The nationalisation of nature

2014-06-04 00:00

LAST year, the National Environment Biodiversity Act declared trout an invasive alien species in South Africa. Since trout have been in our rivers for over a century, the outrage of fishermen and the billion-rand trout industry is understandable. But officialdom’s nonsensical legislation, lack of consultation and failure to document proof about such “alien” classifications, is nothing new. For decades, adherents of the unproved invasion biology have had free reign on our planet, using poisons, chainsaws, bulldozers and fire to restore landscapes to their species-composition of, sometimes, centuries before.

Countless creatures and carbon-burning trees have been eradicated to force our already injured Earth to host only species deemed indigenous by fallible human beings, who, without the infinite wisdom of omnipresent nature, cannot possibly foresee the myriad knock-on effects of their actions. Now this entitled ideology has grown into a law unto itself.

Self-healing, living organism

The experiments of Nobel-prize-winning British scientist James Lovelock proved that the Earth is a living organism which, like our bodies, can heal polluted and nutrient-deficient parts of itself using the most suitable of existing species.

This explains why invasions occur and why our putrid waters become covered in eco-vacuum-cleaners like water hyacinth, which, while battling to clear our rivers, are poisoned by invasionists, along with fish and other life.

Either exotic or native, plants invade; if left long enough, these crash once the area is rehabilitated, at which time other species return. So when we stop invasions, we prevent the Earth from healing itself. Worse still, mounting evidence suggests that recent aliens are adapt-or-die refugees fleeing global warming; itself caused by the type of abuse invasionists regularly mete out.

Purists claim that they kill aliens to protect native biodiversity. But since the two are often entwined, they invariably kill the very natives they are supposed to protect, leading to desolate country sides, denuded towns, disappearing insects, declining birds, drought, floods, terrifying storms of unprecedented violence, and our planet’s worst extinction rate in 65 million years.

Widespread poisoning

Although only an estimated three percent of insects are harmful, pesticides already saturate our farms, fertilizer run-offs contaminate streams and ground water. Tests have shown that the wayside weed-killer Roundup causes cell damage and even death at residual levels.

Since studies link almost every kind of cancer to herbicide and pesticide use, it’s hardly surprising that the world is experiencing an unprecedented cancer epidemic. Also the World Health Organisation reports that annually up to three million people are stricken by these poisons, around 200 000 dying, with developing countries most affected. Now, in league with Monsanto and its ilk, invasion biology has taken these killer chemicals into our wild lands.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust estimated that in South Africa alone, over 500 000 birds and animals are poisoned every year. Predator-poachers account for a percentage but many more die from eating chemically poisoned insects.

It’s a sickeningly familiar scenario. In the forties, the American eagle, poisoned and dying out, only recovered when DDT was banned, while in 1963 the Anatum peregrine was poisoned to extinction by the same pesticide whose inadequately tested use is still defended by chemical corporations today.

“A million years of evolution sacrificed to greed and ignorance in the blink of an eye,” lamented American environmental lawyer, Robert F. Kennedy who, in his book Crimes Against Nature, declares that in today’s world, corrupt industries and political power suppress or skew nature studies, purging scientists and doctoring data to bamboozle the public at a rate unmatched since the Medieval Inquisition.

Exotics help natives

Their justification, invasionists claim, is that all alien plants use more water, burn more fiercely and cause soil erosion and floods — the latter two, caused primarily by felled trees, are thus especially ludicrous. The myth that alien trees deaden ground and cost us butterflies, birds and water, is their rallying cry. Yet plantations routinely poison their weeds, and aliens host the normal mix of avian life, insects and understory, while eucalypts tested as highly efficient water users in several eighties’ studies. If it became common knowledge that natives use equivalent water and that newcomers are harmless, alien eradication would make no sense and no money. In the seventies, the endangered African black oyster-catcher was rescued when a European food-supplying mussel spread through their coastal range, while a 1998 study showed that 99,9% of our small raptors in the Transvaal, bred in alien trees.

In America, eucalypts provide migrating monarch butterflies with a winter-blooming nectar source and tamarisks, once falsely demonised as water-guzzling monsters, proved to be the endangered southwestern Willow Flycatcher’s preferred nesting site.

Alien species don’t come from Mars: they are Earth’s natives. Accepted by nature, they provide ground cover while rehabilitating soil, supporting ecosystems and serving life everywhere.

Invasionists, on the other hand, endanger nature itself. Aside from the rain loss, soil erosion, salination and habitat destruction caused by widespread tree loss, the UN lab in Italy blamed worldwide bee deaths on the herbicides and pesticides invasionists commonly use to kill aliens and grass verges.

In South Africa, after ignoring decades of protests from bee researchers, their campaign to remove alien trees led to a drastic dearth of eucalyptus honey-bee forage. Remaining trees were finally spared because millions of rands of pollination-needing crops were at risk. When one suburban wattle forest was destroyed, spotted owls, red data grass owls, endangered giant bull-frogs and terrified buck were among native creatures callously left poisoned and homeless. How many other endangered treasures have perished in their crass campaigns?

