“We have the capacity to inflict severe damage on natural processes, yet we can seldom do much to restore wholeness…beyond all the physical injury we may have inflicted, the greatest damage is the dishonor that we have paid to the Earth…The world we live in is an honourable world. To refuse this deepest imperative of our being, to deny honour where honour is due, to withdraw reverence from divine manifestation is to place ourselves on a collision course with the ultimate forces of the universe…” THOMAS BERRY, 1991
LEHUA ISLAND HAWAI’I
DEAD FAIRY PENGUIN
MASS STRANDING OF PILOT WHALES
ALMOST 2000 SYNTHETIC RADIO-NUCLIDES EXIST,
EACH OF WHICH IS CARCINOGENIC AND MUTAGENIC
50 MILLION KNOWN CHEMICALS, 84,000 ON THE MARKET.
HOW MANY ARE NUTRIENTS???
THE ‘EDGE OF THE SEA’…RACHEL’S FAVOURITE PLACE…AND MINE 🙂
URL FOR THIS POSTING
“In understanding the vast web of inter-relations between all natural phenomena – the flow of energy whereby each reality sustains and is sustained by all other realities in the entire world – we come to true wisdom. However, the capacity to comprehend such teachings, communicated to us moment by moment, is a type of literacy long neglected in our society. Yet now we are beginning to understand that literacy in the world of natural forms is of infinitely greater consequence than literacy in the world of human learning…”
“We have the capacity to inflict severe damage on natural processes, yet we can seldom do much to restore wholeness…beyond all the physical injury we may have inflicted, the greatest damage is the dishonor that we have paid to the Earth…The world we live in is an honourable world. To refuse this deepest imperative of our being, to deny honour where honour is due, to withdraw reverence from divine manifestation is to place ourselves on a collision course with the ultimate forces of the universe…”
“The question of honour must be dealt with before any other question that is before us. We miss both the intrinsic nature and the order of magnitude of the issue if we place our response to the present crisis of our planet on any other basis. It is not ultimately a political or economic or scientific or psychological issue. It is ultimately a question of honour. Only the sense of the violated honour of the Earth and the need to restore this honour can evoke the understanding as well as the energy needed to carry out the renewal of the Earth in any effective manner.”
THOMAS BERRY, TO HONOUR THE EARTH (1991)
For almost a decade I have been acutely aware of the grave threats to the health of all life-forms from chemical toxicity resulting from military-industrial operations and enterprise. In 2009, in response to the brilliant work by New Zealander brothers Clyde and Steve Graf and their powerful and comprehensive documentary ‘Poisoning Paradise’ my ‘chemical toxicity activism’ went to the next level with the creation of this blog, in honour of Rachel Carson, who is probably my single greatest hero of the human species.
“POISONING PARADISE: ECOCIDE NEW ZEALAND”
From the beginning this blog has been dedicated quite literally to the ‘Rachels Carson of Today’ as well as to the work and legacy of Rachel Carson herself, about whom I continue to learn more and more.
EXCERPTS FROM SILENT SPRING
“These sprays, dusts, and aerosols are now applied almost universally to farms, gardens, forests, and homes—non-selective chemicals that have the power to kill every insect, the “good” and the “bad,” to still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams, to coat the leaves with a deadly film, and to linger on in the soil—all this though the intended target may be only a few weeds or insects. Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for all life? They should not be called ‘insecticides,’ but ‘biocides. “
Writer Maria Popova shares a lot about Rachel Carson. I found this letter to Rachel from theologian Thomas Merton to be quite interesting:
“[Silent Spring] is perhaps much more timely even than you or I realize. Though you are treating of just one aspect, and a rather detailed aspect, of our technological civilization, you are, perhaps without altogether realizing, contributing a most valuable and essential piece of evidence for the diagnosis of the ills of our civilization…. Your book makes it clear to me that there is a consistent pattern running through everything that we do, through every aspect of our culture, our thought, our economy, our whole way of life…
It is now the most vitally important thing for all of us, however we may be concerned with our society, to try to arrive at a clear, cogent statement of our ills, so that we may begin to correct them. Otherwise, our efforts will be directed to purely superficial symptoms only, and perhaps not even at things related directly to the illness. On the contrary, it seems that our remedies are instinctively those which aggravate the sickness: the remedies are expressions of the sickness itself….
I would almost dare to say that the sickness is perhaps a very real and very dreadful hatred of life as such, of course subconscious, buried under our pitiful and superficial optimism about ourselves and our affluent society. But I think that the very thought processes of materialistic affluence (and here the same things are found in all the different economic systems that seek affluence for its own sake) are ultimately self-defeating.”
I recently interviewed Aotea (Great Barrier Island) educator/activist Tony Storey about the impending poisoning of near-by Rakitu (Arid) island with brodifacoum, an anti-coagulant pesticide known as ‘super Warfarin’ based on bromine (the only halogen that has no place at all in healthy biological systems) and known to be a major threat to aquatic organisms.
