exlegelibertas asked: I read another article this morning about hive disruption syndrome and about bee-dieoffs in general. The article framed the issue in a wider context of a 'sixth extinction.' As a layman I'm generally sold on these theories, despite their grim outlook. Assuming (as I do) that they're probably the result of anthropogenic climate change, what do you think the proper adaptation methods will be, considering the necessity of honeybees in pollinating most crops around the world?
Great question and I did a little research for you (learned a lot, so thanks!).
The so-called “sixth extinction” theory has been around for a while. I’d avoid reading about it, since it’s all doom. Still, adaptation strategies for bees and other pollinators are only now being taken seriously.
Keep in mind that environmentalism is ‘stewardship’ - it requires long-term thinking, far beyond your life-time. Solutions take time and decades of research and testing. So, managing impacts are part of a long transition…
Most adaptation strategies and responses are part of bigger plans that deal with ecosystems and agriculture, so they’re more likely to be a chapter in larger documents. Here a few resources:
Hope that helps!
Free documentary: Salmon Confidential.
A new book, Novel Ecosystems, edited by Richard Hobbs of the University of Western Australia and others, shows how many superficially natural ecosystems are heavily influenced by the introduction of alien species. Whether intentional or accidental, most introductions seem to have human origins.
This is disconcerting. “Over large parts of the globe, the ‘wilderness’ that people refer back to never existed,” says one of the book’s authors, Michael Perring, also of the University of Western Australia.
Nature has always had open borders for alien species on the move. Those itinerants may have been a driving force of evolution. But human activity has dramatically increased their travel options. We move many deliberately, as commercial crops or domesticated animals, for instance. Today, others can hitch a ride on ship hulls or in ballast tanks, aboard planes or on the wheels of trucks or the backs of domesticated animals. This phenomenon seems to have been going on for much longer than we sometimes imagine.
Heartbreaking and absolutely infuriating. Click through for article and video.
A dog walks on cracked ground at the Las Canoas dam, some 59 km north of the capital Managua on April 26, 2013.. A large area of the dam has been dry since last February, as most of its water have been used by rice farmers for their crops, affecting around hundreds of peasants living in the area, according to local media.
[Credit : Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters]
Even though crops may fail again, landowners are shielded by taxpayers from the full burden of their bad bets
Drought helped drive the cost of crop insurance to a record $17.2 billion, the US Department of Agriculture said April 29. The government covers more than 60 per cent of payouts, spending about seven times more than a $1.4 billion program that helps farmers adapt to climate change.
The subsidies encouraging farmers to ignore addressing extreme weather are harder to justify when automatic budget cuts remove 5 per cent from most US programs and lawmakers prepare to craft a new five-year farm law.
“We have given farmers incentives to take on more risk rather than give them an incentive to create a permanent solution,” said Vincent Smith, a professor of agricultural economics at Montana State University in Bozeman. “You want to move toward programs that allow them to alleviate problems before the fact.”
Disaster declarations by the USDA have become commonplace over the past decade, as farmers face the disruption of traditional growing seasons.
Like basmati rice? There may be less of it soon. Climate change is altering monsoon seasons in India, meaning less rice and more corn is being planted.
The Berkshires are a small mountain chain and community located in western Mass and Connecticut (near me!). It’s widely known for its picturesque New Englandy towns with lots of arts, music, hiking, skiing, hunting, fishing, apple picking, and and nice things.
The local paper, called the Berkshire Eagle, posted this really well written piece on how the economy will be impacted by climate change. The locals have not been responding well to the article, but I admire it for being as straightforward as you can get.
By the end of the century, the Berkshire County economy — much like the global economy — may be forever altered by the effects of climate change. Some local economic changes have already begun in response to impacts expected from climate change in the coming decades.
Land-use planners and policy specialists in the insurance industry are preparing for changes likely to be brought on by warmer temperatures and more severe weather events. Local farmers and business owners are already looking to their future, many doubtful about the climate change concept, but still determined to build revenue streams that will withstand climate changes or compensate for weather-generated losses.
In one example of a specific local economic effect likely to result from climate change, Cameron Wake, associate professor with the Institute of Earth, Oceans and Space at the University of New Hampshire and a lead author of the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists, had a dire assessment of the local ski industry: “By the end of the century, the only ski areas that remain viable [in the Northeast] will be in the western mountains of Maine.”
