kibwen 2 months ago

This article buries its lede, which is about how honey bees get all the attention but are at less risk than wild bees:

> And that brings us to the actual problem. The honey bee (Apis mellifera) is only one of about 20 thousand different bee species. The non-honey bees are usually referred to as wild bees, and each location has its native species. According to an estimate from researchers at Cornell University in 2006, wild bees contribute to the pollination of 85 percent of crops in agriculture."

> [...]

> But last year the magazine Cell published the results of a study with a global estimate for the situation of wild bees. The authors looked at the numbers of bee species that were collected or observed over time using data publicly available at the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. They found that even though the number of records has been increasing, the number of different species in the records has been sharply decreasing in the past decades.

> The decline rates differ between the continents, but the species numbers are dropping steeply everywhere except for Oceania. The researchers say there’s a number of factors in play here, such as the expansion of monocultures, loss of native habitat, pesticides, climate change, and bee trade that also trades around pathogens.

> So the problems that wild bees face are similar to those of honey bees, but they have an additional problem which is… honeybees. Honey bees compete with wild bees for food and habitat and they also pass on viruses. Now, a big honey bee colony can deal with viruses by throwing out the infected bees. But this doesn’t work for wild bees because they don’t live in large colonies. And worse, when honey bees and wild bees fight for food they seem to both lose out.

  • henearkr 2 months ago

    The whole point of being alarmed of the Bee Apocalypse is that you look at the honey bees as an indicator, just like the lichens on trees are an indicator of air pollution (few lichens mean a bad air quality).

    When honey bees are dwindling, pretty much all the insects are too.

    The Bee Apocalypse has not gone anywhere, it's just still here, and it is in fact an Insect Apocalypse, which is many orders of magnitude worse.

    • oblak 2 months ago

      I don't know what's driving it but I've been observing sharp changes in insect populations that visit our balcony which has been completely taken over by some kind of huge black wasp/hornet monsters.

      These bastards seem to hunt baby grasshoppers all day long and butcher all kinds of other wasps and bees, too. I used to find piles of chopped bodies but until competition got the message and show no more. I even found a stash of dead spiders they've managed to build inside a cupboard.

      I am starting to get worried.

      I do observe other changes in different species but this one is the wildest I've got. Haven't seen a big grasshopper in a decade. My cat used to hunt them all night. What changed? I don't know. Firebugs used to cover some trees in red 3 summers ago. Haven't seen one in months.

      Edit: as to why I am replying to your post? I liked it so much, I decided to share my extremely limited experience.

      • henearkr 2 months ago

        The decline of insects has brought an unbalance that may make some species over-represented as a consequence.

        But what you are seeing can also be a case of climate change moving the habitats of species around, and make them live where they did not live before (because also prevent them from living anymore where they had always been living).

        Edit: thanks for the compliment :D

        Just for the record, I'm an insects lover (also more generally a lover of Nature). And the situation is making me very, very sad.

        • sshine 2 months ago

          Also, and I’m not saying this to deny climate change: variations between the coldness of a given winter and when spring onsets will, in general, greatly affect insect populations. Climate affects both how many survive the winter and how they migrate. Add oscillating patterns to that as predatory animals react delayed to that.

          Some years you will see huge winged ants, other years will be heavy with mosquitoes, other years will have giant hornets.

        • irrational 2 months ago

          I’ve lived in a particular location for 22 years. This year is the very first one that I can recall seeing mosquitoes. Where did they come from and why are they here now? Your comment has me wondering if they are moving in because of climate change.

      • jamal-kumar 2 months ago

        That sounds really alarming to have to be around (no pun intended). What part of the world is this in, I was hearing something about the pacific northwest experiencing invasive Japanese giant 'killer' hornets at some point in the past couple of years, I thought the course of action in that case was calling the wildlife authorities to try and stem the spread?

        • oblak 2 months ago

          Densely populated city in Bulgaria. I tried searching for the thing but aside from "$some_kind_of_asian_wasp taking over easter Europe", I've got nothing. I don't think it was the same species.

          • riffraff 2 months ago

            Not the Japanese one, but there is an invasive Asian hornet in Europe since 15 years ago or so


            • oblak 2 months ago

              Not the same creature. The one I am talking about is all black, with slightly bluish tinted wings. There considerably bigger than most wasps/hornets. I don't know what I am dealing* with.

              * Not yet, and hopefully I won't have to

        • henearkr 2 months ago

          I have seen an other wasp (I'm in Japan) than the 'giant killer hornets' killing (decapitating) what looked like either another wasp/bee either a bee-looking fly.

          It was quite a small-scale wasp, a black one with narrow white stripes, but its technique was very good. It just dropped next to where I was sitting holding its prey which was trying to escape.

      • rurban 2 months ago

        You probably oversaw the fact that Great Britain again gave away the atomic bomb secrets to the hornet monsters. Before it was Pakistan, which delivered it to North Korea and Iran. If the hornets gave it the wasps is not yet proven, but everybody is very worried.

    • animal_spirits 2 months ago

      > just like the lichens on trees are an indicator of air pollution (few lichens mean a bad air quality).

      Lichen indicators for air pollution are fascinatingly more complicated than that. Certain lichens respond positively to air pollution due to excess nutrients like ammonia and nitrates in the air. Imagine an algal bloom but the nutrient pollution is in the air instead of in the water. The US Forest Service produced an interesting video overviewing these phenomena.

      Air Pollution & Lichens: A Tour of the Columbia River Gorge:

    • WhitneyLand 2 months ago

      >honey bees are dwindling

      It seems they are not dwindling.

      That was one of the clarifications of the piece. The bigger concern is the number of species rather than the number of honeybees.

      • henearkr 2 months ago

        I'd say that it is difficult for me to agree that the honey bee apocalypse is getting any better at all, as, in Europe at least, everybody is deploring a huge mortality in bees, and explicitely pointing the pesticides as culprits.

        But in case it would "seem to get better" (e.g. in the US), I agree:

        if honey bees are dwindling at some point (the wake up call), it shows that there is a bigger concern, but the bigger concern is still there even if we see again honey bees, it's an insect apocalypse (and we'll always see honey bees anyway, because they are actively bred by humans using nutrients grown with intrants from good ol' fossil fuel energy and all).

    • stefan_ 2 months ago

      Why would I do that? Closely related species compete for the same resources. 9 out of 10, one species "dwindling" just means another is gaining.

      • henearkr 2 months ago

        In this cas it does not. The insects as a whole are in decline.

        • goatlover 2 months ago

          I've not heard insects like ants, beetles or flies being in decline. I've heard of bee colony collapse and declines in grasshoppers and monarch butterflies. But there are tons of other insects, some of which seem to do quite well around humans, whether we like it or not.

