Let’s try to draw some parallels between the disappearance of earthworms and the climate crisis. The two topics seem very different, but in reality they have many common aspects. If you want to learn more about why worms are so important to us I suggest you take a look at this article.
First of all, these are invisible problems. We can not really perceive climate change. We may feel that the weather is warmer or colder, drier or wetter at any given time, but our personal observations are not proof of what is happening with the climate, because we are facing weather conditions on a tiny scale. The fact that we can not observe climate change on our own makes the problem invisible to most people who do not have access to the scientific and technological tools that allow us to assess global warming. We have to rely on the information gathered and analyzed by scientists and we have to hope that the media will deliver it to us.
The disappearance of earthworms is, perhaps, even more invisible and difficult to ascertain. Most people live in cities and even among those who live in the countryside, a small fraction work with the soil. It is therefore difficult to see the disappearance of a small animal that lives under the ground very far from where we live. And even then, just as with climate change, our own observations can be misleading. If we dig around in our garden and we see that over time the amount of earthworms has not changed much, we can say that the problem does not exist. In reality, we do not produce our food in our small gardens. To feed our population, we use intensive agriculture at very large scales. And when we go on the industrial fields, we discover a very different story: worm populations are collapsing because of our destructive farming practices. Unfortunately, the media outlets that want to talk about this are few and the people who want to read or listen about this problem are not very numerous either. So when the crisis remains invisible to the individual and society, it’s easy to be a climate-skeptic, a worm-skeptic or just apathetic.
Climate change is global problem that affects all countries. We all share the same Earth and the same climate system. Unlike the atmosphere that directly affects the climate of the entire planet, the earthworm crisis is related to the way we use the soil and therefore appears as a local problem. Nevertheless, the earthworm crisis is also global issue. Let’s not forget that we live in a world that is increasingly connected economically, technologically and politically. This interconnection between countries is not necessarily negative, but in the current political climate the negative consequences are multiplying. It is difficult for a producer or a country to choose to abandon intensive agriculture because it will easily lose its place in the national or global market. As long as our economy and the global economy are focused on short-term profit, we can be certain that chemical production will be more profitable than sustainable production. We can not hope to solve a global problem without all countries cooperating to find solutions.
It’s hard to say who is responsible for global warming. Are the consumers who are buying what polluting companies produce to blame? Is it the government that gives permission to industries to produce irresponsibly, regardless of the damage caused by their production? Are the companies responsible for the fact that they are trying to influence the policy makers? Or the citizens responsible since they continue to elect politicians who do not show the will to change a political and economic system that does not defend the interests of the majority of people? I think the answer is all of the above, with varying degrees of responsibility. My point is that its hard to put the blame and therefore the responsibility on a single company, government or group of people.
The situation with earthworms is very similar, it is not easy to identify the culprit and no one feels directly responsible. Should we blame companies that use destructive farming practices to get rich in the short term? Do we have to blame the government for being aware of this crisis, but refusing to talk about it, let alone to take adequate and urgent action? Or is it the people who have the responsibility to buy more ethical and ecological products and to rebel against the political class who does not care about the environment and the future of our species? When we have trouble establishing accountability, it’s very easy to do nothing until it’s too late.
The last parallel is related to the urgency and the radical nature of the solutions we need to apply. Climate change and the disappearance of earthworms seriously threaten the existence of our civilization and even of our species. We will not succeed in solving climate change by reducing our emissions a little bit here and there, we do not have time for this kind of slow and incremental change. We are faced with the obligation to restructure our energy sector and our production practices in a dramatic way.
Same goes for earthworms, we can ban the use of one pesticide or another, but if we really want to stop the decline of biodiversity and halt soil erosion, we need to fundamentally rethink the way we produce our food. We must admit that in order to produce in a truly sustainable way, we are obliged to cooperate with nature and not simply try exploit it. If we want to make a transition from agriculture to permaculture, which holds the only promise of a sustainable food production, we don’t have the choice but to invest much more financial and human resources in the agriculture sector.
Thank you for reading this article, not many people want to spend their time worrying about climate change, let alone earthworms. I hope you found this post insightful in some way. If you think that more people should read this, interact with the post on social media. You can help me keep this website and my social media pages up and running by following the link below :
Steve the Bartender