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The attack of the killer everything

Richard Black | 10:25 UK time, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

About two decades ago, the world's frog experts realised they were characters in the opening chapter of a detective novel.

It wasn't so much a whodunnit as a wotisdoinit - killing, that is, frogs and salamanders in different parts of the world at a rate that merited the description "dramatic".

DendrobatesThe pages were littered with suspects: pesticides, the ozone hole, global warming, disease, invasive species, farming... the list went on and on. And with it a question; was any one suspect working alone, or in a gang?

Now we know that there are two prime movers in the ongoing amphibian massacre. One is the fungal disease chytridiomycosis; the other is... everything.

"Everything?" Surely not?

Well... yes, everything - or pretty much, anyway.

While the chytrid fungus has blown whole populations away single-handedly in a season's shooting spree, many species undergo a slow, inexorable decline more akin to starvation or an ancient torture; squeezed into corners by the expanding human habitat, poisoned by farmland chemicals, eaten by bigger invasive neighbours, hunted for meat, stressed by temperature rise and stalked by viruses - or any combination of the above.

As the plot of that detective story becomes clear, it seems that scientists are beginning to write another with a very similar narrative, but this time with bees cast as the victims.

Bee populations - wild and cultivated - have always had their ups and downs, their years of plenty and years of absence. But about five years ago, commercial beekeepers in the US began reporting total wipe-outs of hives on a scale not documented before, leading to the term colony collapse disorder (CCD).

Since then, the phenomenon has been noted across much of Europe, with indications that it's gone further afield - to Brazil, to Taiwan.

There's some doubt as to whether CCD exists as something new or whether it's just an extreme form of a hive decline that's usually more gradual. Whatever the realities of that, it's clear that wild bee populations are also declining at serious rates, both Apis mellifera and other species such as bumblebees.

The search for a cause - an aetiology, in medical parlance - has once again focused on individual suspects: disease, pesticides, climatic change, loss of genetic diversity, urbanisation, etc etc etc - even the use of mobile phones.

Once again, as the pages turn, a more complex picture emerges of a syndrome that might well have multiple causes - indeed, that might have a different mix of causes in different locations.

The latest twist in the plot comes from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, where scientists working in the lab have found a link between the health of hives and the diversity of plants on which bees forage for food.

BeekeeperAlthough the finding needs to be confirmed in field trials - which the team is hoping to instigate - the indication is that a diet of diverse pollen gives the bees the amino acids they need to synthesise their full panoply of chemical defences against pathogens.

A reasonable hypothesis, then, would be that if you put your bees to work pollinating one particular crop all summer and feed them on one particular food all winter, such as corn syrup - as is the practice in US commercial hives - they're going to fall like insects out of the sky when an unpleasant disease comes along.

Along with that goes the notion that if you lose a diversity of wild plants, you'll begin to impact wild bees. (The reverse may also apply, a little more intuitively.)

A recent study using records kept by amateur naturalists in the UK and the Netherlands suggests that the diversity of bees and flowers have been declining at similar rates for more than a century - a conclusion that could suggest the causes are intertwined.

If a monoculture diet was the only issue, perhaps it wouldn't matter; perhaps the insects would survive.

But add in a lack of genetic diversity among commercial stocks, the use of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals to which they may be somewhat sensitive, changes to the availability of water brought about by everything from man-made climate change to dams, the greater mix of pathogens that commercial bees must encounter as the hives travel from one workplace to the next, the declining extent of "natural" habitat for wild bees, and so on and so on and so on - and once again, "everything" becomes a reasonable suspect.

If this is right - and other branches of the natural world such as coral reef ecosystems are also under multi-frontal attack - it raises a pretty obvious problem: how do you combat "everything"?

A small but growing number of amphibian species now exist only in reserves or captive breeding programmes - special places set aside for them. The only way to defend them against the multiple attacks of the real world is to take them out of the real world.

That option does not exist for bees - especially for colonies and populations and species that we do not domesticate, that live in the wild and pollinate many of the plants on which they forage.

You might defend them against disease with a treatment, or against harmful pesticides by finding a more sympathetic substitute, just as you can find a medical treatment for the clear aetiology of a broken leg or a defective heart valve.

But just as there is no medical treatment for old age, there is no defence against everything - nor is there ever likely to be.

Which leaves us with what conclusion to the story?

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  • 1. At 11:40am on 20 Jan 2010, manysummits wrote:

    "Which leaves us with what conclusion to the story?" (Richard)
    -------------

    It leaves us with: \\\ Planetary Boundaries /// - specifically "The nine [known] planetary boundaries" - see link below:

    http://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/researchnews/tippingtowardstheunknown/thenineplanetaryboundaries.4.1fe8f33123572b59ab80007039.html

    It leaves us with this from a recent BBC article:

    "Biodiversity nears 'point of no return'"

    "Our ecological footprint - what we take out of the planet - is now 1.3 times the biological capacity of the Earth...

    Climate change and biodiversity are inextricably linked. We ignore natural capital at our peril."

    - Hilary Benn
    -------------

    It leaves us with the "Mayday Declaration", it leaves us wondering why on this Earth, with the scientific community telling us that we are in imminent, I say again imminent peril, we continue to behave in a non-reflective way???

    - Manysummits -



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  • 2. At 11:58am on 20 Jan 2010, Kit Green wrote:

    "Which leaves us with what conclusion to the story?"

    Perhaps this is why no British politician seems to really care about the national debt. There will be no society to repay it.

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  • 3. At 12:02pm on 20 Jan 2010, Flatearther wrote:

    My conclusion is to blame it on man-made global warming. It's worse than we thought; all those glaciers disappearing up the IPCC reports. It's incredibly warm at the moment, all that CO2 trapping heat over the ponds.

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  • 4. At 1:08pm on 20 Jan 2010, Kamboshigh wrote:

    Conclusion JUNK SCIENCE it looks like something in the region of £24 million pounds in gov't grants to spin this one up. For a subscription fee of a couple of quid they could have referred to all this peer-reviewed science conducted in the field

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/search/allsearch?mode=startsearch&WISsearch1=Mariano+Higes&WISindexid1=WISauthor&WISoperator1=AND&WISsearch2=Nosema+ceranae&WISindexid2=WIStitle&WISoperator2=AND&WISsearch3=&WISindexid3=WISall&x=10&y=14&products=all&wiscoll=&restrict=&subjects=all&Issue=All&Since=6&FromYear=&ToYear=&Sort=Score+desc

    Mods might not like that link if so I'll give another one later

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  • 5. At 1:10pm on 20 Jan 2010, jessica wrote:

    i think we as humans should know that enough is enough and take responcibility for the damage we are causing our planet those who dont want to take responcibility well they should suffer the way we make the extinct, the nearly extinct and the earth suffer to truly understand the error of their ways

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  • 6. At 1:16pm on 20 Jan 2010, jessica wrote:

    oh and we can stop it seeing as we are the 'everything' that is causing it all

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  • 7. At 1:48pm on 20 Jan 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    The dominion over the earth by human beings has resulted in an on-going series of consequences in the natural world.
    Chinese saying: Covering one's own ears while stealing a bell. (ignoring the facts).

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  • 8. At 2:08pm on 20 Jan 2010, Kamboshigh wrote:

    And another one, do wish people would read about the subject before they put scary posts.

    Manysummits one of the authors is from Calgary

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090507121949.htm

    Very interesting last paragraph about what are the causes of bee decline

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  • 9. At 2:17pm on 20 Jan 2010, davblo wrote:

    If you have a spare 53 minutes...




    (select from drop down list "Select Connection" and it should play)

    ... a lecture by Dr. Peter Raven, director, Missouri Botanical Garden in 1999.

    We've already had just over 10 years to take note...

    /davblo [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 10. At 2:57pm on 20 Jan 2010, Freeman wrote:

    "Which leaves us with what conclusion to the story?"

    We are all scr***d

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  • 11. At 2:59pm on 20 Jan 2010, realistik wrote:

    Another possible source of trouble building up (probably more so in the US) is Genetic Engineering of plants and probably insects as well. Genetic engineering tends to lead toward uniformity... which is a potentially dangerous state to be in. (I am always amazed that people see the problems with GM as being "if the food is safe", when the real problem is the likelihood of a total breakdown of the bio system.)

    We should beware what we tinker with, good 'ole mother nature will sort it out in the end if you just step back and let here do her job :-)

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  • 12. At 3:09pm on 20 Jan 2010, Keith wrote:

    @Kamboshigh

    You complain about people not reading about the subject before putting up scary posts, but you yourself only seem to reference posts that argue one side of the story.