          • henearkr 2 months ago

            Maybe you've heard of the "car windshield observation": we used to find so many dead insects on windshields some decades ago, and now it is obvious that there are way fewer.

            This is caused by the insect apocalypse.

            It's because the harm caused to the bees is from factors that strike as well other insects: mainly pesticides, and global warming.

            • harpersealtako 2 months ago

              I think one of many issues with the car windshield observation is we don't have a good baseline. So we notice that in 1990 there were more bugs on our windshields compared to 2020 after a drive through Kansas. But maybe 2020's insect levels are actually a return to normal, preindustrial levels after an anomalous century of high bug populations? We don't have a bug windshield strike stats from 1890.

              Honestly it's such a dirty metric with so many compounding variables I'm shocked that anybody is seriously considering it as a meaningful data point beyond the most basic, surface-level understanding of the issue. To be honest the whole thing reeks of the usual hacker-news crowd issue where people want to pretend they know about a topic (e.g. systemic issues in pollinator/agricultural pest population management in high-intensity modern industrial agriculture) but are underestimating the complexity of the issues by a huge magnitude.

              • henearkr 2 months ago

                No. There is no suspected cause for any such "anomalously high insect population in the past", while we have a lot of suspected causes, verified by the way (so rather culprits than suspects) for the insects decline. The "anomalously high" "is possible" but is actually pure baseless speculation. Also, there is no such observation in the available litterature, scientific or layman.

                You know, it is just a matter of knitting all of our knowledge bits together. Lots of nasty chemicals in the environments, especially design to harm insects. Add to that anormal temperatures and rain levels.

  • jamal-kumar 2 months ago

    I think the colloquial term for (edit; the most commonly well-known) many wild bees in English is "bumblebees". They're often burrowing species that don't have honey producing hives (They do stuff like make little caves in moss, dirt, and underbrush), and are often crucial pollinators of certain species of plants which are specifically attractive to certain wild bees (Orchids are a good example here) but which domesticated honeybees might not even touch.

    I was once dreaming how cool it would be to get into beekeeping but after realizing it might be at a greater detriment to wild species in my area those dreams have become somewhat faded.

    • BbzzbB 2 months ago

      Bumblebees are a genus[1] (_Bombus_) of (wild) bees. There are many more genera of bees (taxonomic superfamily _Apoidea_) out there. They are, however, adorable chubby fluffs.


      • multjoy 2 months ago

        I believe they prefer to be referred to as fluffy chönks.

        • Teknoman117 2 months ago

          I always called them flying cotton balls. They're also not aggressive, so working around them isn't likely to get you a sting, as opposed to those damn yellow jackets. I get all species are important but I hate those things.

          • giantg2 2 months ago

            They make some pretty effective traps for them. I caught about 14 yellow jacket queens in the spring. That should hopefully mean fewer nests later this year.

    • cmrdporcupine 2 months ago

      Same here on our tiny farm. I don't need any more hobbies, but I often entertain keeping bees. But I also have a bias towards native plants and native insects. So I cultivate lots of flowering plants, and leave areas wild, but have never done anything with honeybees.

      I kinda wish there was a native Northeastern American bee that had some of the utility of honeybees for sugar and/or wax production.

      TIL that bumblebees actually have a history of domestication but that international movement of bees led to serious health issues and transmission of pests that decimated both wild and domestic populations:

      • LurkerAtTheGate 2 months ago

        Consider caring for some other solitary bees. Personally, I like leafcutter and mason bees, which mostly just means providing homes (hollow tubes), construction materials (leaves & mud respectively), and flowering plants. In late winter, you harvest the cocoons to remove parasite-ridden or diseased (fungal, usually). They are aggressive pollinators and if you grow fruit & vegetables you will see increased yield that makes up for the lack of wax & honey.

    • m-i-l 2 months ago

      Random trivia I learned from a visit to a fruit farm a few weeks back: Fruit farmers much prefer bumble bees to honey bees because they're much better fruit tree pollinators - bumble bees start much earlier in the day than honey bees (e.g. 07.30 vs 12.30), will work at much lower temperatures, and will pollinate 6 flowers in the time a honey bee takes to do 1 (because the honey bees tend to stick around longer on a flower to get more nectar out).

      • mark_h 2 months ago

        They're loved by crop farmers where I live too (I also learnt recently), but they're illegal to cultivate because they're an introduced species.

        (Now that I write that, I assume honeybees are too, but perhaps the honey industry is well entrenched)

        • thaumasiotes 2 months ago

          > They're loved by crop farmers where I live too (I also learnt recently), but they're illegal to cultivate because they're an introduced species.

          Unlike the crops?

    • throwaway1777 2 months ago

      Not really true, bumble bees are the furry fat ones, but there are lots of other types of wild bees.

      • nend 2 months ago

        Worth noting that carpenter bees are also furry fat bees, and often confused for bumble bees.

        Carpenter bees tend to be a bit shinier, and at least around me, bigger. Which is how I can tell them apart.

      • jamal-kumar 2 months ago

        Yeah you're correct, I'm just making clear the example of wild bees that most people know. There's a ton of really interesting species that don't even really look like bees (Different coloration like iridescent and black) for sure.

        • iratewizard 2 months ago

          It's a very useful example. I didn't know that bumblebees were separate from honeybees or that they didn't produce honey

    • hinkley 2 months ago

      Other bees include mason bees, leafcutter bees, carpenter bees. Other pollinators include green flies, hoverflies, and some beetles and wasps.

    • stevage 2 months ago

      As an Australian, I hadn't really heard the term "wild bees". We call them native bees, following our usual pattern of distinguishing native animals from exotics/introduced species.

      • contingencies 2 months ago

        I met the reigning Aussie native bee expert in 2020 and it's dire. The best things you can do as an individual are plant many endemic native flowering species, nix lawns, don't use pesticides and certainly don't keep urban honey bees.

    • mandelbrotwurst 2 months ago

      Hi, why would beekeeping harm wild species please?

      • jamal-kumar 2 months ago

        They spread diseases like mites to the wild bee species chiefly, as well as out-competing them for food.

        Details are in the parent comment and in the article but if watching a video is more captive of your attention here's a report on Deutsche Welle which I found pretty good and more to the point. [1]


      • michael1999 2 months ago

        For the same reasons that domesticating any animal leads to the extinction of the wild variant

          - habitat displacement  
          - competition for food  
          - disease
        • synu 2 months ago

          Aren’t there still some wild dogs, cats, horses, sheep, goats, and everything else humans have domesticated? Or are you being very specific about what went extinct, or maybe predicting future extinctions (in which case I’m curious more about what you mean?)

