I thought I'd write about the bees dying. My friend, Elizabeth Allen, was the first to mention this to me. Elizabeth is interested in psychic matters, hangs out with neo-shamans ... so when she mentioned that the bees are dying, I thought it was some New Age thing, like the time New Age-people talked about the end of "the world," i.e. end of an era, and then 9/11 happened, so well, they were right, weren't they, that an era had ended?
I did a little research and learned that indeed there is a phenomenon going on called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which simply means a large population of bees have died. Many bee hives have been abandoned. The figures vary, sometimes newspapers say 50% of bees have died, other accounts say 70% have died. I find this alarming, but the world seems to go blithely on. It's as if the world is confident that the bees will return next year and everything will be fine. It's the same way with Global Warming, Tsunamis, Hurricanes, which we get excited about for a short spell, then quickly forget.
Something serious is happening in this Earth of ours. I've been to Alaska and to Patagonia and to the French Alps and have seen how large portions of glaciers have melted. Instead of white pristeen ice, there is black gray gravelly muck. (Take a look at the photo with Lauren, see the background, note the black foreground of the glacier) And still we continue living the way we do, paying a bit more for gasoline, feeling the pinch a bit, but still managing.
I have a Republican friend who said Al Gore invented Global Warming, that there is no such thing. She said a friend of hers in the Philippines complained that there was a cold spell there last December. If there's Global Warming, why did they have a cold spell in the Philippines, she asked, pleased with her logic.
I told her it meant there are changes in this earth: spring has started early in Japan for instance, so that Cherry Blossoms were blooming weeks before they usually do. And in some other place I'd read that the eggs of some birds had hatched early, but the problem was that the caterpillars that the baby chicks usually eat were not yet around, so there was a problem there. There are all sorts of inconsistencies, now, a lack of coordination if you will. Have you been hearing about the drought in Africa? And there's a serious drought brewing in California right now.
Elizabeth and I have discussed Global Warming and we agree that some of this is cyclical, but that we - mankind that is - have an obligation not to aggravate the situation.
I've asked myself what I can do about the matter, and here are some things I'll try do:
1. Conserve water - this is to address the drought in California. I will not hose down walkways. I will take shorter showers. (I'm even tempted to do it the Filipino way, with a bucket and cup - but Lauren can't go for that). I'll turn off the faucet when I'm brushing my teeth. I just will not let the faucets run for no reason at all.
2. Conserve energy - I'll wear a sweater, instead of have the heater on high; turn off lights and appliances that are unused.
3. I will replace my plants bit by bit with California native plants which do not need a lot of water. In fact I do have some - mantilla poppies for instance, the problem is they tend to take over and I've had to "hold them" back.
4. The car - hmmm, the car is a problem because I drive a Mercedes Benz wagon that is a gas guzzler, and it even wants premium, the gas hog! Maybe I should learn to take the bus around Santa Monica and take more walks too. One of my students was taking the bus to school even though he has a car because he is very conscious about this gas/oil problem.
5. I will continue my mini-composting - that is I save eggshells, vegetable matter in a bowl and I go to my rose garden and dig a hole and bury that. My roses have greatly improved ever since I started doing this, at the suggestion of my friend, Linda Ross.
6. For the bees and other little creatures of God - I will stop spraying my roses with insecticide and too bad if the plants have yellow leaves and don't look terrific; at least I won't be contributing to killing the bees and other insects.
Let me digress here: there is a folk saying in Cebu where I grew up that a house with living things was a good luck house. Living things included everything - snakes, termites, bugs, creatures that we don't normally like. My mother explained that if these creatures liked living in your house, then it's a good place. Now I see what she means.
And now I'm remembering how, many years ago, some bees built a hive above our front door - overnight it seemed. We didn't want a hive right above the front door, or any where near our house, and - God forgive me - we sprayed the hive with some bug killer - and the bees left and never came back.
Maybe that is what we have done in this world - we have sprayed bug killer all over the place so that the air is no good, and we are running out of water, and everything is a mess, and the bees have said, "Good bye, this is not a good place for us any more."
(Photo shows Lauren Brainard in South America)
Thursday, June 7, 2007
CCD DISORDER - THE BEES ARE DYING!
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the award-winning author of 9 books, including When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, Magdalena, Vigan and Other Stories, and Out of Cebu: Essays and Personal Prose. She edited four books, co-edited six books, and co-authored a novel, Angelica's Daughters. Her work has been translated into Finnish and Turkish; and many of her stories and articles have been widely anthologized. Cecilia has received many awards, including a California Arts Council Fellowship in Fiction, a Brody Arts Fund Award, a Special Recognition Award for her work dealing with Asian American youths, as well as a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Senate, 21st District, and the Outstanding Individual Award from her birth city, Cebu, Philippines. She has received several travel grants from the USIS. She has lectured and performed at UCLA, USC, University of Connecticut, University of the Philippines, PEN, Shakespeare & Company in Paris, and many others. She teaches creative writing at the Writers Program at UCLA-Extension.