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Malaise Traps

MALAISE TRAPS

Remembrance Day for Lost Species, held on the 30th November each year, is an occasion to honour and mourn the countless thousands of species driven to extinction by human activity. To mark this year’s theme – Lost & Disappearing Pollinators  author and beekeeper Helen Jukes writes of this year’s devastating news of insect decline, of the wonder of honeybee hives, and of the need to widen our vision by paying closer attention to small things.

bee pic

 

Type honeybee into Google, and a drop-down menu appears with a list of suggested search terms. I add a ‘c’ and it throws up honeybee collection or collapse; add a ‘d’, and it’s declines or decorations for your home. I work my way through the alphabet; ‘l’ is unequivocal. Honeybee losses 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014.

Some days I can’t tell if honeybees are coming or going. In a sense, they’re everywhere – collecting on our shelves, decorating our homes. In the supermarket this week I passed bee-themed mugs, place mats, bath towels and lunchboxes – not to mention the honey (I LOVE bees, the girl at the checkout told me, when I told her I was a beekeeper. She showed me her bee earrings and a bee-shaped pendant. I really love them, she said, tucking the necklace back inside her shirt collar). And yet, elsewhere, out there, where the real bees live, we’re told there are losses and declines and last month I heard a new word, insectageddon.

That came from an article about a study in Germany, among the first of its kind. Between 1989 and 2016, 1,500 insect samples were collected across 63 sites – a total haul of over 50kg, and several million flying creatures. The results are disturbing: a 76% drop in numbers, over 27 years.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Inside the Doughnut

INSIDE THE DOUGHNUT

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Book review:
Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist 
(Random House, 2017)

I doubt many people would have betted that this year’s hot new concept for a healthy economy would be that bad food staple, the doughnut. But with the publication of Kate Raworth’s book, it’s come to pass. The idea of the ‘doughnut’ is that there is (1) a lower social limit for human flourishing, beneath which welfare is limited by shortfalls in such things as food, education and housing, and (2) an outer ecological limit for human flourishing, beyond which welfare is limited by overshoot in such things as climate change, ocean acidification and nitrogen and phosphorous loading. These two limits constitute respectively the inner and outer rings of the ‘doughnut’, the sweet spot within which humanity must try to remain. I have to confess I’m not greatly moved by the metaphor, which doesn’t seem to go much beyond the truth that individually people can have too little, and collectively they can take too much. And too much of what – is there really a conceptual equivalence between taking too much water or fossil energy, and taking too much health, as Raworth’s ‘doughnut’ diagram (p.51) seems to imply? Whatever the case, she hangs a lot of sensible and lucid analysis off the concept in a genuinely thought-provoking, if for me ultimately unsatisfactory, book.

In the first part of the book Raworth dissects orthodox economic theory, showing how it frames the world in questionable but powerful and largely hidden ways that buttress right-wing, ‘free’ market politics, while silencing other modes of thinking.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Empty Countryside

THE EMPTY COUNTRYSIDE

I thought the sheep was dead. It was lying in the middle of a big grass field with its legs in the air. I wasn’t surprised; those fields are rented by a farmer who can’t afford to run his business in the way modern farming demands. He doesn’t own enough land to scale up his production by borrowing against its value. The result is not too many beasts on the farm,but too few: in this case six scraggy ewes roaming 15 acres. As I walked by, the dead one waved her legs. Alive then, but stuck on her back by her weight of wool. I trudged across to her, put my foot on her side and pushed her over away from me. She scrambled to her feet and ran off, fleece bouncing, bleating confusedly. If I hadn’t rescued her she probably would have died. No one would have noticed in time because no one passes this way.

For thousands of years, the English countryside has never been so empty of people and animals as it is now.

The part of West Dorset where I live was once a busy network of small farmsteads, most with fewer than 100 acres, keeping Red Devon cattle for meat and milk. Today, the old farm names on the Ordnance Survey map are a roll call of lost activity: Prime, Oselhay, Middlebrook, Taphouse, Lower Park, Purcombe, and Higher Sminhay. Their land has been sold and consolidated into bigger agricultural landholdings. Some of the farmhouses are second homes or holiday lets. Many more settlements have simply disappeared. The 1861 census lists Dodseye, Brickhouse, Poor House, Froghouse and Duckpool – all gone

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Walking on Lava

WALKING ON LAVA

This week we’re excited to announce the official launch of Walking on Lava: Selected Works for Uncivilised Times. A one-volume introduction to Dark Mountain containing forty pieces selected from our first ten issues, Walking on Lava is published by Chelsea Green and available through bookshops or through our online shop.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be running a series of excerpts from the book, starting today with the editorial.

WalkingonLava_cover

Uncentring Our Minds
An Introduction to This Book

Uncivilisation, the manifesto that launched the Dark Mountain Project, was written in the autumn of 2008, at a time of global crisis and collapse. A firestorm was blowing through the world’s financial system, and for a while it was unclear how much of the world would be left standing when it ended. This book was assembled eight years later, at the end of 2016 – a year in which it was the turn of the West’s political systems to feel the force of a storm blowing through history, upending expectations as it passed through.

The timing, in both cases, seems fitting. Dark Mountain was created by two English writers who felt that writing was not doing its job. In a world in which the climate itself was being changed by human activities; in which global ecosystems were dying back before the human advance; and in which the dominant economic and cultural assumptions of the West were clearly beginning to crumble, that little manifesto – 20 pages long, hand-stitched, bound in red paper – asked a simple question: where are the writers, and the artists? Why were the novels, the films, the music, the cultural forms that passed for ‘mainstream’ in our society still behaving as if it were the 20th century – or even the 19th?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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