Is global travel history after COVID-19?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic might spell the end of global travel as we have known it for quite some time now, jetting from one side of the world to the other.

Not only aids such fast travel to other countries far across the globe, and even countries closer, to the spread of any virus, it also can leave, as we have seen, travelers stranded in countries, affected or not from such an event, with almost no way to get back home.

In the more distant past when people traveled abroad, and could afford it, it was done by ships which took many months from one place to another and if a virus or communicable disease became evident then, alas, the yellow flag was hoisted and the entire ship was under quarantine and yes that often meant that people on that ship were going to die in some cases.

The fast world-wide trade, by aircraft and faster ships than in the past also has led to many pests and diseases in plants, animals, and humans to travel from one far flung place to the other at speed. The tree diseases that were inadvertently “imported” to Britain are an example of this.

A reduction of this rushing around the globe for all manner of reasons, many of them non-essential, would do the Planet a great deal of good and also humans in general, as well as people's finances.

It may be nice to see different countries and different cultures close up but this does come at a cost, a cost to the Planet, a cost to the people that are being invaded by tourists (Costa del England is one example) who want the sun but in the same way as if they would be at home without engaging with the local culture and even the local people, in remote areas it also adversely affects the people in other ways, and the cost to our home countries if travelers, inadvertently, bring diseases home.

Most people who annually, or some people more often even, jet off to Spain, Turkey or wherever, to the tourist hot spots, have never even remotely seen all that is to be seen and experienced in the home country.

Time and again one encounters irate tourists coming back from places in Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, etc., complaining that they didn't like the food, and especially that the people there didn't speak English and were “too thick to understand what they said or asked for”. This is especially true for British tourists though Americans are not better in that department.

There are those that will make the excuse that it brings money to those people in those foreign countries, e.g. the tourism industry, and gives them jobs. That may indeed be so, but at what costs to the environment and to the people there themselves if they entire economy, or a great part of it, is only geared to tourism? The same excuse that is being made for “organic” green beans being grown in Kenya and flown to Europe and cold cheaper during the season than local produce; a crop that is not part of the local diet and only grown as a “cash crop”. It gives the farmers an income, we are told. So, instead of growing food that they will eat the farmers are growing crops, and even flowers such as roses, for the European market, crops that require a great deal of irrigation in a country (or countries) often lacking enough water in general, are forced to sell this crop at a pittance and then are dependent on buying in food from traders who, again, cut the farmers' throats with high prices.

This pandemic should – but will it? – make us reconsider how we go about doing things and maybe, just maybe, take a different approach.

© 2020

Growing your own food wherever possible

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

What the COVID-19 pandemic should have shown us that we cannot rely on the capitalist market system to guarantee us a steady supply of the groceries that we need and thus it is important that we, once again, grow for victory, so to speak. And, alas, the situation is not and has not been thus with just food though food (and water) is more important than clothes and even toilet paper.

The system of “just in time” employed by most stores and especially supermarkets just does not cut it when it comes to crises such as this one. The chain breaks far too easily and aided and abetted by people who are able to because they have the money, and the way of transporting it, panic buying and hoarding supplies makes for empty shelves, and some of those, nay, in fact most of those, have looked worse than shelves in the stores in so-called communist countries during the worst of crises there.

But it was and is not just basic supplies that could have been “home-grown” but were and are not but almost everything else is being affected by such a crisis. When aircraft are grounded and ships cannot enter port from places where food and other goods are imported from then we exasperate the problems in the supply chain.

In recent times we have had in the UK one minister for food and farming who one can only describe as a total idiot for he stated that Britain did not really need any farmers for the country was able to import everything it needed from elsewhere. Yes, and we can see that result now in that flour, for instance, has become in very short supply. We are exporting our grain, more than we keep it, and then have to import grain when the demand exceeds the supply. Either those people are born stupid or they have worked very hard at getting that way.

Also each and every time for instance Brexit was being mentioned the first word out of the mouths of the farmers and the farmer's union – and government officials – was that they were worried about what it would do to the exports of farm produce to countries of the EU and elsewhere. The first and foremost task of a farmer is not to produce produce for export but to feed the nation. In the capitalist system, however, the opposite seems to be the case; first exports and then the nation.

We need more farms, small family farms, and smallholdings where food is grown (and sold) locally, rather than the large industrial farms who are mainly concerned with taking the subsidies and predominately think about exporting rather than about feeding the people of the country.

Other countries take a different approach, such as Russia, which enacted a law that enables Russians to obtain between one and six hectares (depending on the region) of land free in perpetuity, though it cannot be sold, only passed on, grant to build a house and for equipment, with the only obligation to grow food for themselves and their family and to sell the surplus on the market, and it works in feeding the nation. Can't be done, obviously, in Britain, the US, or other neoliberal capitalist countries.

So, it is left to us to see that we can grow as much as possible of our own food at home, in whatever place and way.

© 2020

The bee has been declared the most important living being on the Planet

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Following a meeting at the Royal Geographical Society in London, United Kingdom the Earthwatch Institute declared bees the most important living beings on this Planet, however, according to wildlife experts & scientists many bees have joined the long list of Endangered species.

With so much about the interdependence in nature unresearched, it is possible there are other organisms that are equally as key, but this recent study shows a dramatic decline in the bees' numbers as almost 90 percent of the bee population has disappeared in the last few years. The uncontrolled use of pesticides, deforestation or lack of flowers are the main reasons for their extinction.

However, why would such a little being be named the most important creature on Earth?

Well, the answer is actually more simple than you ever thought. Seventy percent of the world's agriculture depends exclusively on bees. Needless to mention the pollination is the bees' job, although the plants would not be able to reproduce, therefore the fauna would have been gone in a very short time. More than that, a study conducted by the Apiculture Entrepreneurship Center of the Universidad Mayor (CeapiMayor) and the Apiculture Corporation of Chile (Cach) with the support of the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA) concluded that the bees are the only living being that do not carry any type of pathogen.

© 2020

#pollinators #bees #biodiversity