Clouds of Glee

Introduction - Pesticides and the Harmful Act of Willful Blindness

When we talk about willful blindness, which is the deliberate avoidance of knowledge (we know but we don't want to acknowledge we know), it brings to mind the complicated connection between people and the natural world. In our dealings with nature, there's often a big gap between what we say we believe and what we do. One that always amazes me is when people profess a love for nature but simultaneously undermine it by liberally using pesticides in their gardens or within the surrounding environment. Addressing this discord is crucial if we want to make real, positive changes that will repair the biodiversity crisis that we have created.

This discord could be addressed with policy change but there is a tricky situation in the UK government's approach to pesticides. Despite understanding that pesticides can pose serious threats to our environment and push us deeper into the biodiversity crisis, there seems to be a reluctance to acknowledge recent research highlighting how serious their harmful effects really are. There appears to be a noticeable lack of interest in taking steps to reduce their widespread use domestically and commercially, which other countries have done for the benefit of their environment and future generations.

Another point worth mentioning is that ironically the UK government calls these chemicals 'plant protective products,' creating an impression of safety and assistance. However, this euphemistic term conceals the harsh reality, as the inherent dangers persist despite the seemingly benign name. Listening to experts such as Dr Elaine Ingham, a soil specialist, sheds light on the irony of labelling pesticides as plant protection. These chemicals fail to safeguard plants because they decimate the very microbes and organisms crucial for natural plant protection. We only have to look at regenerative farming to view the proof behind the power of healthy soil. Attempting to exert control over nature leads to futile endeavors, akin to fitting a square peg into a round hole. It's a situation where we try to force compatibility but it is never going to work.

Admittedly, acknowledging uncomfortable truths is challenging, especially when they confront our desire for self-preservation. However, it is only through unvarnished truth that we can usher in the positive change urgently needed for the well-being of future generations.

From a perspective of human health, researchers are uncovering connections between certain pesticides and the increase in conditions such as autism, Parkinson's, cancer, and Alzheimer's. What adds to the concern is that we encounter pesticides daily—whether in the air, on surfaces we touch, the food we consume, or even in our drinking water, and what is often overlooked in safety assessments by manufacturers is the bioaccumulative effects of exposure to multiple chemical substances. Scientists involved in testing may be aware of such information, however, gaining approval for a product becomes challenging if its harmful effects are acknowledged. Regulatory processes often face the dilemma of balancing scientific evidence with economic interests and public perceptions, and this can sometimes lead to compromises in transparency. It's a bit unsettling to think about the potential gap between what's known behind closed doors and what's presented to the public.

When people use pesticides, it's like turning a blind eye to the consequences of their actions. This isn't meant as a criticism, just a straightforward observation. Deep down, we often have a sense that pesticides aren't great for the environment and our health. Even if manufacturers provide reports claiming their products are safe, there's an underlying awareness that these might not reflect the whole truth. It becomes a sort of self-justification – acknowledging the doubts but choosing to believe the provided information.

In conclusion, it's crucial to give greater attention to independent research and observations that aren't influenced by financial gains. Relying on information where there's no vested interest in a particular outcome can offer a clearer and more unbiased understanding. Furthermore, we must embrace a heightened awareness, acknowledging that expertise in one aspect doesn't guarantee a comprehensive grasp of the whole picture. We need to bring different specialisms together when making political policies and not just rely solely on the perspectives of those narrowly focused on pesticide use. Taking responsibility and being proactive in seeking the truth is vital. Willful blindness and hoping everything will somehow work out okay is not a sustainable approach. By opening our eyes to the reality and actively engaging with unbiased information, we can collectively contribute to a more informed and responsible relationship with our environment.


An Overview

The artwork portrays a woman turning a blind eye to the repercussions of her actions stemming from pesticide use. While it focuses on an individual, the underlying message extends to both personal and commercial use.

Commercial pesticide usage carries substantial environmental and health repercussions, often driven by short-sighted perspectives that overlook the broader scope of harm. Frequently, there is a reluctance to acknowledge responsibility for the past and impending damage caused. Unfortunately, the industry tends to lack proactive measures to rectify the harm inflicted on the environment.

There is a pressing need for accountability, urging those responsible for the degradation of our natural world to acknowledge their role. Taking responsibility involves not only acknowledging past harms but also actively engaging in efforts to repair the damage and pave the way for a more sustainable future.

Willful Blindness

True change begins when we cease deceiving ourselves about the consequences of our actions. Only by acknowledging the reality of our choices can we hope to put an end to the poisoning of ourselves, our environment, and the degradation of biodiversity. Honesty with ourselves is the first step toward implementing the necessary changes, fostering a collective awareness that can bring forth responsible and sustainable practices. It is through this acknowledgment that we can actively work towards healing and preserving our planet for future generations.

“Man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.”

Toxic Showers

Her skirt illustrates the perilous cascade of pesticides, resembling toxic showers that fill our air through spray drift, permeate the soil, infiltrate our groundwater, and find their way into waterways through runoff. This visual representation underscores the alarming journey of these harmful chemicals, emphasising their impact on both the environment and the interconnected systems that sustain life. The imagery serves as a poignant reminder of the far-reaching consequences of pesticide use, particularly how it affects the delicate balance of our ecosystems, biodiversity, and jeopardises essential water sources.


Pesticide runoff poses a significant threat as it infiltrates waterways. This contamination has far-reaching consequences, leading to the destruction of aquatic life and compromising the natural protective mechanisms that ecosystems rely on.

Fatal Attraction - The Biodiversity Killer

The use of pesticides, from personal use to agricultural use, unveils a stark truth—it's a biodiversity killer. Pesticides unleash a destructive force upon the intricate web of life. From microbes in the soil to birds of prey, each link in the biodiversity chain faces the consequences of pesticide exposure. This silent assailant poses a significant threat to the delicate balance of ecosystems, jeopardising the rich variety of life that sustains our planet. The far-reaching impacts of pesticide use on diverse elements of the ecosystem underscores the urgent need for more sustainable and ecologically mindful practices.

Control - The Last Word

The harsh reality unfolds as pesticide companies gain control by exploiting the destruction of our natural world. As our dependence on their products accelerates the erosion of ecosystems, these corporations wield increasing influence over crucial elements such as money, food, and water. The potential for centralised control prompts profound questions about the trajectory of our future. Placing trust in these entities with the very foundations of life poses risks not only to our own well-being but also to the long-term well-being of our planet.

This situation underscores the pressing need for a collective reassessment, advocating for sustainable practices that prioritise the health of our ecosystems and secure our shared future. It calls for a shift away from a path where essential aspects of life are solely dictated by profit-driven entities, emphasising the importance of responsible and ethical choices that safeguard both individual freedoms, the prosperity of communities, and the health of our planet.