          Edit: sorry if the question came off as rude and that’s why it was downvoted, I was sincerely curious what you meant.

          • JoBrad 2 months ago

            I did some light searching, and it would seem that your examples don’t support your viewpoint. I didn’t look into all of them, but there is only 1 truly wild horse species, which was actually extinct in the wild at one point. The rest are feral horses. Canis familiaris is the descendent of an extinct species. Many (most?) wolves and other wild dog species that do not live well among humans are either currently or were until recently endangered.

            • synu 2 months ago

              Thanks for the explanation, I was definitely including animals like bighorn sheep, bobcats, mountain goats, wolves, and so on which wouldn’t really qualify.

          • User23 2 months ago

            The aurochs[1] has sadly been hunted to extinction. The last one was killed in Poland during the 17th century.


            • Maursault 2 months ago

              If there weren't hunters around to hunt them to extinction, they would have depleted natural resources and starved and been a lethal danger to people on future roads and highways. Hunters are entitled to our eternal gratitude for providing these services.

              • tcmb 2 months ago

                I don't know, maybe one day we will see that we are part of a balanced ecosystem, and that this balance is ultimately more important than having good roads.

                • Barrin92 2 months ago

                  >we are part of a balanced ecosystem

                  we're really not though. Extinction is about as natural as anything else. We've had many in our planet's history some wiping out 90% of life, for a variety of reasons. Your car runs on dead dinosaurs and trees that have been pressed and liquified into the sediment and we didn't bury them there, nature is hardcore that way.

                  Which is not to say that a balanced ecosystem isn't a great idea, but recognize it's an artificial one. Condemning hunters or humans or roads and just letting the Aurochs run wild is no guarantee for some kind of balance.

                • jfk13 2 months ago

                  > balance is ultimately more important than having good roads

                  ...or ever-increasing numbers of humans living an ever-more-consumerist life.

      • Hemospectrum 2 months ago

        GGP contains a quote from the article explaining why. To summarize, honeybees compete with wild bees for food, and can spread illnesses that they can’t defend against.

      • jessaustin 2 months ago

        Domesticated bees might eat the same food that wild species eat.

      • henearkr 2 months ago

        This is a problem very specific to North America.

        In Europe, the honey bee has always been there, and is no threat to anything else.

    • hansvm 2 months ago

      We always called them spicy flies. Colloquial phrases can be pretty diverse.

  • hedora 2 months ago

    The call for action at the end is also not great. From what I can tell, these people are your best bet, assuming you want to help local wild bee populations. (If you have other suggestions, please let me know!)

  • bregma 2 months ago

    Around here honeybees do not compete with wild bees for much. Honeybees are a domesticated non-native species incapable of pollinating most native plants. Native bees are well adapted to pollinating native plants but have trouble with the non-native plants.

    The problems that native bees here have are several.

    o Insecticides (aka pesticides) applied to agricultural crops affect all insects, good and bad, including bees.

    o Loss of, for lack of a better word, habitat. Native species of plants are displaced by introduced species that the native bees can not harvest nectar from. Note that urbanization isn't really a big problem for bees because there are plenty of flowers in the city. But are they the right kind of flowers? Orchards full of foreign plants like tree nuts on the other hand, is loss of habitat.

    o Introduced disease. Not only are foreign bees brought in (eg. honeybees) but foreign honey is brought in from far away continents chalk full of spores of varieties of nosema or foulbrood or other threats. Honeybees catch these diseases, and bring varroa and tracheal mites and other problems, and spread them to the native bees.

    o Honeybees are domesticated agricultural animals like beef cattle and pigs. If the numbers decrease we just breed more until market demand is met. It takes 21 days to breed a new queen and split a colony. Native bees, well, they rely on natural methods of reproduction. The birds and the bees, literally.

    As to how a big colony of honeybees deals with a virus: they don't just "throw out the infected bees" since it usually affects the brood more than the workers. If the brood dies, there will be no more workers in a few weeks and the colony collapses. How it usually gets dealt with is the beekeeper medicates the hive. Or, in the case of foulbrood, digs a pit, burns the hive and all nearby hives and all equipment, and buries it like so much nuclear waste.

    There is no threat to honeybees. No such luck for wild bees.

photochemsyn 2 months ago

(1) Stop using neonicotinoid pesticides. There are plenty of alternatives for protecting food crops from insect infestations, such as neem oil applied as a foliar spray or a soil soak in response to infestations. Neonictoninoides are based on the tobacco nicotine molecule structure, but are typically chlorinated and modified to make them more persistent and toxic to insects relative to animals. There's a good argument for banning the entire class due to their persistent ecological effects on beneficial native insect populations.

(2) Have undisturbed habitat set aside for wild bee populations. This can be something as simple as maintaining undisturbed hedgerows on the sides of agricultural fields, but in general means maintaining a fair amount of undisturbed native habitat.

  • chrisan 2 months ago

    Is neem realistic for large scale farms?

    We use it in our personal garden, but you need to continually re-apply every 4-5 days with really good coverage for a period of time for it to be effective. It has been hit or miss for us. If neem doesn't work then its oh well, plant something else, but we aren't selling a crop.

  • 42e6e8c8-f7b8-4 2 months ago

    Demonization of neonics is misplaced. You can spray at night when bees aren't active. You can spray when your plants aren't in bloom and attracting bees. Oh well, the 2 minutes hate have emerged against neonics and farmers pivot like they ways do.

    • jamal-kumar 2 months ago

      If we're talking about trying to stem the destruction of wild species here (The problem really isn't about domesticated honeybees), then you should definitely consider the fact that spraying at night won't help those wild bees which are nocturnal [1], nor does your point of view on these address the fact that these pesticides have a degree of environmental persistence. [2] This isn't demonization, it's just straight facts when there's plenty of alternatives out there which aren't feeding the giant agri-industrial complex behemoth.



      • 42e6e8c8-f7b8-4 2 months ago

        You're mistaken. only big ag can pivot. The smaller your are, the harder it is to keep up with all the regulation. Notice also the phenomenon of regulatory capture.

        • jamal-kumar 2 months ago

          If you want to stop getting downvoted try refuting my central points directly, I'm not really sold

          • 42e6e8c8-f7b8-4 2 months ago

            Down vote to -infinity. I don't care about your internet points.

    • DiggyJohnson 2 months ago

      > Demonization

      This is a dramatic overstatement. You’re disagreeing about neonics, I’m sorry if that’s hard not to take personally but it seems like something than could be discussed without the vitriol.