    I am a beekeeper in Germany, where many beekeepers are purely hobbyists (only some have upwards of 20 hives) and everyone suffers some kind of colony collapse in one form or another. Interestingly, those whose hives are mainly in the city limits and allow the bees to feed off of their own honeys stores over winter suffer less colony collapse than those beekeepers that feed on sugar and "specialise" their honey production, for example only rape-honey or pure sunflower honey.

    From my own personal experience and reading on the subject (and I can assure you I am well read on this subject) this report from France regarding monoculture crops being a possible culprit really makes sense to me and is not "JUNK SCIENCE" (capital letters not my own) and can definitely not be blamed entirely on nosema (since I know beekeepers personally that have suffered from CCD but no nosema spores were ever found).

    As for a conclusion to this story...we either have to change as a race from current mindsets and philosophies of mono-culture farming and mass animal husbandry (which is exactly what the bee-keeping profession in the US is in most cases) to bio-diversity and allowing nature to work, well, naturally.

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  • 13. At 3:14pm on 20 Jan 2010, Ann wrote:

    Thank you for this insightful and depressing piece.
    Thomas Berry, the 'geologian', said that the Earth is not just passing from the 10 K year Holocene into the Athropocene but is passing out of the 65 mio year Cenozoic geologic Era into the Ecozoic Era, so profound are the changes taking place at our (homo sapiens) hands. If we survive the transition (he says)then we will have learned to live in a sustainable way, being a member of the eco community, not seeing ourselves as a separate sort of creature.

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  • 14. At 3:49pm on 20 Jan 2010, blunderbunny wrote:

    Recently, in the UK at least, there have been moves to the increase biodiversity of farmland, by setting aside strips of land adjacent to or in some cases even in the middle of agricultural land, the strips are then left to return to nature.

    It might be an idea to adopt this approach more globally, as at least in the case of UK Bees, CCD does not seem to be as big a problem as it is in the States, where vast prairies of single crops stretch further than the eye can see, even from plane!

    So a Bee's got little or no chance...

    The UK’s always had hedgerows and one shouldn't rule out that the amounts and types of common Bee pathogens might vary between the two countries, but you can't argue that the British policy hasn't increased local biodiversity. If the conclusions of the French study are accurate then it’s a simple no-brainer, it merely requires the change of some of the more extreme and intensive farming practices.

    As to any of this being directly related to man made climate change, I find that to be a bit of a stretch and the article above could have done without those references. It seems that some people have to try and ‘Pin the tail, of the man made climate change on the donkey of everything’.

    Still, that will obviously improve my chances of getting some funding, wont it?

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  • 15. At 3:59pm on 20 Jan 2010, Kamboshigh wrote:

    #12 Keith on the second post's link it says exactly what you are saying about monocultural farming. Or should we say modern farming practise especially of soft fruits.

    Solution is so simple and in my little part of the world it occurs everywhere, being the field boundaries are left wild so nature does it thing.

    Have you consider the University of Illinios findings on CCD with the connection to genetic disorder, as hobbyist I am sure you are aware of these findings.

    Now we can totally dismiss man-made climate change as it is a hoax and CO2 concentration goes at the window as German scientist in the late 50's showed quite clear CO2 in urban areas being 410ppmv

    So the linking of bees to a decline in biodiversity seems noticable suspect, because as insects surely their own natural requirements would be to find other sources of necture to suppliment their diets

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  • 16. At 4:08pm on 20 Jan 2010, ReigningFire wrote:

    "Which leaves us with what conclusion to the story?"

    Ladies and gentleman, this is what we the watchers call "the big one". It is the sole reason President Obama seemed 'noticeably different' after he'd been briefed about national security issues after his recent election. It is the true underlying cause of the wars, the increased climate changes that are affecting the planet, the major cause for recent media distractions.

    The earth's biological capacity has been breached, and the main reason is the disturbing rise in human population. It isn't the world's educated families that are growing, but the worlds poorest and least educated (and overly religious?). Every biologist knows that the human population growth appears to look nothing like any other species on the planet. It doesn't plateau, it grows exponentially until all natural resources are consumed. There is a current effort by the world's power elite to gain the upper hand in controlling this epidemic, but this will only lead to further struggles down the line as we'll see a gross separation in social classes. This will further agitate hostile nations into costly wars and destruction. This will further the environmental damage.

    The world is in dire need of a wake up call. One that guides away from traditional religion, and towards personal responsibility and a unified vision of global community.

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  • 17. At 5:17pm on 20 Jan 2010, davblo wrote:

    (second try)
    If you have a spare 53 minutes watch...

    Biodiversity: What Does It Mean for Us?

    (select from drop down list "Select Connection" and it should play)

    ... a lecture by Dr. Peter Raven, director, Missouri Botanical Garden in 1999.

    We've already had just over 10 years to take note...

    /davblo

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  • 18. At 5:55pm on 20 Jan 2010, KiltedGreen wrote:

    "Which leaves us with what conclusion to the story?"

    That we'd better really start thinking and living differently at a local, national and global level while we can still choose, within reason, how we go about it. If we leave it another ?? years, there will probably be no choice. Mother Nature will just say "If you don't like your dinner then go without!"

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  • 19. At 7:46pm on 20 Jan 2010, Beekeeper1944 wrote:

    I agree that bees need a variety of plants to survive.
    Have noticed that when there is a field of clover blooming near-by and most of the bees are busy on that, there are always the odd few bees struggling with other little insignificant flowers that yeild little nectar or pollen, but they must need that little bit of something different.

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  • 20. At 8:35pm on 20 Jan 2010, xtragrumpymike2 wrote:

    I enjoyed the last article from Richard mainly because of the minimal intrusion of the polarising issue which has dominated so many of his articles. Among other things, it enabled me to enjoy contributions from people who I had previously avoided. Which brings me to a point I learned many years ago :-
    "The message is more important than the messenger"

    Here in NZ we have an Australian chain of Hardware Stores whose current slogan is "Big is Good"

    This has always worried me. and it seems to be worrying others too.

    My pet "hate" is "big" cities (to me Auckland, with a population of just over a million (and growing) is a "big" city.

    So I moved to a very rural location and I look out over a dairy farm. To my amateur perspective in these matters, it appears to me that some of the land, in the lower part of a shallow valley, is not particularly productive and would benefit from being allowed to revert to "nature" with little adverse effect on the farms productive viability.

    Consequently, Blunderbunny #14 and Kambo #15 have some very interesting comments posted. Thanks guys.

    It seems to me that we could learn some lessons from the "mother country".

    Now Mum wants the computer.

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  • 21. At 8:57pm on 20 Jan 2010, Simoon wrote:

    when will people stop wondering what is happening to the planet and the species that live here. when will scientists stop wasting millions/billions of £ or $ trying to work out why species are declining/disappearing. IT'S PEOPLE. We are killing everything. Stop it. Use the money to put together a group to stop the demise of our world. When it's gone it really is gone. Don't pussyfoot around with politics. Action is needed and now. Do your bit and be a good ancestor.

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  • 22. At 9:55pm on 20 Jan 2010, thinkforyourself wrote:

    Simoon at #21
    One of the reasons that it is so difficult to get anything done on protecting the environment is that there are always rich lobbyists influencing politicians to water down anything that will help save said biosphere..
    http://views.washingtonpost.com/climate-change/post-carbon/2010/01/new_murkowski_attack_ads.html

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  • 23. At 10:10pm on 20 Jan 2010, thinkforyourself wrote:

    Yet in 2006 Alaskan Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski was worried about global warming devastating Alaska, as she pointed out in a 2006 speech:
    ‘..When I visit the Native villages in northern Alaska, I ask the village elders what climate change means to them. They don’t speak about the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or attempt to debunk the now infamous hockey stick theory. They tell me what they have personally observed over the years….
    Warmer, drier air, has allowed the voracious spruce bark beetle to migrate north, moving through our forests in the south-central part of the state. At last count, over three million acres of forest land has been devastated by the beetle, providing dry fuel for outbreaks of enormous wild fires. To give you some perspective, that is almost the size of Connecticut. So we recognize that times have changed, things are changing, and we need a new Arctic policy.’
    So why is she now trying to stop the EPA from regulating carbon pollution?
    http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2009/09/18/18climatewire-gop-senator-considering-rider-to-limit-epa-a-46507.html

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  • 24. At 10:27pm on 20 Jan 2010, thinkforyourself wrote:

    And also Simoon, as if we didn’t know this:
    http://climateprogress.org/2010/01/09/rolling-stone-climate-killers-polluters-and-science-deniers-rupert-murdoch-warren-buffett-john-mccain/
    The timing of the so-called ‘climategate’ smear was always way too much of a coincidence.
    I don’t think bees, frogs and salamanders get a mention in the boardrooms of the billionaires.
    And we call ourselves Homo Sapiens Sapiens (Wise, wise man)!

