Tuesday 16th of July 2024

the concept of conservation isn't new... here is a poem from 1584....

In the 19th century, romantics talked a lot about nature, but ultimately did nothing for it. This is not the case of Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585), the great literary figure of the La Pléiade group.

This author wrote the following powerful poem, and if it is so little known it is a pity: it is useful today for the liberation of the Earth. Ronsard in fact took up the defense of a forest located in what is today the Loir et Cher.




Ronsard speaks of the blood of the forest flowing, and describes the murder of the forest as a terrible crime. He does it in an elegiac but strong way, in a rebellious way and that's fascinating.

In this poem, which is called “Against the lumberjacks [LOGGERS] of the Gastine forest”, we can see his indignation…: 


Against the loggers of the Gastine forest




Whoever is first to have his hand embezzled

To cut you off, forest, with a hard blow,

That he can lock himself with his own cane,

And feel the hunger of Erysichthon* in your stomach,

Who cut off the venerable oak from Cerés

And who is greedy for everything, insatiable for everything,

His mother's oxen and sheep slaughtered,

Then, pressed by hunger, he ate himself:

So may his rents and his land be swallowed up,

And then gets devoured by the teeth of war.


May he avenge the blood of our forests,

Always new loans on new interests

Duty to the usurer, and that in the end he consumes

All its good to pay the principal sum.


That always without rest faces in his brain

To plot some new plan for nothing,

Carried by impatience and various fury,

And bad advice which men overthrow.


Listen, Lumberjack — stop your arm a little

These are not woods that you cut down,

Don't you see the blood which is dripping with force

Nymphs who live under the harsh bark?

Murderous sacrilege, so we take a thief

To plunder booty of little value,

How many fires, irons, deaths, and distresses

Do you deserve, villain, to kill Goddesses?


Forest, high house of bocage birds,

Plus the solitary stag and the light roe deer

Will not graze under your shadow, and your green mane

No more of the Summer Sun will break the light.


No longer the loving shepherd on a leaning trunk,

Blowing a tune on his four-hole little flute,

His mastiff at his feet, his wooden crook by his side,

Will no longer tell the ardor of his beautiful Janette:

Everything will become silent: Echo will be speechless:

You will become countryside, and instead of your woods,

Whose uncertain shade slowly moves,

You will feel the share, the coulter and the plow:

You will lose your silence, and gasp with fear

Ny Satyrs nor Pans will no longer come to you.


Goodbye old forest, Zephyr's toy,

Where first I tuned the strings of my lyre,

Where first I heard the arrows ring

From Apollo, who came to my whole heart astonishment:

Where first admiring the beautiful Calliope,

I became enamoured of its novena trope,

When his hand on my forehead threw a hundred roses at me,

And Euterpe breastfed me with his own milk.


Goodbye old forest, goodbye sacred creations,

Of paintings and flowers once honoured,

Now the disdain of passers-by alters,

Who burn ethereal rays in Esté,

Without finding the freshness of your sweet greenery anymore,

Accuse your murderers, and insult them.


Farewell Oaks, crown to the valiant citizens,

Trees of Jupiter, Dodonean germs,

Who are the first to give to human beings to feed on,

Truly ungrateful peoples, who have failed to recognise

The goods received from you, truly rude peoples,

To massacre our foster fathers in this way.


How unhappy is the man who trusts the world!

O Gods, how true is Philosophy,

Who says that everything will perish in the end,

And that by changing shape another will come:

For Tempé the valley will one day be a mountain,

And the top of Athos a wide countryside,

Neptune will sometimes be covered with wheat.

The matter remains, but the form is lost.





Erysichthon once took twenty men with him to the sacred grove of Demeter, where he cut down a black poplar tree where tree nymphs gathered around to dance; the tree groaned as Erysichthon wounded it. Demeter, feeling the tree's discomfort at once, flew down to the grove taking a mortal woman's form, where she advised Erysichthon against cutting the tree down, warning him of Demeter's wrath. Erysichthon then rudely told her to leave, threatening to strike her down with his axe and saying he needed the tree to build an extension for his house where he could hold feasts.

Demeter resumed her divine form and promised revenge. She sent insatiable hunger to him (Limos, here a male deity), and no matter how much Erysichthon ate and drank, he could never satisfy his hunger or his thirst (inflicted on him by Dionysus, who was just as angry as Demeter was at him). Even his parents refused to visit him, and he ended up wasting all his wealth for food. He also sold all of his belongings to gain money to buy food. In the end, he becomes a beggar living off the crumbs thrown at him by those passing by.[12]



warming planet.....