      • 42e6e8c8-f7b8-4 2 months ago

        I don't understand how you can parse my sentence and think that the object being demonized is either me or farmers. Yes, neonics are being demonized.

        • anigbrowl 2 months ago

          They don't think that. They're saying that your use of the term 'demonization' is over-dramatic and unhelpful.

          • 42e6e8c8-f7b8-4 2 months ago

            The word "demonization" is an apt description of the rhetoric being applied to this topic.

zahma 2 months ago

I appreciate that she draws the link between monoculture crops, land use, and the health of ecosystems upon which agriculture depends.

Organics are important not because GMOs are the enemy but rather because the land use change is inherently bad for all life in that area. GMOs don't have to lead to monoculture crops that span acres or rampant neonicotinoid insecticides, but they often do, and it's precisely at that point we can see drastic changes in a biome's stability and therefore the health of bees among many other pollinators. That's why we need to be talking about insect numbers at large and not only bees.

The study of biodiversity has an extremely difficult time modeling these kinds of changes, and that's probably why many scientists won't go to bat against this kind of land use change. A self-respecting scientist won't say that converting croplands to monocultures ready for insecticide use lead to biodiversity die-off because it's hard to actually track the fluctuations between species. It takes so much time to collect data to analyze before we even get an inkling of the interplay. We understand so little about the microscale interactions and how it fits into our larger understanding of agriculture and land development.

For those who think this is all overblown and alarmist, go sit on the grass -- if you can find a patch -- and stare at a spot until it comes alive. Things are moving around and teeming with a multitude of species of plants and insects. The reality you see escapes unnoticed until you stop to think about the ecological systems that underpin our fragile existence. Our health depends on a functional biosphere. If we cannot figure out how to share the earth with its other inhabitants, what the fuck are we doing going to Mars?

  • veddox 2 months ago

    While I heartily agree with most of your comment, I must strongly disagree with the third paragraph (this is exactly what I'm doing my PhD on):

    > many scientists won't go to bat against this kind of land use change. A self-respecting scientist won't say that converting croplands to monocultures ready for insecticide use lead to biodiversity die-off because it's hard to actually track the fluctuations between species

    Although you are correct that the details are complicated and different species respond in different ways, the overall picture is abundantly clear. Intensive agriculture with large monocultures, simplified landscapes, and heavy fertiliser/pesticide input is wreaking havoc on biodiversity around the world. The scientific literature has been very explicit about this for over twenty years [e.g. 1-5], and lots of scientists (including my colleagues and I) are actively engaging with farmers, NGOs, and policy-makers to find workable solutions to ameliorate the problem.

    [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

    • musicale 2 months ago

      Apparently (and probably unsurprisingly) weed/grass killers like Roundup can also affect bees:

      Roundup also seems to be bad for humans, which is probably why it has been the subject of various lawsuits and settlements and is also banned or restricted in a number of US cities, though not yet in the US as a whole.

hammock 2 months ago

The bee apocalypse is still here. The bees haven’t come back.

Other fauna have declined as well, without us noticing.

I go to northern Maine a few times a year and I’m always looking for moose. I used to be able to find them. Now I only see them when I’m in the air (from a plane).

My friend showed me a study the state did tracking 60 newborn moose calves. Due to overwhelming winter tick population, 90%(!) did not survive the first year, and therefore could not reproduce. This problem has led to a massive decline of moose.

coward123 2 months ago

Hobby beekeeper here... I kinda disagree with her final summary... I get her point, but there are benefits to encouraging more people to keep them:

-- Additional pollinators.

-- Awareness. I've witnessed for myself in my own backyard the effects of our unusual weather this spring (ahem: climate change) through observing how my bees are interacting with my garden and trees.

-- Overall benefit: Personally, tending them makes for great therapy and my neighbors love the honey.

-- Advocacy. When you are in-tune with the impact of climate change, pesticides, herbicides, and overall aware of the ecology around you, you are more likely to make political and consumer choices based on those learned / observed experiences.

Perhaps its a coincidence, but I noticed more native bees in my garden now too. I don't think I've done anything net-new in terms of flowers or trees since I started keeping honey bees, but maybe I'm just more aware of the native bees now? Disappointed I've not been able to attract Mason bees, but I've got at least three other varieties buzzing around regularly and I've identified the hive of at least one of those types.

vr46 2 months ago

It probably helps that millions of people are helping insect and bird populations by planting stacks of wildflowers, doing No Mow May, and being a bit nicer to local wildlife which all adds up.

  • bmitc 2 months ago

    Just as a note, it is important that people plant native wildflowers and not just any wildflowers.

  • hinkley 2 months ago

    If you're trying to help bumble bees, they tend to like to build their nests in the ground under/around rocks, or occasionally in dense duff like straw bales/wattles.

    Last year I had a plant to move a flat stone behind a masonry retaining wall on my property to be a hat on a low stone wall that extended off of the end of it, hoping to create some bee habitat. The rock turned out to be too heavy to move, and as soon as I started jostling it, bumble bees came out from under it to see what the ruckus was. So apparently that rock was working just fine where it was. Instead I bought some new stone, but I haven't observed any bees so far this year.

    Some people use old pots for this task, but I know people, and an upturned pot is going to be inspected, potentially destroying the hive. Kids in particular would be both more prone to this, and more traumatized to learn what they'd done. A big ol' rock is less of an attractive hazard.

    • peteradio 2 months ago

      I unwittingly disturbed a solo bumblebee who made his winter home in my compost pile. I wasn't quite sure what I came across, I'd unearthed a wildly vibrating ball of fine fluff, once I teased it apart out flew a big ol' bumblebee. I've got dozens of bumblebees around my yard this part of the summer as our comfrey goes to flower. I believe they winter among my raspberries where its basically an undisturbed hugelkultur mound. Besides bumblebees and carpenter bees I'm pretty much unaware if I'm looking at a wild bee or some type of fly. There are at least a dozen probably closer to two dozen different bee/fly species on the raspberries alone this time of year. I also see honeybees but they stick to the clover, I will see more of them when sunflowers and stonecrop flower. I feel very fortunate to see that kind of variety, we even get monarch butterflies enough to cause the branches to move under their collective weight, I wasn't aware that happened outside of Mexico.

      • hinkley 2 months ago

        Sometimes I just stand at arm's length and lean over an stare for a bit. The bees in such cases are too busy to bother with you (and indeed I've used this exercise as exposure therapy for myself and two kids who were all previously nervous around bees) and seeing three or four species in a five minute span, you can start to tell them apart in a way you won't get if you spread that duration out over a month.

