Extinct & Endangered

Insects in Peril

Levon Biss and American Museum of Natural History | 2022, Harry Abrams

Pay attention to insects. Many pollinate plants. Some recycle plant and animal matter into the soil. They are food for countless other living things—and for one another, often keeping pest populations in check. Whether beetles, bees or butterflies, insects help natural ecosystems stay healthy.

But the evidence is clear: many insect species are in decline. The ones featured here are vulnerable, imperilled—or have already disappeared—and human changes to the land and climate are primary reasons.

Extraordinary images are at once our most familiar and our most mysterious fellow creatures. They seem indestructible, but on a global scale, insect species are quietly disappearing in today’s sixth mass extinction of life.

This joint project by photographer Levon Biss and the American Museum of Natural History contains indelible images of 40 extinct or endangered species in the museum’s collection, selected from its vast holdings by a team of scientists. Photographer Levon Biss invites us to look closely at these insects and reflect on their importance to our shared planet.

They range from endangered old friends such as the monarch butterfly and the nine-spotted ladybug to the distant Lord Howe Island phasma of Australia, thought to be extinct for most of the 20th century until a small population was discovered and bred in captivity in 2001.

All were sent to Biss’s studio, where he created imposing portraits that can be enlarged 300 times life-size to reveal vivid detail on a full page of form and colour – a world invisible to our naked eyes. The result is a book that insists on the momentous significance of these small, mostly unknown creatures.

Please Visit extinctandendangered.com and microsculpture.net.


Biss, L. and American Museum of Natural History  (2022) Extinct & Endangered: Insects in Peril. New York: Harry Abrams

Insuring Nature

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) | 2023, Financial Times

When it comes to addressing the world’s environmental crises, insurance may not be top of mind as a powerful or even potential solution. But with innovative thinking, insurance can be an essential part of a conservation toolkit to protect our world.

Eric Robert (TNC): “This is a very significant milestone in our climate risk reduction and management work where we use nature’s inherent capacity to protect coastal communities from the impacts of climate change and utilise innovative finance mechanisms, such as insurance, to inject private sector funds into ecosystem repair and restoration efforts.”


Maatschappelijk Manifest Bestrijdingsmiddelen

Voor een gezond, groen en veilig Nederland

Natuur & Milieu, Parkinson Vereniging en de FNV | 2023

Dit manifest vertelt een bijzonder verhaal. Het is 61 Jaar geleden dat het boek Silent Spring (1962) van Rachel Carson werd gepubliceerd. Het waarschuwde voor de gevaren voor alle ecosystemen door het misbruik van chemische pesticiden en stelde de scope en richting van de toen moderne wetenschap ter discussie. Het boek bleek de start van de milieubeweging. Het manifest speelt op wat in 1848 democratisch reeds is overeengekomen en vastgelegd in de Grondwet:

  • Artikel 21. “De zorg van de overheid is gericht op de bewoonbaarheid van het land en de bescherming en verbetering van het leefmilieu.”
  • Artikel 22, lid 1. “De overheid treft maatregelen ter bevordering van de volksgezondheid”.

Nu bewegen wij ons nog steeds mondjesmaat en schuifelend tussen de belangen van boeren, banken en bedrijven door naar de uitgang van het gebruik van pesticiden. Ondertussen zitten wij met de ‘gebakken peren’.

“Overheid beschermt mensen en natuur onvoldoende tegen schadelijke effecten van bestrijdingsmiddelen”

Zo luidt de alarmerende constatering van een brede coalitie van organisaties in hun manifest Bestrijdingsmiddelen. De initiatiefnemers zijn milieuorganisatie Natuur & Milieu, Parkinson Vereniging en de FNV. Zij worden ondersteund door een brede coalitie van maatschappelijke organisatie. Het manifest is ondertekend door 36 partijen. De organisaties maken zich grote zorgen over de verstrekkende gevolgen van bestrijdingsmiddelen op dieren, planten en de waterkwaliteit. Maar ook over de gezondheidsschade van deze middelen voor boeren, werkenden en omwonenden van akkers en bloemenvelden. Het manifest is op 25 april 2023  aan de Tweede Kamer aangeboden.

