We are publishing a guest post from South Africa with mixed feelings. We are glad to welcome another like-minded person into our effort to prevent the pointless destruction of the plants that have been members of our communities for generations, solely because they are not considered “native.” On the other hand, we are saddened to learn that other communities are experiencing the same destruction that we are witnessing here in the San Francisco Bay Area. This guest post is an article that was published by The Witness, which the author describes as “South Africa’s oldest daily newspaper.”
Xenophobia is Killing Our Planet
Xenophobia (both human and ecological) is raging worldwide. Yet we are all Earthlings and life on Earth has always migrated. The Khoisan are the first known inhabitants of Africa, and African elephants and lions once roamed North America; America’s bison, bear and deer immigrated from Eurasia, while horses, which evolved in the States, radiated outwards, returning home to be shot as aliens.
Historically, the mass hysteria of rhetoric-spurred xenophobia has sucked reason and compassion from sections of whole countries. Propaganda supporting Hitler’s racial-purity infected Germans to hate Jews who were vilified as pigs. In Rwanda, the genocide of the Tutsi tribe began with the Hutus defaming them as cockroaches. In South Africa, foreign nationals have been slandered as lice and ticks. While in ecological warfare, exotic plants are demonized as cancers and monsters. Those brainwashed by this illogical prejudice, tend to overlook their own ancestral origins and their personal culpability about the very things they fear and denounce in more recent arrivals in our war-torn world now over-flowing with desperate refugees.
Essentially we are all settlers at any given time. Definitions of nativeness are changed at whim by invasion biologists who measure other creatures via a creed they themselves do not exemplify. ‘Alien’ plant species are destroyed country-wide, drastically disrupting ecosystems for the slightest inconvenience to native species or commercial interests. South Africa’s multi-billion rand [1 US $ = 12.64 S. African rand] Working for Water, the world’s largest ever tree-cutting campaign, is a terrifying example. Levelling countless rain-drawing trees on a planet already suffering from tree-loss-induced global warming, is tantamount to blood-letting an already haemorrhaging patient. Far from saving water, the dire rainfall deficit has devastated South Africa with widespread drought causing a conservatively-estimated R400 million loss to livestock and crops in KwaZulu-Natal alone.
Unprecedented ferocious winds, fires, floods, heat waves, violent storms and catastrophic disasters are battering our over-populated planet, our ice caps melting faster, its creatures dying. And it is no wonder: armed with poisons, the world’s chemical corporations have dressed themselves in Xenophobia, using it as a front to motivate and mask their hugely-profitable, unceasing nature destruction. In a study published in the journal Science this year, 18 international researchers found that human abuse has so disrupted complex interactions between oceans, land and atmosphere that the earth is becoming inhospitable to life. Johan Rockstrom, professor of environmental science at Stockholm University, gravely concluded that, for the first time in human history, we risk destabilizing the entire planet.
Only enough ecosystems, essential for regulating Earth’s climate, keep our civilization from extinction, and scientists estimate we’d have to return as much as 40% of all land to nature to regain long-term stability. Britain’s James Lovelock says we can all help by letting portions of our gardens go wild. Forest ecologist at Stellenbosch University, Dr Coert Geldenhuys, explained in an article how alien infestations repair forests when indigenous trees can’t fill the pioneering role, rehabilitating the soil before dying out, allowing natives to return. This Earth-healing is harmless, sustainable and free, yet fanatics continue mutilating and polluting, with depraved indifference leaving countless creatures, (both native and alien, seen and unseen) homeless, poisoned and dying – as recently verified by scores of dead baby weaver birds strewn amid an axed casaurina forest. Yet ever more prominent ecologists the likes of David Theodoropoulos, Mark Davis, Matthew Chew, Ken Thompson and Dov Sax, see a bigger picture with the role of invasive aliens far more complex and beneficial than generally believed. Fred Pearce (author of THE NEW WILD) puts it all in a nutshell: invasives re-boot Earth’s man-damaged ecosystems to help nature withstand global warming.
AT WAR WITH NATURE, a powerful exposé by New Zealand conservationist W F Benfield (available on AMAZON) reveals that the chemical industry in league with blindly-believing invasion followers who manufacture the crises needed to justify saturating our planet with poisons, are now offering their lethal services to the uninhabited islands of other lands. They were recently enlisted to rid our own Marion Island of mice. But this ‘extinction industry’ as Benfield succinctly describes it, uses deceit, staged photographs and chemicals to do far more harm to resident wildlife than any pest explosion ever could. (Watch POISONING PARADISE on YouTube.) The shockingly inhumane poison 1080 (banned in most countries) is regularly released over New Zealand where corporate conservation plans to render the entire country predator-free. Naturally, once predators are eradicated, their prey will multiply to plague proportions – creating unending opportunities for ever-hungry chemical corporations.
Man’s agriculture is presently eating away so much of the planet’s diminishing wilderness that the European Union and United Nations called for a global shift to a vegan diet to alleviate global warming caused by livestock farming and chemical poisoning. Recently the World Health Organization finally verified a study linking Roundup to cancer after hundreds of studies with similar findings were skewed or suppressed for 30 years. This tumour-causing herbicide was also connected to a mystery kidney disease which killed up to 20,000 farmworkers labouring in extreme heat in Central America, India and Sri Lanka. Scores of Argentinean farmers are suing Monsanto over their infant children’s birth defects, including cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, psychomotor retardation, missing fingers and blindness.
