Just when I was about ready to write off the human race, I saw this headline:
Humans really are made of stardust and a new study proves it.
Yeah, I know there is no such thing as scientific proof. But you get my gist. There's something kinda cool about recognizing that we really are one with the universe, in terms of sharing the basic building blocks of life with stars.
It got me thinking again about the miracle of creation that is Earth and its inhabitants, a topic I began pondering while reading “A Short History of Nearly Everything” last year. Yet we take it for granted, wantonly and deliberately destroying so much.
And then there's all the unconscious and often inadvertent destruction caused by the profileration and rapid international spread of invasive species. Our global economy and transport system has made it easy to introduce pests and pathogens to new habitats lacking protective defense mechanisms.
Island nations, whose ecosystems have tended to evolve in isolation, are particularly vulnerable. While visiting family in New Zealand last month, I was struck by all the focus on biosecurity measures. These included showing us an inflight video about the impact of invasive species on native ecosystems and agriculture, and spraying the overhead compartments of the aircraft with pesticides upon landing.
Signs posted throughout the Auckland airport warned passengers of a “$400 instant fine” if they didn't declare prohibited items in their possession, and the flanks of biosecurity inspectors we had to pass through asked tough questions and searched baggage. It was quite a contrast to the whatevahs approach when I returned to the Honolulu airport.
And while we were out hiking, we encountered frequent signs advising us about biosecurity issues, as well as a boot-cleaning station intended to slow the spread of kauri dieback disease, which is having an effect on a keystone native tree similar to what we're seeing with ohia wilt in Big Island forests.
Hawaii has a serious invasive species problem, but the state has long taken an underfunded, reactionary approach to dealing with it. The state is now trying to get out in front with a new interagency biosecurity plan. Though it's led by the Department of Agriculture and Department of Land and Natural Resources, the real driver is the state's $14.9 billion tourism industry, which is increasingly concerned about the introduction and spread of stinging ants, biting flies, snakes and other pests that don't fit the heavily-marketed theme of “paradise.”
Still, the state's $600 million agricultural industry should benefit, and not a moment too soon. The DOA just announced the coffee berry borer, already common on Oahu and the Big Island, has made its way to Maui.
Meanwhile, the devastating citrus greening bacteria that has bedeviled Florida orange growers has been detected in California — which means Hawaii, with all its backyard citrus trees, likely isn't far behind. The disease reduces yield, fruit size and quality, and increases tree mortality and production costs.
These are just two of the many plant diseases and pests that farmers face, prompting them to use integrative pest management, cover cropping, crop rotation and pesticides. And as was noted in comments recently, conservation groups also use pesticides to eradicate invasive plants that threaten watersheds and the integrity of native ecosystems.
Once a pest species gets established, it's very difficult to eradicate, as recent news reports on the spread of the rose-ringed parakeet point out. A Kauai friend offered his take on this travesty:
Invasive rose-ringed parakeet show starts promptly at sundown at Hoa'i Bay in Lawai Kai. See hundreds of these colorful Brazilian birds coming to roost for the night at and near the place where Prince Kuhio was born. See the local businesses' futile attempts to thwart them off with hand held laser beams and drastic pruning of all the trees. Imagine the ire of farmers and orchard owneers upon seeing the havoc they wreak during the day. Remind yoursel of the parallel parable of the multitude of tourists, drinks in hand, gathered at the same spot to view the mesmerizing setting of the sun! Barely hear them ooh and ahh under the cacophony of their cawing!
Yes, the best approach is to prevent a pest from becoming established, and that's where biosecurity comes in.
The question now is whether the Hawaii Lege is willing to kick down the serious cash to bring it to fruition.
Meanwhile, President-elect Trump is considering appointing Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to a committee on vaccine safety and "scientific integrity" and/or autism, depending on whether you listen to Kennedy or Trump. Kennedy has been a prominent voice in the anti-vaxxer movement and repeatedly raised the discredited claim that vaccines are linked to autism.
Simultaneously, a new fear-mongering“docu-series” on vaccines is being aired on-line. It employs many of the same tactics as the anti-GMO movement — and even uses some of the same “experts,” like Stephanie Seneff and Sayer Ji.
Seneff is responsible for promoting a graph that supposedly documents a link between glyphosate and autism. Of course, the correlation between the rise of organic food sales and autism is even stronger, but she conveniently ignores that.
If we think invasive species are spreading fast, just wait until folks start opting out of immunizations.
Of course, to hear some tell it, vaccines, like chem trails, are part of a giant government plot intended to weaken the populace and sell more pharmaceutical drugs:
Think chemtrails are only sprayed from high altitude? WRONG!
Check out these LLCDWT, or low-level chemtrail delivery wind-turbines, specially engineered for low level cloud-seeding and chemical dispersion.
Yeah, we may be one with the universe, but some of us are clearly still in outer space.