Friday, March 15, 2013

Good News: the Bees Have Returned (at least to our yard)

Ultimately, our one meaningful role on the planet is to be attentive caretakers rather than plunderers.


The good news in our yard has nothing to do with the stock market: the peach tree is blossoming and the honey bees are back. Those of you with fruit trees probably noticed the sharp decline of honey bees and bumblebees between 2006-2010. The absence was very noticeable and distressing in our small urban yard, which contains several fruit trees and a wide variety of flowers. For several years, we saw no bees or bumblebees at all.

The cause is known as colony collapse disorder, and like many other modern diseases, it does not have a single pathological or bacterial cause. It appears a combination of environmental stressors sets off a cascade of events that lead to weakened worker bees who are more susceptible to pests and pathogens. Commonly used pesticides (neonicotinoid pesticides) are bad news for bees.

Simply put, the toxic chemical soup of the modern world has overloaded the bees' immune response and left them susceptible to parasites and pathogens. The same can be said of many other species.

Like many other processes that have been industrialized and presumably placed under direct human control, the agribusiness of flowering trees that require pollination still depends on Nature, and the devastation of bee colonies has put a severe crimp in the human business of harvesting fruits, almonds, etc.

In areas of China that have become so polluted that the pollinating insects have vanished, farmers must laboriously hand-pollinate each blossom on each tree because our natural pollinator allies have been wiped out by human excess and mindless pursuit of "aggregate demand," i.e. wealth and growth at any cost.

Here is a photo I took a few days ago of our old peach treee:


We don't use pesticides in our yard and garden because we don't need them. This lightens the toxic load on the bees and other pollinators, which include a variety of other insects.

Though our plot of land in one of the most densely populated urban zones in America is a mere postage stamp in the larger world, we have over time added dozens of different types of flowering plants, with the express goal of providing year-round variety and beauty to human passersby, flowers for pollinators and seeds for birds.

As a result, I am confident that insects and birds alike view our small parcel as a sort of oasis in a flowerless concrete/asphalt desert.

This is a small thing in the larger world, but it is a real thing. It is not a phantom asset or a "wealth-building" task devoid of meaning.

Ultimately, our one meaningful role on the planet is to be attentive caretakers rather than plunderers. Each of us conserves resources for future generations or squanders them in a dozen small decisions each day. Our individual lives boil down to tending the soil, plants, animals and humans that are in our care, either by happenstance or intent, and lightening the load on the systems we share with the rest of life on Earth.

We must be mindful that abundance is relative: there may be a lot of coal and shale gas now, but how about in 500 years (the timeline of the Western Roman Empire), or 1,500 years (the timeline of the Eastern Roman Empire)? Is it wise to assume some future technology will magically replace fossil fuels without our needing to think about how we use present-day resources?

Fusion--limitless energy! It's been 5 years away from commercialization for 30 years. Even if fusion magically appeared tomorrow, that wouldn't help the bees. It isn't that easy, and thinking it is so doesn't make it so.

When we tire of the "news," manufactured or otherwise, and the absurdity of earning money to support a bizarre civilization constructed on debt and phantom assets, watching the bees industriously visit dozens of perfectly formed pink-tinted blossoms is a welcome antidote to the double-bind insanity of our Thanatos-drenched lifestyle.


NOTE TO RECENT BUYERS OF THE KINDLE EDITION OF "WHY THINGS ARE FALLING APART:" a recently uploaded edited file was corrupted and will not display correctly. I have uploaded a corrected version, so please delete and reload the book. I apologize for the inconvenience.


Things are falling apart--that is obvious. But why are they falling apart? The reasons are complex and global. Our economy and society have structural problems that cannot be solved by adding debt to debt. We are becoming poorer, not just from financial over-reach, but from fundamental forces that are not easy to identify or understand. We will cover the five core reasons why things are falling apart:

go to print edition1. Debt and financialization
2. Crony capitalism and the elimination of accountability
3. Diminishing returns
4. Centralization
5. Technological, financial and demographic changes in our economy

Complex systems weakened by diminishing returns collapse under their own weight and are replaced by systems that are simpler, faster and affordable. If we cling to the old ways, our system will disintegrate. If we want sustainable prosperity rather than collapse, we must embrace a new model that is Decentralized, Adaptive, Transparent and Accountable (DATA).

We are not powerless. Not accepting responsibility and being powerless are two sides of the same coin: once we accept responsibility, we become powerful.

Kindle edition: $9.95       print edition: $24 on Amazon.com
To receive a 20% discount on the print edition: $19.20 (retail $24), follow the link, open a Createspace account and enter discount code SJRGPLAB. (This is the only way I can offer a discount.)



Thank you, Robert C. ($50), for your massively generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.Thank you, Lakshmanan T. ($10), for your much-appreciated generous contribution to this site --I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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