“Averting the Insect Apocalypse”

Things we can do in our homes, our gardens and our communities to help nature heal.

This #BeeTheChange section of BFB is all about the plight of those pesky insect species and how incredibly effective our society’s ongoing campaign to eradicate them completely over the past 60+ years is progressing.

With 97% of British wild flower meadows gone, and with hedgerows and the last of our ancient woodlands not far behind, the insects that have managed to survive decades of continuous poisonous pesticide persecution are running out of places to live.

We need to reverse all this. Stop using the poison and encourage pollinators back into the places that are literally on our doorstep, in our garden or in our local park or green space that our children play in, where we walk our dogs or where we sit on a summertime day in that short window away from our day job to eat our packed lunch.

“Averting the Insect Apocalypse” is not just about raising awareness. Being the change we want to see in the world involves taking positive action. That action can take many forms. We will focus on the steps we can all take on our own but hopefully with others to make a positive difference to many aspects of our local environment. There is loads to get involved with. I could go on and on and I am sure a lot of people think I do but you get the picture.

BFB was set up to help raise awareness and motivate more people to get involved with taking action locally on environmental issues. We think the best way to do that is by sharing the wonderful stories of people in local communities across the UK and beyond doing exactly that.

We have decided to dedicate an awful amount of time and effort into providing these local solutions to global problems so our followers don’t have to. They can then spend that time simply getting on with it and then maybe we can share their stories too.

There is, of course, a lot more we can all do to help the environment other than just sending money to Greenpeace et al. to continue lobbying the powers that be.

We all need to take action! Sometimes that will need effort but fortunately, most of us need the exercise. However, sometimes it’s about not doing anything at all like not mowing the grass or not spraying a toxic deadly cocktail of chemicals willy-nilly around the garden. So people, you might want to send your better halves to the community allotment to grow some veggies before they realise they have more time on their hands and head for the pub or have a real mental brake and take up golf.

We will let you know about the organisations that use their expertise to develop campaigns that encourage people to make changes in their normal habits to protect and enhance the natural environment rather than causing harm. Some organisations like PAN UK give you an incredible amount of resources and help to become a campaigner yourself. These types of campaigns can also be taken on by individuals, families or by community groups, schools, local businesses and, of course, charities. Raising awareness of the ecological crisis and taking action should be at the top of every communities agenda, don’t you think?

I have been reading a lot lately about how just changing your toilet roll and toothbrush for eco friendlier versions is not going to be enough. This may be true and we are definitely all about communities coming together but what other way have citizens really got to influence let alone change the direction of the climate and ecological emergency other than taking action themselves setting an example then convincing others to do the same?

"If we wait for governments, it will be too late. If we act as individuals, it will be too little. But if we act as communities, it might just be enough, and it might just be in time."
- Rob Hopkins, co-founder of the Transition movement

I know many people today feel like I do that the government at all levels and the corporate industrialists are one and the same beast and have their own agenda. Changing your toilet roll and toothbrush is, of course, a form of action! We have taken many such actions in our family and would strongly recommend others to do the same. However, there are lots of helpful Go Green Websites and Blogs giving advice on changing your household products and utilities so we thought we would not be very effective trying to duplicate their work. Here with BFB you may see an advertisement or two promoting a particular product but as you know that’s us trying to pay the bills. There may also from time to time be a guest blogger sharing a story of a great idea in the form of product or service. Our focus is on grassroots community activism which is happening right now in communities across the world.

Insect Apocalypse

If politicians, fellow scientists, people and the media had shown one glimmer of understanding and took the appropriate action when Rachel Carson published her groundbreaking book Silent Spring back in September 1962, then Professor Dave Goulson wouldn’t have needed to publish his book Silent Earth in 2021.

This time we must all understand and take action. Carson’s book was a dire warning of what could happen. Goulson’s book is a terrifying review of what has happened in those 60 years.

I have been campaigning on environmental issues for a long time and I read Silent Spring decades ago. I thought that I could never again be shocked by an issue because I was aware of all the horrors we were inflicting upon the natural world. Boy, was I wrong! The book Silent Earth had a profound impact on me by focusing my attention on such an extreme loss of biodiversity that I could totally relate with on so many levels because I had witnessed it for myself. It was quite a blow.

“We knew that wildlife in general was in decline, but for three quarters of insects to have disappeared so rapidly suggested a pace and scale of decline that had previously not been imagined.“ Silent Earth

An Abundance of Nature

In the 70s I was extremely fortunate to spend most of my time in nature even though I didn’t fully appreciate how fortunate I was at the time. I have written about feelings of “An Abundance of Nature” in a bit about me but simply put, the fact that my grandson will probably never know the true beauty of what an abundance of nature feels like when you are actually living in it everyday, is truly heartbreaking. How are our young people ever going to establish a sense of connection with nature if there isn’t any to connect with?

