More bees please.

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When I was a kid I took a field trip to a honey farm. My classmates and I each got to stick our hands into a buzzing hive (the kids with bee allergies seemed to all have been absent that day), and to our surprise the bees ignored us. I’m still fascinated with insects, as I was then, and while keeping my own beens sounds ludicrous, I certainly wouldn’t pass up the opportunity.

The disappearance of bees and the growing need to “green up” urban spaces, seem to be two fighting concepts. We can’t plant green roofs or community urban gardens without bees to pollinate our plants. So it seems that any wave of green that hits an urban community, would benefit from a wave of, well, bee-friendlines I guess. I’m essentially saying beekeeping needs to become as accessible as home-brewing beer or planting your own garden.

Noah Wilson-Rich is saying the same thing.

On a much more grim note, Monsanto has been in the bee-news recently. An act, passed recently, waives Monsanto of liability if it’s GM crops cause any damage at all to bee populations. From the article—

“European scientists have linked bee epidemics to neonicotinoids, which are incorporated into plants grown from genetically altered seeds produced by Monsanto. The neonicotinoids are suspected to be the culprit in the mass die-off of bees in both Germany and Spain. In response to this research, the European Union has already proposed a ban on the seeds in question. Here in the United States, the leading bee research company was bought by Monsanto in 2012 after the company was first implicated in epidemic bee colony collapses, and little has been heard on the subject since.”

Read more: http://www.chicagonow.com/wild-side-chicago/2013/03/are-monsanto-genetically-engineered-seeds-killing-off-honeybees/

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fish

Last semester I took a tour of the mote fishery. I was pleased to hear the fact that they are using the left over saltwater runoff to grow mangroves which I think are one of Florida’s protected plants because they are such a vital part of our waters eco system. I have had Motes Sturgeon before and it is a good white flaky fish that seems to take on any flavor that you cook it with. I have not had their caviar before or any caviar for that matter but I do like the idea that Mote is able to fund themselves through the sale of this fish egg. I think that we should have more fish farms and cash in on this commodity because the fish market is a second leader in making money next to oil.     

Bees

That movie about bees made me very angry. If a bunch of bees just died all of a sudden you would see the dead bodies all over the ground. They obviously flew away because they hate their owners. Bees are very smart and will do anything to stay away from harm. They will protect their queen if they think she is in danger. I think maybe some died because when bees sting people their organs are pulled out of their body and they slowly die. Bees are pretty cool. If bees went extinct would it really hurt us? Yes, it would. We would lose all of our flowers and if we lose all of our flowers how are we going to tell all the sweet honeys we like them? Haha just kidding we wouldn’t have oxygen and we would die. Bees are pretty important but those bee keepers are stupid.

Stunning Myakka

Living in rural Texas i am constantly in and near forests and wild life but never in the tropical forests of floridas swamp lands. I have to say they are far more beautiful than any of the places i have been to in Texas. I really enjoyed how it started off, a long drive to what felt like the middle of nowhere in Florida and then a quick sharp left to the a differently named Myakka Lake Park. As soon as we arrive in the main corridor there is a series of dioramas of the possible animals and habitats that we might see out in the park. It reminded me of going to the Natural History Museums filled with stuffed animals from hundreds or thousand years in the past, the difference is these diorama are exactly what you see and its like a transforming experience to see something and then walk into it. Much like seeing a painting and magically getting to walk into it and hear and smell everything your imagination couldn’t think of. While we wandered about I heard life around me, the win blowing leaves and the bristle of tall grass as small animals make their way through looking for food. No sounds of traffic or other people, no facebook or cellphone signal, nothing distracting me from the beauty of nature. When we were walking over a bridge I found it funny that so many people had just stopped to view a gator that was resting on the shore of the small lake/pond. People seemed mystified and full of wonder as they gazed at this prehistoric predator just lounging around. Thats when i had the thought that people just dont go out anymore and see the world. We are to busy wondering what the latest gossip is or what to do at work or what we’re going to eat that day to see the beautiful world around us and all the amazing creatures that inhabit it. I am very happy we went on this field trip and because of it will spend more time absorbing the outside and stop planning my day around being in a confined room.

