Thoughts for the New Year

I've just started E.O. Wilson's new book, The Creation, an urgent plea from a Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist to protect biodiversity by finding common ground between the "science community" and the "religious community" in order to halt the biological holocaust before it is too late. It's now or never, folks, and Wilson makes the case in potent terms.

The book is written in the form of a letter to a pastor, illuminating the intertwingular zone where spiritual belief, respect for the natural world, and science connect. Some passages of interest from the first few pages:

"According to archaeological evidence, we strayed from Nature with the beginning of civilization roughly ten thousand years ago. That quantum leap beguiled us with an illusion of freedom from the world that has given us birth. It nourished the belief that the human spirit can be molded into something new to fit changes in the environment and culture, and as a result the timetables of history desynchronized. A wiser intelligence might now truthfully say of us at this point: here is a chimera, a new and very odd species come shambling into our universe, a mix of Stone Age emotion, medieval self-image, and godlike technology. The combination makes the species unresponsive to the forces that count most for its own long-term survival."


"Even if the rest of life is counted of no value beyond the satisfaction of human bodily needs, the obliteration of Nature is a dangerous strategy. For one thing, we have become a species specialized to eat the seeds of four kinds of grass—wheat, rice, corn, and millet. If these fail, from disease or climate change, we too shall fail. Some fifty thousand wild plant species (many of which face extinction) offer alternative food sources. If one insists on being thoroughly practical about the matter, allowing these and rest of the wild species to exist should be considered part of a portfolio of long-term investment. Even the most recalcitrant people must come to view conservation as simple prudence in the management of Earth's natural economy. Yet few have begun to think that way at all."


"Granted, many people seem content to live entirely within the synthetic ecosystems. But so are domestic animals content, even in the grotesquely abnormal habitats in which we rear them. This in my mind is a perversion. It is not the nature of human beings to be cattle in glorified feedlots. Every person deserves the option to travel easily in and out of the complex and primal world that gave us birth. We need freedom to roam across land owned by no one but protected by all, whose unchanging horizon is the same that bounded the world of our millennial ancestors. Only in what remains of Eden, teeming with life forms independent of us, is it possible to experience the kind of wonder that shaped the human psyche at its birth."

—E.O. Wilson, The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth

Listen to an interview with Wilson on NPR or check out this televised interview on PBS's Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.


Bee Movie, 1951

What could be more fun than taking in an old movie the day after Christmas? Found out about this gem on the Historical Honeybee Articles and Archive listserve. If you have trouble viewing through the embedded video below, you can watch it here.


Give the Gift of Bees

Want to go a little less materialistic in your holiday giving this year? Consider a donation to Heifer International.

This holiday season, through Heifer International, Wren and I are giving the gift of honeybees—which can provide food, a source of income, and of course, great ecological benefits to communities struggling with poverty and hunger. We'll be making several such donations in the names of various friends.
Here's more from the Heifer International website:

Honoring a friend or family member with honeybees is a gift that shows you cherish both people and the environment. The way bees work together is a lesson for us all. They produce food, care for the young, recycle waste and create an effective, efficient community. They pollinate fruits, flowers and vegetables in the process -a benefit for us. A package of Heifer International bees and a hive gives families better crops, candle wax, pollen for medicine and honey to eat and sell.
If honeybees aren't your thing, consider a gift of llamas, goats, chickens or even a water buffalo—Heifer International's gift registry provides a list of all the ways you can do some good this holiday season.


The Vanishing of the Bees

This is a trailer for an upcoming documentary feature film called The Vanishing of the Bees.



Not sure if it's a bee, but it's cool. Unfortunately, the blog on which I found it seems to have disappeared!!