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News Nuggets: Carbon, Pebble Mine & the Encyclopedia of Life

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Author: the Inkslinger

Here in the Northern Vermont Hinterlands, I’m preparing for a brief escape. A long weekend in the big city. Going on blind faith to see a little music. Catch a flick. Peruse the shops for weird Moroccan light fixtures. Eat some foods I can’t pronounce. Enjoy a few adult beverages. Should be just the thing to forestall cabin fever a bit longer. Cause it be getting crazy. 15 inches of new snow on the way to push us into the snowiest February ever and one of the top ten snowiest winters, which up here is really saying something. Gotta get out from under it for a bit. But before I go, here are a few interesting items of note from the news desk…

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Fit to Bee Tied

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Author: the Inkslinger

Our Sage of Scent, Eva Marie, sent us this great bee article
yesterday. It’s an excellent recounting of the general state of affairs where our pollinating friends are concerned.

It appears things are so broken so many ways it’s simply a wonder that honeybees survived this long without a major malfunction. That’s the what’s really surprising about colony collapse disorder. Not that it happened. But that it didn’t happen sooner.

We have really got to get away from the idea of agriculture as industry and find our way back to the wisdom that will reconnect our food to Earth’s great cycles and allow us to see it not as a product to be manufactured with ruthless efficiency but as an elemental force summoned from soil and air and rain and sun through a human/nature partnership. We must grow our food in a process that honors the mystery of it all and takes great care to work within the balance and harmony that makes life possible. If we don’t, the bees haven’t a chance. And neither do the species, certain bipedals included, that depend on them.

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Bee Line: Imidacloprid Is Da Culprit?

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Author: the Inkslinger

It wouldn’t surprise anyone (at least here) to find out that chemical poisoning is ultimately to blame for the strange epidemic of honeybee vanishings. That idea gets another boost today from new reports that researchers are zeroing in on the pesticide imidacloprid as the likely cause.

“Research has shown that in sublethal doses imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids can impair honeybees' memory and learning, as well as their motor activity and navigation. Recent studies have reported ``anomalous flying behavior'' in imidacloprid-treated bees, in which the workaholic insects simply fall to the grass or appear unable to fly toward the hive.”
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More on Bee-ing and Nothingness

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Author: the Inkslinger

Several interesting developments on the bee front in recent days. For one thing, it’s been gratifying to (finally) see the mainstream media pick up the story. Seems like it took forever, but the issue (and a fair amount of its seriousness) is at last being communicated by TV, newspapers, and other conventional media outlets. People are talking about it. Attention is being focused. That’s a good thing because that’s how action happens. If nobody knows or cares about a crisis, it generally isn’t treated like one.

So the public eye is opening on the fate of the honey bees. But you won’t yet find the real eye-opening news in USA Today or on CNN. Instead, what would seem to bee the big story can be found a report published on the Organic Consumers Association website from the Guerilla News Network.

It says that unlike their captive specially-bred cousins, organic bees doing fine. There are no reports of the so-called colony collapse disorder in organic hives. The scary weird die-off is only occurring among factory-farmed bees living in conventionally maintained hives

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The Unbearable Darkness of Bee-ing

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Author: the Inkslinger

We’re getting worried about the bees. And not just about the bees but about what the bees are trying to tell us.

If you haven’t heard, honeybees are mysteriously disappearing. Whole colonies just vanishing like some apian Roanoke. It’s deeply weird. All the worker bees in a hive fly off for a day’s work and never return. No bodies. No clues. No bees.

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Happy Earth Day! (Here’s To the Only Planet We’ve Got…)

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Author: the Inkslinger

It’s Earth Day. That annual rite of spring where everyone becomes an environmentalist for at least a moment or two. For those of us who prefer to wear the label year-round (and increasingly that’s most of us), it’s a fitting occasion to pause for a moment, get out the imaginary camera, and take a virtual snapshot of sorts of today’s moment in time.

Such photos can tell us more than might be thought. For the big picture itself can often be found hiding in the details that the smaller image captures. So as we open the shutter and capture the light, what does our Earth Day photo say? That people are talking. People are thinking. People are acting. Awareness is reaching critical mass. That, above all else, is the reason to celebrate. Change is arriving. Here are the latest clues:

Let’s begin with a simple question: Why Earth Day? Here are a million wonderful, beautiful, magnificent, miraculous reasons you won’t find anywhere else. And that’s literally only about the half of it.

Weird weather? Melting mountains? Perspiring permafrost? Soaring sea levels? Color me officially concerned. Which is why it’s heartening to find our fellow Americans at last waking up and smelling the climatological coffee.

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Update: Rainforest Wins Reprieve. Amazon to Be Un-Soy’ld for Two Years

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Author: the Inkslinger

According to news reports coming out of Brazil, the Amazon rainforest has been granted a stay of execution at the hands of soy bean growers. Responding to public protests and activist pressure, Cargill, Inc. and other major soy traders have declared that for the next two years they will stop buying soy from growers occupying newly deforested lands.

The decision should go a long way toward halting the clearing of rainforest for massive soy plantations. At least in the short term. If growers and potential growers know they won’t be able to sell their crops, they’ll have zero incentive to undertake the hard work of clearing tropical forest for new plantings.

As Jeffrey and Gregor discovered when they visited the region in June, soy farming has become perhaps the most destructive force in the Amazon basin. (Greenpeace has an excellent overview of the issue here. Be patient… it takes a minute or so to load.) The word that big international soy buyers will now refuse to tacitly fund this destruction is very welcome. It’s a temporary solution, of course, but it will buy some much needed time to (hopefully) put some meaningful permanent protections in place.

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Eating the Amazon

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Father Edilberto Sena, who Gregor and I visited last month in Santarem, Brazil, Is taking his fight to preserve the Amazon to the world stage. Check out this great story from Britain's newspaper, the Independent, on how Cargill is trying to eat the Amazon and how Father Sena and the local community are fighting back!

Greenpeace is working hard on this issue as well. You can find out what they've found out here.

After you're done all your reading for the day, you can write or call Warren Staley, Cargill Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, and Gregory Page, President and Chief Operating Officer, to tell them what you think of what they're up to. Here's where you'll find them:

Cargill, Inc.
PO Box 9300
Minneapolis, MN 55440-9300

1-800-227-4455

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Into the Amazon

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Author: Gregor

After two days in Rio, Jeffrey and I have made our way at last and with no small effort to the Amazon rainforest where we spent today flying over some of the devastated areas at its edge. We've managed to find a phone line and I'm able to get this audio log entry out. Tomorrow we head up river into the incredible curtain of green and the heart of the jungle. More then...

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