However, like Professor Goulson we remain positive and he reminds us that we all can and absolutely must play a part in Nature’s Recovery. Thanks to the passion and hard work from people like Professor Goulson and Dr Carson we have all the experience and expertise we need within our own communities to start making the changes that are going to be absolutely essential. We just need to share their passion.

We are not a large organisation in fact we are not really an organisation at all just a family business hoping to influence as many as we can. Our company structure is not-for-profit just in case someone decides we are the bee’s knees and then want to give us loads of money to achieve our goals. We can only take on so much. We wanted to focus this section on this issue because we are personally very concerned about the plight of our insect species and how everyone including us can take action at the local level to help protect them.

Our own action

  1. Urinalysis for Pesticides
  2. Our little patches
  3. Talking to authorities
1. Urinalysis for Pesticides

For the past year or so after discovering that weed killers were being sprayed right outside our bedroom window my wife has been monitoring the levels of Glyphosate in her system by sending urine samples to a lab in Germany. The levels were pretty high last year at 2.22 ng/ml. At such levels autoimmune diseases are very common claims the largest research study on glyphosate residues in human urine done by the lab. Anyone who gets 1.5 ng/ml or more has a relatively high probability of gastrointestinal problems. You get to 4.0 ng/ml and more and the lab gets serious feedback on diseases like cancer!  😮😲😱   We are now awaiting to hear back from them on this year’s levels.  🤞🤞🤞

She also sent an email to the three councillors of our Shoeburyness West ward back in April 2022 with her grave concerns over her family’s health and guess what!? We have never heard back from them. Surprise? I am currently researching and reaching out to local people involved with the Pesticide-Free Southend Campaign which is supported by PAN UK (on PAN UK more below). We feel that this issue is extremely important one and a great opportunity for people to come together in community and end this madness. We must do all we can to help nature heal and allow insect population to recover.

Photos of pesticides used outside our bedroom a year ago are shown below. We believe that the bush on the right has been almost completely killed off by the pesticide.

2. Our little patches

However, we decided to take action. Just after a year of us having taken over the stewardship of the tiny patch in front of the flat, it is recovering! Yeah!!  We believe that the bush on the right will stand tall and strong once again! 😀And we haven’t seen any spraying of it since! Small victory on a small patch in front of our flat. Even if it’s not technically ours.

My wife is also a nanny and is very concerned about the health of children in her care when she sees evidence of the spraying of pesticide in playgrounds and parks. Below you can see photos of Gainsbourough park, Westcliff, Southend-on-Sea from February 2023 when she reckons they sprayed it for the first time this year. “How can we allow that to happen? I see children doing cartwheels on that horrible grass?!”, she complains to me often. 

We also do a lot in our little back garden to encourage wildlife and especially insects. This, unfortunately, over the years has caused conflict with my landlords due to complaints from the tidy garden police that happen to be my neighbours. 

3. Talking to authorities

With the help of Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) we will be engaging with others like South Essex Homes and Southend City Council to find out the current state of play on Pesticide Use in our area and encouraging them to take on wider initiatives, such as No Mow May. A change of policy from “TIDY GARDENS“ to nature heaven’s would be nice.

The image above shows the PAN UK’s recent campaign calling to people to ask our supermarkets to stop selling Roundup of which the active ingredient is Glyphosate. We have sent their letter to those 5 supermarkets but heard back from Aldi only with a reply: “We ask that suppliers consider the impact of pesticides on the environment and encourage them to investigate whether there are alternative approaches, such as crop management and non-chemical controls.” So they simply shifted their responsibility onto the suppliers.  However, we challenged this further and asked them to take up on their role of responsibility. We also gave further evidence on how harmful the chemical has been proven in numerous high-profile lawsuits against Monsanto (Roundup producer)  in the conversation with Aldi’s Customer Services Team Leader Luke Corless. But once again we have not heard back since! We hope to have at least planted a seed 🤞🤞but as mentioned above, we shall continue to get more involved in this matter by joining forces with a more local Pesticide-Free Towns Campaign here in Southend.

Our furry friends

People may also be as shocked as we were when it comes to the level of exposure to pesticides like Fipronil when applying flea and tick products to our dog and cat companions. It may also be possible to swallow Fipronil if the hands are not washed following such procedures. To give you an idea of the toxicity of such products and the potential to inflict pesticides on non-target species, such as pollinators and other insects. A dose for an average size dog is enough to kill 60 million Bees!! 🐝🐝🐝🐝 +59,999,996. Wow!

We have spoken to friends and family who have Dogs and Cats about this and to our surprise many didn’t know anything about the toxic levels and the potential harm from simply taking their dog for a walk in nature. Most people tend to rely fully on the advice from their vet. We will be speaking to local vets to find out whether they are aware of the dangers of the chemicals.

We will be looking at this issue closely over the coming months and will update you when we know more.

More to follow 🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝

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