There is also a mass microbial extinction occurring right now: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2094423-microbial-mass-...
I'm exhausted of this consumer society that quashes all appreciation for the dynamic, the non-linear, the relationships of the micro to the macro, of the individual to the mass, of ecologies.
Words can't express my irritation for the blindness of techno-utopians who think we should aim to be happier on Mars. Get a clue! This is our chance to terraform earth back to health! If we can't do that now, there really isn't a chance in hell we could do it with Mars. We need to fall in love with earth again, with all of its creatures, including humans, and even mosquitoes. By perpetuating that live-in-space fantasy, you're sealing the fate of peoples' hearts, crushing the precious seeds of hope and trust in earth's fragile life system, and in humans' potential to bond with earth sustainably.
(Sometimes I do wish ignorant power mongerers and unrepentant rapists would go take a long time-out in the void of space. Maybe that would catalyze the spiritual realization we desperately need them to have. The risk, of course, is alienation.)
Okay... So everything you and I do and say right now matters tremendously. We are at a critical point. It's all that ever has mattered but it especially matters now.
I saw someone below talking about rewilding some spent grazing land. That's real stuff, thank you.
I used to work as a microbiologist / geneticist. One of the standard exercises that beginning microbiology students perform is to
* take a small number of bacteria
* inoculate the bacteria into a sterile container of liquid "food"
* measure bacterial growth in the container versus time
Once the bacteria get going, there's an exponential explosion in their growth. "Exponential" growth continues until they begin to exhaust their resources (food). I used to think about that a lot ("How dumb the bacteria are. They can't plan for the future. They're unaware of how they fit into the larger picture and they just 'race' w/ each other until they deplete their own resources.").
Collectively, I'm not sure we are much different.
I'm sure we're not. Individually we can recognize the a problem. However the problem is there's a lot of people and they all have different ideas about what the problem is, how serious the problem is, how immediate or drastic any action needs to be taken etc. Not to mention those who deny there's even a problem at all. Or people believe we don't need to do anything because the big brains will magic the problem away with some science if we throw enough money at the problem. Try to get anything meaningful done with that mish mosh of characters running the show.
Scaling things down and making them really sustainable is not nearly as obvious and easy task as some people make it out to be.
The only thing I can recommend without reservation: try not to eat meat, unless you need it for health reasons. Most people can easily do that and it does have a significant impact on a lot of things.
I dont share that view of the modern history of agricultural development - that it is the best that could have happened and as good as it gets. Without having the time to refute that outlook, I'm just noticing that your appeal to not forget it made or linked no cases to support it.
Mars surface area : about 144.8 million km²
Earth Desert area* : about 44 million km²
[*] including Antarctica & Arctic
I dunno about that, but I agree with everything else: we could easily end up “terraforming” the deserts (including Antarctica) just to prove the tech for a Mars colony is viable. Putting a full city, complete with self-sustaining farms, on the top of Mt Everest or at the south pole is technically easier than Mars, though perhaps not politically.
No, not what you say (it has all been said before), only what you do.
So what are you doing? Hacker News is full of angry comments about the environment but the only discussions of action are in regards to what other people or the government should do.
Isn't it telling that all we can muster is angry internet posts?
The typical HN reader probably has a disproportionately negative impact on the environment while simultaneously being disproportionately vocal about the need for change...
> The food web appears to have been obliterated from the bottom. It’s credible that the authors link the cascade to arthropod loss, Schowalter said, because “you have all these different taxa showing the same trends — the insectivorous birds, frogs and lizards — but you don’t see those among seed-feeding birds.”
> Lister and Garcia attribute this crash to climate. In the same 40-year period as the arthropod crash, the average high temperature in the rain forest increased by 4 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperatures in the tropics stick to a narrow band. The invertebrates that live there, likewise, are adapted to these temperatures and fare poorly outside them; bugs cannot regulate their internal heat.
In 1945 after world war 2, the US had an abundance of ammunition supply and decided do make use of it in other means than warfare. They used that ammunition supply to make Chemical NPK fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and rodenticides. This was the onset of commercial farming and - not so ironically - exactly when the world insect popluation started decreasing! Now we are just seeing it in its most drastic potential.
Pesticides not only destroy the detoxifying organs in our body upon consumption, they also destroy the basis of every ecosystem on Earth!
They don't stop at just killing insects though. Ever hear of the phrase of war "Salt the earth", where countries would pour salt over airable land to knock out the enemies food supplies? Pesticides are salts! They destroy the Humus of the soil which contains all of the microfungi and microorganisms which have a symbiotic relationship with the roots of the plant to send filaments of nutrients through the roots and receive sap from the roots in return.
When you realize that the food you're getting is so much less nutrient dense than food that was farmed organically which actually obeys the laws of nature, you begin to realize that this commercially farmed food literally takes more energy and nutrients out of your body in the processes of digestion, metabolization, assimilation, and elimination than you get from the food!
What? Do you mean by direct consumption or residually on food?
> you begin to realize that this commercially farmed food literally takes more energy and nutrients out of your body in the processes of digestion, metabolization, assimilation, and elimination than you get from the food!
Confused by this too. By this logic those of us who rely on commercially farmed food (most of us) should be continually wasting away and soon dying, which is not the case
The processes of digestion, metabolization, assimilation, and elimination each take energy and nutrients to work. Foods grown in low-vitamin dense soil inherently have less nutrients to provide the organism which consumes them.
Be cautious in your assumption that everything is great with commercially farmed food. Widespread disease, reliance on stimulants like coffee, energy drinks, and even as extreme as ADHD medicine being given to children - even though the effects are almost identical to those of people being on cocaine - are becoming more widespread the more prevalent commercial farming becomes.