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  • 25. At 10:47pm on 20 Jan 2010, xtragrumpymike2 wrote:

    24. At 10:27pm on 20 Jan 2010, thinkforyourself wrote:

    "And we call ourselves Homo Sapiens Sapiens (Wise, wise man)!"

    Whoever it was sure had a sick sense of humour!

    When I raised this before, I was directed to a link with several different options. In my opinion the best referred to our arrogance. I think we need a referendum.

    You also wrote:-
    "So why is she now trying to stop the EPA from regulating carbon pollution?"

    Would that have anything to do with "toeing the party line?"

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  • 26. At 00:35am on 21 Jan 2010, Thomas Buist wrote:

    If you want to know how the planet is doing, check our George Carlin's take on saving the planet. [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    Warning: There is explicit language.

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  • 27. At 00:38am on 21 Jan 2010, manysummits wrote:

    \\\ Imminent Peril ///

    There is a planetary bifurcation in the making. It has been the fashion of the last decade to refer to this as a 'tipping point'.

    Richard Alley the glaciologist makes the analogy to a canoe; James Hansen the NASA planetary scientist refers explicitly to a 'tipping point' - the idea is used by many others.

    I have been thinking this is a form of 'dumbing down' for the public. An attempt to communicate more effectively, using 'lay language.'

    Perhaps it is time to change, and rather than talk down to the public, it is time for the public to 'smarten up'?

    I am a geologist, not a chaos mathematician, but I like very much the word bifurcation, which means essentially 'two forks,' specifically in the context of climate change and planetary boundary thinking - a change of state - as 'Ann' has pointed out in #13, from the Holocene/Anthropocene to something quite different - something inimical to life as we cherish it.

    Here is a Wikipedia definition for a 'tipping point':

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catastrophe_theory#Fold_catastrophe

    Contrarians accuse me and others of exaggeration - or make the assertion that this is 'JUNK SCIENCE.'

    I will excerpt from James Hansen's new book - his first, released just this past December. I would like to point out that Dr. Hansen dares to venture into policy implications instead of sticking to science.

    I applaud his courage, and point out that the conclusions which he draws in the following excerpt are not his solely, but are logical, carefully worded implications drawn from a concensus view of climate science world-wide, checked ad-infinitum - by virtually every national academy of science on Earth, including the Russians and the Chinese. The empirical evidence is voluminous, the modelling has been done every way possible, by scientists doing what scientists often do - looking for errors.
    ------------

    "Planet Earth, creation, the world in which civilization developed... is in imminent peril. [my emphasis]

    The urgency of the situation crystallized only in the last few years... and derives from the nearness of tipping points, beyond which climate dynamics can cause rapid changes out of humanity's control...

    Tipping points occur because of amplifying feedbacks... [which] include

    [1] loss of Arctic sea ice
    [2] melting ice sheets and glaciers
    [3] release of frozen methane as tundra melts...

    There is a social matter that contributes equally to the crisis: government greenwash."

    - James Hansen, first page of the Preface, "Storms of My Grandchildren,"
    (The truth about the coming climate catastrophe and our last chance to save humanity).
    ---------------

    The full 'Planetary Boundary' publication from the Stockholm Resilience Centre is available free for the asking, including supplementary information, and points out that biodiversity loss, climate change and the other seven so-far identified planetary boundaries are likely to be synergistic - to amplify each other.

    It is unlikely we can solve one without addressing many or all of the others. The publication does not even touch on what every thinking person knows to be a part of the problem - human population and its continuing increase.

    I keep looking for ways to get through to people - to somehow penetrate the semi-permeable membrane of human consciousness - which can read these words and go - "Ho Hum".

    I am trying this tack - consider our situation in geophysical terms - a deterministic non-linear dynamical system approaching a bifurcation, one which will, in the words of Jacques Couseau, see us 'replaced by the insect.'

    - Manysummits -
    --------------------------

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  • 28. At 01:29am on 21 Jan 2010, blunderbunny wrote:

    @Manysummits #27

    To steal a word from a post a couple of blogs ago, that as I remember had already been stolen by someone else:

    What a load of..... Tosh...... Succinct and to the point.

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  • 29. At 01:51am on 21 Jan 2010, manysummits wrote:

    To 'blunderbunny' #28:

    Your chosen blogging name is succinct and very much to the point.

    What collossal arrogance, to dismiss the finding of the world scientific community and be smug doing it.

    /////////////

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  • 30. At 02:52am on 21 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    Thank you, davblo. Quite right, manysummits (No. 29) & previous.

    Blunderbunny, there was a kind of consensus we would refrain from being blindly dismissive.

    Those of you who still think the climate & our future is shaped by whatever is raging outside your window at the moment, please make sure you read about the methane.

    Thank you, BBC, and Richard Black.

    Thank you, all champions of Biodiversity.

    Actually, the story does not need to end badly -- even though at the moment it does look pretty grim.

    It is important to fully grasp that amphibians are a key health index for the planet.

    But, between the amphibians and the bees, it is the bees who actually point to a shorter timeframe within which we may act. It is the bees that directly tie in to our food supply.

    Can we help bees overcome the truly monumental threat they face? People are saying the Haiti earthquake was "apocalyptic." I will accept that assessment. But for me, the truly apocalyptic threat -- to all of us, down the line, not just one island nation or large peninsula -- is the threat to our honeybees.

    Don't let yourselves be lulled into complacency by the familiar refrain, "Maybe it is not as bad as it seems. Maybe it will end next year. Maybe it won't spread." We have made that mistake over and over again in related areas of investigation.

    "It has been progressing for about a century." And what else happened during that century? Most noticeably in the impacted zones? A whole lot of bombing, demolition, chemical warfare, firestorms, unnatural combustion, industrial pollution, habitat destruction -- major manmade impacts, over prolonged periods of time, in a sustained & relentless manner.

    Can that be reversed? We have five years, and plenty of prime EU terrain: certainly we can try.

    We can map the Haiti earthquake impact zones -- who has mapped the bee colony collapse impact zones with the same level of detail?

    Corn syrup for honey bees? The same corn syrup that Monsanto has souped up with all kinds of patented bells & whistles? The same corn syrup that Michael Pollan, amongst many other authorities, has thoroughly exposed to the interested parties of the world as a near-toxic lab concoction being palmed off on the world as some kind of "nutrient"?

    Do you know even the definition of "corn syrup" remains a mystery? In terms of its true actual composition? It is not like maple syrup, that has a known source & terroir. It is basically the leavings from the grounds of the grain elevators, mixed in with who-knows-what, from who-knows-which-harvest...

    Maybe the "mystery" behind bee colony collapse is no more complex to repair than were the various blights that attacked herds of cattle from poor farming practices.

    We won't know unless we try harder.

    Just sitting around & waiting for the final curtain is pointless. We have means, brains, labs & resources. Let those who think "it's all over" relax in the comfort of their convictions. The rest of us ought to get to work.

    And yes, we do need the Low Carbon Transformation in Europe. And everywhere else.

    Don't for a moment imagine that the fact that the US continues to look for the nearest exit that might allow Americans to escape from accountability -- and seizes upon any fleeting development as "proof the Obama agenda is over" so we might as well all cave in and accept the inevitable destruction of our planet, as ordained by wealthy Republicans in North America & their kissing cousins elsewhere -- changes anything.

    Just keep your eyes trained on the methane bubbles, and keep looking for answers.

    Consensus is here. It just hasn't been noticed by enough Americans yet. But it will be, once they realise they are being left behind with their "issues..."

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  • 31. At 05:12am on 21 Jan 2010, jobsw32 wrote:

    I fought ww3 just for a bar of chocolate ?

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  • 32. At 06:07am on 21 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    Wiki "corn syrup." Count the number of times the word "bacteria" appears in the first paragraph.

    And that's just the nutshell version of the story.

    How could it possibly NOT be making bees sick?

    What was making the cows sick? Cheap & ultimately disease-promoting commercial feed designed to maximise profits and reduce costs.

    Same basic operating principles here. Yes, fixable.

    And yes, the US corn industry is out of control & long overdue for some tough love.

