Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Save the bees please

I spent most of this torrid morning up on the roof of my County Emergency Operations Center installing antennas and thinking about bees. No, I didn't see any, but I did see a forest of 800 MHz band and microwave antennas the police, fire, paramedics and other county services use to communicate. These radios put out substantial power in the same band a cell phone uses but at thousands of times the output. It's not a good idea to stand too close to one of those antennas.

Remember those old sci-fi and horror movies where some bearded guy would turn to you and whimper some line about how there were things mankind should not seek to know or dabble in? Americans are a still superstitious lot and even after many years of rapid technological advance that has changed our lives for the better, we're not comfortable with it. We're still afraid that our discoveries are something we steal from an angry god and that we may still be chained to a rock like Prometheus for our effrontery.

Whoever it is that makes up scary stories about everything requiring more intelligence than a Conch fritter to understand must be older than me, since I've seen his work all my life. I remember when you couldn't watch TV unless the lights were on or you'd go blind and you had to sit at the other end of the room so you wouldn't get cancer and the same thing continues: microwaves poison your food, electric blankets give you cancer and on and on.

Cellular phones were a bonanza for hysterical Luddites. They were supposed to give you brain cancer although the evidence is still otherwise and now they're supposed to be killing the bees. Of course the main evidence is that a mysterious disease causing hives to sicken and die has begun some decades after the advent of pocket phones. It's also after the advent of digital cameras, iPods, GPS navigation, satellite radio and hybrid cars, but the target du jour is cell phones and they're going to find something wrong with them if it takes forever. And of course there's a study - there's always a study - and the study says "cell phone frequencies" without telling us which ones, confuse bees. That seems to be enough for the apocalyptophiles and technophobic twits to form unalterable and passionate opinions.

Bill Maher, who likes to tell us, contrary to evidence, that we're all sick because we're eating corn sweetener was amongst the first to swoon over the decadence of cell phone using America causing the end of days and the end of bees. It's us, the sinners who stole UHF from the gods who are being punished and we deserve it. Of course Bill knows nothing about the effects of electromagnetic radiation and absorption rates much less about how cell phones work. Blaming dead bees on your pocket phone is like blaming your suntan on a candle.

You know where this is going. Scientific investigations of dead bees reveals that whatever it is that is killing bees in the US is likely to be a contagious infection or parasite, not confusing signals from Brittney's pink cell phone. Sterilizing the boxes used for hives seems to reduce infection in the next swarm of bees to inhabit it. The exact pathogen has not been found nor has the effects of pesticides been entirely ruled out, but it's not cell phones and it's not the NYFD or your local police either. It may be a virus doing in the busy bee and it certainly is a virus of another sort causing this latest piece of sponsored hysteria about cell phones.


d nova said...

seems organic bees aren't affected. sounds like pesticides (&/or antibiotics) more likely culprit than infection, no?


Capt. Fogg said...

I don't know, but it's a far more likely explanation than cell phones.

It seems bees are not very good at dealing with toxins.