Roundup leaches nutrients from the soil, damages micro-organisms, kills earth worms and stimulates unstoppable super weeds. In Australasia it has killed 3 frog species, and, according to World Health statistics, the mere careless use of glyphosate-containing herbicides sickens and kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide annually. Besides damaging the digestive tracts of animals and humans, incidences of once-rare diseases have soared since its use, linking it to Alzheimer’s, attention deficit disorder, autism, asthma and infertility. Workers spraying from backpacks are at risk simply by breathing in spray drift. Destroying harmless naturalized vegetation with chainsaws and deadly carcinogens, xenophobia, in bed with the chemical industry, is a danger to all life.
Pietermaritzburg’s beloved Art in the Park has to move next year because the original river-side site has been so degraded by felled trees, and everywhere gracious Jacaranda trees lining our streets stand tragically ring-barked and dying. In the decades since this merciless ethnic cleansing started, our bees have been poisoned to the edge of extinction, our butterflies, birds, rare frogs and chameleons as well as common-place insects and microscopic organisms essential to planet life, vanishing from our shrinking vegetation, while our polluted waterways and seas have vast chemical dead-zones, and scores of fish suffocate when poison-sprayed water-plants suck oxygen from the water whilst dying en masse.
In Pietermaritzburg, magnificent five-storey tall bamboo in the once-beautiful stream-side park behind the Beacon Hill apartment block, were recently hacked and poisoned, risking the stream and its life-forms and resident geese and ducks, as well as the city’s ground water. Helicopters dropped clouds of poisonous herbicide on dagga growing amid hill-side food crops belonging to impoverished KwaZulu-Natal villagers. In the US, tons of chemicals dumped into Lake Michigan to kill one ‘alien’ fish, killed hundreds of thousands while brain-washed con-servationists and scientists cheered. American animal advocate, Nathan Winograd, reflected that in the hopeless battle to return America to a mythical ecological state, slaughter without end has been proposed.
The effects of removing everything arbitrarily judged to be foreign are incalculable. Migrating thousands of miles, the incredible monarch butterfly – a precious natural wonder – has dropped an astounding 90% in numbers since milk weed was killed by herbicides. The worldwide massacre of plants and creatures sometimes just miles ‘out of place’ have evoked unlikely alliances between hunters and vegans who fear Earth’s animals are being wiped out. Andrew Tyler, Britain’s Animal Aid director, believes that the growing appetite for ‘alien’ blood is driving the slaughter of animals scapegoated for human-committed environmental abuses.
America’s Agricultural Department recently revealed that since 1997 it has destroyed a staggering 27 million animals by aerial snipers, poisons and traps, to help dessert bighorn sheep, deer and pronghorn. This alien killing mania spread quickly to unwanted natives. Elk, cougar, fox, bobcats, coyotes, badgers, prairie dogs, bears, wolves, wild longhorn, burros and horses – creatures which once filled us with wonder – among those left to rot that. Alien disdain is worldwide: mustangs are killed lest they damage native plants, Britain’s grey squirrels destroyed to bring back the red, its deer culled to protect wildflowers, Canada Geese shot for dropping scat on pathways, while South Africa’s own shameful hit list includes the endangered black Kenya rhinoceros. Are purist’s any better than rhino poachers?
This madness, instigated and exonerated by invasion biology, is done at the unknowing tax-payer’s expense. With our living green world turning into a dead planet there have been increasing calls from the public, social sciences and ecology itself, for invasion biology to end. It is the only ‘scientific’ field ever doubted, and this, as they themselves admit, via a virtual ‘cottage industry’ of critical scientific articles, and even death-wishing obituaries in well-respected publications. Many regard this unproved discipline as money-making deceptive hype, xenophobic, immoral, cruel, nonsensical, climate changing and earth endangering. An English review of the book LA GRANDE INVASION explains the inspiring perspective of French ecologist, Jacques Tassin, who adjures conservationists to reconcile man to a new alliance with the living world, including invasives, which he believes are symptoms of pollution testifying to ‘ a richness for tomorrow’.
Invasion Biology has given chemical corporations an excuse to devastate our beautiful planet on a scale never seen before. We’ve become a world at war with itself. If this anti-life pseudo-science is not abolished, Earth’s millions of life-forms are doomed. Humanity has forgotten the spirit and intelligence innate in the wild: before it is too late we should unshackle nature to help heal itself. It’s time we all denounced what we’ve unknowingly allowed to happen. Mahatma Gandhi said: ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ We should empathize with terrified foreign nationals and innocent creatures persecuted and killed through xenophobia’s ugly ethos, and remember that Christ himself identified with the alien Samaritans of this world, declaring: ‘What ye do unto the least of these my brethren, ye do also unto me.’
Gloria Keverne is a South African environmental activist and the international bestselling author of A MAN CANNOT CRY and BROKEN WINGS. In xenophobic riots in South Africa this year seven foreign-national human beings tragically lost their lives, while for decades countless trees, animals and insects have perished, poisoned and deprived of habitat by this prejudiced mind-set. She can be emailed at email@example.com. If you agree with her viewpoint, please take a minute to thank her for defending her local landscape and wish her good luck in preventing its needless destruction.