags

Around the agony twisted bones of winter-dead trees,

To pray to wells and fountains,

To the rich earth slime that bubbles and froths.

Bog-haunters, Fungus-belt wearers,

They are buried in wagons.

Troll-Wakers. Knot-tiers,

They weave while their husbands fight,

And bind the feet of the enemy with invisible hairs,

So he dies screaming in blood.

Fierce Seeress,

Whose staff manly hands should not touch,

You have your wand and thread,

I have my fists and mad eye.

I am hanged,

You sit on thrones.

Oak and holly,

run naked into the twilight forest.

Make the others remember why

they once feared the rustling leaves.

They will remember why

the shapes among the trees

haunted their sleep.

They think that those who rest

beneath the vines

are gone.

But they will see us again

under the shrieking moon.

They will feel the teeth,

the talons, the tusks.

The mists will swallow the world

and all will be forgotten.