De organisaties roepen de overheid op om haar verantwoordelijkheid te nemen en ervoor te zorgen dat de natuur herstelt en te zorgen voor een gezonde omgeving waar alle Nederlanders veilig kunnen wonen, werken en recreëren. We roepen politici en beleidsmakers dringend op om onderstaande punten mee te nemen in hun plannen, beleid en besluiten:

    1. Pas het voorzorgsbeginsel toe.
    2. Zorg voor een gezonde en veilige leefomgeving.
    3. Zorg voor een veilige werkomgeving.
    4. Bescherm de biodiversiteit en waterkwaliteit.
    5. Versnel de transitie naar natuurinclusieve en biologische landbouw.
    6. Ondersteun het Europese doel van 50% minder bestrijdingsmiddelen in 2030, stem tegen de verlenging van glyfosaat

Download Manifest

Deelnemende organisaties
ASN Bank, BioNederland, Bionext, Biowinkelvereniging, Caring Docters, Caring Farmers, Centrum Werk Gezondheid, De CO2-assistent, Decade of Action, Dinamo Fonds, dr. J.J.L. (Jeroen) Candel, Eosta/ Nature and More, Federatie van Agro-ecologische Boeren, FNV, Foodwatch, Greenpeace, Herenboeren, KWF, Land van Ons, LandschappenNL, de Long Alliantie Nederland, Meten=Weten, Milieudefensie, Natuur & Milieu, Natuur en Milieufederaties, Natuurmonumenten, PAN Nederland – Physicians Association for Nutrition Nederland, Pan Netherlands – Pesticide action network, Parkinsonalliantie, Parkinson Vereniging, Platform Fit for Work, SoortenNL, Stichting Demeter, Urgenda, Vlinderstichting Nederland, Vogelbescherming Nederland.

The Man Who Organized Nature

The Life of Linnaeus

Gunnar Broberg (translation Anna Paterson)| 2023, Princeton University Press

A new biography offers a vivid portrait of Linnaeus’s life and work. Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778), the father of modern biological taxonomy, formalised and popularised the system of binomial nomenclature used to classify plants and animals. Linnaeus himself classified thousands of species; the simple and immediately recognisable abbreviation “L” is used to mark classifications originally made by Linnaeus.

This biography, by the leading authority on Linnaeus, offers a vivid portrait of Linnaeus’s life and work. Drawing on a wide range of previously unpublished sources—including diaries and personal correspondence—and new research, it presents revealing and original accounts of his family life, the political context in which he pursued his work, and his eccentric views on sexuality.

The Man Who Organized Nature describes Linnaeus’s childhood in a landscape of striking natural beauty and how this influenced his later work. Linnaeus’s Lutheran pastor father, knowledgeable about plants and an enthusiastic gardener, helped foster an early interest in botany.

The book examines the political connections that helped Linnaeus secure patronage for his work and untangle his ideas about sexuality. These were not, as often assumed, an attempt to naturalise gender categories but more likely reflected the laissez-faire attitudes of the era. Like many other brilliant scientists, Linnaeus could be moody and egotistical; the book describes his human failures and medical and scientific achievements. Written in an engaging and accessible style, The Man Who Organized Nature—one of the only biographies of Linnaeus to appear in English—provides new and fascinating insights into the life of one of history’s most consequential and enigmatic scientists.

Read the article How Carl Linnaeus Set Out to Label All of Life by the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing winner journalist Kathryn Schulz: “A new biography  …attempts to provide the fullest possible account of his life yet fails to grapple with the fundamental question it raises: if categorization is crucial to making sense of the world, how should we classify Carl Linnaeus?”


Broberg, G. (2023) The Man Who Organized Nature: The Life of Linnaeus. Oxford, UK: Princeton University Press

Nature-Based Solutions for Cities

Edited by Timon McPhearson, Nadja Kabisch and Niki Frantzeskaki  | 2023, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited

Nature-based solutions (NBS) are increasingly being adopted to address climate change, health, and urban sustainability, yet ensuring they are effective and inclusive remains challenging. Addressing these challenges through chapters by leading experts in both the global south and north contexts, this book advances the science of NBS in cities. It discusses the frontiers for next-generation urban NBS.

