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. […]

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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.

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

Zebra Finch Parents Sing To Their Eggs To Warn Them Of Climate Change

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A study published in Science has found that Zebra Finches change the songs they sing to their young while they’re still in their eggs, varying with temperature differences.

Under experimental conditions – during incubation some of the eggs were removed and not exposed to the parents warning songs (hearing different sounds), while the others were kept in the nest with their parents and heard the warning songs  – the researchers found that those babies who hatched who hadn’t heard the warning song displayed growth, developmental and behavioural differences to those who had.

Taken from an article in Smithsonian –

“This acoustic signal is potentially being used to program the development of offspring,” says Kate Buchanan, an associate professor of animal ecology at Deakin University in Australia and the senior author of the new paper. “Hearing the call affects your rate of growth relative to the temperature that you experience.

“Animals have very subtle ways of inferring how the environment is likely to change, and (being able) to develop and adapt accordingly,” she added. “We’re only looking at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we recognize so far… It is quite paradigm-shifting.”

Alongside the interest this raises in an academic sense, regarding evolutionary theory, non-human psychology and zoosemiotics, this scientific research is valuable for environmentalists. An immediate reason for this is that it further calls into question what Derrick Jensen calls “human supremacism” in the great chain of being – the social hierarchy of civilisation that places God, “civilised” humans and the mega-technic above non-human animals, flora and indigenous “savage-primitives”.

We environmentalists and people who embrace feral-being all sing our songs about climate change and ecocide, in all manner of ways, in desperation and despair towards the horror as we witness this cultures onslaught. I invite you to now listen to the song of a mother Zebra Finch singing to her eggs.