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Why Environmentalists Matter - A Second Silent Spring

in Random things of Interest, Education, Gardening & Horticulture on June 24, 2014 . 0 Comments.

Thinking of taking an online environmental course but looking for a reason?  Read on. 

Save the bees with an distance learning course from ADL!It's a simple thing for many of us, living as we do in towns and cities, to all but forget about the environment.  Sure we might have gardens, we may walk in parks or keep pets, but our actual contact with nature is pretty minmal at best.  For the most part, the existence of the world beyond ourselves is pretty minimal.

And this could be why we're in serious trouble

In an article published yesterday by The Guardian, the overuse of insecticides is putting world food supplies at risk, say environment scientists.  Reporting on a study by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, their article states that the use of neonicotinoids, a sort of neurotoxin, has resulted in the build up of toxic elements in the soil. 

While the chemicals are very good at killing off the various pests that threaten crops, they're also unfortunately efficient at harming the beneficial organisms in the soil needed for healthy crop growth.  A hidden causality, for example, is the earthworm whose tunnelling underground exfoliates the soil and helps keep it fresh for crops.  But a far more pressing concern is the fate of the all important bee.

As everyone remembers from science class, bees are an essential part of the pollination cycle of plants.  Baited by flowers to collect their nectar, plants use Bees and other insects as the means by which they pollinate one another in order to procreate.  However, the increased use of neonicotinoids have resulted in an alarming drop in bee populations, globally resulting in such emergency measures at the US government setting up a new task force to reverse the decline of bee populations.

The pesticides being used are damaging the environment in numerous ways.  Not only are bees being directly harmed by coming into contact with the chemically infused pollen, but other creatures have also been affected.  As mentioned, creatures that live in the soil, such as Earthworms, are affected by the build-up of toxic chemicals in the soil but other habitats are affected too.  Birds, for example, are eating contaminated seeds, while rain and water drains the pesticides into streams, ponds and rivers, poisoning local life such as dragonflies.

Of most concern is not what is known, which is already fairly dire, but what is not.  The studies undertaken so far cover only four of the 25,000 known species of bee.  Many countries undertake no research into the effects these chemicals are having on their environment, suggesting that in many cases the chemicals are being incorrectly applied and thus are having an even greater impact on the local ecology.  Most worryingly of all is the current lack of information on how these chemicals effect other species such as reptiles and mammals.

All of this is an echo of the 1960’s when research into the effects of DDT, a synthetic pesticide popular in the age, exposed the widespread ecological damage it was causing.  In her book Silent Spring, the author Rachel Carson laid out the case against DDT and its use and led to the eventual banning of the pesticide.  It became a rallying cry for environmentalists around the world and led to the formation of the American Environmental Protection Agency.

Could we be on the cusp of a second silent spring today?  The only certain thing is that it will be up to environmentally minded scientists to find the answer today as they did back in the 60's. 

Tags: Science, Environment, ADLLast update: September 19, 2017


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