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  • 33. At 07:54am on 21 Jan 2010, poitsplace wrote:

    @manysummits #27 RE:\\\ Imminent Peril ///

    Yadda, yadda Hansen, Hansen, Hansen...a man now under investigating for his constant tinkering with the temperature record. I'm sick of your AGW snake oil from this joke of a researcher. Your quotes from his book might as well be from a snake oil salesman's "independent study" of his own product...peer reviewed by the board of snake oil salesmen.

    You've not given it any thought at all if you think the ever-decreasing sea-ice feedback amounts to any substantial feedback. This is ice that covers 1% of the earth's surface in summer in a part of the world that at best receives 1/3 the light per square meter of the equatorial regions...and that is struck by the sun's rays at such a high angle that the difference between the ice. When its absent in the summer it's not a "tipping point", a point at which it STARTS to tip, it's TOTALLY TIPPED and incapable of doing anything more.

    Your methane hysteria is also...well, nothing but hysterics. Methane oxidizes in the atmosphere anyway. To increase the amount of methane in the atmosphere for 100 years, the world's methane output has to increase by that same percentage...and stay at those levels for 100 years. It will NOT increase above those levels because its decay rate is directly proportional to the amount in the atmosphere.

    Then we're left with the ice sheets...which they've recently taken to measuring with gravity data...because it's the ONLY measurement that is ambiguous enough to interpret in that way. The fact is the antarctic and greenland ice sheets are trapped in depressions created by their own incredible mass. Their glacial outflow is insignificant compared to their mass...and they just keep on piling on the ice and snow. That's why there is over a hundred thousand years worth of ice in greenland and over a million years worth in the antarctic. If they were flowing to the sea that oldest ice would already be gone. The temperature on greenland and main antarctic ice sheets has NEVER come remotely close to the melting point.

    The temperature would need to rise substantially for the greenland ice sheet to even start melting...and would need to rise by that much again to threaten the main antarctic ice sheet. Even with such increases it would take hundreds of years to melt enough of the ice to cause any significant albedo changes...but we would run out of fossil fuels long before this and the levels would crash again (the higher the concentration of CO2, the higher the rate of uptake)

    You have been mislead. The temperature record has been tampered with to show more warming...by the very people that pushed the theory of AGW in the first place. The "peer review" system in that field was corrupted by a group of crackpots that manipulate and or manufacture data to support their poorly supported hypothesis. Don't even get me started on the preposterous notion that the warming we've had is bad for the world or that the anemic rates of sea level rise (which we've endured for the past 100+ years) are somehow going to suddenly start killing people...as if they're too stupid to get out of the way of an ocean that takes a century to rise a quarter of a meter.

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  • 34. At 09:37am on 21 Jan 2010, WolfiePeters wrote:

    ... agriculture!

    Somehow agriculture, farming, farmers too often are seen by the public as the defenders of nature and the environment. The reality is they are at the front line in destroying it.

    Producing CO2, damaging the water supply, wiping out wildlife and woodlands.... it's agriculture.

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  • 35. At 10:29am on 21 Jan 2010, blunderbunny wrote:

    @Manysummits and Maria

    I think you'll find that I was being quite constructive up until the apocalyptic tipping point rubbish started. I care for the environment and the planet that supports it and I actually consider myself quite green, but I'm not and probably never will be a warmist, which puts me at odds with many of the people on this blog.

    In general, those in the pro-AGWer camp should drop the quasi-religious apocalyptic rubbish, stop ignoring that some of the data's been fiddled, stop calling people deniers(those of you that do), acknowledge that the observed climate sensitivity is nothing like as previously claimed, give up on banging on about the obviously biased modelling, re-enter the debate on the science and then I guess I might start taking you guys more seriously - This is after all 'science' that we're talking about/trying to talk about.

    Plus, the word 'Tosh' just seemed so right at the time. My thanks to whoever used it recently - for putting the word in my Mind.

    As to me being smug, I promise that I'll try to be less so, I was actually going for Humour.

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  • 36. At 10:49am on 21 Jan 2010, manysummits wrote:

    To Maria Ashot:

    I have read Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food." Quite excellent. I am glad to hear he is active now. I read a book largely about 'Monsanto' et al; "Against the Grain", some years back, and I concur wholeheartedly with your assessment of these corporate giants and their nefarious schemes - all in the name of shareholder profits.

    My feeling is that until we rewrite the charters of the publicly held corporations to reflect the fact that they work at our behest and not to the advantage only of their shareholders - nothing can change, because at the moment publicly-held corporations, at least in North America, are legally bound to psychotically place the interests of their shareholder's profits above those of the other stakeholders in this fiasco we call free-enterprise. Those other stakeholders would be the vast majority of other human beings on the planet, and the uncounted millions of species whom we share the Earth with.

    We need to do so many things as we recover? from hundreds of years of misadventure.

    Thinking of Michael Pollan, I might recommend a true source - source to Linus Pauling, for example.

    That would be Weston Price's "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration." (ca 1936)

    It turns out we are chronically ill, mentally and physically, due in large part to our western diets.

    It seems to me a good place to start. Most of us cannot change the world, at least quickly, but we could learn to take care of ourselves and our children, something we have rather forgotten how to do.

    Eat right, nurse your children till three or four, raise them yourselves, allow them the opportunity to think for themselves. Given world population, consider spacing them out four or five years apart.

    People can do these things without changing the world, but they will find changing themselves every bit as difficult, but it is possible at least to begin immediately.

    - Manysummits -

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  • 37. At 11:11am on 21 Jan 2010, manysummits wrote:

    \\\ Critical Slowing Down ///

    "... critical slowing down... [of the fold catastrophe] is now considered to capture the essence of shifts at tipping points in a wide range of natural systems from cell signalling pathways to ecosystems and the climate..."

    "Early-warning signals for critical transitions," Marten Scheffer et al.,
    Nature 461, 53-59 (3 September 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08227
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7260/full/nature08227.html
    -----------------

    It is easy to detect this rather abstruse mathematical concept if you are a pilot approaching stall in a small plane. Your craft feels awful, it reacts slowly, even backwards sometimes to control inputs.

    For the student of the weather, an approaching thunderstorm or hurricane is easy to detect.

    Climatology is more an intellectual pursuit, as is the study of biodiversity. Patient and careful accumulation of facts and numbers for statistical evaluation is part of this intellectual pursuit.

    It is not visceral, without perhaps unusual dollops of imagination.

    How else to understand why many people just don't get it?
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    "If It’s That Warm, How Come It’s So Damned Cold?"

    - James Hansen, Reto Ruedy, Makiko Sato, Ken Lo

    "The past year, 2009, tied as the second warmest year in the 130 years of global instrumental temperature records, in the surface temperature analysis of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The Southern Hemisphere set a record as the warmest year for that half of the world...

    The bottom line is this: there is no global cooling trend. For the time being, until humanity brings its greenhouse gas emissions under control, we can expect each decade to be warmer than the preceding one."

    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/

    - Manysummits -

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  • 38. At 11:29am on 21 Jan 2010, jazbo wrote:

    @ 27. At 00:38am on 21 Jan 2010, manysummits wrote:

    As per usual the climate change crowd drag it out as the reason for everything and anything.

    The earth has hardly warmed more than a degree in the past hundred years, if you agree with the data.

    Are you telling me these species cannot cope with a one degree shift, which has occurred many times in the past million years?

    The real reason, cutting through the AGW nonsense is clear:

    There are too many humans on the planet.

    I was talking to a friend the other day who is educated, intelligent, compassionate and lives in crowded London, and when she talked of children she said she would like at least 3.

    I asked her if that was wise because if everyone did that then the planet would collapse in a decade, and she said "but everyone doesn't, so there is no problem, I came from a bi family and would like one as well".


    Unless you re-educate globally, and that means addressing things like the madness that is religious belief, head on, as well as controlling the educated because they are still drawn to their biological obsession with reproduction and family, then things will escalate to the point of collapse this century.

    And that is our fault, for being ignorant and selfish, and nothing to do with global warming.

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  • 39. At 11:47am on 21 Jan 2010, manysummits wrote:

    About 'jasonsceptic' #38; 'blunderbunny, poitsplace et al...:

    Always it's about something else, except of course, coincidentally, manmade global warming, which is as certain as what you are all about, and that is what Jim Hansen is calling Greenwash, looking green while doing nothing.

    ////////////////

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  • 40. At 12:26pm on 21 Jan 2010, ChangEngland wrote:

    manysummits, @many

    Sgt. Peppers is nearing the end, We've had the party, we had some help, we tried to get spiritual, we've realised the day has dawned.