The rate of cancer in 1900 was 1 in 30,
1980 it was 1 in 5,
1990 1 in 4,
1995 1 in 3,
2000 1 in 2.
Correlation? causation? It's impossible to tell, but the idea that engineering mother nature to make her work more efficiently than the way she has engineered life over millions of years has yet to ever work in our favor each time we have tried throughout history.
Even taking this as a given, "less nutrient dense" is far from "so nutrient poor that digestion literally takes more energy than the food contains", which is what your original comment claimed.
> The rate of cancer in 1900 was 1 in 30, 1980 it was 1 in 5, 1990 1 in 4, 1995 1 in 3, 2000 1 in 2.
Ok. The cancer diagnosis rate has skyrocketed. That's a different point. In many ways this is good -- it means more people are living long enough with medical care to get a diagnosis.
> the idea that engineering mother nature to make her work more efficiently than the way she has engineered life over millions of years has yet to ever work in our favor each time we have tried throughout history
What? GMOs have worked out on a massive scale, improving billions of lives through new drought/pestilence/act-of-God-resistant strains.
I'm with you that agribusiness has many problems and bad actors, but the claims you're making go really far.
You mean the entirely symbolic ritual after an area is conquered? Or did you mean the myth that this was actually done to actually render the land infertile? 'cuz that didn't happen: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salting_the_earth
I normally wouldn't be this pedantic (oh, who am I kidding?), but when I got to this:
you begin to realize that this commercially farmed food literally takes more energy and nutrients out of your body in the processes of digestion, metabolization, assimilation, and elimination than you get from the food!
...I realized we'd wandered off to fantasy land, so a little pedantic banter couldn't make it worse.
Look at commercially farmed meats. How do you make the most money as a meat farmer? You sell meats by the pound so your goal is to get the heaviest animals possible. How do you get the biggest animals the fastest? You make them fat instead of muscular because it happens quicker. How do you do that? It turns out that you feed them garbage and treat them like garbage.
Cement powder, plastic chips, dead animal parts and even sewage are approved by the FDA to be fed to animals in commercial farms.
- make sure there is some type of water on your property, shallow pond would be ok
- build different biotopes: leave some pasture area, plant patches of different bushes.
- plant some fruit trees and few solitair trees (depending on your geography it might be oak, linden or whatever. Ask at your garden center)
- build/buy and place different insect hotels in various parts of property
- when mowing the grass always leave some part (say 1/3) intact
- I am not familiar with situation in US, but in Europe you can find mixes of wild species seedings for given geography. You can use those to speed up biodiversity growth in the area.
It's in the Irish midlands and I'll be living there as well in a 210ish year old cottage, which will certainly be a shift. For dealing with the grass I had some idea that sheep might be friendlier than mowing, but sheep also tend to destroy everything in their path and stop seedlings.
I was thinking I might try to grow food in this model - http://www.themarketgardener.com/book/ - but that would be on less than half the space.
Clearly I have lots of research to do.
"Restoring the ancient Caledonian Forest Alan Watson Featherstone TEDxFindhorn"
For more inspiration you can listen to the Tim Ferriss podcast with Jason Fried (CEO of Basecamp) somwhere at the end of the pocast he is talking his hobby of restoring prairie.
Edit: fixed the links
This is a great book wrote for the british isles, the design principles it covers would be very useful in a rewilding project
And this is a great book if you want to farm sustainably
Google for land trusts in your area.
That may not be a bad thing, of course. But definitely something to keep in consideration.
Given that there's a thatched cottage from ~1800 on the land it's already subject to a fair number of restrictions, incidentally, though those are all related to heritage.
Ask them when they last remember that being an issue. I'm guessing some time in the 1980s.
There are kids who drive these days and never had bugs on their windshield. They don't realize it's not normal.
I used to have an 1988 Volvo 240 that was a magnet for bugs just a few years ago.
Went to south Florida about three weeks ago... my windshield was almost completely covered in dead lovebugs.
Not on my '81 VW camper, it hasn't. Still the barn door with wheels it was thirty-seven years ago (we have not owned it the entire time). I clean the windshield to get the dirt off, not bugs. Similar vehicles ('77 Chevy full-sized van) I've owned in the past were bug magnets back in the day.
I have the same experience as you here in the U. S. on the motorcycle. The same areas of Oregon I'd ride through twenty years ago at the same time of year would leave me covered in bugs, and I'd carry a can of spray cleaner for the face shield, because waiting to clean it at gas stops wasn't soon enough.
Now the big can of spray cleaner stays on the workbench in the garage. I still carry a small can in the tankbag, but I think I've had the same can for a couple of years now. I still get bugs going through Oregon, but it can wait until I stop for gas now.
Or May/September in Florida when the love bugs are out. Or anytime the big mayflies (hexagenia limbata) are hatching in the midwest.
I drive a small SUV (Mazda CX-5), maybe the angle of the windshield in relation to the hood increases the chances of catching bugs?
This sentence made it hard for me to take the article seriously. What does a 60-fold decrease even mean? I understand what a 60-fold increase means: it means that there is now 60 times more than before. But it's not possible for there to be 60 times less than before for a quantity that cannot be negative. So we are left to wonder. Does it mean that there is now 1/60th as much as before? That is a peculiarly precise number. Is it really 1/60th i.e. 1.67% and not, say, 1/59th (1.69%)? Whatever the truth is, this sentence is obscuring it.
I don't mean to cast any doubt on the proposition that there is a serious problem here. This is a criticism of the journalism, not the science.
(the dry weight of all the captured invertebrates)
1. Why not just say that the numbers went down by 98% (i.e. 59/60)?
2. If you look at the graph, the numbers clearly went down by less than 98%.