Common Pesticide Makes Honey Bees Picky Eaters

A new study offers further evidence about the dangerous effects of pesticides on honey bees. Biologists at the University of California at San Diego have found that a commonly used crop pesticide makes honey bees picky eaters and also makes them reduce the number of waggle dances they perform. Waggle dances are how the bees communicate the location of a food source; bees exposed to the pesticide performed four to ten times fewer dances.

Indeed, as Daren Eiri, a graduate student and the first author of the study in the Journal of Experimental Biology, says, some bees simply stopped performing waggle dances altogether after exposure to pesticides.

The chemical in question is imidacloprid, which is a type of neonicotinoid — which has been linked to bees’ deaths. Imidacloprid has come under increasing scrutiny in the US and is banned for use in some crops in some parts of Europe. James Nieh, a professor of biology at UC San Diego who also authored the study, notes in Science Daily that, in 2006, imidacloprid was the sixth most commonly used pesticide in California. Besides being used in agriculture, it is also used in home gradens.

Read more…

The Environment Is Dead: Long Live Mother Nature

Environmentalism’s failure raises key questions in moving forward

“Environmentalism has failed” is a statement that deserves attention. It comes from famed environmentalist David Suzuki marking 50 years since Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring,helped spark the modern environmental movement.Clouded Earth. (Wikimedia Commons / Stephen Slade Tien)

Suzuki’s recent essay,Environmentalism Has Failed: On Adopting a Biocentric Viewpoint, on the fundamental failure of environmentalism is ominous. The world faces not only environmental calamities such as deforestation, coral reef depletion, and freshwater shortages, it is also mired in economic crises and harsh political realities. Despite the promise of “Arab Springs” and the global Occupy movement, we are increasingly in planetary peril. Throughout his life, David Suzuki has been a leading educator on planetary health; his conclusion about the environmental movement’s failure must be agonizing. Perhaps that’s why his blog offered no new way forward.

What now?

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World News – Study: Plastic in ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ increases 100-fold

Mario Aguilera / Scripps Institution of Oceanography

SEAPLEX researchers encounter a large ghost net with tangled rope, net, plastic, and various biological organisms during a 2009 expedition in the Pacific gyre. Matt Durham (seen wearing a blue shirt) is pictured with Miriam Goldstein.

By Ian Johnston, msnbc.com

The amount of plastic trash in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” has increased 100-fold during the past 40 years, causing “profound” changes to the marine environment, according to a new study.

Scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego found that insects called “sea skaters” or “water striders” were using the trash as a place to lay their eggs in greater numbers than before. Read more…

 

Tar Sands Production In America Is Closer Than You Think

Before long the tar sands issue won’t be just about imports from Canada via pipeline.

Utah, which has never met a dirty fuel it didn’t love, has been encouraging efforts to develop a home-grown tar sands industry. Construction on a project located on state lands in the eastern part of the state could begin by the end of the year, according to a story in Environment and Energy Publishing’sEnergy Wire:

“It’s not just something that’s up in Canada,” Utah Tar Sands Resistance member Raphael Cordray told E&E. “People don’t know it’s here in Utah. Our goal is to get the citizens of Utah to recognize that there’s a proposed tar sands site in Utah that could become the first commercial site in America, and what is at stake.” Read more…

Thich Nhat Hanh: Connect With and Love Mother Earth to Heal the Planet

“We need a real awakening”

– Common Dreams staff

Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk, peace activist and scholar, says that we must see the connection between the Earth and ourselves, and that we must fall back in love with Earth in order to heal the planet.

Guardian editor Jo Confino interviewed the 86-year-old at his Plum Village retreat center. Confino writes:

Thay, as [Thich Nhat Hanh] is known to his many thousands of followers, sees the lack of meaning and connection in peoples’ lives as being the cause of our addiction to consumerism and that it is vital we recognise and respond to the stress we are putting on Earth if civilisation is to survive.

Thay believes that seeing the environment as separate from ourselves is the problem; change can only come when we move beyond that dualistic way of thinking:

“You carry Mother Earth within you,” says Thay. “She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment.

“In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer. In that kind of relationship you have enough love, strength and awakening in order to change your life. […]

“Fear, separation, hate and anger come from the wrong view that you and the earth are two separate entities, the Earth is only the environment. You are in the centre and you want to do something for the Earth in order for you to survive. That is a dualistic way of seeing.

“So to breathe in and be aware of your body and look deeply into it and realise you are the Earth and your consciousness is also the consciousness of the earth. Not to cut the tree not to pollute the water, that is not enough.” Read more…

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Free Your (Eco) Mind

Gradually it’s dawned on me: We humans are creatures of the mind. We perceive the world according to our core, often unacknowledged, assumptions. They determine, literally, what we can see and what we cannot. Nothing so wrong with that, perhaps—except that, in this crucial do-or-die moment, we’re stuck with a mental map that is life-destroying.                                                          (Photo: Daniel Valle)

 And the premise of this map is lack—not enough of anything, from energy to food to parking spots; not enough goods and not enough goodness. In such a world, we come to believe, it’s compete or die. The popular British writer Philip Pullman says, “we evolved to suit a way of life which is acquisitive, territorial, and combative” and that “we have to overcome millions of years of evolution” to make the changes we need to avoid global catastrophe.

 If I believed that, I’d feel utterly hopeless. How can we align with the needs of the natural world if we first have to change basic human nature? Read more…

Happy Earth Day 2012

Happy Earth Day! I hope everyone did something nice for their Mother today.

There is a great need for the introduction of new values in our society, where bigger is not necessarily better, where slower can be faster, and where less can be more. ~Gaylord Nelson