    The crescendo is starting to build... do we wait the big crash bang! Or do we stop this record turning?

    Keep it up mate, I'm with you. But but we need a little help from.....

    Heh, Heh, Nostradamus has nothing on Lennon :)

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  • 41. At 1:14pm on 21 Jan 2010, blunderbunny wrote:


    To quote, Mark Twain, Disraeli and I'm sure many others with my own little Addendum "There's lies, damned lies, statistics and then there's AGW Climate Science"

    The one size fits all badge of green approval – There's a decline in the world's amphibian and frog populations, obviously it can’t be this highly communicable pathogenic fungus that I’ve found in a lot of the dead ones, it must be Global Warming.

    Honestly, where does it stop? My milkman failed to deliver my milk this morning, it must be global warming. I went on holiday for a couple of months and when I came home my budgie was dead, it must be global warming - It's not even funny anymore.

    My initial post on this particular blog was about how one might improve local biodiversity in previously purely agricultural land and that there have been distinct moves to do this in the UK already. As we've always lived with hedgerows in this country, we may be starting from an initially "better place" than some of our American/Foreign compatriots, but you could (not all my ideas, I hasten to add, these have been 'cadged' from a number of UK sources):

    Periodically, prune any woodland to clear space for new plant species and, over time, encourage re-growth. The woodland clippings should either be used to maintain hedgerows or left as cover for wildlife - I guess, that in the case of the prairies you’d first need to plant some of this.

    Open areas of land between woodland act as wildlife corridors, so these should only be mown once wild flowers have finished flowering.

    Only the fields that are used for hay or silage should be mown. The remaining fields should, if possible, be naturally grazed by livestock to maintain cover for small mammals and flowering plants.

    Field margins and even headlands/islands should be established across the farm and these can be planted with wild flowers or sown to wild bird cover. They offer a habitat for birds, insects, spiders and small mammals (Research has shown that natural field margins can increase overall biodiversity levels by 500% compared with cropped margins).

    Crop stubble should be left in fields between the August harvest and spring crops in February/March - The stubble helps control weeds and encourages landing birds.

    When using insecticides or fertilizers, care should be taken to avoid spray drift/misplacement and when electing to use an insecticide, always pick the most selective one. Where appropriate, beetle-banks can be used to manage aphids.

    If possible consider mosaic cropping in preference to block cropping, as mosaic cropping is less harmful to the resident wildlife, it is however more expensive and less efficient, so it's a bit of a balancing act.

    Existing hedgerows should be retained and maintained and new hedges should be planted. Species of hedge plants should be chosen carefully to match those already found on the estate/farm to create a diverse habitat for wildlife.

    Mature hedges should not be trimmed between March and July (Adjust for your own local seasonal variations) to allow for bird nesting and chick rearing.

    Any field that suffers from soil and drainage problems should be converted into a wetland area, complete with shallow ponds. You might even be able to put some fish in them....

    And above all, wait a couple of years, you'll be amazed at the difference it makes.

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  • 42. At 1:57pm on 21 Jan 2010, Ozymandias wrote:

    My two penneth, as a member of no organised religion:

    It is time for the spiritual leaders of the rich world to make it firmly clear that it is humanity's duty to preserve nature/creation, whatever they see it as, in all its magnificence. (I think in Anglican theology this is related to "Christian stewardship".)

    As I recall John Beddington once pointed out, it can be profitable to harvest living resources to extinction, because the profits can then be reinvested in another commercial project.

    So long as profit is our measure of the success of organisations, the world will be exploited until it cannot sustain the exploiters.

    So it's time for _someone_ who is listened to, to change our measure of success. That can only be spiritual leaders.

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  • 43. At 2:20pm on 21 Jan 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Climate change advocates predicted extreme weather events resulting from atmospheric changes. Seems to be a number of extreme weather events. Governments have no concern about you, your property or well-being so looking to them for solutions is like trying to draw water from an empty well. They may tax your bucket but that will not change the well being empty. Change happens because people change their behaviors. There is no doubt that the price of oil will continue to rise and that selfish motivation of most people will move this all to another and better direction. Motivations will matter little as people will do what serves them best. Much like going from bronze to iron.

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  • 44. At 3:31pm on 21 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    I considered taking issue (detailed) with blunderbunny who continues to advocate the use of 'insecticides or fertilizers' (albeit, more prudently), and others who argue along the lines of 'business as usual'.

    but what's the point?


    manysummits #27.

    "..consider our situation ... one which will, in the words of Jacques Couseau, see us 'replaced by the insect.'"

    not a bad thing, I say. while individual insects are seemingly no more intelligent than many of the contributors here, at least they have the collective intelligence that we humans so evidently lack.

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  • 45. At 3:38pm on 21 Jan 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @Richard Black

    Roger Harrabin has been neglecting the comments at his climaterealists.com article, "Met Office's debate over longer-term forecasts by Roger Harrabin, Environment analyst, BBC News".

    I presume the neglect is accidental on his part. He wasn't to know that his article would end up on a blog. But BBC articles are always liable to be syndicated out. And when someone really wants to respond to one of Roger Harrabin's articles, that is what is liable to happen.

    And now it is hurting his credibility. Which is why I am posting here.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/01/putting_the_versity_in_biodive.html#P91167920

    Piers Corbyn, who is mentioned in Harrabin's article, has identified an unfortunate damaging mistake. Corbyn has posted a response to Roger Harrabin's climaterealists.com article, and Corbyn has evidence to back up his (Corbyn's) position.

    "The link refers to published independent peer-reviewed verification of the significant skill of [Weather Action's] gale (eg) forecasts, weather bets where [Weather Action] consistently won money and have as a consequence had that arrangement terminated by the bookmakers, and independent assessment by a loss-adjusters of [Weather Action's] extreme events forecasts showing high skill around the world."
    http://www.weatheraction.com/pages/pv.asp?p=wact5&fsize=0

    Unfortunately I can't post a link to the climaterealist.com articles because Corbyn's full complaint on the same website contains strong opinions. Please can you draw Roger Harrabin's attention to Corbyn's complaint.

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  • 46. At 3:44pm on 21 Jan 2010, sporpo wrote:

    #21 said:
    "Action is needed and now. Do your bit and be a good ancestor."

    or better still, do your bit and DON'T be anyone's ancestor!
    Don't have children -> population falls -> end of all these problems

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  • 47. At 3:46pm on 21 Jan 2010, Kamboshigh wrote:

    #39 Manysummits I think you had better start coming to terms with the fact that Jim Hansen is in a whole lot of trouble and mightn't be around much longer at NASA.

    All the others who like to practise double standards how can you equate this.

    If the aim is protect and develop biodiversity then why are you allowing the building of massive wind farms (bird shreaders) in some of the places of outstanding natural beauty in the UK. I think it was on a previous BBC blogg that one of these sites is in North Wales were half a forest is going to be cut down, the same goes for Scotland.

    Spot on blunderbunny bet none of the ecogreens can answer that one.

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  • 48. At 4:18pm on 21 Jan 2010, Kamboshigh wrote:

    WHEN YOU KNOW IT IS ALL OVER.

    This from George Monboit just read the comments they are some of the funniest things I have seen all week

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2010/jan/21/christopher-booker-prize-climate-change-scepticism

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  • 49. At 5:17pm on 21 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    Kamboshigh #48.

    "If the aim is protect and develop biodiversity then why are you allowing the building of massive wind farms (bird shreaders) in some of the places of outstanding natural beauty in the UK. I think it was on a previous BBC blogg that one of these sites is in North Wales were half a forest is going to be cut down, the same goes for Scotland.

    Spot on blunderbunny bet none of the ecogreens can answer that one."

    who stands to benefit most from a(ny) backlash against renewable energy production?

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  • 50. At 5:55pm on 21 Jan 2010, blunderbunny wrote:

    @jr4412 #49

    It's just a quick guess before I go home, but I think the Answer is:

    Trees and Birds

    And there's an outside chance of it being Tourism ;-)

    Sorry, I'm not supposed to be smug anymore. Mea culpa, this is positively the last time, double secret promise.............

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  • 51. At 6:44pm on 21 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    blunderbunny #50.

    "Trees and Birds
    And there's an outside chance of it being Tourism"

    seriously, if "..half a forest is going to be cut down.." to site windfarms, who'd benefit? the landowner(s).

    if people get their knickers in a twist over these issues, who benefits? the defenders of business as usual policy.

    since I'm fond of quotes, I'll leave you with one taken from a 1962 story by Arthur C Clarke ('The Shining Ones'):

    "There were, of course, a great many people who would not exactly be brokenhearted if the Trinco Power Project failed. Politically, the prestige of the USSR was committed; economically, billions were invloved, for if hydrothermal plants proved a success, they might compete with oil, coal, water power, and, especially, nuclear energy."