(Reuters) - U.S. environmental regulators are failing to protect honey bees and their role in pollinating important food crops, and should immediately suspend use of some toxic insecticides tied to the widespread deaths of the bees, a lawsuit filed on Thursday charges.
On Thursday four professional beekeepers and five environmental and consumer groups said they would try to get a court to order the EPA to take action. The groups filed their lawsuit against the EPA in the Northern District Court of California, demanding that the regulatory agency suspend the use of pesticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam.
The pesticides, which are part of a class of systemic insecticides known as neonicotinoids, are absorbed by plants and transported throughout a plant’s vascular tissue, making the plant potentially toxic to insects, the groups said.
Clothianidin and thiamethoxam first came into heavy use in the mid-2000s, at the same time beekeepers started observing widespread cases of colony loses, leaving beekeepers unable to recoup their losses, they said.
“Beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups have demonstrated time and time again over the last several years that EPA needs to protect bees. The agency has refused, so we’ve been compelled to sue,” said Peter Jenkins, a lawyer for the Center for Food Safety who is representing the coalition of plaintiffs.
The groups said they have obtained records that show several “legal violations” by EPA officials connected to the approvals for clothianidin and thiamethoxam products.
The case also challenges the EPA’s use of “conditional registrations,” which expedite the approval process for chemical companies seeking to bring new products to market. Since 2000, over two-thirds of pesticide products, including clothianidin and thiamethoxam, have been brought to market as conditional registrations, the groups said.
I don’t see the suit being won, but will be interesting to follow during 2013.
From the Atlantic:
Texas’s Fertilizer Plant Explosion
Last week, while media attention was focused on Boston, a massive explosion took place at the West Fertilizer Company, in the small town of West, Texas. The blast damaged 150 buildings, including three of West’s four schools, killed 14 people and injured more than 160 others.
In recent years, keeping the world’s coffee drinkers supplied has become increasingly difficult: The spread of a deadly fungus that has been linked to global warming and rising global temperatures in the tropical countries where coffee grows has researchers scrambling to create new varieties of coffee plants that can keep pace with these new threats without reducing quality.
Buzzkill? How Climate Change Could Eventually End Coffee
U.S. farmers converted more than 1.3 million acres of grassland into corn and soybean fields between 2006 and 2011.
- Corn and soy wiping out America’s grasslands at fastest pace since the 1930s.
Update: This is more about America’s heritage landscapes - grasslands - and less about particular crops. Grasslands provide important habitat for countless species. President Theodore Roosevelt protected millions of acres of grasslands by including them in several National Parks. Converting them to crops destroys habitat for animals, changes and poisons the soil, pollutes rivers, devalues people’s properties, among numerous other environmental harms. Destroying nature for a quick buck is not the right direction for America’s future. The situation is worse when climate change is factored in.
And, the US Forest Service has an excellent overview of how grasslands are threatened by agriculture and climate change.
Winter snow storms not enough to recharge soil and aquifers to end historic drought. 2013 drought forecast looking grim.
The historic drought that laid waste to America’s grain and corn belt is unlikely to ease before the middle of this year, a government forecast warned on Thursday.
The annual spring outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted hotter, drier conditions across much of the US, including parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, where farmers have been fighting to hang on to crops of winter wheat.
The three-month forecast noted an additional hazard, however, for the midwest: with heavy, late snows setting up conditions for flooding along the Red and Souris rivers in North Dakota.
“It’s a mixed bag of flooding, drought and warm weather,” Laura Furgione, the deputy director of NOAA’s weather service told a conference call with reporters.
Last year produced the hottest year since record keeping began more than a century ago, with several weeks in a row of 100+degree days. It also brought drought to close to 65% of the country by summer’s end.
The cost of the drought is estimated at above $50bn, greater than the economic damage caused by hurricane Sandy. The drought area has now fallen back somewhat to 51% of the country.
But even the heavy snowfalls some parts of the country have seen were not enough to recharge the soil, the NOAA scientists said.
Via The Guardian
One year ago National Geographic posted this open letter from eleven respected scientists alarmed by the prospect of a massive palm oil plantation in a global biodiversity hot spot. Close to 2 million hectares of Congo Basin rainforest are already earmarked for destruction by palm oil plantations.
We are witness to extinction.