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The Last Fight, 3: Environment destruction


Environment science has only just begun; we hardly understand how our environment works, let alone the idea of controlling it. We instinctively think it is some kind of complex system, balancing hundreds of thousands species at every second. Many species are similar, they are in charge of the same small ecological niche. We say they are in competition, but on the light side, they also are redundant: if one fails, another one is ready to assume the added responsibility, that much we understand.

Trouble is, not only we destroy species at a high speed, we also destroy them on a systemic basis. Bees are about to die – good old apis melliferis, which have been with us for so many millenia, giving us honey. Is that important? No, we can derive sugar from so many other sources. But bees are pollinators, all over the planet they pollinate plants, allowing plants to reproduce, turning flowers into fruit. Fruit trees are plants; our monster fruit farms are industrially pollinated by… bees, brought every season by whole trains of industrial beekeepers. In the year 2012, following a mayday call from the professional association of US beekeepers, it was discovered that 30 % of their bees had died over the winter, knowing that a 5-10 % mortality is considered natural. Pesticides were pointed at, and neonicotinoids got (partly) banned in Europe and the USA in 2018-2019. Knowing that the downfall in bees survival had been known in Europe since 1998, it took us 20 years to realize that pesticides kill insects, and bees are insects. Some other studies show that certain species, which could partly fill the role of bees, such as wasps, flies and butterflies, also are in sharp decline: we are not only killing one species worldwide: we are killing a whole ecological niche. 30% of what mankind eats depends on bees.

Five (known) mass extinctions occurred in the past of Earth; we started the sixth one, as we are currently destroying species at a faster pace than it ever happened. These destructions are occurring in many ways. The most obvious one is deliberately reducing biodiversity. In the nature, there is no occurrence of a single plant in a field one mile long: many different plants actually cohabit, and they harbor many different micro-organisms, etc. When we decided for intensive agriculture, centuries ago, we lost 90 % of living species in these areas. That allowed to feed more humans, and we decided it was good. We never saw we were actually replacing a rich environment by an extremely poor one; we had no idea it was the beginning of the end.

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