Tag Archives: world

Where are the flying insects?

This is not a question without dramatic consequences for us. For the past 25 years there has been a dramatic decline in flying insects according to a new study. At least in Germany. The drama in this is that no one knows if this applies to the rest of the world. I for one, as an amateur photographer can vouch that insects of all kinds this year were not plentiful and that birds were also in decline, at least in my neck of the woods.

Insects are important, both as pollinators and as prey for other wildlife. Our human societies could be seriously impacted by this. We depend on flying insects for pollination.

Even if this new data was done in reserves in Germany it has implications for all landscapes that are dominated by agriculture. The reason is simple; it is more than probable that pesticides play a role in the decline as well as the destruction of wild areas. At least it seems that climate change is not a reason for the decline.

What is even more worrying is that this study was done in protected areas in Germany, where one would think that things would be better than in areas not under protection. It is probable that when the insects leave the reserves they die due to lack of food and maybe the pesticides that are used in the surrounding areas. Studies will now be done elsewhere to see if this is really a worldwide phenomena or something that is localized and unique to Germany.

 

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The rich are getting richer…

A recent article attracted my attention; it seems that according to Oxfam the richest 62 people in the world owned as much as half the world’s population and half of the super-rich individuals were from the United States. What struck me is that the wealth of the super-rich rose by 44% since 2010 while the wealth of the poorest fell by 41%. In other words, the rich keep getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer.

What seems clear is that the world is more and more unequal and the trend seems to be accelerating. What is most distressing is that areas of the world that were always poor are still poor as for example, Africa. At least for that continent we know where some of the wealth is hidden; 30% of all African financial wealth is held offshore costing 14 billion dollars US in lost tax revenues every year.

Obviously companies are at fault as well here as 180 out of the leading 200 companies have a presence in at least one tax haven. It is not clear to me if we are talking about something illegal or only immoral and unethical. It is one thing to search the tax law for loopholes and pay as little tax as Google and Amazon do and quite another to evade paying taxes that are owed.

What is clear is that according to a OECD report most poor people now live in middle-income countries like India and not in the poorest countries as in the past. And in these countries the social net is woefully inadequate and cannot compare to modern industrialized countries where taxes and transfers help reduce urban poverty.

None of this should be a surprise to anyone who works and lives in most modern countries. Another reason to oppose the TPP!

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The Canadian election.

I was very happy this last Monday when the people of Canada decided to opt for change in a massive way and elected the Liberals with a strong majority. The Liberals caught fire towards the end of the election and this propelled them to a massive victory.

I am hopeful that this new government, more gentle in its policies towards its people and the world, will act as a force for good on the world stage and will help us work towards a more peaceful world, one where the plights of people and the effects of various government policy will be seriously examined before being implemented.

Mr. Trudeau is invested with the hopes of millions of people, somewhat like Barack Obama was in his first term. He is bound to disappoint some people, that is to be expected. One man alone, even with the machinery of government at his disposal, cannot undue quickly the harm done to the Canada brand by 9 years of Conservative policies. But at least he will start the rollback of insensible policies such as with the refugee crisis or with the bombing of ISIS.

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The oldest skateboarder in the world.

I was taking the metro the other day when I saw an incredible sight; I saw the oldest skate-boarder in the world. As the door opened I saw him lying on the floor like a lanky 16 year old teenager with his backpack behind his head as a makeshift pillow and a National Geographic magazine on his chest. His eyes were closed as if he were sleeping.

Evidently he had chosen to lie there for when I arrived there were seats available. He had deliberately chosen not to sit in them, thus making a statement and signaling to people that he had chosen to lead a different sort of life.

He wore a gray shirt with the sleeves cut-off with a black short and brown shoes. Below his cap I could see his gray hair and in my opinion, he must have been well over 45 years old. The glasses he wore told me that he was not in his prime anymore. But of course he could have been wearing them all his life, who knows.

I looked at his muscles; they were the muscles of an active man who was accustomed to exercise. His legs were those of a runner or cyclist and not those of a flabby and sedentary 45 year old. His arms were well built but less so than his legs, indicating to me that he was not into lifting weights. His whole body cried out that here was an athlete, not only a weekend warrior.

His skateboard was on his right side lazily lying next to him and protecting him like a shield. I half expected to see Excalibur somewhere near him.

Not once did he look up to the passengers seated in front of him. He was totally oblivious to mankind, an independent man he was.

Finally we arrived at the end of the line. I stood up at the same time that he did and once again I looked at his well toned muscles. That he was in top shape was without a doubt. Maybe he was a man that had skateboarded all his life and had refused to give in to time and its ravages. Maybe he just did not bother looking back, endlessly comparing himself to his younger self, that self that did not exist anymore. He was a skateboarder, and that was all that mattered to him, whether he was 25 or 45. He probably had enjoyed his sport for a long time and had no intention of giving it up, even if time marched on.

Perhaps we too should be more like him. We too should not be so prompt to obey when the man in the mirror tells us that we are too old for this or that, and that perhaps we should take it easy. We should firmly say to that man in the mirror to take a hike, or better yet, to go on one. Literally. Perhaps then the adventurous spirit of our youth will re-awaken from its slumbering, just waiting for the master to return.

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