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Pennywheel Press Publications

Biocatastrophe Alert
Courtesy of
Engine Co. No. 9
Radscan Chemfall
Est. 1970

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The Biocatastrophe Alert web site is sponsored by the Environmental History Department of The Davistown Museum in Liberty, Maine, and is dedicated to providing online access to Biocatastrophe, The Legacy of Human Ecology (BioC), a publication sponsored by Engine Co. No 9. This publication has recently been expanded into the three volume Phenomenology of Biocatastrophe publication series and is available in hard copy as Special Publication #69 of the Museum’s Pennywheel Press Publication Series, and may be ordered online, at, from the Davistown Museum, Pennywheel Press, or by mail using the Pennywheel Press order form. In 2016, two additional volumes have been added to the publication series, "Volume 4: Antibiotic Resistance: A threat to world health" and "Volume 5: Where have all the plastics gone? Menage a trois in the sea surface microlayer: Nanoparticles as vectors of environmental chemicals." This series is an exploration of the multiple labyrinths of biocatastrophe – climatological, environmental, industrial, social, political – with special emphasis on the unfolding world water crisis, the topic of the sixth volume of the series, now has been completed. Of particular interest is the worldwide biogeochemical cycling of environmental chemicals and their accelerating contamination of the breast milk and maternal cord blood of the women and thus the children of all nations. Also discussed is the linkage between chemical fallout, a biosphere with declining ecosystem diversity and productivity,the spread of market-economy derived antibiotic resistant bacteria, and a predatory shadow banking network that characterizes western market economies in decline. The BioC Alert website is a work in progress that is updated frequently with new information and bibliographic citations. Comments, criticisms, and suggestions are welcomed and may be directed to: Ephraim Tinkham, Engine Co. No. 9, The Davistown Museum would like to thank the staff of Engine Co. No. 9 for the compilation of the text essays and the accompanying lexicon, appendices, links, and bibliographies. The environmental issues discussed and documented in the BioC text are public safety issues of compelling contemporary interest to all concerned citizens.

Phenomenology of Biocatastrophe Publication Series
Volume 1: Essays on Biocatastrophe
Volume 2: Biocatastrophe Lexicon:
An Epigrammatic Journey through the Tragedy of our Round-World Commons
Volume 3: Biocatastrophe: The Legacy of Human Ecology:
Toxins, Health Effects, Links, Appendices, and Bibliographies
Volume 4: Antibiotic Resistance: A threat to world health
Volume 5: Where have all the plastics gone? Menage a trois in the sea surface microlayer: Nanoparticles as vectors of environmental chemicals
Volume 6: World Water Crisis (work in progress)






Volume 1: Essays on Biocatastrophe

Volume 1 Front Cover (Printable pdf)
Volume 1 Back Cover (Printable pdf)

Volume 2: Biocatastrophe Lexicon; An Epigrammatic Journey through the Tragedy of our Round-World Commons

Volume 2 Front Cover (Printable pdf)
Volume 2 Back Cover (Printable pdf)

Volume 3: Biocatastrophe: The Legacy of Human Ecology: Toxins, Health Effects, Links, Appendices, and Bibliographies

Volume 3 Front Cover (Printable pdf)
Volume 3 Back Cover (Printable pdf)

Volume 4: Antibiotic Resistace: A Threat to World Health

Volume 5: Nano- and Microplastics as Vectors of Environmental Contaminants

Mission Statement

The mission of Engine Co. No. 9 and its publication series, the Phenomenology of Biocatastrophe, is to generate dialogue about the effect of human activity on the finite biogeochemical resources of the World Commons. This means taking a step back from our everyday concerns about employment, health care, educational, social, and political issues, and imagining we have a stratospheric view of the impact of 5,000 years of the biohistory of human industrial activity. The text of this publication provides a sketch of this biohistory, as well as a specific definition of biocatastrophe. The primary focus of this text is contamination of the atmospheric water cycle by anthropogenic chemical fallout; this obscure social phenomenon is discussed and documented as a component of a much broader pattern of the impact of human activities on the environment. The Biocatastrophe text explores the interrelationship of cataclysmic climate change, industrial agriculture, oceanic fisheries depletion, and numerous other environmental, social, political, and economic issues and their impact on a global consumer society suffering a vast array of stresses and challenges. The BioC text is a commentary on our growing knowledge of the biogeochemical cycling of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and their accelerating contamination of the breast milk, maternal cord blood, and amniotic fluids of the women and children of all nations.

Most educated citizens are acutely aware of the dangers of our rapidly increasing individual, corporate, and national indebtedness. The BioC text links the growing financial problems of growth oriented Western market economies with the less tangible impact of human activities on the biosphere and thus the viability of modern society. Particular emphasis is given to the unfolding world water crisis and the accelerating contamination of the atmospheric water cycle. Mass media, including publications such as The New York Times, and outlets such as the Public Broadcasting Network, frequently report on subjects that are components of the phenomenon of biocatastrophe. We urgently need a broader public discussion about the complexity of biocatastrophe as a social, historical, and environmental event. This public dialogue must include the discussion of biocatastrophe as a public safety issue that impacts all individuals and communities regardless of economic, social, or political status. Public discussion of biocatastrophe as an ongoing scientific, historical, and ecological event will serve to counteract the ongoing rituals of evasion and denial of its genesis and florescence, allowing a more realistic assessment of sustainable human activities that can assist in mitigating its threat to the future viability of human society.

Memo for kids:

Biocatastrophe is when a whole lot of bad things happen all at once.

Excerpt from Biocatastrophe

The text of Biocatastrophe begins with an historical overview of the human-biosphere interface (the imposition of human ecosystems within and upon natural ecosystems), a definition of biocatastrophe, and proceeds with a series of brief essays about biocatastrophe, ranging from cataclysmic climate change to the 2008 financial meltdown that followed the collapse of Lehman Bros. This text includes commentary on and quotations about a wide variety of contemporary ecological, social, political, and economic issues, including some of the writings of Thomas Friedman of the New York Times. The following excerpt from the BioC text is intended to help website visitors understand our take on the current predicament of our families, neighbors, and communities. It is the suggested title of an upcoming publication on the unfolding age of biocatastrophe, with apologies to Thomas Friedman:

Hot, Crowded, Polluted,
Infected, Genetically Modified, Hormonally Disrupted, Incontinent, Feminized/Masculinized, Unemployed, Uninsured, Uninformed, Manipulated, Marginalized, Indebted, Disenfranchised, Powerless – and Angry
The Tale of the Unfortunate Decline of Western Market Economies in the Age of Finance Capitalism in a Decimated Round World Commons of one Giant Integrated Ecosystem

If this epigrammatic commentary catches your interest, we hope you will explore the BioC Alert website and purchase our publications from or Pennywheel Press.


Coming Soon:

Volume 4: Antibiotic Resistance
Bacteria, Viruses, Fungi, and other Pathogens, a Threat to World Health
(work in progress)