Oil and Honey

I can’t take the lying anymore. Perhaps this is what it felt like to be an adult and survive the disillusionment of  Watergate and Vietnam and the racism and sexism exposed during the Civil Rights movement. Maybe disillusionment is a relentless part of being a grown-up, no matter what the era holds. I only know that I’m sickened by all the hysteria over a community center being built blocks away from Ground Zero, 24% of Americans believing their Christian President is Muslim, and phony rape allegations being leveled against the Wikileaks guy when there are REAL problems going unaddressed.

The oil in the Gulf is a real problem. Our government released figures saying that only 26% of the oil remained in the Gulf a scant 2 weeks after releasing the record-breaking final number of 4.9 million barrels (206 million gallons) having gushed into the Gulf as a result of the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Within days of our government releasing that number, the University of Georgia, crunching the same data used by the government, said that it’s likely 79% of the oil remains. A University of Georgia pie-chart is worth a thousand words:

http://oilspill.uga.edu/wp-content/uploads/GA-Sea-Grant-Oil-Spill-Update-Presentation-20100817.pdf

I have vague childhood recollections of Watergate, the scandal of the American public being lied to by their government. It all seems quaint now to worry about things like election improprieties in comparison to poisoning a huge body of water that contains a chunk of our food supply and provides home and employment to millions of people. And yet, I see very little reporting on any of this. The government grossly misrepresented information that could literally kill off or chemically alter our food supply for an unpredictable amount of time.  Isn’t that a scandal? Isn’t that news?

For the record, there’s already a mosque near Ground Zero. The proposed building is a community center and it has no funding to break ground at this time. It’s not really a story. Our President is an American citizen who practices Christianity, though it is his inalienable right to practice any faith and run this country. My mother remembers the hysteria over JFK being Catholic and the idea that our President would have to answer to a foreign-born Pope. And the rape accusations against the Wikileaks leaker, Julian Assange, were withdrawn and have already left the headlines all within 24 hours of being issued, leading one to wonder if it was a failed ploy to discredit him in the press as he plans to continue publishing classified documents regarding the war in Afghanistan.

Let’s pretend it doesn’t matter that the government lies or about what or how often. The University of Florida’s preliminary findings suggest that dispersed oil has filled a deepwater canyon area, home to the phytoplankton that is the base of the Gulf’s food chain. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has evidence of a 22 mile long, 650 foot high oil plume that has remained for months up to 3,600 feet below the Gulf’s surface. The plume has been traveling southwest from the well-head at a rate of around 4 miles per day. For more:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/08/100819-gulf-oil-spill-bp-underwater-plume-science-environment/

And now, the BBC reports that Transocean, the owners of the  Deepwater Horizon oil rig, are alleging that BP refuses to provide information about the explosion. A lawyer for Transocean wrote to members of Obama’s team and of Congress, “BP has continued to demonstrate its unwillingness, if not outright refusal, to deliver even the most basic information to Transocean. This is troubling, both in light of BP’s frequently stated public commitment to openness and a fair investigation and because it appears that BP is withholding evidence in an attempt to prevent any other entity other than BP from investigating.

BP countered, saying, “We have been at the forefront of co-operating with various investigations commissioned by the US government and others into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.” I don’t even want to justify my outright rejection of any assurances BP has to offer after they’ve been caught in lie after lie after lie. If they told me the sky was blue, I’d check.

I’m going to try to ignore that the BBC, which represents the interests and opinions of BP’s native land, is reporting this story while, the American press, which should concern itself with the interests and opinions of our land, blows non-stories about mosques that are actually community centers and don’t have funding into full-on opinion wars. Not even Anderson Cooper is “keeping them honest” anymore, opting instead to devote half their program to Dr.Laura being a racist and feeling unprotected by the 1st amendment. Dr. Laura can say whatever she cares to, but the media doesn’t have to pay her for it. It’s not a bigger story than Transocean accusing BP of withholding documents or our government doctoring results about the damage done to the Gulf.

Shortly before the rig explosion, survey numbers about honeybees were released. You didn’t hear? Me either. At least a third of honeybees are dying annually. That’s an unsustainable rate. As recently as 2008-9, the rate was 23%. Every continent, with the exception of Australia, is suffering record losses in their bee communities. The industry surrounding honeybees generates $250 billion a year in commerce. Isn’t it a story worth reporting if an industry that large is being impacted at the source at an ever-increasing rate?

There are theories about the bees dying. Some say mites, others say pesticides, and still others say cell phones. A study detected 66 separate pesticides in one hive, 3/4 of which are known to be toxic. Another study revealed that 3 of 5 pollen and wax samples from 23 different states had at least 1 “systemic pesticide.” A systemic pesticide is a pesticide designed to permeate all parts of a plant.

As to cell phones, a study put a phone in a hive and turned it on 2 times a day for 15 minutes for 3 months. Honey production stopped during each 15 minute time period and the queen bee only laid 1/2 the eggs she normally would. Additionally, cell phones disrupts the bees’ navigation system. Many of the bees are thought to simply have gotten lost, unable to find their way home with legs full of collected pollen.

But this isn’t just a story of potential economic loss and higher prices for diminishing honey, bees pollenate 1/3 of our nation’s food supply. Think if 1/3 of cattle died or 1/3 of corn, wouldn’t that be a story? I recently spoke with someone who used to be a beekeeper. He said the honey business was incidental in comparison to farms hiring bee colonies to pollenate their crops. I had no idea farms had to hire bees. The USDA’s numbers reveal that there are 1/2 as many managed bee colonies as there were in the 1940’s though the demand is much higher than it was in that time.

Maybe it’s just me, but if I were the people paid to care for the public health and I thought there was even a chance that we were poisoning bees with pesticides, I’d look for alternatives. If I wondered if cell phones could interfere with the survival of bees, I’d at least make a PSA suggesting that we turn our phones off when not in use and declare farm areas a safety zone for bees with cell phones used for emergencies only. But I’m not in charge of the public health.

I’m disappointed in the media for focusing on topics more fit for high school lunch tables while our food supply is under attack on both land and water. I’m even more disappointed in the public servants of our for-the-people, by-the-people and of-the-people government who seem more interested in politics and profits than in the welfare of this nation. I’m proud to be an American and I believe in this country, but I’m finding it increasingly harder to believe in my government and that makes me sad.

1 Comment

Filed under Local Cuisine, Mama says, oil spill catastrophe

One response to “Oil and Honey

  1. Margaret

    -good read.. **Honeybee’s– The reports have been out there, BUT, most peole don’t pay attention to the Agg. reports or stats. We are an organic farm, getting ready to start a bee colony, once my lavender is in place.. (yes, I’ll share my lavender honey w/ you). the point being, they are disappearing at a frightening rate,and mysteriously so… rumours are every where.. the only answer is one yard, one farm at a time. MY bee’s will be as protected as I can make them.. they have my small 10 acres to fly on, but they will go elsewhere..and come back w/ who knows what.
    It’s just one more Agg. issue to deal with.. along w/ people moving to an area bringing their fav. trees and shrubs that aren’t indigenous to where they moved to causing local plants to be pushed out.. that local fauna feed on. It may seem trivial but it IS an impact..not only chemicals but selfishness and ego make for these changes.
    I love reading your articles, they inspire me.. keep up the good work!!! xoxo Margaret

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