from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Indra's Net, the 10,000 things & neonicotinoids

A blackish brackish damp January dusk. ('Drear and dreech', they would say in Scotland.) Paragraphs of lapwings chequering the air. A flight of small finches or larks, unidentifiable in the twilight (dimpsey, as we say in the Westcountry), lets drop sweet bubbling threads of conversation as the birds skim my head.
   In the dusky light separateness dissolves. 'I' am everything and nothing, no thing. 'I' am present in all time and no time. 'I am here / Or there, or elsewhere', as the man says. 'In my beginning.'

In Buddhism and Hinduism there's a wonderful image of Indra's Net: the web that contains, holds and connects all beings. At each intersection of the mesh glitters a mirror-like jewel. A ripple in the net anywhere affects all other beings; equally the mirror-jewels reflect each other reflecting each other, on and on into eternity.
   This is a subtle and beautiful metaphor for interbeing, the interconnectedness of everything. Interbeing plays out on all levels of existence, from the more subtle to the dense material. Nothing happens to the being I call 'me' that doesn't happen to the whole, and vice versa. Every being, no matter how apparently insignificant, is essential to the whole; remove one, and the net is shaken, torn and weakened; maybe even destroyed.
   An ecosystem works like this.
   You will, I'm sure, know about the plight of the bee worldwide. They're in big trouble: cold and wet winters, more intensive farming methods, more concrete and tarmac, viruses, immune weakness, and the use of pesticides, especially the neonicotinoid group. Their numbers are diminishing frighteningly fast. I find this deeply distressing. And – of course – we're reliant on them for our crops, for pollination. The ramifications for us and for every other sentient being that depends on plant life are immense.
    I have been told (but don't take my word for it, check it out) that much, if not most, of Britain and other European countries' vegetable and flower seed grown by conventional (ie not organic) methods is already coated with neonicotinoids, which 'infect' the whole plant, including the flowers and seeds tended or consumed by bees and birds.
   A medic once said to me 'It's the pharmaceutical companies who really pull the strings of economics and politics'.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead said: 'Never doubt that a group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed it may be the only thing that does.' The wonderful environmental and political campaigning group has had much global success in bringing about change, and their current campaign is intended to ensure the banning of the toxic pesticide largely responsible for the bees' demise.
   I hope you'll forgive me for posting the Avaaz email below; you might wish to sign the petition, and spread the word, if it seems important to you.

'Silently, billions of bees are dying off and our entire food chain is in danger. Bees don't just make honey, they are a giant, humble workforce, pollinating 90% of the plants we grow.
   'Scientists increasingly blame one group of toxic pesticides for their rapid demise, and bee populations have soared in four European countries that have banned these chemicals. But powerful chemical companies are lobbying hard to keep selling this poison. Our best chance to save bees now is to push the US and EU to join the ban -- their action is critical and will have a ripple effect on the rest of the world.
   'We have no time to lose – the debate is raging about what to do. This is not just about saving bumble bees, this is about our survival. Let’s build a giant global buzz calling for the EU and US to outlaw these killer chemicals and save our bees and our food. Sign the emergency petition now and send it on to everyone and we’ll deliver it to key decision makers:
   'Bees are vital to life on earth – every year pollinating plants and crops with an estimated $40bn value, over one third of the food supply in many countries. Without immediate action to save bees we could end up with no fruit, no vegetables, no nuts, no oils and no cotton.
   'Recent years have seen a steep and disturbing global decline in bee populations – some bee species are now extinct and others are at just 4% of their previous numbers. Scientists have been scrambling for answers. Some studies claim the decline may be due to a combination of factors including disease, habitat loss and toxic chemicals. But new leading independent research has produced strong evidence blaming neonicotinoid pesticides. France, Italy, Slovenia and even Germany, where the main manufacturer Bayer is based, have banned one of these bee killers. But Bayer continues to export its poison across the world.
   'This issue is now coming to the boil as major new studies have confirmed the scale of this problem. If we can get European and US decision-makers to take action, others will follow. It won’t be easy. A leaked document shows that the US Environmental Protection Agency knew about the pesticide’s dangers, but ignored them. The document says Bayer’s "highly toxic" product is a "major risk concern to non target insects [honey bees]".
   'We need to make our voices heard to counter Bayer’s very strong influence on policy makers and scientists in both the US and the EU where they fund the studies and sit on policy bodies. The real experts – the beekeepers and farmers – want these deadly pesticides prohibited until and unless we have solid, independent studies that show they are safe. Let's support them now...'

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