NBS are fundamentally inter- and transdisciplinary approaches that require systems thinking and multilevel governance. With a focus on the multiple challenges that cities face, from heat and air pollution to stormwater and threats to human health, this book puts forward diverse ideas for embracing complexity in mainstreaming NBS and inspiring new approaches to create the ecological urban futures we need.

Speaking to the need for cities around the world to employ ecological, nature-based design, this book will be essential reading for early career professionals, practitioners, scholars, and students across multiple disciplines engaging with nature-based solutions, including urban ecology, design, architecture, landscape architecture, geography, urban planning, policy, and management.

This open-access title is available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 License. It is free to read, download and share on Elgaronline.com.

From Chapter 1. Nature-based solutions for sustainable, resilient, and equitable cities by the editing authors, a quote:

“We are living in the urban century, one where urbanization is driving multiple global environmental changes that in turn place stress and cause major disturbances to urban life and ecosystems. Cities across the world can be vastly different, but they also have in common the concentration of people, infrastructure, and economies that create and amplify risks from climate change, pandemics, and economic crises.

The dominant mode of urban development paves over urban nature, traps heat, increases risk from flooding, and displaces human and ecological communities all while also creating efficiencies and opportunities to support the still expanding global population. Urban growth is expected to be the major source of population growth throughout the middle and end of the twenty-first century. Soberingly, the amount of urban growth needed to support future urban populations may exceed all previous urban development of the last centuries.”


McPhearson, T., Kabisch, N. and Frantzeskaki, N. (2023) Nature-Based Solutions for Cities. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.

De onderwerping

Een geschiedenis van de verhouding van de mens tot de natuur

Philipp Blom | 2023, De Bezige Bij

Een boek dat handelt over de besturing van het publieke domein van de natuur. Het is een rijk geschakeerd boek, vol met historische perspectieven vanuit onze literatuur. Het levert veel inzicht in de spelers die op het veld staan, de onderliggende processen en drijfveren en hoe zij uiteindelijk acteren. Het is een boek dat publieke waarden en risico’s naast en in verband met elkaar belicht en nauwkeurig beschrijft. Lezenswaardig voor elke politicus, bestuurder en manager van het publieke domein.

Het boek lijnt de gedachte uit dat ‘De menselijke obsessie met het overheersen van de natuur zal leiden tot verwoesting van onze planeet’, zo is de overtuiging. ‘Onderwerp de aarde.’ Ongeveer drieduizend jaar geleden legde de auteur van het bijbelboek Genesis deze woorden in de mond van de schepper.

Zo werd het idee geboren dat de menselijke soort een bijzondere plaats op aarde inneemt en daarmee het recht heeft om de planeet genadeloos te exploiteren. Een idee dat zich de eeuwen erna ontwikkelde en verspreidde over de wereld. Wie zich ertegen verzette kreeg te maken met kolonisators en uitbuiters die zich beriepen op hogere machten die het nu eenmaal zo bepaald hadden.

“Het getemde land onder de wolken en de zucht naar steeds nieuwe veroveringen in de stratosfeer zijn de uitdrukking van een collectieve waan, het volkomen ontketende idee namelijk dat de mens buiten en boven de natuur staat en haar kan en moet onderwerpen. Dat mensbeeld beschouwt zichzelf als verheven boven dieren en andere levende wezens, ziet de natuur als coulisse van zijn eigen ambities en als opslagplaats van grondstoffen. Vanuit die bevoorrechte positie maakt hij zich op om de wereld geheel aan zijn wil te onderwerpen.”

In deze universele geschiedenis van de mens en zijn omgeving vertelt Philipp Blom het verhaal van de onderwerping van de natuur, waarvan de negatieve gevolgen steeds duidelijker zichtbaar worden. Alleen als de mensheid zich kan ontdoen van het waanidee boven de natuur te staan, heeft ze een kans van overleven.


Blom, P. (2023) De onderwerping: Een geschiedenis van de verhouding van de mens tot de natuur. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij.

