The Buzz About Bees

Remember that story a few years back about the mysterious honeybee affliction known as Colony Collapse Disorder? It didn’t remain in the headlines for long but it should have: Honeybees pollinate up to 1/3 of the world’s crops. Lose them and we lose a great deal of human civilization to malnutrition.

I was reminded of this sad phenomena over the holidays when, from city to city, county to county, I kept stepping over dead and dying honeybees. Not just one, but several. Not merely one week, but several weeks in a row. Three years earlier — and what first brought CCD to my attention when I came online in search of an explanation — I took a walk in a local park and saw hundreds of bees dying on the ground. It was all I could do to keep my dog from stepping on them, a number of them still trying, fruitlessly so, to fly. A few weeks later at another park, I saw the same phenomena. The carnage became so commonplace that year that I eventually lost count.

Now here comes a late-breaking 2009 headline nearly lost amidst end-of-year festivities:

Bayer ‘Disappointed’ in Ruling on Chemical That May Harm Bees | Bloomberg.com

Bayer’s newest chemical wonder, Spirotetramat, was not on the market when CCD surfaced, but what is alarming about this story is that the EPA apparently approved it, critics allege, knowing that it could heighten or accelerate the harm to a critical link in the food chain.

Our food chain.

This story begs the question: How many scientists, executives and EPA administrators over the years have let “just one” pass, downplaying the cumulative harm to animal and human immune systems alike? It also is a reminder that our collective attention span is painfully short. In 2006 the EPA urged DuPont, maker of the ubiquitous nonstick coating Teflon®, among others, to enter a voluntary agreement to phase out the controversial chemical ingredients known as PFOA/PFOS. Here we are in 2010 — the date when 95 percent of this “likely carcinogen” was supposed to be eliminated from factory emissions, and eventually our food packaging, bathroom cleaners, stain repellents, cookware, electronics and personal care products — and no dice. Conveniently, the “real” phase-out date is 2015.

Do we really need to ask why there is a cancer epidemic? An autism epidemic? More people suffering from degenerative diseases despite better nutrition in the modern era? Increased autoimmune illnesses, among them an epidemic of childhood asthma? Or do we need only look in the mirror?

This isn’t a pitch toward “radical environmentalism” and it isn’t a slam on Big Corporate Enterprise. This is about self interest. No one will watch our backs if we ourselves won’t. As consumers, what we buy dominates the market. What we refuse to purchase will fall by the wayside for lack of consumer demand. True, it sounds far-fetched to think that we wield that kind of power. But big trends start with little people — ordinary folks who have the foresight to lead the way.

Our vote is our pocketbook.

Above and beyond any political or ideological position, those who hope and pray for a happy, healthy life for their children and grandchildren have cause to care. The emerging science of epigenetics suggests that undesirable genetic traits, when awakened by environmental triggers such as stress, obesity, malnutrition and toxins in our environment, may alter the expression of DNA inherited by our children and their children. No longer is the biblical metaphor that holds that the “‘sins’ of the fathers shall be visited upon the sons” merely figurative. If an disaster of apocalyptic proportions is afoot — as some have asserted — it is manmade, not God-made.

Speculation as to the cause of CCD abounds, but this much science makes increasingly clear as we plow deeper into the 21st Century: There is no such thing as a zero impact. Even seemingly inconsequential actions undergo a magnifier effect in the real world, not unlike an expanding ripple on a pond. This sets in motion repercussions for bees and people alike. But that realization, as dire as it sounds, is also key to our success: Assuming we created the problem, we can fix it.

Our greatest challenge is to simply acknowledge that there is a problem.

Fortunately for us, we’re not living in 1965 or even 1985. It has never been easier to jot down a product name and research its profile with minimal time, effort and expense on the Internet. Just a few minutes a week or month may literally mean the difference between those companies who profit at our expense vs. those who are forced to evolve their products to meet the expectations and needs of smarter consumers.

It’s a new year and a new decade. The future is in our hands.