By Sanjeev Kumar, an independent journalist based in Shimla, India


“If we consider the Himalayas as a ‘Living Entity’, then it has already lost its legs. And at present, its stomach fat is getting churned by the rise in temperature brought about by climate change and increased human activity,” says Smriti Basnett, a glaciologist from Sikkim, a Himalayan state in India.

The melting snow has increased due to the heating of rocks under the thin ice during summers, and within 30 to 40 years, perennial rivers emerging out of the Himalayas may start to dry up, she adds.

This and a range of studies – by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business, and Yale Environment 360 – have prompted demands for the Himalayas to be granted ‘Living Entity Status’ by activists from over 60 social organizations from almost all Himalayan states, including Himachal Pradesh (HP), Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. 

This entails giving the Himalayas the same legal rights and protections enjoyed by humans, and helps to draw urgent attention to the Himalayan crisis. In India, the Ganges river was granted‘living status’ seven years ago.  

Activists in some of the states are also flagging fault lines in planning for developmental activities, besides social discrimination in relief and rehabilitation. Prakash Bhandari, co-founder of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Himdhara, said the increasing Himalayan disasters – landslides, flash floods, and flooding in the plains – is caused by climate change, and the result of faulty practices in the past few decades.

The 2013 Uttarakhand flood disaster and subsequent tragedies in HP and J&K, including the recent discovery that the small Uttarakhand town of Joshimath is sinking, had repeatedly been flagged as key challenges.

Though better practices and planning is discussed immediately after the disasters, there is no significant action or follow-up discussion to tackle the challenges.

The science of receding glaciers

The trend of retreating glaciers is highlighted in a study by Anjal Prakash, research director and adjunct associate professor at the Bharti Institute of Public Policy, at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, south India.

Around 210 million people live within the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region, while 1.3 billion people live downstream and are dependent on the freshwater from its rivers and rivulets, Prakash told RT.

He quoted an ISRO study that approximately 75% of Himalayan glaciers are retreating at an alarming rate.

“This retreat will increase the variability of water flow to downstream areas and endanger the sustainability of water use in the Earth’s most crowded basins,” he added.

The effects are heightened by climate change and global warming. Activists are alarmed by the paucity of snowfall and rains during this past winter, and more gradually over the last decade.

Their concerns are growing with record high temperatures this summer across India, including the normally cooler Himalayan states.


An article in Yale Environment 360 pointed out that “the area of Himalayan glaciers has shrunk by 40 percent from its maximum during the Little Ice Age between 400-700 years ago.” It noted that the melting of ice in the Himalayas accelerated at the fastest rate of any mountainous region in the world.

Soumya Dutta, an energy expert, green activist and researcher working on climate justice, told RT that climatic changes will have serious consequences for Indian states that are dependent on water from Himalayan rivers.

“Over 200 rivulets, originating from Himalayas, have dried up in recent years and 25% of the area under Himalayan glaciers has reduced in the last few decades,” he said. “An average temperature increase of 1.6C in the western Himalayan region and 1.49C in the eastern Himalayan region were recorded in recent years.”

Food bowl impact

The impact will be visible in India’s northern food bowl states: Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

India produces over 330 mt of foodgrain, which is 11% of the total cereal production worldwide, and the sector contributes 23% to the GDP.

UP, Bihar and West Bengal fall in the upper, middle, and lower Ganga river basin and contribute 30% of India’s total foodgrain production.

Less snowfall and rainfall activity will result in lower foodgrain production and cause food insecurity in India and worldwide as the country is the second-highest exporter of cereals.

“The farmers in Punjab, Haryana, UP and West Bengal that rely on river water for irrigation may in the future be able to reap only two crops, instead of the present three,” Dutta said. “In the near future, water for irrigation will be available till April each year followed by an acute shortage which will be a major cause of concern.”

The hill states, on the other hand, face a reduction in fruit production. J&K and HP, major apple producers, have continuously seen a decline in production.

The crop was badly affected by the lack of snowfall in 2022-23. The trend continued this year, with farmers expecting a lower yield, according to Bhagya Sidholi, an apple grower from Chopal in Shimla, the capital of HP.

