I've just been reading Mark Avery's blog http://networkedblogs.com/mjtX3 titled 'Gone and forgotten' in which he comments on the recent headline 'Farmland birds in Europe fall to lowest levels'. He says "We should be raging that things have got so bad" - and so we should - we should be ROAAAAARING!
But why has the news about farmland birds falling to their lowest levels not been splashed all over our national newspapers? Why is the steep and alarming decline of our once rich and diverse wildlife not being reported in ernest by every single journalist and reporter, in every single newspaper, and on every single radio program and TV channel? Is it, as Mark suggests, because it's not really 'news'? Have we perhaps become so human centric and disconnected, that the extinction of the odd thousand or so species of flora and fauna doesn't register with us other than as a passing thought of "Oh, that's a shame.....I'll miss seeing that plant/flower/bird/insect around......it was rather beautiful and I used to enjoy watching it/listening to it sing when I was little. Ah well.....life goes on I suppose......"
Yes, life goes on, but it becomes more fragile and more uncertain year by year, day by day, and hour by hour. The amazing, beautiful creatures and plants that we share this planet with are inextricably linked to our own survival. Everything on this planet is joined together, in mutually beneficial ways, in one giant interconnected web. We ignore the demise of other beings - whether they be plants, birds, mammals, invertebrates, fungi or micro-organisms in the soil - at our peril.
It seems we have learned very little from the warnings given to us by Rachel Carson over forty years ago when she wrote her book 'Silent Spring'. Biodiversity loss is, as she forecast, now spiralling out of control; but still the human race manages to block out the implications of the destruction we wreak upon the planet and its other inhabitants.
It's not as though the damage is intangible; it is clear for all to see. However, although we bestow rights galore upon other human beings to help protect the weak and vulnerable - and have laws and legislation up the yin yang to protect ancient monuments and historic buildings, it amazes me that one has ever though to 'list' the planet or it's non-human inhabitants. The roof on a four hundred year farmhouse in Cornwall enjoys more protection (and has more people working on its behalf to save it from - heaven forbid - being repaired with recycled materials) than most of our endangered wildlife has from their habitat being bulldozed over to make way for more trunk roads and urban sprawl!
I know, I'm having a bit of a rant but seriously....the way we behave beggars belief. If we carry on destroying and degrading what little healthy habitat there is left, we will loose not only our farmland birds, but along with them our pollinators, soil fertility, trees and fresh water. If this happens we'll all die anyway. What use will our human-centric laws and legislation be to us then?
We are, quite rightly, shocked when acts of human genocide are reported in the news, but the damage we are wreaking on non-human life on earth is also a crime. It is, in fact, nothing short of 'ecocide'.
Biodiversity 'Price tags'
A small minority of creatures have made bigger headlines than others. These tend to be creatures to which we can attach a 'price tag' in terms of how important they are to our economy. Thankfully, for bees and other pollinators, someone has come up with a figure that says they're worth £££billion to the economy, so urgent steps are being taken to investigate their decline. Tens of millions of pounds are being paid to scientific establishments to conduct research to try and discover what's causing the decline in the bee population. The irony however, is that these £££millions could have been spent on creating desperately needed habitat. Given the fact that habitat loss (along with pesticide use) is without doubt the main reasons for declining bee numbers, this would have made far more sense.
This is not rocket science; the answer to the problem is staring us in the face. It's us. The human race. We are responsible for the decline in pollinators and for most other species loss and the sooner we accept this responsibility on both an individual and collective level, the better.
We all love blaming someone else for the problems. It's always the fault of the government, intensive farming practices, supermarkets, multinationals, local councils etc..... but at the end of the day it is our choices that can and will make the difference. We are 'the consumer' and 'the consumer' is all powerful!
I know there is no, one, single solution - but if people took a little time out (no excuses about 'not having the time'.....this is really important!) and increased their awareness about what goes on in the food industry I believe they might be shocked into action. Knowledge is enormously empowering....and once you know what is happening out there, not only to our wildlife but also to our small farmers and producers, you would insist on clearer labelling, demand to know more about the provenance of the food you buy and refuse to be a part of the ongoing problem.
Where do we start?
There are many ways to make a difference and they don't have to cost us more. If we stopped buying processed food, cooked more with fresh ingredients, switched to organic, grew our own fruit & veg (or a few herbs on the window sill) and/or set up food co-operatives to ordered bulk staples from whole food suppliers we would make an enormous difference. All it takes is shifting a little from an "I can't" attitude to an "I can"
There is loads information out there on the internet (I'll pop a few links at the end of this blog) but one of the best places to start getting a grasp of the problems with our food industry is by reading a wonderful book called 'Not on the Label' by Felicity Lawrence. It's a real eye opener.
So, come on world....instead of being responsible for Earth's sixth mass extinction, let's turn things around. There is a bright shining light at the end of the tunnel; we just need to get our act together....get informed....and rediscover our power.
Some useful links
Food Inc film - http://www.sbs.com.au/films/movie/4897/Food-Inc.
Dirt! The Movie - http://dotsub.com/view/964efb4b-c3d2-4901-bb22-5e8dcf9d1e63
The Soil Association - http://www.soilassociation.org/
'Eradicating Ecocide' - http://www.thisisecocide.com/