Over de auteur

Philipp Blom (Hamburg, 1970) is historicus, romanschrijver, journalist en vertaler. Hij studeerde in Wenen en Oxford en schrijft voor tal van Britse en Duitse kranten en tijdschriften, zoals The Times Literary Supplement, The Independent, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Zeit , en voor Vrij Nederland . Bij De Bezige Bij verschenen De duizelingwekkende jaren (2009), Het verdorven genootschap (2010), Alleen de wolken (2014), Wat op het spel staat (2017), De opstand van de natuur (2017), Een Italiaanse reis (2019) en Het grote wereldtoneel (2020). In 2023 verscheen De onderwerping , over de geschiedenis van de verhouding van de mens tot de natuur.

Playing God in Yellowstone

The Destruction of America’s First National Park

Alston Chase | 1987, Harper Collins

Beavers have disappeared; their prime food, aspen and willow, have drastically declined. Cougars, bobcats and wolves are no longer here, victims of predator control from earlier times. Deer, moose and bighorn sheep are scarce; visitors seldom see black bears, and the grizzly is threatened with extinction. Meanwhile, bison and elk flourish to the detriment of rangeland.

Wildlife management in Yellowstone has been under fire for decades. Chase reviews the park’s history and examines vacillating policies and political pressures that affect the park’s management.

He finds that attracting visitors is the overriding priority; their safety is the guiding philosophy, and rangers are mere policemen. Chase tells the story of Grant Village, a development site in prime grizzly habitat; he discusses the friction between rangers and naturalists and the exclusion of university biologists (though geologists are welcome).

Current wildlife policy stresses the “intact ecosystem,” i.e., no interference with nature; consequently, bison infected with brucellosis, sheep with “pink-eye” go untreated and stranded animals are left to die. Major environmental groups support this policy.

Chase, who heads an education program at Yellowstone, has written an explosive study. First serial to the Atlantic and Outside magazine. (March 24)

Read review by Donald C. Baur


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

US Government | December 2, 1970

This organisation was founded as an independent executive agency of the United States federal government tasked with environmental protection matters. Beginning in the late 1950s and through the 1960s, US Congress reacted to increasing public concern about the impact that human activity could have on the environment. In 1959 congress passed the Resources and Conservation Act to establish a Council on Environmental Quality in the Executive Office of the President and declared a national environmental policy, which required the preparation of an annual environmental report. The groundwork for the Environment Protection Agency was laid.

The 1962 publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson alerted the public about the detrimental effects on the environment of the indiscriminate use of pesticides.

Logo by Chermayeff & Geismar Associates

Steff Geissbühler, partner of Chermayeff & Geismar Associates, about the design process of the 1977 United States Environmental Protection Agency Graphic Standards System:

“Born in the wake of elevated concern about environmental pollution, The United States Environmental Protection Agency was established to unify within one government agency a combination of federal research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities in order to protect human health and to safeguard the air, water, and land upon which life depends. From regulating car emissions to banning the use of DDT; from cleaning up toxic waste to protecting the ozone layer; from increasing recycling to revitalizing inner-city brownfields, EPA’s achievements have resulted in cleaner air, purer water, and better protected land. That’s how we introduced the project on our project sheet.

I came to the USA from Switzerland in 1967 to teach at the Philadelphia College of Art. It was at first a shock to see trash all over the streets and sidewalks that were littered with chewing gum and cigarette butts, the waste, air and water pollution, pesticide-sprayed fruit and vegetables, and run-down neighborhoods and parks. Richard Nixon, who was later responsible for creating the EPA, was soon elected President. But it was also a time when people all over the world were getting seriously concerned about our planet.

…As the first step, after the extensive audits described in the Foreword, Tom Geismar and myself wanted to shorten the long and complex name to a colloquial acronym. We looked at alternatives but soon understood that the public knew the agency as the EPA and suggested that this should be adapted as a more direct, short and communicative name.

The flower logo or symbol was a carryover from the ’60s “Flower Power” era. I remember very clearly the iconic image of a young hippie girl putting a flower into the business end of a soldier’s machine gun. The center of the existing seal, symbolizing sun, air, water and land, was and is appropriate, but the complex rendition of the flower seemed weak and perhaps too “feminine” to act as the shield of a law-enforcement agency.”

Visit website of Environmental Protection Agency.

This publication is part of Ecosystem City: Lessons from the Forest