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Resources

Secret Life of Bees | Whittier Daily News

Use of Potentially Harmful Chemicals Kept Secret Under Law | Washington Post

DuPont’s PFOA May Face New Rules | DelawareOnline

National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals | CDC

Unusual Suspects: Pollution May be Making You Fat | Popular Science

National Toxicology Program | Department of Health and Human Services

Pesticide Action Network North America | PAN Pesticide Database

Everyday Pollution Solutions | The Environmental Working Group

What Raindrops Tell us About the Emergent World Order

President H.W. Bush, borrowing a phrase from an earlier era, popularized the term “New World Order” (NWO) in the early 1990s. But while the New World Order has legitimate roots, it has come to be associated with little more than paranoid conspiracy.

Given what we’ve witnessed in recent times, however, is it wise to continue to dismiss the notion out-of-hand?

The following metaphor, Friedmanesque but nevertheless useful in view of the controversial nature of this topic, paints a picture of what political and economic progress may look like as the 21st Century progresses — and why a NWO may not be as far-fetched as so many of us are inclined to believe.

Imagine a smattering of raindrops hitting the pavement. Each raindrop represents the relative isolation and sovereignty of each nation. As those raindrops increase in number — meaning more countries climb aboard the international trade bandwagon — they connect like dots.

With enough rain — overlapping treaties and trade agreements — pools of water form (commonwealths operating under a shared constitution and/or currency). This is a natural evolution of the free trade process.

The European Union is but one such trade and currency pool, and it is not at all out of the question that more are to come. In Asia, in fact, The Wall Street Journal reported October 12, 2009 that an “Asean Plus Six” proposal seeks to integrate the 10 member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian nations as well as Japan, China, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Much like a succession of raindrops merging to form large swaths of water, boundaries between nations may become less distinct in the years to come. Such a progression inevitably begs the question: Is national sovereignty passé? And in even longer-range terms, will ethnic, language and cultural distinctions begin to dissolve too?

While far-sighted, these questions are just that: Legitimate questions.

When people say that the prospect for a North American Union is little more than a conspiracy, they are, in effect, saying that they know the future beyond a reasonable doubt. What this denies in the here-and-now is an appreciation for the reality that a World Federalist Movement (WFM) has been afoot for decades. The mainstream media may not give these long-ranging issues press time, but world federalist organizations do, in fact, exist in the United States, Canada and elsewhere in the developed world — and they run websites replete with historical timelines that anyone can verify for themselves.

Our Mission is to promote global governance to address inequality, violent conflict, mass atrocities, climate change and corruption

World Federalist Movement and Institute for Global Policy: https://www.wfm-igp.org/

This much we know of modern times: Peacetime economies are evolving toward tighter integration for the sake of shared prosperity. Debates over whether this is incidental or intentional detract from the point: The logical extension of removing conflicting trade laws and legal barriers may well be a set of conditions wherein borders are intact on maps, but members function more like states in a global confederation (interregionalism).

Some say we may even see this convergence culminate within our lifetimes.

In a speech then-president-elect Barack Obama gave in Berlin, he had this to say:

No doubt there will be differences in opinon. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together.

A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden.

In this new century Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more, not less.

Partnership and cooperation between nations is not a choice. It is the only way. The one way to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

President Obama’s message? This isn’t personal. This isn’t partisan. This “burden” is the future. And no, we do not have a choice.

President Obama, to be clear, is but one of several American presidents in recent years to share a globalized vision — hence his statement that a “change in Washington” will not deviate world leaders from a transnational progressive path:

SERIOUS QUESTIONS FOR SERIOUS TIMES

  • Does a shift toward increasingly large and impersonal centralized governance bode well for freedom to exclude oneself or one’s nation from a one-size-fits-all policy? Or will freedom to opt out be the one guarantee regional integration proponents — world federalists — can’t promise?
  • Is it in keeping with human history and human psychology to share a collective vision without breaking rank? How does world federalism propose to respond to “agitators” and civil unrest within its Utopian framework?
  • Does consolidation of legal and political powers represent a net gain or is it offset by the potential for corruption and abuse at the hands of a powerful few whose legislative reach has gone global?
  • At an economic level, can or will world federalism deliver on its promise of peace and prosperity for all world citizens? Or does it violate the all-eggs-in-one-basket principle: posing, instead, a dangerous level of economic and international codependency that will hold individuals and markets alike captive to the weakest link within the whole?

How do you feel about the path we are apparently headed down?

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