Sunday, July 27, 2014

Smoke and mirrors and bees and butterflies

Today does have a hint of September about it. The clouds here are moving north to south or slightly northwest to southeast. If your nose is working fairly well, a walk around the property smells like a trip through Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Lots of cocoa bean hulls (shells?) have been spread around the apple trees and chokeberry bushes, so we're going to be cautious and keep the dogs away from the bushes and trees just in case they're tempted to eat the mulch and get dead. We've also translocated two chipmunks this weekend and the younger members of our little workforce cut down one of our smaller pine trees that was in an inconvenient location and is needed for some sort of arch or something for an upcoming wedding. The ground that had been shaded by the pine has been raked and planted with a perennial and hummingbird / butterfly mix. We'll see if we get germination and growth in what's left of Summer. Maybe next year we'll have an area that looks sort of like this.

black-eyed Susan growing at a roadside
black-eyed Susan growing at a roadside
Photo by J. Harrington

That would be good for the bees from the bee hives we hope to have by then. Today's Star Tribune has the second installment of Bees at the Brink by Josephine Marcotty. She cites the good folks from Bayer as noting that “But there is no link between them [neonicotinoids] and widespread colony losses.” I read that and I wondered if Bayer acknowledges the precautionary principle ("if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action"). I was also reminded of years and years of testimony from tobacco executives about there being no link between cigarettes and lung disease.
"In 1994, Rep. Waxman chaired a critical series of hearings on tobacco. Most significant was the one at which Chief Executive Officers of the nation's tobacco companies testified. This hearing put a human face on the tobacco industry for the first time. When the CEOs swore under oath that smoking was not addictive and did not cause any disease, it became clear to the American people that they were lying. This was the turning point in the battle against the tobacco industry."
I also thought back to the chemical industry's attack on Rachel Carson after Silent Spring was published. Then I found myself wondering just how dumb corporate interests think the American Public is. It's clearly profitable for corporate america to stall until the rest of us can find the smoking gun. Frankly, I prefer it the way Marcotty's report describes, that we (the public) don't need to wait for smoking guns to decide which way we want to go. I grew up in a neighborhood that lived by the adage "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me." I haven't been fooled yet by following that adage and learning to "Trust but Verify." I think we could use less corporate commodity production in our farm sector and more real food production. Maybe then our roadsides would have more flowers and bees and butterflies. Think about it. Avis Harley has it right as far as I can see.

orange day lilies along a country road
orange day lilies along a country road
Photo by J. Harrington

Before

By Avis Harley 

The butterfly was there
before any human art was made.
Before cathedrals rose in prayer,
the butterfly was there.
Before pyramids pierced the air
or Great Wall stones were laid,
the butterfly was there.
Before any human, art was made.


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