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Older voices radio NE1 fm 305 transcripts of Green view

Maysie Sharp presents Green View a  radio gardening slot for Older Voices Radio These are the transcripts of two interviews/talks with Paul Miskin


10th Nov 2023

NEWCASTLE GLYPHOSATE A SEA OF CARCINOGENS Liver destroyers and Metabolic genetic disorders PM

Weed killers are also killers of people (especially children) insects, and the biosphere.  We live in what Rachel Carson quotes a researcher as calling `a sea of carcinogens` … entirely of our own making. `Silent Spring` written in 1960 should be on the school syllabus and enforced reading for any one still spraying chemical fertilizers, selective herbicides, and pesticides. Chapter 14  of her book is entitled `One in every four`. Before we started using these chemicals childhood cancer was a rarity and has since become 25% of child disease mortality. Another major child-- killer from the same cause is genetic disorders.

When the various different sprayed chemicals leach into the water table and are exposed to sunlight they join together and form even-more toxic substances. When imbibed separately their toxic and cancerous effect is combined.  In rivers and the sea they are concentrated as they travel each step up the food chain from algae to plankton to small fish etc. By the time they  arrive in the fish on your plate they have been distilled from say 5 to a massive 300  plus particles per million. When you eat the fish you then increase the concentration  further, and if you are a woman pass on to your children with the genetic disorders mentioned

The difference between organic gardening and organic chemistry cannot be understated.

 Maysie What is the difference

Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon and its compounds with other elements. The branch relating to pesticides and herbicides originates in chemical warfare research laboratories, where chemicals like VXgas, Cyanogen, Hydrogen cyanide: Phosgene: Sarin are designed to invade and corrupt life systems at a cellular and genetic level. When some of their brews caused insect wings to drop off scientists and comapnies marketed them as pesticides etc . Organic gardening is a commitment to natural rather than these laboratory processes.

Gardeners please note these dangers apply to all chemical weedkillers, lawn treatments fertilisers, coated seeds and pesticides, which should be regarded as guilty until proved innocent.

Maysie why ?

Because testing on humans is illegal and the cancers develop long after the initial tests have finished and so the damaging effects can only be discovered too late retrospectively by difficult to fund population studies .

Today’s special  subject is glyphosate in Newcastle as used by the City Council.

In France and in most of USA where most research has been done it is banned from towns and is not available in gardens centres.

in 2015, after World Health Organisation research found “strong” evidence for its toxicity, 70 to 80 UK councils have turned to chemical-free options or simply letting plants grow, from Bath & North East Somerset council, to Highland council in Scotland.12 Jul 2022

In 2019  Chronicle   Councillor Nick Kemp, the Newcastle Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “It is something that is an ever-moving beast and is becoming more and more topical. It will be monitored and will continue to be so over the coming years.
“If we get to the point where there are suitable and deliverable alternatives then we will look at them, if they are cost effective.”

27 Jan 2023  in  Newcastle Upon Tyne Tenderers were invited for the application of herbicide to the highways and footways and associated features. So obviously not cost effective
The cost of Tidy?

This cost is passed from `Parks and Highways` to the NHS, to hospitals to grieving mums dads and dying children and to the very fabric of nature. and our future as a species

The history of disinformation about these chemicals is covered very well in `Merchants of doubt` Oreskes and Conway one of the most important books on the environmental crisis in all its facets and a very clear description of how and why the establishment has failed to protect us. It is also a damn good read

When a agri substance is banned agrichemical purveyers  with their scientists add another oxygen or carbon atom and patent the new tweaked organo phosphate, sell until till  banned and then and start the  cyclic again …This is a repeating 20 years of poison profit jamboree.

Maysie so what should we do?

At the moment these chemicals have to be exposed one by one. But we should aim for a blanket ban.  As well as putting an absolute stop to them, we face the clean-up , purifying water for the most vulnerable pregnant women and children and in the countryside rescuing and bringing back natures pest controllers that for millions of years did the job now poorly executed by pesticides.

You may think I am confusing herbicide and pesticide but Glyphosate is also a ubiquitous destroyer of insects including bees and should therefore also be classified pesticide so go to Pesticide Free Newcastle and sign the petition and demand that we provide our younger people a better world, and become more concerned by infantile leukemia etc than untidy verges, Above all read Carson Silent Spring and Goulson’s Silent earth and visit the site for more information on chemicals and chemical free gardening.

Fri green talk 17 11 2023 NE1 FM Older Voices Radio 305

A personal journey into art and insect conservation

Thank you for inviting me back and last week for listening to the sad story of agricultural and gardening chemical pollution I hope you all joined the petition to clean up Newcastle. You can easily find it on the Planet-action-street website. Today I am going to talk a little about how Maysie and I morphed from street theatre into environmentalism and saving insects.

I’ve always been fond of butterflies and from 94 ish we created our favourite species of giant street performing butterflies that toured the festivals of the world. We taught people their names diets  and superpowers In popular interactive street -performances.

