Very small but potent images of American ruin I saw today: Sad little mutant in a MAGA hat. A ballerina in a black leotard and skirt twirling. When I caught sight of her face I saw that she was wearing a surgical mask. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking but there’s a sense of real ruin in America. Not just Trump or Obama or whatever nonsense, or even the state of the economy, but something deeper. It’s exciting and nauseating, like coming home after a break in and feeling the sense that some other presence has come and gone.
Mack’s results indicate that many households, largely concentrated in the South, are at risk of just that: The states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky and Arkansas led the nation in percentage of census tracts determined to be at “high risk” of water poverty. In addition, water poverty clusters were identified in downtown areas of urban settings including Detroit, Phoenix and Philadelphia.
U.S. life expectancy is declining, new calculations show.
Pollution blamed for 9 million deaths annually, more than for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
Today we know beyond doubt, and with scientific statistics rather than just anecdote, that this is true, and the question immediately arises: what caused it?
It seems indisputable: it is us. It is human activity – more specifically, three generations of industrialised farming with a vast tide of poisons pouring over the land year after year after year, since the end of the second world war. This is the true price of pesticide-based agriculture, which society has for so long blithely accepted.
So what is the future for 21st-century insects? It will be worse still, as we struggle to feed the nine billion people expected to be inhabiting the world by 2050, and the possible 12 billion by 2100, and agriculture intensifies even further to let us do so. You think there will be fewer insecticides sprayed on farmlands around the globe in the years to come? Think again. It is the most uncomfortable of truths, but one which stares us in the face: that even the most successful organisms that have ever existed on earth are now being overwhelmed by the titanic scale of the human enterprise, as indeed, is the whole natural world.