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  • 52. At 8:46pm on 21 Jan 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    I love the bees in my garden. I get hundreds, sometimes thousands of bees visiting the wild geranium, an early flowering plant which they enjoy. If everyone with a garden, planted a range of flowers that bees love, that flowered in succession over the seasons, perhaps ordinary people could help a bit.

    I don't use any pesticide in my domestic garden, nor do I use weed killer. I don't clear away dead leaves etc, because my bumble bees need somewhere to live. Ok, the wild garden looks untidy but there is so much more biodiversity. Frogs leaping around all over the place. A fat toad has his home in the soakaway. There used to be slow worms but I haven't seen them in recent years. There are several hedgehogs doing their routine journeys each evening. Foxes have always lived nearby and they visit the garden with their young. Because I allow nettles and brambles to grow, I get good crops for nettle soup and bramble jelly + a good range of butterflies to decorate the garden on a sunny day. The dandelions give me dandelion coffee if I want it.
    Lets all go a little bit wild.

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  • 53. At 9:39pm on 21 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    Manysummits, No. 36: Thank you. Yes, I agree.

    Pauling is quite a genius and a fascinating man. Like you, I find reading helps. I will look at the 1936 work, which I have not read. The fact that he lived to a ripe old age, and helped many with Vitamin C (even though he was ridiculed for it), says a great deal.

    I agree that waiting for collective action, system-wide, from North America is extremely frustrating & consequently probably unhealthy. But the corn syrup industry certainly needs to be exposed. How much harder can that be than taking on the tobacco companies?

    On the individual level, we can do much. And we must continue to try. Giving up accomplishes nothing.

    I think the Europeans are ahead of everyone else in embracing the idea of shaping policies that advance the probability of survival -- mitigation policies, transformative policies -- as a systemic approach.

    We actually do have the momentum & the sheer numbers needed to accomplish what matters most.

    Nursing bee populations back into health, by looking at what went wrong with the way they are being treated -- what crazy "efficiency" schemes have been cooked up that violate the fundamentals of bee culture (because, in case anyone here is younger than 20 and has not attended an old-fashioned school where they still taught these 'humble' precepts, bees are actually members of extremely complex communities with all kinds of social norms & habits that probably have a lot to do with how they protect their own health) -- that ought not be viewed as something too challenging to undertake.

    The fire within must light our way forward. There is no other way.

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  • 54. At 9:41pm on 21 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    sensiblegrannie, No. 52:

    And the bees love you, and your garden, precisely because of what you know to do, and actually do do.

    If only we could more people to actually do what they know they ought to be doing!

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  • 55. At 9:46pm on 21 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 56. At 10:48pm on 21 Jan 2010, Jack Frost wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 57. At 10:56pm on 21 Jan 2010, blunderbunny wrote:

    @Maria #55

    Yep, happy to say that I'm quite familiar with methane and strangely most of siberia is still a tad frosty.

    Plus, I'm neither angry, in denial nor in need of a cure, thank you very much (Though, having finished typing the sentence I might be just a tad angry now)

    Could I, perhaps, be so rude as to ask if you have any sensible suggestions to improve biodiversity?

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  • 58. At 11:32pm on 21 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    Jack Frost #56.

    "I find you and your comments totally and utterly disgusting."

    Jack's Extraordinary Reaction, Kool?

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  • 59. At 00:01am on 22 Jan 2010, manysummits wrote:

    To jr4412 #58:

    May I be first to second that?

    - Manysummits -

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  • 60. At 00:05am on 22 Jan 2010, manysummits wrote:

    I wish I could have seen Maria's comment #55.

    I have never complained formally about another blogger, but there is a first time for everything.

    Moderators - Jack Frost at #56 has crossed the line, and I would appreciate a ruling on his comment.

    Thank you,

    Manysummits

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  • 61. At 00:28am on 22 Jan 2010, manysummits wrote:

    \\\ The Creosote Bush [1] ///

    That's what I smelled when I got on the bus this morning.

    Memories of the great deserts to the south of me (the Californias, Mexico...).

    Immense open spaces, a hardy and diverse natural community of plants and animals, of microbes and men.

    I remember my conversations with 'old Hank S.' in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park one night in California. Hank told me of his life, of how he had come to love the desert, of his children and grandchildren, of how healthy natural desert foods are, if you know where to look.

    That was a long time ago - in the late 1990's.

    Here in Industrial America, we eat a lot of industrial products masquerading as real food, and like the bees and the amphibians, we sicken.

    And with our sickened bodies we have developed equally sickened minds, and our social structures reflect this.

    What could be more natural - you are what you eat - industrial man.

    "...Cowboy change your ways or with us you will ride;

    Trying to catch this devil herd across these endless skies..."

    - from Johnny Cash's "Ghost Riders in the Sky"


    - Manysummits, way out West -

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creosote_bush

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  • 62. At 00:34am on 22 Jan 2010, manysummits wrote:

    \\\ A Lot of History - Comin' to America ///

    I have several times referred to 'revisionist history' on this blogsite.

    George Monbiot has a Guardian article which sums things up nicely, and which just may help us as we try and figure what went wrong.

    To co-opt a word from Richard Black's headline - Everything

    "The Holocaust We Will Not See "

    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/01/11/the-holocaust-we-will-not-see/

    - Manysummits - now I can go home to my family -

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  • 63. At 00:52am on 22 Jan 2010, manysummits wrote:

    A Ray of Hope from Canada:

    "Ontario backs $7B renewable energy deal"

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/cbc/100121/canada/canada_toronto_ontario_energy

    - Manysummits in Calgary -

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  • 64. At 01:02am on 22 Jan 2010, blunderbunny wrote:

    @jr4412 #51

    First things first, glad to meet another Arthur C. Clarke fan, he's almost solely responsible for giving me my initial interest in science.

    With regard to the windfarms and being anti or pro, I have no problems with using alternative technologies for large scale power generation. We need the power and our other resources are gradually running out.

    Sadly wind is just not man or indeed woman enough for the job, it's simply not efficient enough, air's really not thick enough and the wind itself is just not constant enough.

    If your geography and climate permits, then hydro-electric power is good, wave or tidal are also good, but again, highly reliant on having either rivers with large tidal displacements or a convenient coastline.
    Geothermal is quite interesting, but aparently may contain minor earthquakes in the same way that a snickers bar, may contain nuts ;-)

    After all of those, I guess that you're left with solar furnaces and solar cells, where it helps if you're somewhere sunny.

    If infrared solar cells take off/become commercially viable, then all our energy problems may be over. Currently, I believe there are some problems with diode efficiency and power delivery, but the antenna arrays are potentially very efficient (raw conversion rates of up to 80% have been bandied about) and they're nanotech, so they almost have to be cool.......

    On the more esoteric side, the Norwegians have built a small scale power plant that makes use of a membrane between fresh and salty water, as the fresh water is drawn by osmosis accross the membrane it creates a pressure that's then used to drive a turbine and if worst comes to worst we can always stick a couple of probes in a potato, rig up a few of them and jobs a good'un.

    Personally, as I've said before, I quite like idea of using Thorium Reactors, but I can hardly class those as alternative.

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  • 65. At 01:44am on 22 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    manysummits #61.

    "Here in Industrial America, we eat a lot of industrial products masquerading as real food, and like the bees and the amphibians, we sicken.

    And with our sickened bodies we have developed equally sickened minds, and our social structures reflect this."

    spot on.


    blunderbunny #64.

    (quick reply, is getting late)

    "Sadly wind is just not man or indeed woman enough for the job, it's simply not efficient enough, air's really not thick enough and the wind itself is just not constant enough."

    shouldn't be a problem really since we need to utilise the full range of alternatives, I think we're all agreed that putting all one's eggs in one basket is bad karma anyhow.

    I really do like the idea of 'hydrothermal' -- essentially a stirling engine powered by the water's temperature gradient, cheap & mechanically simple.

    re. Norwegian model. would that be useful for de-salination? fresh water will be a(nother) source for conflict in the near future IMO.

    re. Thorium Reactors -- shorter half-life, v nice, shame we cannot use them for our nefarious aims (== breeding weapongrade uranium). ;)

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  • 66. At 04:06am on 22 Jan 2010, Markorion wrote:

    That bees need diverse pollen to be healthy, is that such a surprise. If you ate carrots and carrots alone, you would die fairly rapidly. All organisms need balanced diets appropriate to their kind.