Impacting groundwater recharge

Prakash said that the trend of receding glaciers could also affect ‘groundwater recharge’ in the Himalayan region, as glaciers are its main source.

“In the foothills, where precipitation is high, groundwater is abundant,” Prakash said in his study. “However, due to the sloppy and rocky surface, a large percentage of precipitation flows out. This results in less water going from the subsurface into groundwater bodies.”

He added that groundwater seeped out through springs in favorable circumstances, forming the main water source to rural and urban hamlets in the entire Himalayan range.

As a solution, Dutta calls for changes in cropping patterns or sowing timings. He warned that the situation in the western Himalayan region could be more serious than that of major food grain producing states of UP, West Bengal and Bihar.

He also suggested a better implementation of the Jal Jeevan Mission (which seeks to provide drinkable tap water to every household), sustainable agriculture practices, and the need to find a middle way between modern and traditional farming methods prevalent in India to ensure food security for the world’s most populous country.





emissions rising....

 Emissions increase as climate disaster intensifies


CEOs state outright that profit must come first, even as this year’s deadly heat waves providing worrying evidence of the rising climate emergency, reports John Clarke

A new report has been issued by the World Weather Attribution (WWA) group, a scientific body that ‘conducts rapid-attribution studies on weather events around the world to look at the role climate change has played in their severity.’ After comparing the extreme heat that occurred in the US, Mexico and Central America between May and early June with ‘models of what would have likely occurred in a world not subjected to human-induced global warming,’ the report arrives at some deeply disturbing conclusions.

The WWA suggests that ‘climate change made [this] extreme heat … around 35 times more likely’ and that ‘such a heatwave was now four times more likely than it was in the year 2000, driven by planet-warming emissions.’ The drafters of the report also inform us that potentially ‘deadly and record-breaking temperatures are occurring more and more frequently in the US, Mexico and Central America due to climate change.’

During the heatwave, ‘the hottest five-day stretch across the region in June was made about 1.4C warmer by climate change.’ Based on this, Karina Izquierdo, Urban Advisor for the Latin American and Caribbean region at Red Cross Climate Centre, warned that the ‘additional 1.4C of heat caused by climate change would have been the difference between life and death for many people during May and June.’

In this regard, ‘Mexican officials have linked the heatwave to the deaths of scores of people’ and the WWA points out that the situation is especially dangerous when temperatures remain exceptionally high at night, since ‘the body does not have time to rest and recover.’ The WWA warns that as ‘long as humans fill the atmosphere with fossil fuel emissions, the heat will only get worse – vulnerable people will continue to die and the cost of living will continue to increase.’

Supercharged conditions

This particular episode of extreme heat took place within the broader context of prolonged drought and greatly disturbed weather patterns, as developments in June in the US state of New Mexico demonstrate all too convincingly. The Guardian reports that just ‘days after a pair of fast-moving fires roared across drought-stricken landscapes and into communities, a tropical storm swirled north, unleashing downpours and golf-ball-sized hail over scorched slopes that had only just burned.’

While it is true that ‘weather patterns like these aren’t unheard of … the climate crisis has supercharged extreme conditions, setting the stage for new types of catastrophes that are increasing in both intensity and frequency.’ Indeed, even as emergency crews in New Mexico struggled to deal with the combination of fire and flood, ‘the gusty winds kicked up a wall of dust that stretched hundreds of miles long’ and that led to a multiple car pile-up.

Ali Rye, the state director of New Mexico’s department of homeland security and emergency management, noted that ‘the number of state-declared disasters in New Mexico has quadrupled since 2019.’ She told the Guardian that ‘We are seeing an increase in the impacts to our state in various ways and it has become increasingly challenging over the last couple of years [and] we are not out of the clear yet.

WWA has also reported on the extreme heat that was already impacting a large swathe of Asia from ‘Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, in the West, to Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines in the East’ in May of this year. It notes that while the ‘death toll [from heatwaves] is often underreported, hundreds of deaths have been reported already in most of the affected countries …The heat also had a large impact on agriculture, causing crop damage and reduced yields, as well as on education, with holidays having to be extended and schools closed in several countries, affecting millions of students.’

