While the Global South overprescribes antibiotics, in the West farm animals are pumped full of them, farmers even giving them to healthy animals so they can be packed tighter in ever-increasing herd sizes.
Big pharmaceutical companies have not come out of COVID-19 looking like model global citizens. Pfizer has been accused of bullying South American governments after demanding they put up military bases as collateral in exchange for vaccines. Meanwhile, Bill Gates persuaded Oxford University to sign an exclusive deal with AstraZeneca for its new offering, rather than allow it to be copied freely by all. The British/Swedish multinational quickly announced it would fall 50 million vaccines short on its first shipment to the European Union.
But what if there were a looming health crisis that could make COVID look almost minor in comparison? The World Health Organization (WHO) has been warning of just such a case for some time now, predicting that antimicrobial resistance will kill up to 10 million people every year by 2050 — almost four times as many as the coronavirus has killed in the past 12 months. Continue reading →
“Whether humanity has the collective wisdom to navigate the Anthropocene to sustain a livable biosphere for people and civilizations, as well as for the rest of life with which we share the planet, is the most formidable challenge facing humanity.”
People in Haiti after TS Laura in August 2020. Screenshot: YouTube
A new analysis examining humanity’s central role in disrupting the support systems of the natural world argues that far-reaching action this decade—including a halt to vast inequalities and the irresponsible deployment of advanced technologies—is vital if a more vibrant and sustainable future is to be achieved.
Published earlier this month in Ambio, a journal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the analysis considers the “profound meaning” of the current Anthropocene era, a period of Earth’s history —”one that we are only beginning to fully comprehend” the paper notes—in which the biosphere is being shaped by human activity more than any other natural force. Continue reading →
Experts: “The recently announced decision sends an unfortunate message to the Colombian people that your administration is not committed to abandoning the ineffective and damaging war on drugs internationally.”
After a six-year halt, Colombia plans to restart the toxic aerial spraying of glyphosate on coca crops as early as next month—drawing “most welcome” support from U.S. President Joe Biden and sharp criticism from 150 regional experts who wrote to Biden, “your administration is implicitly endorsing former President Trump’s damaging legacy in Colombia.”
Failure to secure Endangered Species Act protections for the American bumblebee, said the the Center for Biological Diversity’s Jess Tyler, could risk “losing this iconic part of the American landscape forever.” (Photo: Xerces Society / Katie Lamke)
Warning that threats including the climate crisis and pesticides are pushing the American bumblebee toward extinction, two conservation groups on Monday urged the Biden administration to give federal protections to the native pollinator.
“We’re asking President [Joe] Biden to be the hero that steps up and saves the American bumblebee from extinction,” said Jess Tyler, an entomologist and staff scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “It’s unthinkable that we would carelessly allow this fuzzy, black-and-yellow beauty to disappear forever.” Continue reading →
Tom Vilsack during the 2008 transition. Photo: Obama Biden Transition Project/CC
On top of concerns about his close industry ties, corporate-friendly policy record, and alarming civil rights history, President Joe Biden’s Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack is also facing scrutiny over what one watchdog organization on Friday characterized as “disturbing” evidence that he improperly meddled in and suppressed scientific research during his previous tenure as head of USDA.
Throughout his nearly eight years as former President Barack Obama’s USDA chief, Vilsack “routinely interfered with scientific work that big agriculture found bothersome,” the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) alleged in a statement Friday, pointing to the direct testimony and survey responses of department scientists. Continue reading →
The world watched with a sense of dread in 2018 as Cape Town, South Africa, counted down the days until the city would run out of water. The region’s surface reservoirs were going dry amid its worst drought on record, and the public countdown was a plea for help.
By drastically cutting their water use, Cape Town residents and farmers were able to push back “Day Zero” until the rain came, but the close call showed just how precarious water security can be. California also faced severe water restrictions during its recent multiyear drought. And Mexico City is now facing water restrictions after a year with little rain. Continue reading →
The Oklahoma State Capitol is the only one in the nation containing a working oil rig on its grounds. (Photo: duggar11/Flickr cc)
In a little-noticed development last week that drew ire after being reported Monday, the Trump administration’s EPA granted the state of Oklahoma wide-ranging environmental regulatory control on nearly all tribal lands in the state, stripping dozens of tribes of their sovereignty over critical environmental issues.
The Young Turks which first reported the news, obtained a copy of an October 1 letter (pdf) from EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler granting a request by Republican Gov. J. Kevin Stitt for control of environmental regulations on tribal land on a wide range of issues, including: Continue reading →
Atrazine is mostly used on corn, according to Civil Eats, “but also on sorghum, sugarcane, and a few other crops, as well as on golf courses, Christmas tree farms, and in residential landscaping.” (Photo: TumblingRun/flickr/cc)
The Trump administration alarmed environmental and public health advocates on Friday with the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reauthorize the use of atrazine, an herbicide common in the United States but banned or being phased out in dozens of countries due to concerns about risks such as birth defects and cancer.
“Use of this extremely dangerous pesticide should be banned, not expanded,” declared Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). “This disgusting decision directly endangers the health of millions of Americans.” Continue reading →
This Labor Day, immigrant and worker’s rights advocates are sounding the alarm in response to reports of migrant grape pickers, many of whom are undocumented, being forced to work in fire evacuation zones by California growers in a situation critics say demonstrates how some of those deemed “essential” at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic have been rendered “disposable” in the face of a record-setting heat wave and extremely dangerous conditions.
While the threat of flames and smoke was strong enough in Sonoma County to provoke the relocation of area residents, “the county agriculture commissioner invited workers to continue laboring in the fields, doling out evacuation-area access passes to dozens of agricultural producers,” Alleen Brown reported for The Intercept. Continue reading →
Goodbye Afghanistan | US Air Force photo by Clay Lancaster. Public domain.
One of Donald Trump’s main election pledges back in 2016 was to ‘bring our boys home’. Alongside this came criticism of Germany and other NATO states for not paying their way on military spending. He has followed up on both themes this week, by starting to reduce the US presence in Germany, albeit shifting some to Poland and leaving all the mechanisms of a rapid return in place, so that the extent of the ‘back home’ is far from what it appears.
Extricating US forces from Middle East is another matter. Many army units are consolidating in fewer bases in Iraq or moving to nearby Kuwait. The US Navy is holding on, too, mainly because of the confrontation with Iran. It currently has two carrier battle groups within reach of the region. Continue reading →