The issue of the use of toxic chemicals and poisons is one that is being left out of the conversation around climate change and harmful emissions. If we are serious about addressing our environmental crisis and creating sustainable pathways forward, there is no way that we can allow the continued release of toxic chemicals into our environment when they continue to cause harm.
Agrochemicals in particular are a major contributor to climate change. They result in the release of N2O and other more complex potent gases which are up to 300 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. Agrochemicals are petrochemicals, they are fossil fuel based and require more fossil fuels for their extraction and application. They are used widely throughout our environment as pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, fumigants and more, in agriculture, horticulture, conservation, biosecurity, forestry and so on.
The continued use of these chemicals results not just in harmful emissions, but the destruction of soil life and its ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
Every time ground is sprayed to kill weeds or insects, soil life also dies back. What comes up to repair that damaged soil? The pioneer plants, the soil repairers, more weeds. A cycle of boom and bust is created whereby we are encouraging the very thing that we are trying to get rid of and causing more damage in the process. It’s a self perpetuating cycle that costs us not just more and more money but also our soil, our health and our environment.
Simply put – pesticides sterilise the soils so there is less carbon sequestration. Sterilisation contributes to soil loss (chemically induced compaction —> more runoff in rain events —> less top soil = less plants = less sequestration)