The WWA’s findings on the situation in Asia were consistent with the conclusions it drew in the case of the US, Mexico and Central America. It notes that in ‘terms of intensity, we estimate that a heatwave such as this one in West Asia is today about 1.7°C warmer than it would have been without the burning of fossil fuels.’ Moreover, ‘we observe a strong climate change signal in the 2024 April mean temperature. We find that these extreme temperatures are now about 45 times more likely and 0.85ºC hotter. These results align with our previous studies, where we found that climate change made the extreme heat about 30 times more likely and 1ºC hotter.’

There is no question that intensifying episodes of extreme heat are a particularly deadly manifestation of the climate disaster. The CBC reports that we’re ‘only halfway through 2024, yet the global death toll from surging temperatures has been staggering, and a clearer picture is now emerging of extreme heat as one of the deadly emergencies facing regions around the world.’ It further notes that, in a twelve-month period up until May of this year, ‘6.3 billion people — roughly 78 per cent of the population — experienced at least 31 days of extreme heat that were “made at least two times more likely due tohuman-caused climate change’’.’

As these terrible impacts take their toll, the ‘world’s consumption of fossil fuels climbed to a record high last year, driving emissions to more than 40 gigatonnes of CO2 for the first time, according to a global energy report.’ In addition to this, we learn that ‘fossil fuels made up 81.5% of the world’s primary energy last year, down only marginally from 82% the year before.’ Despite dire warnings from scientists and an abundance of empty promises from political leaders, a peak in global carbon emissions has not yet occurred.

A series of Marxist writers have noted that the competitive drive to accumulate that is fundamental to capitalism is at odds with the containment of fossil-fuel use and the goal of a sustainable relationship with the natural world. Michael Roberts has commented recently on the threat to profit making that a transfer to renewable-energy sources represents. The titans of fossil-fuel capitalism are well aware of this.

Roberts points out that JP Morgan bank economists have suggested that transition to renewable energy ‘is a process that should be measured in decades, or generations, not years.’ This is because such a transition to sustainable alternatives ‘currently offers subpar returns.’ Shell CEO, Wael Sawan, put things as clearly as possible with his defiant declaration that ‘we will drive for strong returns in any business we go into … Our shareholders deserve [this] … Absolutely, we want to continue to go for lower and lower and lower carbon, but it has to be profitable.’

Role of the state

If fossil-fuel capitalists and bankers are going to place profits ahead of preserving the conditions that sustain life on this planet, it might be wondered if those who wield state power can be trusted to protect capitalism from its own worst instincts by ensuring that carbon emissions are brought under control. It is true that the state sometimes restrains the most reckless and damaging conduct of capitalists and grants limited rights and protections to workers, tenants, consumers, etc. However, the last few years have produced some sobering evidence as to how far state power will actually be used to put social well-being above profit making.

During the Covid pandemic, notions of creating ‘herd immunity’ by allowing the population to become widely infected, proved unsustainable and lockdowns became unavoidable. Yet, despite evidence that longer-term economic stability required sustained measures to preserve public health, the Boris Johnson ‘let the bodies pile high’ approach to preserving short-term profits asserted itself again and again at a terrible cost. Similarly, the most powerful Western governments protected the interests of Big Pharma by ensuring that no patent waiver would be implemented to provide adequate access to vaccines in the Global South.

The same consideration is at work, on an even more catastrophic scale, when it comes to the mounting impacts of climate change. The increase in episodes of extreme heat is only one particularly lethal expression of the effects of carbon emissions. Yet, in the face of this dreadful situation, ‘world leaders’ gather at one international summit after another to mouth empty platitudes about the need to transition to sustainable forms of economic activity. As they do so, far from the drastic reductions in emissions that are desperately needed, they actually continue to increase.

It is abundantly clear that placing hopes on the ‘self-regulating’ efforts of fossil-fuel interests and expecting responsible conduct on the part of those in power is a failed strategy. Powerful and united mass action is the only means of curtailing carbon emissions and ensuring that populations aren’t abandoned as the impacts of the climate crisis continue to intensify.




green capital.....


by Ross Gittins


The most pressing problem we face is climate change. It’s even more important than – dare I say it – getting inflation down to 2 per cent by last Friday. But we mustn’t forget that climate change is just the most glaring symptom of the ultimate threat to human existence: our continuing destruction of the natural environment.

Economists are often accused of being too narrowly focused on markets and the market prices that move up or down to bring supply and demand into balance.