Fisheries are Terrifying

In class when we learned about fisheries and how economy fishing is done. I was shocked to find out how commercial fishing is done, and how many fish are taken out of the sea from one ship; terrifying is the word that comes to mind when i see images like this

I mean look at this image!! Its like an ocean of fish!! in a net to be sold for food. This is just sinful!! I know the old saying give a man and fish and teach a man to fish but jeez!! No wonder people think if we keep fishing like this the oceans are going to be barren in just a few decades, it already looks like there are no more fish in the ocean. I think of the japanese fish markets we have seen footage of as well, it just looks like we as a human race really are just over fishing.

I believe that fish farming really needs to become how we get our fish and sea food. If we ever want to go and see the wonders in the ocean before they are gone because of over fishing or habitat destruction or pollution, we have to do something to stop us from going into it like its some sort of bottomless pit of food. If you look at most of the land animals we use as primary sources of food such as chicken, pig, cow, and we farm exclusively, you dont normally hear of someone only hunting wild pig and wild chickens, unlike how we fish. Farming fish has to be the future if we want to continue having an ocean full of animals that live on their own with little involvement from us.

Re: The Vanishing of the Bees

Although I knew the importance of the bee as a pollinator, I couldn’t help initially watching the film with disdain in class (having never been stung by a bee or wasp and still getting slightly panicked any time one comes near, I am not to afraid I am a little biased when it comes to bees or insects in general); however, after viewing the film, I’m worried.  As silly as it sounds, I’m genuinely concerned about the plight of the honey bee.

I wasn’t made aware of the fact that we actually have to ship bees around the U.S. to keep crops pollinated until this semester, and the fact that this is something we have to do worries me on several levels.  The fact that our agriculture has de-evolved so much to this point – to freaking move/import bees around to ensure everything will pollinate properly – has crossed the borders of lunacy; while I didn’t have a problem with mono cropping before (didn’t even give it a second thought, despite spending half my life growing up in the rural-suburbs of Indiana), I certainly do now.  People might dislike having to choose an Ugly tomato over the typical Red Round tomato, but meanwhile if having greater crop diversity means our food being a little less pretty, so be it.

I'm sorry.  The following GIFs showed up on my Tumblr dashboard about the same time we watched the documentary, and I couldn't stop thinking about this during the film.

I’m sorry. The following GIFs showed up on my Tumblr dashboard about the same time we watched the documentary, and I couldn’t stop thinking about this during the film.

Bee2 Bee3 Bee4 Bee5 Bee6

Myakka and My Friend

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Walking through part of Myakka before Spring Break was a great experience I had been putting off since December.  After spending two weeks cooped up in my house, working almost all day on the computer on an accelerated course (gotta’ squeeze those last-minute credits in some how), I had made a promise to myself to get out to the park – which unfortunately never happened until our little trip out there.  If I had just gone by myself, I don’t think I would have even realized that little building tucked away in the corner of the park was an education center.  It was definitely an interesting experience going through it – Mounds State Park in Indiana had something similar (dioramas with taxidermied native fauna), but not quite to that extent.

Between the education center, and getting the chance to discuss some of Myakka’s environmental history, it was interesting looking back and seeing the park with new eyes.  On previous visits to the park, my general assumption had been that the sandy, somewhat chaotic-looking areas on the walking paths were natural – what typically occurs.  Learning that it came from the invasive and booming boar population made walking through such areas somewhat saddening, knowing that the root cause behind the destruction was caused by humans bringing the boars in the first place.

It also reminded me somewhat of my friend, Wes – essentially the next Crocodile Hunter in the making (aside from the Australian accent and enthusiastic croc-tackling).  He’s gone on several treks through Myakka, filming the wildlife he comes across and essentially creating little mini-documentaries about them (alongside helping those he can – he’s rescued and rehabilitated a number of snakes who have been hurt, and then released them back into the wild after they’ve recovered).  You can check out some of his menagerie here, while his mini-documentaries can be found here.

Buddhist Economics

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When I went to Woody Tasch’s Slow Money talk, I was particularly struck by the notion of “Buddhist economics” that he brought up. One of Slow Money’s guiding visions is keeping money in local circles, allowing the people who spend their money to see the results of their commerce. Thriving businesses, blooming community projects, etc. That consciousness of the flow and the effects of your money after you use it is one Buddhist economics’ tenants.

