A Dripping Wet Chemical Planet

Each and every year an avalanche of toxic chemicals, amounting to 250 billion tonnes, drips over Earth, which, over time, will sanitize all life, turning the planet into a massive gooey glob that glistens dazzlingly orange, not vividly blue. Already, scientists categorize Earth as a “toxic planet.”1

“Earth, and all life on it, are being saturated with man-made chemicals in an event unlike anything in the planet’s entire history,” says Julian Cribb, author of Surviving the 21st Century (Springer International 2017).

Nothing is spared. Mercury is found in Arctic polar bears. Honeybees are dropping like flies. Insect abundance is falling off the edge of a cliff, down 75%, which itself is an extinction event. And, drum roll please, Mt Everest’s snow is so polluted it doesn’t even meet EPA drinking water standards, absolutely true. Dangerous levels of arsenic and cadmium have been found in snow samples taken every 1,000 feet up, according to Samantha Langely-Turnbaugh, professor of environmental science, University of Southern Maine.

So, how does this affect the human species?

Well, for starters, man-made chemical emissions are, far and away, the largest human footprint on the planet. And, here’s the strange scary aspect: It’s one of the least understood or regulated. So, even though Earth is turning into a chemically soaked sphere above and beyond the wildest of imagination, according to UN Environment Program, most of those chemicals blanketing the planet have never been screened for health concerns.

According to WWF Global research, only 14% of chemicals used in largest volumes have the minimum amount of data available to make an initial basic safety assessment. Oh, well!

So, not only is the planet saturated dripping wet with chemicals, it is largely being done in the blind. Nobody knows for sure the upshot of the biggest most gigantic of all time chemical spray in all of history as toxic chemicals literally drip off the planet. Witnessed from outer space, aliens must be horrified. No wonder they haven’t landed.

Humanity could be at risk like never before but nobody really knows for sure how or why at the very moment when worldwide capitalism is cranking faster than ever before now that state-run capitalism is so popular and ingrained in Oligarch-Heaven Russia and Red Communist China. The upshot: Considerably more unregulated chemicals at the rate of 2,000 new chemicals released every year. That’s five (5) brand new chemicals soaking the planet every day. As a result, industrial toxins are now found worldwide in newborn babies. When will humans start glowing in the dark?

Meanwhile, medical science is increasingly linking issues such as obesity, cancer, heart disease and brain disorders like autism, ADHD and depression to the massively growing titanic volume of toxic chemicals dripping off the planet.

Notably, only recently, the global threat is coming to surface; for example, a recent landmark study of insects showing a 75% falloff of abundance over 27 years. That in, and of, itself is an extinction event!2

Problem: People need insects a lot more than insects need people. Without insects 80% of plants will die. The plants are angiosperms, meaning they need pollination. Mass starvation ensues. There’s no way around it.

Now that the UN and the chief scientist of the UK have come out in protests of rampant peacetime chemical warfare lodged against humanity, it is all the more interesting, actually disheartening, to follow America’s leadership role in the wide, wide world of chemicals.

Beyond U.S. policy, here’s what the world, via the UN, says about pesticides: “The current assumption underlying pesticide regulation – that chemicals that pass a battery of tests in the laboratory or in field trials are environmentally benign when they are used at industrial scales – is false,’ say the scientists.”3

What to do? After all, it’s claimed the world will go hungry without pesticide control. However, according to a UN study, it’s a myth that pesticides are essential to feed a fast-growing population. To wit:4

Pesticides cause an array of harms. Runoff from treated crops frequently pollute the surrounding ecosystem and beyond, with unpredictable ecological consequences. Furthermore, reductions in pest populations upset the complex balance between predator and prey species in the food chain, thereby destabilizing the ecosystem. Pesticides can also decrease biodiversity of soils and contribute to nitrogen fixation, which can lead to large declines in crop yields, posing problems for food security… Despite grave human health risks having been well established for numerous pesticides, they remain in use.

Try organic farming on for size and see if it fits and crop rotation and crop-cover natural farming techniques rather than industrialized chemically grown crops.

A recent New York Times exposé, “Why Has the E.P.A. Shifted on Toxic Chemicals? An Industry Insider Helps Call the Shots” (10-21-17), delves into details about toxic changes at EPA, figuratively as well as literally a real killer of a story.

When it comes to peacetime chemical warfare, the Trump administration simply gives the finger to both the UN and the UK chief scientist, and for that matter, all scientists. Who needs ’em? The Trumpeters think it is just dandy, just great to loosen up the regs. “Cease and desist overregulation” is their mantra. Let the chips fall were they may, and stop the crazy over-regulation becuz it hurts making America great again. Indeed, the Trumpeters are pure fodder for the Sixth Mass Extinction. Just what Dr. Doom ordered.

Contrariwise, there are times when science verbiage makes common sense, a lot of common sense; for example:

Our data indicate that beyond global species extinctions Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization. We describe this as a “biological annihilation” to highlight the current magnitude of Earth’s ongoing sixth major extinction event.5

In other words “biological annihilation” is right around the corner. Isn’t that just great! Thus therefore and furthermore, ponder for a moment impending biological annihilation in the context of the Trump presidency.

But, thank heavens, in stark contrast to Trump administration officials obliterating EPA, the UN is on the warpath, warning of “catastrophic consequences” from use of pesticides, claiming manufacturers systematically deny any harm and use unethical marketing tactics. After all, it’s a $50B industry on a dollars and cents basis worth the risk to chemical manufacturers to hoodwink the public as long as possible. Legal fees are easily paid out of profits to defend lawsuits. According to the UN, 200,000 people die each year from acute poisoning, and who could possibly know of the numbers of cases of cancer or Parkinson’s or liver failure. Nobody knows, and therein lies the heart of the problem of “not knowing” what nobody knows (not a quote by Donald Rumsfeld).

It is worthwhile taking note that pesticides are found in honey around the world. Yes, honey, the stuff people like to spread on bread and eat, lots and lots of honey. Here’s a quote from Science Magazine:

Insecticides are cropping up in honey samples from around the world, a new study finds, suggesting that bees and other pollinators are being widely exposed to these dangerous chemicals.6:

No kidding, that’s exactly why insect abundance has plummeted by 75%. Nothing could be worse, other than a Trump nuke attack simultaneously on both North Korea and Iran. That would likely knock out the remaining 25% insect population. Then, who knows what?

  1. “Scientists Categorize Earth as a ‘Toxic Planet,” Phys.Org, February 7, 2017. []
  2. Caspar A. Hallmann, et al, More Than 75 Percent Decline Over 27 Years in Total Flying Insect Biomass in Protected Areas, PLOS, October 18, 2017. []
  3. Damian Carrington, Environmental Editor, “Warning of Ecological Armageddon After Dramatic Plunge in Insect Numbers”, The Guardian, October 18, 2017. []
  4. “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Human Rights Council,” UN General Assembly Thirty-fourth Session, Agenda item 3, January 24, 2017. []
  5. Paul R. Ehrlich, et al, Biological Annihilation via the Ongoing Sixth Mass Extinction Signaled by Vertebrate Population Losses and Declines, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 114, No. 31, May 23, 2017. []
  6. “Pesticides Found in Honey Around the World”, Science Magazine, October 4, 2017. []

Robert Hunziker (MA, economic history, DePaul University) is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and appeared in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He can be contacted at: rlhunziker@gmail.com.

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