    So policy prescriptions and laws for incorporating protection of biodiversity of plants and associated ecosystems into any form of land management across Britain and the rest of the EU and financial incentives for any landowner(including all gardeners)to increase the biodiversity on their properties might help pollinators of all kinds.

    Also adequate assessment of the toxicity of many chemicals that impact pollinators leading to outlawing of those that are not specific to the pests they are applied to would be good start.

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  • 67. At 04:14am on 22 Jan 2010, Tenney Naumer wrote:


    Excellent article. Did you also run across any research that mentioned any effects from the shorter winters?

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  • 68. At 07:46am on 22 Jan 2010, MangoChutney wrote:

    @manysummits

    you really should start reading the alternative view to hansen, monbiot etc to get a little balance in your understanding and challenge yourself

    /mango

    ps yes i do read monbiot and realclimate plus other pro-agw's including Richard

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  • 69. At 08:40am on 22 Jan 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    bee happy

    BBC Gardeners World bee plants


    Spring flowers
    Bluebell, bugle, crab apple, daffodil, flowering cherry and currant, forget-me-not (Myosotis), hawthorn, hellebore (Helleborus corsicus, 
H. foetidus), pulmonaria, pussy willow, rhododendron, rosemary, viburnum, thrift (Armeria maritima).



    Early-summer flowers
    Aquilegia, astilbe, campanula, comfrey, everlasting sweet pea (Lathyrus latifolius), fennel, foxglove, geranium, potentilla, snapdragon, stachys, teasel, thyme, verbascum.



    Late-summer flowers
    Angelica, aster, buddleia, cardoon, cornflower (Centaurea), dahlia (single-flowered), delphinium, eryngium, fuchsia, globe thistle (Echinops), heather, ivy, lavender, penstemon, scabious, sedum, Verbena bonariensis.

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  • 70. At 09:04am on 22 Jan 2010, Jack Frost wrote:

    58. At 11:32pm on 21 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    "Jack's Extraordinary Reaction, Kool?"

    _________________________________________

    Listen pal, when someone likens people that disagree with the AGW theory as having a form of cancer I take offence. Have experienced the filthy desease peronally.

    Oh and thanks for the 'JERK' comment.

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  • 71. At 09:29am on 22 Jan 2010, blunderbunny wrote:

    @Jack Frost #70

    I have to agree with Jack here, I really didn't appreciate Maria's inference that I was in need of being cured of my beliefs or equating me to a cancer, a disease that has taken my father.

    If some of you wish to secure or occupy the moral high ground, then that unfortunately comes with certain responsibilities.

    Responsiblities, that simply were not met in Maria's recent post.

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  • 72. At 12:11pm on 22 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    Jack Frost #70.

    "Have experienced the filthy desease peronally."

    so have many others, some of whom blog here; none of them resorts to your low & personal attack style comment.

    further, I've a thing about censorship, I believe the record should speak for itself, I've no time for such, ah, jerks? (assuming that you had #55 referred (who else?, why else?))

    'pal'? don't become too familiar mister, would not want to know you if my life depended on it.

    ps. 'filthy' disease. strange choice of adjective, the kind of language religious types like to appropriate. really quite interesting.


    blunderbunny #71.

    your family, my family, some of the people we converse with on this blog -- millions around the world.

    to take this one post (#55) and go from there to say ""I find you and your comments totally and utterly disgusting."" is indefensible; I've not much time for Maria Ashot's writing (too deferential for my liking) but I understand she too knows a thing or two about personal hardships; anyway, I stand by my comment characterising (if that's the right word) that man.

    btw (and FWIW), #65 ought to have read 'plutonium' not 'uranium', spent a couple of hours last night reading up on stuff, discovered that (a) uranium can be produced from thorium (albeit not economially), and that the major stumbling block to thorium usage appears to be the reproccesing/refinement step (due to USA 'concerns'?).

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  • 73. At 12:19pm on 22 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    #72, cont'd.

    "..Maria's inference that I was in need of being cured of my beliefs or equating me to a cancer."

    from memory, she likened flawed thinking to cancer, very sure it wasn't you the person, not sure she was talking about your thinking exclusively; this is the very problem with censorship, I does remove 'the evidence' from public scrutiny.

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  • 74. At 2:13pm on 22 Jan 2010, blunderbunny wrote:

    @jr4412 #65

    Re: Osmotic power and de-salination

    Yep, very, very similar to desalination:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osmotic_power

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_osmosis

    Irrigation and getting enough drinkable water to everyone has always been a problem, especially in some of out more extreme environments the Gulf States and parts of the Middle East, Africa, India and Latin America.

    Desalination plants certainly have a role in coastal areas and it may become more and more necessary to pump the water some of the land locked areas to dams/reservoirs etc for storage and re-distribution. But that’s a lot of water to move around and as costal areas tend to be at lower level than land locked ones, you can't get a free ride from gravity.

    I don't think that it's normally considered a very green thing to do, but given our changing population and demographics (A tribesman, for instance, may not feel the need to shower or bathe every day, but a business man or office worker might want to) it's really not an option, not to - forgive the double negative.


    @jr4412 #72

    As to thorium, yep again you're right, there are some proliferation/treaty issues with it, but the plutonium could be useful for space exploration, various agreements and treaties permitting. There was talk of producing self contained plug-and-play reactor units, I'm not sure what became of that and in terms of concrete plans, I think that India are looking at setting up some commercial thorium reactors.

    Whatever happens, energy wise you're going to need a mix of things to ensure long term energy supplies. Eventually, we could end up with Fusion reactors and Orbital Solar Collectors (A favourite of a certain poit on this list), but these are long term future possibilities.

    Poit’s quite right when he points out that we are on a technological cusp, you may not recognize the world in twenty years time and it's important to understand that when you're looking forwards to and planning for, your future energy needs.

    You never know, cold fusion might make a last minute dash for glory, research has been quietly bubbling (pun intended) away now for a while. The might also be some ground to be made in bubble fusion and there's always the possibility that someone may find a way of extracting zero point energy. Eventually, you may even end up using black holes for power, who knows the Universe is our mollusc/bi-valve of preference.

    Back to biodiversity, as pointed out previously, simple changes to land use and husbandry can make very positive differences. It really isn't all that complicated, awareness is the key and it's really here where the green movement should be leading the way. Protecting, managing and preserving are what it’s all about.

    I think that the green movement has basically shot itself in the foot.

    After the hysteria and recriminations over global warming have died away, it’s going to be very, very difficult for the green movement to exert any political pressure, on anyone.

    That's my two penneth worth.

    Finally, on Maria, it's really just a case of poorly chosen language.

    But for the record, I definitely do not consider myself in need of curing, I possibly need a beer at this moment in time or failing that a strong black coffee, but no cure, unless you’ve got a bit of ointment for my knee on you?

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  • 75. At 5:18pm on 22 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    blunderbunny #74.

    again, sorry if you were left with the impression that I might have abandoned this strand, and thanks for caring about what my thoughts are regarding the issues.

    "Desalination plants certainly have a role in coastal areas and it may become more and more necessary to pump the water some of the land locked areas to dams/reservoirs etc for storage and re-distribution. But that’s a lot of water to move around and as costal areas tend to be at lower level than land locked ones, you can't get a free ride from gravity."

    and the pumps will need to be powered, yes; given that so much potable water is used (wasted!) on things like washing cars and keeping the putting greens green, and in various industrial/manufacturing contexts, I think we can make some difference simply by changing our priorities, the shortfall will have to be made up by desalination. the problem (I think) will be getting the investment now to (a) build up capacity and (b) improve efficieny of the process(es) involved -- as you say, the Norwegian plant is a demonstrator, nowhere near good enough yet to meet demand.

    thorium/plutonium -- to be frank, nuclear is my least favourite, even coal is to be preferred. my main problem are the by-products (bombs and DU shells) and the long-term aspect -- as yet not addressed -- of safe waste disposal. for now there seems to be no way of avoiding nuclear power, still..

    "..Orbital Solar Collectors (A favourite of a certain poit on this list).."

    two BIG problems with those: maintenance (having to climb the gravity-well everytime a fuse blows ;)) and, more importantly, how do you get the power down to earth? microwaves, uh, no thank you. laser, similar concerns to microwaves.

    no, I think we need to be smarter about utilising the oceans, both in thermal and tidal contexts.

    cold fusion -- I downloaded 'A philosophical approach to cold fusion' by Dr. Jan Marwan some months ago (15 page pdf, easy to find via Google). interesting but a looooooong way to go yet.

