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I spend a decent amount of time reading Ezra Klein’s site, and I recommend it to all of you. But I’d be pleased if we were all just a little bit more honest about what we are doing here. Here is today’s post by their Environmental writer about Colony Collapse Disorder:

It’s an interesting study in contrasts. The link between pesticides and bee die-offs is still subject to some dispute. So, in the face of uncertainty, the European Commission is erring on the side of the environment — voting to ban neonicotinoids for two years just in case they really are to blame for the bee collapse.

The United States, meanwhile, is erring on the side of certain economic interests — it’s still not clear that neonicotinoids are to blame, and pesticides are a billion-dollar industry, so regulators are moving slowly in setting restrictions.

So, banning a particular pesticide MUST be “on the side of the environment?” Really? What will bee keepers and orchard keepers turn to absent that? Will yields fall and land use increase, leading to more erosion and loss of habitat? That surely wouldn’t be on the side of the environment. So now writers for the WaPo just get to make stuff up too? You wonder where they learn such things? It’s all harmless opinion, right? And the next sentence is even better. The narrative HAS to be that the US market is some maniacal free-market place and subject to total lack of regulation. So by not banning a pesticide that it’s not clear produces damages, we are “siding” with a particular industry. Did it ever occur to the write that the Pecan farmers, fruit growers and other folks that depend on bees are also a multi-billion dollar business (it’s probably not as large as we all think however)?I wonder why we have this Dr. Evil-like snarl when we mention “certain economic interests” as if the interests of the pesticide folks and fruit folks and bee folks are all misaligned. And what if they banned the pesticide, wouldn’t this be “siding with certain economic interests” too? On what alternative planet are we living? 

And do you think in a post about, “hey the bees are dying,” a writer would bother to ask what people are doing in response to it? Almost immediately after I clicked on that WaPo piece, I ran into my reading material from PERC. And what do you know, they are featuring a piece today on just what has happened to beekeeping and farming/orchards as the bee populations have suffered. You’d think our author would bother to ask, “just what has happened to the price of pollination services” since the collapse began? And maybe he would ask, “I wonder why pecan prices haven’t quadrupled in the previous 10 years?” No such questions are asked. Here is what the PERC folks have to say about it, which surprised even me

By the way, the book Fruitless Fallby Rowan Jacobsen was well written and thoughtfully presented. It was published in Fall 2008. I strongly recommend it. He has a final chapter talking about how both bee-keepers and orchard keepers are adapting. And I am sure Rowan would describe himself as a very concerned environmentalist, and I applaud his work, especially because he doesn’t just make sh*t up. 


And I think the final doozy is this one. Take a look at the writing of “E”nvironmentalist writers over time, especially when it comes time to discuss fracking regulations or the development of renewables. Despite the safety record of fracking and its record of producing cleaner burning and more carbon free fuel than coal, “more research is needed.” And the “precaution” there is to wait until we know for sure about the science before allowing it to go forward. But when we say “more research is needed” before it makes sense to ban a chemical, we are somehow doing something underhanded here? 

I just don’t get it. And the next time I see the word “non-partisan” I think I am going to vomit. Everyone is partisan, if they don’t tell you so, they are just making sh*t up. I at least tell you where my biases are, and I hope I am mature enough to drop them if someone bothered to show me evidence. 

6 Responses to “More Opinions Dressed Up in “Non-Partisan Wonkishness” … or Honesty Collapse Disorder”

  1. Speedmaster says:

    Hehe, I’m glad you find the self-directed non-partisan tag as annoying as I do. 😉

  2. Speedmaster says:

    Oh, and before we tackle colony collapse disorder, shouldn’t we wrap-up the concerns over alar, acid rain, and mutated frogs? Those are still things, right?

  3. Speedmaster says:

    Actually, stand down on the bee worry, we found them:

    PHOTO: 60,000 bees and honeycombs 12 feet long found packed in the rafters of a Utah cabin: http://usat.ly/12KC0Pu

  4. Harry says:

    I have read reports that the bee problem in recent years has been viral, even though I blame George Bush.

    In 1977, if you flew to Hawaii the flight attendants would spray the cabin with insecticide, as I recall fifteen minutes before the no smoking sign was turned off. That was my second trip, on United. I made several trips since then, and nobody hauled out the bug spray, but then who knows whether the new planes were fitted with internal sprayers a la James Bond. I assume the spray was to kill insects that for some reason had not been in the underwear of Captain Cook’s crew, or in or on the animals they picked up on the way.

    Back then, there were no snakes in Hawaii, but I am not so sure about today. For all we know a black mamba, or I should say a mommy and daddy pair of black mambas, got off with the luggage in Honolulu. This is the only passably good argument against free trade I can think of. But I digress.

    Regarding pesticides and farming, we hardly ever used them because they were expensive and had to be used carefully, so we and the cows did not get poisoned. I did get a chuckle about the part in the story about pesticides being a multibillion dollar industry, as if a few billion is even something Ben Bernanke thinks about between eating oyster one and oyster two — micro not macro.

  5. Harry says:

    Oh, and today my friend Matt planted RoundUp Ready soybeans. After they come up, he will kill the weeds.

  6. Harry says:

    Having digressed, I’ll answer WC’s question, the last rhetorical one.

    Either you are partisan or you are a jellyfish. This does not mean one should leap into every controversy with a red banner and a six-shooter, but we as sentient beings owe it to ourselves to act differently from jellyfish, or Portugese Men of War, or bivalves. WC is no Jellyfish, nor is the polymathic Speedmaster.

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