Category Archives: nature

The Last Americans

From Scientific American.com:

The gray-bearded, balding man sips coffee in the kitchen of his apartment in Brasília, Brazil. With a blank stare, he ponders the future of the three things to which he has dedicated his life: “Everything dies at its own time. The forest dies, with it die the Indians, with them die the sertanistas.” But at 67, Sydney Ferreira Possuelo acknowledges that the sertanistas, men who make a living out of protecting the isolated indigenous peoples in the Brazilian jungles, may be the first to go.

When people think about conservation, they think environment, animal or energy. But people conservation rarely comes to mind.

This little gem is about one of the last people skilled in the art of making first contact with indigenous tribes in South America and slowly introducing them to the outside world, or steering the outside world away from them.

Prime Directive for the Last Americans

Friday Science Class

Some goodies from NewScientist.com:

Mind Altering Media

Ya think?

Low salt diet prevents heart-attacks and strokes

A practice I should adhere to more often.

Biofuel plantations fuel strife in Uganda

*Sigh* The new Middle East?

Biofuel for US fighter jets?

Of course, it was only a matter of time before the military-industrial-congressional-complex profited from green tech.

HRT increases risk of dying from ovarian cancer

Must read for the gals.

Going down

I thought of the Aerosmith song when I saw this.

Got lots to do today, but I will check in periodically when time allows and if I find other interesting science stuff.

Go nuts.

Missing Bees Redux

From Clif, a frequent commenter here, Liberally Mirth and whitenoiseinsanity;

Imidacloprid effects on bee population;

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

They have known about this since 1994, but keep their pieholes shut for a few extra dollars profit, even if it destroys the food supplies right after their stock rises….

And this from Clif:

from a commenter at Sharon Astyks blog:

Mystery Disease? Sounds a lot like poison to me. The real mystery is why we are sitting by like timid dummies while the big corporations spin this one. Cell phones? Really?

I am a beekeeper in Central Massachusetts who read about Colony Collapse in February. Something in one of the reports reminded me of a description of how termites are said to be killed by a new class of pesticides known as neonicitinoids. I went to my local farmers’ coop, picked up labels from the various insecticide bottles and Googled the ingredients with ‘honeybees,’ ’sublethal’ and ‘organic.’ A product called ‘Merit’ containing the neuro-toxin ‘Imidacloprid’ came up as a soil treatment for fruit trees. Other products with other cute names were being advertised for use on turf to kill grubs (also earthworms.) The labels promise that all sorts of insects, including adult japanese beetles will be controlled for 12 months (read systemic.) Visit your local Walmart and garden center and you will find it on all the shelves. They sell more of it every year according to the Bayer Corporation. You remember Bayer, right? They gave us aspirin and other less pleasant products in WW I and WW II. More recently, BayerCropScience has given us the gift of genetically modified rice. You may have read about it.

‘Merit’ ‘Gaucho’ ‘BayerAdvanced’ ‘Admire,’ ‘Gaucho,’ ‘Genesis,’ ‘Platinum,’ ‘Provado,’ ‘Leverage,’ ‘Actara’ are catchy little trade names for Imidacloprid, a systemic insecticide that was banned in France after beekeepers staged an angry protest in Paris. Bayer CropScience paid many millions to the french beekeepers and voluntarily withdrew the product without admitting that it was the culprit. Vive La France! They take their food seriously. Shame on us. Shame on the EPA. Shame on the media for not even mentioning the history of the peoples fight against Imidacloprid in France. The more stories I hear about the mystery disease the sillier they get. Soon the media will begin to snicker at all of the alarmists who worry about GMO’s and cell towers. They will sigh, continue to wonder and finally forget about it. Already some are beginning to talk about how we can survive without bees as though it were just another problem like surviving without oil.

Imidacloprid is the most likely culprit in CCD, even thought there may be other contributing factors. This is the same class of stuff some of us put on our dogs and cats to kill fleas and ticks (see Fipronil and Frontline.) It is much less toxic to mammals than to invertebrates. ( I confess that the ticks at my place have tempted me to put it on my own neck.) Yesterday, I overheard a salesperson in the coop suggest to a customer that he put some on his chickens. What a wonderful idea. We can have it for breakfast in our locally produced eggs. This morning The Weather Channel carried a Bayer advertisement for Merit calling out to those of us who are “sick and tired of all those bugs.” If Imidacloprid were being discussed as a cause for CCD, you can be sure that the Weather Channel would be a little more concerned about those ads. That is why it is hardly ever mentioned by name. Instead, the generic term ‘pesticide’ is used in news discussions of CCD.

Direct poisoning of the bee population? This is serious business when you mess with an important life and death cycle like this in nature. Flowering plants and seeds have made this planet what it is since the days of the dinosaurs. Bees and other insects that transport pollen are not only necessary for flowering plants, but trees that blossom as well, apple and cherry just to name a couple. I’m not a plant biologist, so I’m sure the list is lengthy.

This has been my most popular thread of the week, I think I’ve gotten more hits on this subject than the rest combined. If anybody has more info and links on this, please pass them on.

Oh yeah, here’s a link to Bayer USA’s site where all the chemical stuff is for sale. If you can make heads or tails of it, let me know!   

Bayer CropScience