    "..we are on a technological cusp, you may not recognize the world in twenty years time.."

    desperately trying not to give in to the cynic in me, in twenty years our technological culture will have hit the buffers, IMO, some wealthy enclaves with power surrounded by the remnants of humanity in rags.

    "Back to biodiversity, as pointed out previously, simple changes to land use and husbandry can make very positive differences. ... Protecting, managing and preserving are what it’s all about."

    I agree but think that the industrial complexes (especially food manufacture) will act to prevent a return to medieval/pre-industrial methods of common sense food production; they will point to the ever increasing numbers of people and continue to argue that without them we're up the creek without a paddle (when, in actuality, it is the other way around; three cheers for propaganda and deference to authority)

    "I think that the green movement has basically shot itself in the foot.
    After the hysteria and recriminations over global warming have died away, it’s going to be very, very difficult for the green movement to exert any political pressure, on anyone."

    not so sure it was the Greens who did all of the shooting. :-(

    as you say, the movement is virtually discredited now and I keep asking -- who stands to benefit the most from this?

    (sorry, no ointments, but you'd be welcome to black coffe should you find yourself in (East) Dorset some day. ;))

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  • 76. At 5:20pm on 22 Jan 2010, paul scarf wrote:

    I think humans may be passing on disease. Most times it seems we start counting populations, touching and measuring intensely, then the observed start faltering. I bet it's the same small bunch of scientists frog fondling.

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  • 77. At 3:53pm on 24 Jan 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @jr4412 #44

    "business as usual"

    There's "business as usual" and there's "business as usual". I consistently argue from the approach that I want "business as usual lite" - i.e., "business as usual" with all the nasty bits cut out.

    What constitutes "nasty" is of course up for debate, and needs the same scrutiny that we (the general public) apply to the powerful.

    That might sound like a cop out. But done properly it is hard work, because powerful vested interests take advantage of momentum as well as abusing their power. And this approach has delivered progress in the past.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carta#Rights_still_in_force_today

    Besides the alternative is reinventing civilisation from scratch.

    "the collective intelligence that we humans so evidently lack"

    There is much in our history to depress. But there is also much in our history to inspire. I have always interpreted your posts and your presence here to mean that you had come across both.

    Don't give up on us yet. It ain't over until the fat lady sings.

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  • 78. At 4:27pm on 24 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #77.

    not a cop out, unduly (from my perspective) optimistic.

    "Don't give up on us yet. It ain't over until the fat lady sings."

    :-)

    I'm not sure how but I will try to find the time to engage in this looming/lengthy (!!) discussion properly, give me a little time.

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  • 79. At 6:12pm on 24 Jan 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @jr4412 #78

    "optimistic"

    You might not characterise a full exposition of my views as "optimistic".

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  • 80. At 00:30am on 25 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #77, #79.

    "business as usual"

    you are following the goings-on on the current blog I take it?

    the 'sheeple' (LOVE this addition to my vocabulary) are bleating away, all pious 'yes but the science is dodgy' and 'the warmists want to destroy our lifestyle' -- dispiriting.

    optimism, or lack thereof.

    so far I've read in your posts method and well-informedness and have enjoyed the (bordering on clinical) precision; I came away with the impression of optimism because the tone has been constructive/doable/etc. care to give a keyword synopsis of your 'pessimistic side'?

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  • 81. At 02:39am on 25 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #77.

    "..needs the same scrutiny that we (the general public) apply to the powerful."

    but do we?

    generally, we're aware of high profile politicians (ie who's minister for this or that), and business 'leaders' (like the ill-fated 'Fred the Shred') but, who are the majority shareholders, the actual owners?

    then there are differences (in our (access to) knowledge) depending on the industry; easy enough to find detailed information about, say, Southern Electric, but BAE Systems Land Systems Munitions?

    and when you start looking into the background of some of the issues, things become murky rather quickly.

    the media, on the whole, are not helpful because investigative journalism is often fraught with danger -- to the investigators; our media love to report, speculate and 'illuminate' the background when the victim is a foreign national (like Anna Politkovskaya), but is happy enough to serve up the crazed individual pap when it is 'one of our own', even when the evidence doesn't stack up. go figure.

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  • 82. At 01:04am on 26 Jan 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @jr4412 #81

    "same scrutiny that we (the general public) apply to the powerful"

    Yes, badly worded. Should have been

    "same scrutiny that we (the general public) apply, or should apply, to the powerful"

    or

    "same scrutiny that some of us amongst the general public try to apply to the powerful"

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  • 83. At 01:15am on 26 Jan 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @jr4412 #80

    "care to give a keyword synopsis of your 'pessimistic side'"

    No. Not here. Not without a lot of careful thought. I will say that any optimism you see is real but it is only one side of a coin. And I refer you to my comment about history in #77.

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  • 84. At 05:15am on 27 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    JaneBasinstoke #77.

    "But there is also much in our history to inspire."

    wouldn't deny it, but I/we do not live in history, we live now. and post-WWII, what can you think of as insprirational (apart from a moonwalk)?

    legislation is used to stifle innovation and development, legislation is used to curb personal freedom and privacy, there hasn't been a single day (since September 1945) where there wasn't some war waged in the world, the 'cold war' has been superseded by a New World Order (how else could extraordinary renitions flights ever have taken place?), etc.

    no inspriration in recent history, as far as I can tell.

    "Besides the alternative is reinventing civilisation from scratch."

    perhaps that would be for the best; Ghandi thought (Western) civilisation would be a good idea, and Darkus Howe said in a recent interview that CCTV culture is the end of civilisation, a point of view that can be argued with some justification.

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  • 85. At 05:26am on 27 Jan 2010, M Bergman wrote:

    Oh, well if it's that difficult I guess we'd better let everything die, then. You can't expect people to give up their lawns or their lawn chemicals. You can't expect us all to start growing and eating more kinds of foods... unless of course you are implying that we could go the same route as the bees, and for the same reasons...

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  • 86. At 05:47am on 27 Jan 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    M Bergman #85.

    "You can't expect us all to start growing and eating more kinds of foods.."

    why not?


    #84, correction.

    managed to mangle your tag, and also 'extraordinary rendition flights'.

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  • 87. At 4:18pm on 27 Jan 2010, StanleyRIP wrote:

    On the question of biodiversity Blunderbunny's friends have given him/her some basic ideas, but they're not good enough, and they're not all right. Thinning out the forests? Well, OK, but what about Three-Toed and White-Backed Woodpeckers which need old growth woodland to survive? And the basic problem is that all the measures needed to improve bio-diversity need land, and there is less and less land available.

    Some of the other comments are frankly risible. To suggest that Bees can simply find 'other sources of nectar' is just daft. It's the kind of argument that allows us to just keep chipping away at, for example, coastal salt-marshes in the UK because the birds will just go somewhere else; well, eventually (or even very soon now) there will be nowhere else for them to go.

    And on the AGW line; in this kind of thing you should always follow the money. Which, by the way, is not with the IPCC. The money is in a place much nearer and dearer to a certain kind of person's heart. Their own pockets. The skeptics and deniers have sadly been duped, because there are a lot of very rich people in the USA and the Uk who don't like paying taxes. It's not about reducing profits for oil, its not about money for research grants, it's just about tax. Some people don't like taxes, and they will move heaven and earth to stop any attempt to increase them. So we get a smear campaign and media dirty tricks (right-wing media by the way, the anti-tax lot) and a whole host of well meaning 'free-thinkers' who think that if they don't believe the government they will get to the truth. well, last year was one of the warmest on record, and the last decade was the warmest yet. We'll see what happens over the next five years.

    I don't think AGW is yet directly responsible for bio-diversity loss, and to me it's very much the lesser of the two issues. We can live with a warmer planet, it's very debatable whether we could live with the kind of impoverished ecology we seem to be heading for,

    John,

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  • 88. At 5:07pm on 10 Dec 2010, Beekeeperman wrote:

    I think there are so many aspects of ecology in our world that are out of balance that it will take many, many years of study to understand why our world is losing so many honey bee colony's. Beekeeping is just one of the issues that need continued study. I once personally saw a small pond that almost every frog in it had an extra leg. This pond was in a remote location with very little possibility of pesticides causing the problem. Our world needs everyone to begin to see the whole picture, instead of just looking at small sections of the picture.

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  • 89. At 5:29pm on 10 Dec 2010, MangoChutney wrote:

    if you can link beekeeping to man made global warming, you will almost certainly get a huge grant to study the issue

    ;)

    /Mango

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