African Locusts — Climate Change “Green Colonialism,” and the Threat of Mass Starvation
Thinking Citizen Blog: Wednesday is Climate Change, the Environment, and Sustainability Day
Swarms of locusts are threatening Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan. Locusts are nothing new, but warmer seas could be making it worse. And, so, paradoxically, could be environmentalist opposition to pesticides. In this, echoes of the malaria deaths that followed the banning of DDT. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE BIBLICAL HORROR OF IT — a New York Times report from central Kenya
1. “When the dense, dark smudge started blocking out the daytime sky, many in a sleepy pastoralist hamlet in northern Kenya imagined it was a cloud ushering in some welcome, cooling rain.”
2. “But the hope soon turned to terror when the giant blot revealed itself as a swarm of fast-moving desert locusts, which have been cutting a path of devastation through Kenya since late December.”
3. “The highly mobile creatures can travel over 80 miles a day. Their swarms, which can contain as many as 80 million locust adults in each square kilometer, eat the same amount of food daily as about 35,000 people.”
NB: See first link below.
THE CLIMATE CHANGE CONNECTION: warmer weather, more cyclones, more locusts
1. “When those rains fall in desert areas with sandy soil, that will flood the soil. Once those floods recede, the soil retains so much moisture that it allows desert locust females to lay their eggs probably for a period of around six months.”
2. “The life cycle of a locust is about three months, so after three months the adults are ready to lay eggs again. With each three-month generation, there’s a 20-fold increase in locust numbers.”
3. “The only effective control operation once a swarm is in motion is to spray pesticide directly on the bugs from the air.”
NB: See second link below for interview with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s locust-forecasting expert.
“GREEN COLONIALISM”: Environmental Opposition to Pesticides Imperils Lives (again)
1. “Kenya lacks adequate supplies of the best and most effective insecticide, fenitrothion, and is scrambling to get additional stocks. The radical environmental movement, which seeks to ban fenitrothion and other safe and effective chemicals, has made Kenyan authorities’ work more difficult.”
2. “Since last September, European Union-funded nongovernmental organizations in Kenya have been petitioning the Kenyan Parliament to ban more than 250 registered agricultural insecticides. Foremost among these groups is the Route to Food Initiative, funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which in turn is affiliated with the German Green Party. The chemicals the Greens seek to ban are essential for controlling not only locusts but also common agricultural pests, weeds and fungi. Even as locusts devastate Kenyan crops, NGO lobbyists continue their anti-insecticide crusade.”
3. “Africans can let foreign donors play out their ideological fantasies in Africa, like colonialists of yore. Or they can send them home, where, thanks to modern farming technology, they have the privilege of full supermarket shelves.”
NB: see fourth link below.