I was fascinated by this set of ideals, because in many ways it was similar to the ideals I already held. Buddhist economics is a spiritual approach to economics. A la Wikipedia—

“It says that truly rational decisions can only be made when we understand what creates irrationality. When people understand what constitutes desire, they realize that all the wealth in the world cannot satisfy it. When people understand the universality of fear, they become more compassionate to all beings. Thus, this spiritual approach to Economics doesn’t rely on theories and models but on the essential forces of acumen, empathy and restraint. It aims to bring forward the goods and services needed for a better existence”

In a way, it’s more a set of guiding ethical principles, instead of economic ones. There are parallels to models of sustainability and responsible farming and consuming here. Getting your food locally reduces your carbon footprint, but it also develops your community. Respecting fish and allowing their population to ebb and flow naturally keeps your food source alive, and is also an act of restraint and compassion.

Read more: http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/econ1.htm

Where are the bees going?

I’m writing this in response to the documentary about bees we watched on the last class. Even coming from someone who hates and is allergic to wasps and bees, the fact that their disappearance could disrupt so many different ecological and environmental elements is scarier than the little demons themselves. The fact that it’s also the single greatest threat to our food source and supply is equally as frightening. It was amazing but on some level expected to find that the cause was the “neonic” pesticides that get absorbed through the plants stem and up into their pollen, ultimately ruining the bees motor control and homing ability to make it back to the hive. As much as I dislike them, I feel bad about the thought of bees wandering endlessly trying to make it back home and never finding it. In a way it seems like a case of deleria or alzhiemers in humans as they age. I’ve heard stories of people with those disorders just driving all the way across the country on highways because they were just sure that the next exit was the one they were supposed to take, every single time. As far as I can see, the only way to really fix this problem would be a huge shift on the consumers behavior in not supporting or buying products known to utilize the same pesticides that will in the end leave them with no food at all. Since we all know how well that never works, with something to crucial and important to the environment and humans as a species, there might be a need for some governmental regulation against using these pesticides. Germany and France have already banned these pesticides, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m not too worried about whatever extra costs that the farming company has to shell out to protect our delicate ecosystem. 

Sea Lions of San Francisco’s Pier 39

http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/

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Fisherman’s Wharf
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Sea Lions!

IMG_5337IMG_5338IMG_5339IMG_5341IMG_5342IMG_5344Sick Sea Lion

 

I took a trip to San Francisco for the big Game Developers Conference. I was able to do some sightseeing while I was there, and got to see the famous Sea Lions of Fisherman’s Wharf. It was amazing to see so many of them! If you watched the movie I uploaded on top, you can hear what they sound like. I think I stood there for almost an hour just watching them. It was amusing to see how they interact with each other, how they scratch themselves (so dainty!), and how they move around. I read on a plaque at Fisherman’s Wharf that the Sea Lions mostly likely came to Pier 39 because of the earthquake in 1989. The boat owners were forced to remove their boats from that area for safety precautions after the earthquake. While the boats were away, the sea lions took advantage of that area since it had a good food source and a protected environment. Ever since then, they have been coming to Pier 39 and staying there. Their numbers fluctuate, but there is always a steady population of sea lions on the floating docks. This area has become a big tourist location, but the sea lions are still protected under San Francisco’s Marine Mammal Center.

While I was there watching the sea lions, I spotted a sea lion on the closest dock to me, and it was terribly sick looking. There were flies buzzing around it, and it had a large infected patch of skin that was oozing puss. I noticed that there a small pool of vomit near the sea lion, and that is what also confirmed my suspicions that the sea lion was sick. None of the other sea lions were laying next to it, and it would roll over very rarely. Its eyes were shut most of the time. I felt so sad for that sea lion. I thought, since these sea lions are bringing a crowd of tourist and their wallets to the area, somebody has to care if one of them gets sick. They don’t want their star attraction to die off. I happen to near by one of the volunteers of the Mammal Center, and reported the sick sea lion to her. She took note and explained to me what the Mammal Center does. The center will save and heal sea lions were affected by trash. The cause of sea lion death in the San Francisco area was not by boat accidents, which I assumed, but by trash. Sometimes the sea lions will swim into wire, tires, or some other man made object. It would prevent the sea lion from being able to eat or get an infection from the trash damaging their body.

I was horrified to see the pictures of the inflicted sea lions, but I was considerably happy to hear that there was a community of people and veterinarians watching over these guys. She also had a page in her binder which had samples of sea lion fur. It was sooooo smooth. I didn’t ask where they got the samples, since it was real fur, but I had a feeling it was from sea lions who didn’t survive. Even though they were dead, their fur was being used to educate humans about how amazing they are, and make people aware how precious these creatures are.

It was a fun place to be and I would love to go back again. 🙂