Colony collapse also climate cooling:
I am going to tackle a couple of subjects today very briefly.  First: colony collapse is a problem with honey bees.  The beehive just dies out.  This has been going on for years and there are thoughts that it my imperil agriculture, although that has not yet happened to a large degree.  I have a friend who seems to attract bees.  I think his voice is mellow or something.  Anyway he had an enormous infestation in his attic.  This happened early in the crisis.  He got a hive and called for a professional to remove the bees.  At that time you could get hives all right, but queen bees were not available on the internet.  This problem has been solved by importing Australian bees.  Don’t worry about them not being native to North America.  Regular honey bees aren’t either.

Well the professional disappeared with the queen leaving him with an empty hive.  Within a year bees had moved into the hive.  So things stood for a year or two and then bees moved back into the attic again.  The funny thing is that he’s allergic to honey.  The other funny thing is that where he lives it is illegal to keep bees.  I think he moved them out to the home of a friend who lives in the country and is not allergic to bees.

But a crisis they say there is.  It remains unexplained.  (Bee Off ECONOMIST vol. 402 no. 8769 January 28, 2012 page 78)  Early on it was noticed that colony collapse happened to big industrial grade bee keepers who had huge numbers of colonies and carried their hives where farmers needed them by piling the hives onto flatbed trailers.  Mom and pop operations with just a few hives were spared.  I don’t hear about that much any longer, but of course it sounds like outbreeding infertility is at root.  And this I will suspect until somebody addresses the question directly.

The other issue is a climate issue.  Here is a letter I am sending. 

January 29, 2012

Drew Shindell
Dear Dr. Shindell:
I blush to confess that I missed something significant in your article (Drew Shindell et al. Simultaneously Mitigating Near-Term Climate Change and Improving Human Health and Food Security SCIENCE vol. 335 no. 6065 January 13, 2012 pages 183-189) until I read the review in NATURE (Pollutants Key to Climate Fix NATURE vol. 481 no. 7391 January 19, 2012 pages 245 - 246). 

You propose to mitigate climate change by reducing the amount of particles of black soot in the atmosphere.  I wish you the best success and thank you for your efforts. 

By contrast not that long ago I used to read articles describing a plan to cool the planet by putting particulate matter into the air in hopes of reflecting sunlight away and shading the earth as if with a parasol.  I used to write letters of outrage.  Tiny particles will reach thermal equilibrium rapidly, whatever their color.  Even if that equilibrium were different for different colors, which of course it isn’t, particles would still intercept sunlight at a higher altitude than the earth and that level would move toward thermal equilibrium between the sun and space, about 70o Fahrenheit hereabouts.  Given the lapse rate by which the air is warmer the lower you go, that plan would have cooked us. 

By the way, wouldn’t you include commercial jets as a source of atmospheric particulate matter and global warming?

Another round of thanks for restoring sanity to the field.


M. Linton Herbert MD

The thing I did not mention is that this reversal of thought occurred without the slightest murmur.  Neither the review nor the article said, “Boy did somebody screw up.”  And I suppose that when, if ever, the relationship between population fertility and mating strategy is seen to work the same way as the relationship in individual families, it will not come as headlines.  It will quietly be assumed that we knew it all along.

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