But one way they’ve widened their scope is by broadening the meaning of “capital”. Capital refers to anything that helps us produce the many goods and services we consume as part of our standard of living.

Historically, it has meant “physical” capital: the human-made tools, machines, factories, shops, offices and other buildings, as well as infrastructure such as roads and bridges.


To this, economists have added the “human” capital we have in our brains: the education, training and on-the-job knowledge that adds to the productive value of our labour.

And then they took account of “social” capital: the human relationships and networks, norms of acceptable behaviour and, particularly, the trust between people that make markets work more smoothly and lower the costs of doing business.

Finally, economists have recognised the importance of “natural capital”: the world’s stocks of natural assets, such as geology, soil, air, water and all living things. These natural assets deliver to us “ecosystem services” ranging from pollinating birds and insects, sources of fresh water, forests, marine life, arable soils and various absorbers of wastes.

As a former Treasury secretary, Dr Ken Henry, reminded us in a speech last week, human progress has relied on forms of industrial production, including modern agricultural practices, involving extracting non-renewable raw materials, such as iron ore coal and gas, and making extensive use of ecosystem services.

Two hundred years ago it was possible to believe that all this economic activity was having no significant impact on our stocks of natural assets and their ecosystem services to us. Today, scientists tell us a very different story – and it’s much easier to see with our own eyes the damage we’ve done.

As Henry puts it, the extraction of non-renewable natural resources for industry has depleted the stock of natural capital directly. But it has also had an indirect impact. Most obviously, the burning of fossil fuels has damaged the atmosphere, the total supply of water in all its forms, and the earth’s surface, in a set of complex processes we call climate change.

But that’s not our only contribution to the degradation of natural capital. Because the industrial rate of use of ecosystem services has exceeded nature’s capacity to regenerate for at least several centuries, the stock of natural capital has been depleted – just as machines used in production depreciate more rapidly if worked harder and not properly maintained.

The depletion of natural capital over time reduces its capacity to supply ecosystem services that are critical to production. For example, soil fertility, the availability of well-watered farming land, and capacity of the atmosphere and the land to absorb the waste left by economic activity have all fallen over time.


“A degraded biosphere [of land and air] affords less protection from fire, droughts, floods and storms, all of which are growing in incidence and severity because of human-induced atmospheric change,” Henry says.

Wait, there’s more. The depletion of natural capital also reduces “environmental amenity” – our enjoyment of being out in nature. It also imposes adverse cultural impacts on indigenous peoples.

Economists are very aware that, to some extent, labour and physical capital can be substituted for each, one source of energy can be used to replace another, and resources can be used to produce machines that increase what we have available to consume.

These are the reason some economists have dismissed the fear that we have, or could ever, approach the “limits to [economic] growth”.


But Henry’s not convinced. “None of this human ingenuity, nor [physical] capital accumulation, nor increasing work effort has, thus far, done anything to halt the rate at which the stock of natural capital is being depleted,” he says.

“To the contrary, new technologies and more [physical] capital-intensive modes of production have accelerated its rate of depletion. And they have done little to reduce the dependence of industry upon the stock of natural capital.”

The distinguished American economist Robert Solow argued that for economic growth to be sustainable, the present generation has a moral obligation to “conduct ourselves so that we leave to the future the option or the capacity to be as well-off as we are”.

But Henry responds that: “The historical loss of natural capital denies us reason to believe that future generations will have the capacity to achieve our level of wellbeing. To put it another way, it would be irrational of us to suppose that we, in this generation, are custodians of sustainable development.”


Wow. He goes on to argue that so much has been lost, and with such serious consequences, a consensus has emerged that we must now commit to nature repair.

Have you heard of “nature positive”? It means halting and reversing nature loss, so that species and ecosystems start to recover.

Henry says the nature positive position “argues that for some time, perhaps generations, we must seek to restore environmental condition, understanding that without doing so, we cannot be confident that future generations will have the capacity to be as well-off”.

Wow. This is radical stuff. And it’s coming not from some Greens senator, but from a former Treasury secretary and former chair of the National Australia Bank.


In an interview in April, Henry said the Albanese government should establish a public fund to spur corporate involvement in nature positive protection and repair. The cost would be enormous, he admitted.

A last thing to surprise you. The world’s first global nature positive summit will be held in Sydney in early October. It will be hosted by the federal Minister for the Environment, Tanya Plibersek.

Ross Gittins is the economics editor.