        Lavender and rosemary are very good stages in this regard, roses and the whole rose family (including blackberries, apples, cherries) are also good. If you're on the west coast the ceanothus bush is pollinator paradise.

peteradio 2 months ago

> However, the numbers may sound more alarming than they really are because honey bees are efficiently bred and managed by humans.

Could that be part of the problem, they mention diversity loss in habitat, how about diversity of honeybee genetics. At the same time, HoneyBees are basically barnyard animals, we don't monitor the collapse of pig populations as they head to the slaughterhouse. I understand its not quite an apt analogy because that is the known causative agent and nobody is trying to slaughter their HoneyBees. All the same, they are not natural, I wonder if the public realizes that.

  • solardev 2 months ago

    Honeybees are basically an invasive species that humans brought to the Americas in order to pollinate old-world crops (and also harvest honey). The thing is, we've replaced a lot of native new-world ecosystems and foods with old-world crops that depend on old-world bees.

    There are a few separate problems that the media often mixes up:

    One is that our old-world crops aren't getting enough old-world bees to meet their pollination needs.

    Separately, new-world bees (what the article calls "wild bees") are also being replaced by old-world bees, losing out in competition, and not being cared for by professional beekeepers. They're more vulnerable, less protected, and less monitored.

    To top it all off, many kinds of bees, old-world or new, are also suffering from the cumulative (and unfortunately complex) domino effects of habitat loss, pesticides, climate change, etc.

    I think what's happening in the media is that journalists, knowingly or not, are using #2 and #3 to amplify the concern of #1 even though they're not always aligned (e.g., old-world bees are often one of the reasons contributing to the decline of native new-world bees).

    It's relatively harder to get the public to care about an industrial economics problem (#1, where farmers have to resort to expensive human manual pollination instead of cheap bees), so trying to sell that as environmental crisis a la Silent Spring gets more eyeballs.

  • h2odragon 2 months ago

    Remember "Killer Bees"? People killed a lot of wild honeybee hives from fear they'd hybridize and introduce new genes into the domestic population.

    There's a few people who will talk about the lack of diversity in domestic bee genetics. AFAIK they're not popular, everybody wants to blame anyone but regulators.

BirAdam 2 months ago

What happened is that the apocalypse did happen, is still happening, and will continue to happen until such time as people quit using tons of pesticides.

Worse is that warmer air usually means more oxygen is available which should make insect and arachnid populations explode, and should result in physically larger insects and arachnids. That we do not see this speaks to the health of these populations.

  • goatlover 2 months ago

    So an apocalypse can happen for an indefinite period of time? I'm calling BS on the use of that term. A decline in some insect populations is not an "apocalypse". An apocalypse would be a massive extinction level event on a global scale, like when a giant rock slams into the Earth, or there's continuous volcanic activity for a million years.

jb1991 2 months ago

I thought this was going to be about the impending doom of the Mexican killer bees we were all warned about in the 80s but that never came. It was in the news for months about a cloud of killer bees.

  • TaylorAlexander 2 months ago

    One problem with the news is that every issue of concern gets blown way out of proportion in the news until it sounds like some kind of existential disaster, and then when total disaster does not come, people think the issue wasn't nonsense. But in reality many of these things are a real problem, just not quite at the scale the news has made it out to be. But what I see time and time again is people dismissing issues of concern because of how the media treated the issue, when what we should really be doing is trying to read through the media's sensationalism to the underlying facts. But I don't think enough people have really internalized how much of the media is sensationalism and lies. People know it when you ask them, but then they go on and believe it all anyway.

  • artmageddon 2 months ago

    I thought they were the Africanized ones? Those were the ones I read about as a kid in my school library, and the way they depicted their projected spread across the USA made it look like a pestilence worthy of Revelation. I honestly thought I wasn't going to live to become an adult because we'd all be over taken by super aggressive bees.

excalibur 2 months ago

> Whatever happened to the Bee Apocalypse?

The same thing that happened to the regular apocalypse. It's still moving closer every day, it's just taking longer than anticipated and causing some to lose patience.

  • epgui 2 months ago

    These things tend to happen slowly and then very, very quickly.

40four 2 months ago

Great article! One of the first I’ve ever seen that breaks down the complexities of the bee problem in a thoughtful, reasonable way. The slew of articles we’ve seen is the last 5-10 years about the ‘Bee Apocalypse’ were largely either highly misleading, poorly researched, or just plain biased by one agenda or another. It used to make me really angry. I’m sure I could dig up past rants I’ve made about it here on HN. Very nice to finally see a detailed objective explanation of the situation.

  • bergenty 2 months ago

    Is the agenda to save bees?

  • epgui 2 months ago

    What’s on the agenda, please?

  • MrYellowP 2 months ago

    > or just plain biased by one agenda or another.

    When it reaches mainstream news, there's always an agenda.

    • synu 2 months ago

      So just insinuations and “do your own research?” I’m intrigued as to who the nefarious entity is with their shadowy plan to protect pollinators that the media is conspiring to hide.

      • MrYellowP 2 months ago

        Can you just not parrot the same thoughtless nonsense as most people do?

        It's not intelligent behaviour. Instead it's completely dismissing something absolutely possible, proven by actual history, unless you wish to believe that no state ever controlled the mass media, ever.

        Fact of the matter is that in Austria this has been happening for the last two years in such an obvious fashion that it's scary. The former-former chancellor raised what's colloquially called the "propaganda budget" by ten times to 200 Million+. Do you think they do that for no reason?

        Nowadays all the mass media (the publications with the widest reach, if you prefer), here in Austria write and show solely what the governments wants. There is no dissenting thought to read whatsoever. Not a single critical thing.

        During the two covid years they also completely blocked out every news from outside regarding it. What went on with that, and still does, is absolutely insane and corrupt to the core.

        Did you know that Austria, while everyone else already moved on, still mandated lockdowns and masks? Did you know that, in vienna, masks were still mandatory until a week (two?) ago?

        Did you know that there's a huge scandal looming around this, because it appears that people in the government know people in companies which coincidentially sell masks?

        Did you know that Austria and Germany were the only countries mandating FFP2 masks specifically and people here had no idea about this?

        There was one news outlet which brought a big article about the "corona experts" of the government. It turns out they were all paid by pfizer. Would you call that independent and unbiased?

        Did you know that Reporters without borders lowered our "press freedom index", because it noticable got worse?

        There's another group, I forgot the name. They asses the "democracy level" of a nation. We've got put down from "liberal democracy" to "electoral democracy".

        You have no idea of the shit that happened here in the last two years. Zero. None. You have no idea what can happen to you and where you live.

        Anyone believing that Hitler can't happen again ...

        ... will help making sure Hitler will happen again.