In 2019 the Kids of Extinction Rebellion and Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg told it like it was and re-awoke the sleeping giant of environmentalism. I wondered how our skills sets (Maysie’s and mine) could be applied to saving the world for our kids.

I discovered that thanks to humans, insects world-wide have declined by 60%. EO Wilson a very esteemed naturalist has estimated that if this became 100% the human race would be extinct within a few months

in 1970 James Hanson proved carbon-based climate change apocalypse to main line science. In the subsequent fifty years the Paris agreements and COPs were ineffective and the problem currently approaches tipping points.

Maysie Was this delay a classic failure of scientific communication?

No doubt there was a gallileo factor, but two books `Merchants of doubt` (Orestes and Conway) and `Don’t even think about it` (Marshal) offer alternative explanations. The biggest challenge to progress is clearly vested interest.

Opposing this requires democratic power and government regulation, which presumes the need for very broad-band communication. It occurred to me that science turbocharged with art, entertainment, and action, could be more successful than dry science in building a popular constituency.

By 2022 Maysie and I started touring the north east with a mixture of performances, Maysie’s horticultural skills and a cherry picking of ecology, entomology, and the psychology of change.

This I loosely coded into the SAGA Science, Art, games, and Action approach. By action rather than activism I primarily mean doing something like planting for insects or building a wind powered electrical energy source.  But petitioning or writing to your MP, or standing outside parliament is relevant…. anything to break the apathy. I would include as action you kindly listening, and me telling you this story.

You probably know we live in the most nature depleted country in Europe and are country 220th for biodiversity world-wide.  Monocrops are the opposite of biodiversity and the many varieties of monocrops include the sheep cropped moorlands.  Here we find the silence of David Goulson’s book `Silent Earth` and Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent spring’ that I mentioned last week. You can’t hear a bee buzz or a bird sing and all trees are eaten as they pop out the ground.

It has been shockingly revealed that often the towns of the UK are now more biodiverse that the countryside.

This fact sparked the Urban Oasis optimistic narrative that cities could become nature conservation areas and could also spawn a populous nature- defending-constituency.  Urbanites could change the system of government grants and regulations rewarding biodiversity depletion across the UK.

Attempts at biodiversity restoration in the countryside often face large scale absentee agronomists and traditional livelihoods backed by grant-aid ( eg Duke of Northumberland). In the town multiple land-ownership; parks, allotments, gardens. etc a sea change is possible. With a city-wide promotion of planetary issues we ween people off their chemicals, blowers, and cutters and develop a new aesthetic of healthier bird and bee and badger friendly, shared greenery and water: thereby creating an Urban  Noah’s Arc -a  genetic bank which can re-populate the countryside and  restore country biodiverse habitat when finally our urban nature protectors get their way at the polls

Maysie Why insects?

Insects are a keystone species with countless connections to all other life forms. The implication of the following 8 points underlines the still relatively under-publicised  existential threat of insect loss mentioned above.

1. Insect Pollinated plants strip Oxygen from water and turn carbon dioxide into glucose by photosynthesis this cleans our air and reducing the carbon roasting effect.

2. This photosynthesis also creates adenosine triphosphate (ATP) the basic energy currency of life in the cells of all creatures and plants.  We are talking here about a universal food.

3 Carbon sequestration eg by insects and microbe ecosystems in the understory and roots of trees .

4 Recycling of dead bodies, excrement and waste thereby reducing disease.

5 Soil manufacture. Insects address the soil depletion crisis (with 4)

6 Pest control… insects like wasps, beetles, scale down other insect populations from becoming pestilences

7 Insects as food for birds and animals which in turn help propagate trees and other species

8 Water cleaning


United states Secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld is famous for the unknown unknown  I quote

`Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones.[


Insects being a keystone species means you could endlessly sell out out their indispensable connections to survival on planet earth for human and other animals and plants. Of course even then we may still miss the most important benefit of insects


The insect PR problem

Of the roughly 40 billion humans that have ever lived since in the last 6 million years about half have died from mosquito transmitted diseases. The inherited position of humans and insects has been war to the death. But now the situation is reversed we need them.

Insects are feared, reviled or trivialised and an attitude shift is urgently required. 

Bees have become iconic heroes of pollination despite the many other insect and other pollinators. This isn’t bad but now it is time to support wasps, flies, and creatures which do the dirty work of recycling and pest control.  After Seirian Sumner world wasp expert dressed as a wasp addressed a group of children the majority preferred wasps to bees. Eureka The power of art to change attitude. demonstrated

Maysie What can we do to save insects

Weve had a look at poit 1 but the other five points all need expanding at a later date

  1. Get rid of the chemicals

  2. Eliminate all unnecessary  ALAN… artificial light at night.

  3. Abandon the 17 Century style garden and embrace the wildness of romanticism

  4. Plant for insects… for habitat and nourishment in their stages of metamorphosis and in the difficult seasons

  5. Move towards veganism.

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