And while hysterically defending the purity of native plants, these ecofacists themselves boast the world record for deliberately contaminating our environment (without public consensus) to kill exotics with foreign diseases, fungi and insects. Even pests attacking plants in the tomato/potato/eggplant family have been used despite the fact that some experiments have failed, and introduced bio-invaders can turn on non-target species at any time.

Corruption of science

Although species moved even before the advent of people, and aliens (demonised as thugs and monsters) return repeatedly, an incredible R855 million has been wasted in futile attempts to clear fynbos alone — this while thousands of people starve. In his book Invastion Biology: Critique of a Psuedo-Science, U.S. conservation biologist, D.I. Theodoropoulos, with 40 years’ experience in ethnobotony and plant germplasm, concluded: “There is no valid reason for restricting species to their historic range. Change is natural: it drives evolution and even rates of change, change. Herbicide corporations have influenced invasion biology from the start. How can we tolerate this corruption of science by industry?”

More and more feel the same: 19 leading U.S. ecologists called for an end to the bias against alien species, saying it was meaningless to judge species on origin instead of environmental impact.

When exotic trees disappear our native trees replace them as firewood fodder, so this illogical ideology threatens to empty our skies of birds and obliterate nature outside reserves. With our planet already suffering from unprecedented tree loss, the workers paid to axe still more, should be employed fixing potholes, planting village permaculture gardens or repairing soil erosion and the kind of desertification currently devastating Kenya, where tree destruction in the Mau forest dried up seven rivers, affecting all proximate life.

Open to exploitation

Our government is one of many which have been conned, and although experts apparently find what they look for to justify the prevailing opinion, the astronomical R94 billion three-year budget of Environmental Affairs, is susceptible to massive exploitation, including corruption of the information pool. Regularly-cited costs of aliens reveal the exploitation potential in this pseudoscience which threatens to bankrupt us while finishing the suicide our species started.

Lovelock warns that only sufficient ecosystems (essential for regulating the Earth’s chemical composition and climate) keep our civilisation from extinction’s terrifying brink. Yet invasionists endanger these daily.

One solution, to rid a marina of an alien species, involved tons of bleach. This killed everything, but the unknown outcome was celebrated since the treatment stopped chance invasions as well as all life. This is a microcosm of what is happening in our world today.

Our planet is at the mercy of this insane tunnel vision as paranoid purists everywhere impose cures infinitely more damaging than the perceived threats themselves. And far from being the noble nature-defenders they claim to be, the suffering and loss inflicted on unprofitable organisms, clearly shows depraved indifference. An ideology which advocates the xenophobic persecution of living creatures, ordering others to join in the mutilation and poisoning of our struggling Earth, is morally reprehensible let alone ecologically wrong.

Earth’s cavalry

Invasion biology’s systematic destruction, multiplied in countless countries, is becoming as harmful to our planet as rainforest loss. Scientists are talking of worst-case scenarios with intolerable heat, catastrophic storms, food wars and global refugees, yet incredibly, this tree hacking and picking and choosing to keep our native species pure are allowed to go on while our climate irrevocably changes. People everywhere have been indoctrinated to hate and kill alien species, yet the observations of Theodoropoulos demonstrate that many of these innocent life forms, recognised as perfect and precious in other places, currently comprise Earth’s cavalry, flocking to the rescue at this 11th hour.

Before it is too late, let us cherish, not crucify them, allowing them to help heal the grievous injuries we have so shamefully inflicted upon our only home in this vast apparently lifeless universe.

Our marvellous planet has policed its own biota for billions of years: why would it now need controlling by the very species that messed it up to the point of global warming? If carried to its logical conclusion, such prejudice (itself alien to nature) will, in effect, end Earth’s evolution, sealing off gene pools while all life, artificially frozen into its “proper” place, stagnates and dies around us.

“The Earth does not belong to man,” said Native American chief Seattle.

“Man belongs to the Earth. All things are connected, and what happens to nature soon happens to man. If the beasts die, man too will die … engulfed in a great loneliness of spirit.”

• Gloria Keverne is the international best-selling author of A Man Cannot Cry and Broken Wings. An environmental activist, she writes in her personal capacity. She can be reached at 033 343 1625 or e-mailed at glory@ chrysalis-dreams.co.za

Eucalyptus plantation. In South Africa, after ignoring decades-long protests from bee researchers, invasionists’ campaign to remove alien trees led to a drastic dearth of eucalyptus honey-bee forage.

PHOTO: supplied

In the seventies, the endangered African black yster-catcher was rescued when a European food-supplying mussel spread through their coastal range.

PHOTO: supplied

“Worse still, mounting evidence suggests that recent aliens are adapt-or-die refugees fleeing global warming; itself caused by the type of abuse invasionists regularly mete out.”“When one suburban wattle

forest was destroyed, spotted owls, red data grass owls,

endangered giant bull-frogs and terrified buck were among

native creatures callously left poisoned and homeless.”

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