        Did you know that the mass media outlets in the USA are only controlled by a few rich people who own a shitton of daughter companies people believe to be local media? Rich people, who belong to the social circle of rich people, who, as you most likely know, have strong influence in the government.

        What about the soviet union? Are you claiming they had independent press?

        Do you believe that, when there's an entity which continuously orders lots of advertising space in a medium, it does not gain control? I wash your back, you wash mine?

        Are you really that naive? Do you truly believe the media tells you the truth and not what they want you to hear? Then why would sensationalism be a thing?

        Dude. When you respond, first think for yourself. If all you can do is writing oneliners without any actual points in it, then you're not fit for a discussion.

        It makes you come across as someone who's going to REEEE at me eventually.

        Let's try again?

        (PS: oh and ... you can look all this up. It's all verifyable. DYOR or stop believing you're smarter than others, because you might not be.)

tcmart14 2 months ago

Still happening, it’s just now maintaining bee colonies and taking them on the road to pollinate is now an industry.

  • mistrial9 2 months ago

    there is a single man who was/is credited with starting this so-called industry -- it was on the cover of a New York Times sunday supplement, long ago.. not everyone was thrilled by this, as you can imagine. When big trucked-bee death event happened contemporaneously with documented colony collapse, I bet that he had his name scrubbed from more than one website.

Jedd 2 months ago

I thought that Varroa destructor (a mite that attacks bees) had been determined to be a big causal factor? Improving tools for beekeepers, mostly chemical treatments, have ameliorated the situation.

Here in Australia we're V. destructor free. Well mostly. We've had 3 incursions, two of which were controlled, and the third is happening now with some fierce responses (colony and equipment destruction within a wide radius).

It's understood that this pest would destroy remaining feral colonies of honeybees (probably a good thing), but also have a huge cost for beekeepers and other susceptible (native) species.

  • conorcleary 2 months ago

    Ferel colonies of honeybees provide genetic diversity.

    • Jedd 2 months ago

      Perhaps, but at what cost? In Australia we got small hive beetle about fifteen years ago, and if we didn't have feral colonies these things would be much easier to manage. As it stands, feral colonies are breeding grounds for these and other pests and diseases, and also put our native bees at risk (by disease or competition).

      I also have at least two beekeepers within 10km of me that are actively selecting and breeding up queens with very different priorities over characteristics, so I would expect that genetic diversity isn't at huge risk within the beekeeping / honeybee community.

LightG 2 months ago

Well, this year in the UK I've seen practically none when normally I'd see hundreds.


  • jspash 2 months ago


    (sorry if this comment doesn't abide by the HN rules. i just thought it would be appreciated around here)

dontbenebby 2 months ago

The bees are very much alive, the only decent beam* for parkour near me has a hive inside it now.

* the key is do it next to a bike lane, they're easier to look out for and rarely in the lane at all in cyberpunk appalachia

sam_goody 2 months ago

Um, "bee"? What's that?

Seriously, I used to see MANY more bees than I have in the past two years, so any conclusion that the bees (or other insects) are OK, is anecdotally wrong.

  • 8fingerlouie 2 months ago

    I remember driving with my parents during summer, and the windshield would be completely covered in dead insects.

    These days, driving even for a couple of hours will at most leave a couple of dead insects on the windshield, so it's not just the bees.

BurningFrog 2 months ago

People will always click on apocalypse stories, so the market will keep supplying them.

  • throwaway5752 2 months ago

    You didn't read the article, did you? The author did not diminish CCD. Let me spoil it for you, this is the summary

    "It’s really just a matter of time until there’ll be too few bees to pollinate some of the flowers or too few insects to support some of the birds, or too few birds to spread seeds and so on. And we may be able to fix a few of these problems with technology, but not all of them. So, while it is important to talk to your kids about the birds and the bees, it really is important to talk to your kids about the birds and the bees.

    We simply don’t know what’s going to happen in response to what we do, and I’m afraid we’re not paying attention which is why I’m standing here recording this video. Because if we don’t pay attention, one day we’ll be surprised to be remembered that in the end we, too, are just part of the ecosystem."

    Our situation is still really bad and we don't even know the extent of how bad it is. Everyone just reflexively has to believe it's not really the end of the world as we've known it for most of human history, and that we can't really be bringing about an extinction cycle that will end a significant percentage of species. We are, though, every scientist in the field knows it. We are inducing a hot earth out of the planetary cycle because of carbon dioxide at the same time we're weakening ecosystem. It's going to end badly, and instinctively we all know it.

  • agumonkey 2 months ago

    If there's one bubble that should burst it's the media. There's too much noise nowadays. And yeah it taps onto lazy human reflexes.

  • systemvoltage 2 months ago

    Succint and accurate.

    Massive rebound of the coral growth? No one wants to report that:

    • throwaway5752 2 months ago

      Alex Epstein? The one that is a self-professed Fossil Fuels advocate and is starting a lobbying group with Thiel's backing?

      Anyway, I went to his source material he and it said

      "The last couple of years have revealed that recovery is underway across much of the GBR, a promising sign illustrating that the GBR still has the capacity and necessary ecological functions to recover from disturbances.

      The Central and Southern GBR had periods of recovery within the last decade which have been curtailed by disturbances, arresting recovery, and causing further coral declines. Sustained recovery of the GBR back to historical high coral cover requires the next few years to be disturbance free to allow corals to continue to grow and increase their populations.

      While there have been hard coral cover increases across all three regions over recent years, the Northern and Southern GBR are still below the highest recorded coral cover in the 1980s, and preliminary analyses have documented shifts in the dominant corals on some reefs.

      2021 has been a low disturbance year, while the period from 2014 to 2020 was an intense period of widespread disturbances. There were numerous severe tropical cyclones and three mass coral bleaching events in five years. The fourth wave of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks began around 2010 between Lizard Island and Cairns, and by 2020 had progressed south to reefs offshore from Townsville."

      • systemvoltage 2 months ago

        I read his book, Fossil Future, and found it quite convincing. Also agree with Peter Thiel’s political stance which is horribly smeared and mischaracterized by media as Fascist.

        So if your rebuttal starts out with smearing of the character instead of refuting the points, it just further’s the credibility of Alex Epstein.

        Climate alarmicism leaves no option to engage in criticism. There is no room left. It just shows how deranged it has gotten. There are a lot of lunatics that deny climate change, but Alex takes a data-based approach and advocates that we improve human flourishing, and solve the problem of CC.

        Highly recommend his Google Talk to anyone that wants to see how sloppy some of the Climate alarmicism has gotten:

        • throwaway5752 2 months ago

          No, I am contextualizing what Epstein is saying. It is from an industry advocate/lobbyist, not a scientist. Epstein has a bias, and is being up front about it, and I am repeating his own words. He may be right, and he may be wrong, but his goal is to persuade not to find the truth. I hope they overlap more often than not for all our sakes.

