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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 3/15/22

The Death of Nature & the War On Ukraine are Part of the Same Thing

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If we don't start listening to our screaming planet, Covid and Ukraine may be the least of our worries

Our planet is screaming a message at us, and Covid is part of that communication. The death of nature and the appearance of Covid are all part of the same thing. And it also ties into Russia's brutal war on Ukraine.

I'll never forget the day the trucker called into my radio show. It was at least a decade ago, and he identified himself as a long-haul trucker who regularly ran a coast-to-coast route from the southeast to the Pacific Northwest dozens of times a year.

"Used to be when I was driving through the southern part of the Midwest like I am right now," he said, "I'd have to stop every few hours to clean the bugs off my windshield. It's been three days since I've had to clean bugs off my windshield on this trip. There's something spooky going on out here."

The phone lines lit up. People from Maine to California, from Florida to Washington state shared their stories of the vanishing insects where they lived. Multiple long-haul truckers listening on SiriusXM had similar stories.

We had just moved to Portland at that time, living on a floating home in the Willamette River, and the air was often filled with bugs and swallows, small insect-eating birds that fly as fast and sometimes as erratically as bats. A neighbor had a "swallow house," a box on a pole by the side of her home with a dozen small holes in it where the swallows made their nests.

A bit more than a decade later, now living on the Columbia River in Portland, I haven't seen a swallow in at least two years. The swarms of gnats, the mosquitoes, butterflies, beetles and moths that marked spring and summer for most of my 70 years, from Michigan to Vermont to Georgia to Oregon, all seem to have largely vanished.

But that's only part of the story.

The insect apocalypse that the world is now experiencing and the Covid pandemic are all of one cloth. And part of our behavior that's driving it is also funding Putin's war against the democracy of Ukraine. We humans have exceeded the capacity of this planet that we have risen up and conquered, and it is beginning to bite us back.

For the first several hundred thousand years of human history, our population slowly grew to around 5 million people at the dawn of the agricultural revolution 15,000 years ago. From that moment to 1800, our population crept up to 1 billion. The 2nd billion only took 130 years: 1930. The third billion took only 30 years: 1960. The fourth billion we hit in 14 years in 1974, and the fifth billion took only 13 years: 1987. Today we stand on the verge of 8 billion people.

As I point out in my book The Last Hours Of Ancient Sunlight, in the process of all this population growth we have consumed virtually all of the world's wild spaces. We've harvested the oceans, razed the forests, and are burning thousands of acres of the planet's jungles every hour.

And during the past two centuries, we've powered almost all of that activity by using fossil fuels, which are simply a vehicle for storing ancient sunlight locked up by plants millions of years ago in hydrocarbons; we release that ancient sunlight energy when we burn them.

That gas-powered car you see going down the road is running on sunlight that was captured by plants hundreds of millions of years ago. That sunlight energy turned into plant carbohydrates that then became compressed like peat bogs today, then pushed deeper underground where, over aeons, it became oil, coal and natural gas.

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)

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