In this dialogue we cover the specifics of this proposed operation…according to Tony, DOC (Department of Conservation) plans to deploy 12 kgs of brodifacoum per hectare on an island of approximately 270 hectares, thereby dosing the local biosphere with 3240 kgs of this substance, of which approximately 496 kgs will be elemental bromine whose ultimate destination is anyone’s guess. Most of Rakitu’s surface terrain slopes at over 40 degrees so the majority of the poisoned baits are going directly into the ocean.
We also talk about generalized dangers from all pesticide use, including sub-lethal doses, bio-accumulation, secondary poisoning, and the myths of the ‘magic bullet’ and ‘break-down into harmless substances.’
I make a comparison with 1080, another deadly pesticide banned in almost every country being deployed at unbelievably astronomical levels all across New Zealand. The central atom in 1080 is another halogen, fluorine…the most reactive element in the entire periodic chart. 1080 is 24.5 % fluorine by molecular weight. DOC’s use of 1080 is in effect the fluoridation of the biosphere, with all that entails.
All of the halogens…iodine, chlorine, bromine and fluorine…are toxic in and of themselves.
I also point out that according to Dr. Arnold Lehmann, a leading genetic toxicologist of the day and colleague of Rachel Carson, that in order to understand the real implications or effects of mutagenic substances, be they chemical or radio-active, we have to study at least 25 generations of human beings. Those of us who are alive today are only the third generation to exist since these substances were created, making us the premier guinea pigs in the experiment of military-industrial civilization and its effects on life as we know her.
‘SILENT SPRING’ AOTEA-ROA: RAKITU AT RISK
MY ON THE BRINK RADIO INTERVIEW WITH TONY STOREY
“Chemicals that disrupt hormone function can have substantial and sometimes permanent impacts on health. Due to the nature of the body’s endocrine system, effects can occur from very little exposure, particularly if it occurs before birth or during early life. We know that humans and animals are regularly exposed to endocrine disruptors. Scientists have been working to understanding where, when, and how such chemicals threaten the health of humans and wildlife.”
NOTE: Although only a few hundred of the tens of thousands of synthetic chemicals on the market have been identified as endocrine disruptors, the vast majority have not even been tested. ED’s are active at the level of parts per TRILLION. Few tests for chemicals are this sensitive but if they were, ED’s might be showing up everywhere.
Rakitu, or Arid Island, is only 3 kms from Harataonga Beach on Aotea, or Great Barrier Island, and therefore very near and dear to me. I haven’t been to her yet but have seen her many times and on my most recent visit I was scoping out the best way to kayak over. Just two weeks ago I was shocked to learn that DOC wants to deploy goddess-knows how many hundreds of kilograms of the extremely deadly pesticide brodifacoum all over the island, supposedly to get rid of rats. Much of the island consists of slopes of over 40 degrees; consequently a great % of the pesticide will drain directly into the ocean.
Like its sister killer 1080 (of which 90% of all that is manufactured in the world annually is used throughout New Zealand’s biosphere),brodifacoum is a halogen-based pesticide, having a central atom of bromine (as opposed to 1080’s fluorine). Regardless of how these substances ‘break down’ once they have been metabolized, excreted and/or recirculated via the decomposition of dead organisms, no compound can ‘break down’ into anything simpler than its constituent elements: for every kilogram of 1080 deployed, 245 grams of fluorine enter the biosphere, and for every kilogram of brodifacoum deployed, 153 grams of bromine enter the biosphere. Halogens are the most reactive of all the elements and are therefore highly toxic and destructive to living organisms. Of all the halogens, bromine alone has no known function in healthy biological systems.
RAT POISON DISCOVERED IN DEAD PENGUINS
INVESTIGATION OPENED INTO DEATH OF FISH, BIRDS AFTER RAT POISON DROPPED ON LEHUA ISLAND (HAWAI’I)
DID THE LEHUA RAT POISON DROP CONTRIBUTE TO THE DEATHS OF FIVE PILOT WHALES IN HAWAI’I?
Of particular interest are the results of the five-year study of global ocean toxicity conducted by my friends at Ocean Alliance.
You can download the summary of their report here:
“The contamination of the world’s oceans is a rapidly expanding global problem. According to 1998 reports from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.N. Environment Programme, between 1930 and 2000, the global production of human-made chemicals increased exponentially from 1 million to 440 million short tons per year. Because the oceans are downhill from everything on earth, they are the final destination for every contaminant that can be moved by water or wind.
Poisonous chemicals contaminate ocean food chains throughout the world. Pesticides poison our food and leach into waterways; many industrial emissions poison the air and damage our lungs, kill wildlife, and impair the ability of our children to learn. We are facing a slow graying of the human future caused by the inexorable accumulation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Because they are metabolized so slowly POPs increase in concentration as they move up food pyramids ”
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” Mark Twain
“Politics is the entertainment branch of government.” Frank Zappa
“The only thing that’s faster than light is simultaneity.” J. Paul Serengeti
“I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man’s.” William Blake
“On Spaceship Earth, there are no passengers: everyone is crew.” R. Buckminster Fuller