The (ill-)health of our poor planet

To my huge distress, I have been noticing the lack of house martins and swallows this year. Last year, I saw my first on the Isle of Iona, on 28th March. Iona is more than 600 miles north of where I live, in gentle temperate surroundings, where now, end of the first week in May, I have seen, in the immediate locality, just three swallows where normally I’d expect to see around 15 or 16. I still haven’t seen a single house martin, and they normally arrive earlier.

I tell myself the hirundines are all just late; but we know there’s drought and insect loss (and pesticides) affecting watering holes and feeding places in mainland Europe, Spain and France, on their long journey from Africa.

I’m heartbroken at this.

We really can’t keep ignoring species loss – as big a problem for the rest of the natural world as climate change – and of course the two are inexorably linked.

And although it’s way past time we focused only on our human needs – it’s anthropocentrism that’s caused all this in the first place, in my view, and my own focus now is on shifting to an ecocentric approach in my life and my work – there is still the truth that we actually depend on everything else in the ecosystem, from pollinating insects to trees, and everything in the earth and water zones between or adjoining. We live in an utterly interconnected and interdependent web of being.
Today, May 7th 2019, The Guardian’s leading articles, based on the very recent UN’s Global Assessment Report (‘…the most thorough planetary health check ever undertaken’) are sobering, if not ‘new’ news.
Decline in global biomass of wild mammals is 82% in fewer than 50 years (or at least, that’s my understanding from the graph).
In terms of our diet, there has been change, driven by young people mainly, over the last few years: it’s much more mainstream now to eat a vegan diet; but a great many people still don’t want to look at this problem, and its effects:
Meat & dairy production accounts for 83% of farmland; 58% of greenhouse gas emissions; 57% of water pollution; 56% of air pollution; 33% of freshwater extraction; and ironically provides only 35% of our protein (2nd-hand at that, so to speak), and 18% of our calories.

4 thoughts on “The (ill-)health of our poor planet

  1. I think we should also consider the impact of electromagnetic fields that swathe us everywhere through WiFi.
    It is known that this has an impact on the well-being of plant and insect life.
    With the impending threat of 5G these effects could well be intensified.


  2. Hi Man-on-a-bicycle – thank you for taking the time to comment. You’re completely correct, and I’m involved in a great deal of research into, and online protesting about, EMFs myself (the protests are largely in relation to 5G). It’s a HUGE subject, as you will know; and quite overwhelming in its implications and scale.

    Quite apart from what it’s potentially doing to wildlife, it’s an enormous problem for humans. (My daughter is so EMF-sensitive she can barely live in any kind of ‘normal’ house, or use screens etc.)

    I think it’s radically under-estimated as a problem; and most people think you’re a tin-hat conspiracist if you ever speak of it.

    I’m glad you are aware of it. It should be written about at length. I do do a certain amount on social media in relation to it – but there is just so much campaigning to do, isn’t there?

    Have you sen this?


  3. Yes Roselle, it’s implications are radically underestimated. I’ve contacted my Labour MP and The Green Party, and they don’t seem to have any problems with it.

    So many people seem almost entranced over the issue, it makes you think you’re overreacting yourself, and then again, you read the warnings from the scientists and doctors ( yes I have read the document from your link thank you).

    I think it’s being introduced by stealth, there is nothing done to demonstrate if it safe and no one will insure for any bad outcome. I think the idea is that once it’s all set up and running, it will be difficult to dismantle.

    Then there’s the issue of all the tree felling to keep the signal moving……!

    On the subject of bird species, there is also this madness of covering hedges with plastic to prevent the birds from nesting!

    I must add that I first came across your work in 1992 when I bought and read you book Riding the Dragon. I found that very inspiring and it still sits on my bookshelf today Thank you!


  4. Hello again MoB (Keith?) – just to say thank you for your response, and I’m very touched by your words on my book. I would write it in a more nuanced way these days, but then I’m 25 years or so older!

    5G. ‘It’s important that awake people stay awake / for the darkness around us is deep.’ (W Stafford.)

    The tree-felling is horrendous. As if we had enough in the first place. And I knew nothing about covering hedges with plastic – that’s unforgivable. Doesn’t seem to happen down here in Devon.

    As always, thank you for reading and commenting.


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