          I note that you didn't address the scientific portion of my response - that while everyone is happy for the GBR recovery, that there was an element of luck in it vs they other years 2014-2020 and isn't a trend.

          Look at your repeating the phrases "deranged", "lunatics". How can I be expected to have a good faith conversation with you when you are saying that I'm mentally ill and illogical. I didn't do the same to you, and I'm disappointed.

          • systemvoltage 2 months ago

            > his goal is to persuade not to find the truth.

            I found it to be exactly the opposite. The current CC movement leaves no room for dissent. Just like the first year of COVID where we left no room to listen to credible scientists, CC movement is singularly focused often ignoring inconvenient truths.

            > Look at your repeating the phrases "deranged", "lunatics"

            I mean, I wasn't calling you mentally ill, but there are people that with close approximation resemble precisely someone that has no logical basis and has taken on a religious pro or anti CC agenda. Watch Fox news sometimes and you'll get what I mean. Alex is quite the opposite, but your first instinct was to smear his character by aligning it with Peter Thiel. Bad faith arguments start with ad-hominem attacks on the person's motives instead of the content of the argument. You kind of did the same thing with me by criticizing my language instead of engaging in arguments, just one step shy of a false moral superiority card (you're insulting mentally ill people).

            Most NYT reporters that invest in propelling Climate catastrophe agenda are not scientists either.

cainxinth 2 months ago

> “Some of the insects most affected include bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, dragonflies and damselflies.”

Great. It’s gonna be nothing but roaches, mosquitos, and ants eventually.

  • tintedfireglass 2 months ago

    Mosquitoes are actually an important pollinators for many species. Mosquitoes aren't parasites they need blood only during their reproduction cycle

  • hinkley 2 months ago

    Don't forget house flies.

tehchromic 2 months ago

Humans are wiping out the planetary biome as predicted

  • tacocataco 2 months ago

    Do you think industrialization led to atrophy of our ability to adapt to our environments? (The reason we're apex predator)

    Or maybe modern civilization requires more long term planning then our brains are wired for?

unity1001 2 months ago

Eu banned neonicotinoids on 1 September 2020. That's what happened. Which caused the US to pressure the Eu to dump Monsantanto on Bayer as a retaliation. Bayer bought Monsanto. Thats it.

halffaday 2 months ago

Seemed like an OK article, but punctuating your essay with a cheerful reference to a violent counter-intelligence operation by the Chinese Communist Party that crushed free-thought for generations is so tone deaf it makes me doubt the author’s judgment on everything else.

akrod1 2 months ago

Honeybees are dying en masse from diseases. Yet they are being neglected by the animal health industry. We need safe and sustainable solutions to help protect the world's honeybees. Dalan Animal health is developing the worlds first honeybee vaccine. To learn more go to:

rob_c 2 months ago

Simply put.

Please America stop using more and more artificial modern chemicals in your farming and go back to tried and tested agricultural methods.

Your soil is getting destroyed through mega tractors. Your buying everything glaxo can sell and your harming your own wasteland that for some reason you grow copious amounts of corn on.

The problem is still there and making an article suggesting that it's not for a (surprise twist...), "the problem is worst than you think" ending, is just turning a topic into a discussion that should be settled fact.

  • Turing_Machine 2 months ago

    > go back to tried and tested agricultural methods

    "Tried and tested" agricultural methods produced about 20 bushels of corn per acre.

    Current "artificial modern chemicals" methods produce about 160. Eight times as much.

    > your harming your own wasteland that for some reason you grow copious amounts of corn on

    The reason is that it feeds a substantial portion of the planet.

    • haspok 2 months ago

      Long live High Fructose Corn Syrup!

      • Turing_Machine 2 months ago

        The same is true for wheat, rice, and virtually every other staple crop.

        Not to mention that going back to the "traditional" methods would require that 90% of the population be dedicated to performing manual agricultural labor, the bulk of which has historically been performed by unfree people (i.e., slaves and serfs).

        • rob_c 2 months ago

          Why does everyone assume when you say "traditional" you mean go back to the horse and cart. Is this an American thing? I...

          Progress has been made on improving the efficiency of small farms of diversified crop types. It's what most of farming in Europe was until the 90s and we didn't have "slaves". I get it your past is coloured by greed and hubris but please don't let it be clouding common sense.

          Unfortunately the larger EU nations started to adopt more mega farming practices which just led to problems, food reserve mountains and now they're reaping the bad decisions.

          It's hilarious how actual research in the area keeps saying smaller fields, let ground go back to wild every few years as part of a rotation and growing rapeseed is probably better than directly dumping chemicals into the soil for altering the soil content.

          • Turing_Machine 2 months ago

            > Why does everyone assume when you say "traditional" you mean go back to the horse and cart.

            Because that's basically what "traditional" means? If "progress has been made on improving the efficiency", then it's not "traditional". By definition.

            Did you look at the chart I posted above?

            • rob_c 2 months ago

              sorry, I seem to forget, when you have 200 years of history, of course you keep going back to the beginning.

              `existing in or as part of a tradition; long-established.`

              Long-estabished by 1980 is still long established, the rest of the world is traditionally not under the influence of the US economic super-power, I feel I needn't go on...

              Traditionally farmers have been breeding cattle, traditionally we like to eat. You're being deliberately argumentative in assuming that traditional means luddite vs something that has been tried and tested and known not to be destructive. Progress needn't mean obliteration of resources, but then given the "traditional" view from the US of demanding growth and domination to sustain high pricing against the all-mighty petro-dollar, you clearly don't have a better system.

              Did you read the rest of my comments. Producing copious amounts of excess corn is _not_ a good thing. Especially when it's produced in a long-term damaging way. Good progress is not the complete obliteration of tradition, those who say it is are fools.

      • stjohnswarts 2 months ago

        It's no worse than sugar. Both are unnecessary for humans and can be extracted as needed from fats and proteins by the human body.

        • ephbit 2 months ago

          According to Dr. Robert Lustig of University of California fructose is indeed worse than sugar. [1]

          It's been a good while since I've watched this video. As far as I remember, he argues that fructose is to the human body strikingly similar to alcohol. Since (unlike glucose) fructose can neither be utilized by muscles nor by the brain, it gets treated more or less like a toxic substance in the liver. In the video Lustig claims that fructose might even be harder on the liver than alcohol.

          So I'd conclude: more fructose --> less healthy. Thus High Fructose Corn Sirup HFCS = far from healthy.


