Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Warmie Psychic: Honeybees To Die!

Wooo Wooo Warmie, the global warming psychic, has a new mystical revelation: Soon Warmies around the world will begin blaming the mysterious deaths of honeybees on climate change.

How does he know this? Well, because he reads The UK Independent:

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.

The alarm was first sounded last autumn, but has now hit half of all American states. The West Coast is thought to have lost 60 per cent of its commercial bee population, with 70 per cent missing on the East Coast.

CCD has since spread to Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. And last week John Chapple, one of London's biggest bee-keepers, announced that 23 of his 40 hives have been abruptly abandoned.

End of humor; this is actually quite serious. CCD is not caused by global warming; all are in solid agreement on that because the phenomenon is occurring in a wide range of climates and no temperature correlation has stood up to scientific testing.

The phenomenon is very troubling because nearly all our crops depend on honeybees for pollination; without them, we're in big, big trouble. The article quotes Albert Einstein saying that without honeybees, humans would have four years left.

The Independent story posits a possible cause for CCD, and it's on the one hand hackneyed and on the other quite troubling:
[S]ome scientists suggest that our love of the mobile phone could cause massive food shortages, as the world's harvests fail.

They are putting forward the theory that radiation given off by mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the more bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world - the abrupt disappearance of the bees that pollinate crops. Late last week, some bee-keepers claimed that the phenomenon - which started in the US, then spread to continental Europe - was beginning to hit Britain as well.

The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up.

The evidence is one study performed at Landau University has found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby. Even its author, Dr Jochen Kuhn, is cautious about overstating the finding, saying it "could" provide a "hint" of a possible cause.

But mobile phone radiation and EMF radiation from power lines have long been thought to cause nastiness, and scientists have tried mightily to prove anything -- funded, I'm sure, by class action attorneys who are just itching for the next case of Big Tobacco proportions. As yet, they can prove nothing despite Herculean efforts to do so. In this case, we've had mobile phones for years now, but CCD is a recent occurrence, so it's suspect.

Still, messing with the navigation of a bee is a far cry from causing a tumor in Aunt Bea, so I'm open. Besides, the theory seems easy enough to disprove: How are the bees doing in East Nowhereistan, where a cell signal has never ventured? If they're abandoning their hives too, the trial attorneys will have to wait for another day.

Whatever the cause, it seems much more important to pour research and resources into this than into global warming "fixes." If we get this one wrong, the earth may just warm (or not) without us.

hat-tip: memeorandum

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