          • UniverseHacker 2 months ago

            High fructose corn syrup and sucrose (table sugar, which is a combination of fructose and glucose) have roughly the same amount of fructose- 50%.

            Also, what Lustig says is nonsense and isn't backed by any plausible mechanism or observational evidence. Alcohol and fructose aren't metabolized very similarly at all. He points out that if liver glycogen is constantly full, the liver has to convert extra fructose to fat (de novo lipogenesis) [1], eventually leading to fatty liver disease, which also happens to alcohol, and short chain fats (e.g. from eating fiber that gets fermented in the gut). As he admits in his own paper this doesn't happen unless you are massively overeating. People that are eating in calorie balance will use the fructose immediately for cellular energy as designed, with no ill effects. Reglarly overeating without exercising much isn't great for your liver because it keeps glycogen overfilled... but it really doesn't matter much what you're overeating.


            • ephbit 2 months ago

              Agreed, fructose combined with overeating will lead likely to problems, fructose alone often not.

              But what do you make of this passage in the abstract of the linked paper?

              > Thus, fructose can exert detrimental health effects beyond its calories and in ways that mimic those of ethanol, its metabolic cousin. Indeed, the only distinction is that because fructose is not metabolized in the central nervous system, it does not exert the acute neuronal depression experienced by those imbibing ethanol. These metabolic and hedonic analogies argue that fructose should be thought of as “alcohol without the buzz.”

              As to your knowledge these claims about fructose and ethanol being "metabolic cousins" are false? Do you have any references for this?

              • UniverseHacker 2 months ago

                > As to your knowledge these claims about fructose and ethanol being "metabolic cousins" are false? Do you have any references for this?

                Ethanol is metabolized ethanol->acetaldehyde->acetate->acetyl CoA whereas fructose is metabolized through the fructolysis pathway, which eventually enters glycolysis the same as other carbohydrates. All energy nutrients eventually end up at acetyl CoA and enter the citric acid cycle, but there is nothing uniquely similar about fructose and alcohol besides being metabolized only in the liver, which is also done for a lot of other nutrients from food. This is all in any basic undergrad biochemistry textbook. Short chain fats from fermented vegetable fiber in the gut for example are widely regarded as super healthy, and are also metabolized in the liver, and nobody says "vegetables are basically just alcohol without the buzz."

                Lustig is just confused in my opinion, and he has a particular type of personality where conflicting evidence entrenches rather than weakens his confused opinion. I had some initial interest in learning more about his ideas before I actually met him at a conference (I am a PI researcher in this field) and found him to be arrogantly dismissive of any and all technical questions and criticisms, without trying to understand what people are saying.

            • rob_c 2 months ago

              Please stop defending HFCS. If you've ever lived outside of the US for more than a week you'll realise what an offence to the pallet it is, let alone what it must be doing to your body.

              Plus didn't we recently realise that fructose genuinely causes the gut to stop digesting good properly?... Overly processed sugar is also bad yes, but govt subsidised HFCS and corn bio-fuel are an affront to common sense.

              • stjohnswarts 2 months ago

                We're defending chemistry HFCS and sugar are basically the same thing to the human body and contain very similar amounts of (nutritionally devoid) glucose and sucrose. Anyone who thinks otherwise is living in a fantasy land.

        • SV_BubbleTime 2 months ago

          Agreed, but we didn’t used to shove sugar in literally everything. Corn syrup mixes well into solution, it’s pretty damn stable, cheap, easy to store and measure, won’t clump… and yea people used to like x product fine, but really prefer it sweeter.

          It’s not that corn syrup is bad, it’s too good which is bad.

          • rob_c 2 months ago

            Yet it is still to take off in Europe and people pay a lot of money to import European food worldwide... Strange...

            • stjohnswarts 2 months ago

              Europe isn't the world and neither is the USA, there is very little difference to the human body between HFCS and cane sugar. They are chemically very similar. Just don't eat so much of them and you'll be fine. The people of the USA eat far too much of both, and neither is good for you in the quatanties we have them in. I'm not sure about Europe, but I know for a fact that Americans eat far too much sugar.

              • SV_BubbleTime 2 months ago

                > I'm not sure about Europe, but I know for a fact that Americans eat far too much sugar.

                They are too. It's a global obesity crisis. The stereotype of the fat American isn't as unique as it was 20 years ago. I was in Germany and France recently, and while not "as bad" as a county fair in Oklahoma, it was obvious.

        • rob_c 2 months ago

          Keep drinking the corn syrup and Doritos. The rest of us will enjoy our food.

  • jl6 2 months ago

    Artificial modern chemicals increase yield, which reduces food price. Yes, we should use less of those chemicals. Yes, that will hit the poorest hardest.

    Is this problem solvable? Maybe. But let’s not pretend it’s simple.

    • rob_c 2 months ago

      Please stop defending the failing quo with "but what can we do about manbearpig...".

      One of the first solutions is stop growing corn badly in the wrong place and grow more appropriate crops elsewhere. I never claimed it was easy I claim that it's obvious.

    • toss1 2 months ago

      it will really hit the poor hard when the soil depletion reduces yield permanently -and the phosphate supply is already coming to the end and costs increasing

ck2 2 months ago

Horizontal well fracking was perfected/took-off in 2006

Wells are burnt off for months, the more wells the more burnoff.

People get sick up to 60 miles away from the burnoff, I wonder how that affects wildlife.

Overtonwindow 2 months ago

Tangentially related, I wonder if anyone has done a meta-analysis about media reported calamities, like Zika, the bee population dying off, etc., and doing a follow up. Then comparing it to what the media reported initially. Was this accurate, blown out of proportion, understated, or simply sensational reporting?

  • kevinmchugh 2 months ago

    It might be hard to tell whether a foretold disaster never materializes because a) it was sensationalized or b) because the attention spurred action (which is good!).

    • kergonath 2 months ago

      Also sometimes things just don’t happen for some unforeseen or unknown reason. It does not mean that initial reporting was sensationalised.

  • eru 2 months ago

    Doing this for back-issues of Zero Hedge would be particularly entertaining.

    • foobiekr 2 months ago

      ZH is a great example of the asymmetric warfare of fighting bullshit. They report a mix of truth, distorted interpretations and wholly made up nonsense simultaneously. It costs them almost nothing to generate this trash, and efforts to inspect it would be stymied by the level of effort in tracking citations (if they exist, which is almost never) or even just reporting on whether some predicted topic occurred. Another problem is that many of the predictions are premised on a non-reality that in and of itself makes addressing the content difficult.

      disclaimer: I love reading ZH and have for at least a decade because it is entertaining in a gross way. They are basically consistently wrong but like crypto people, everything is positive signs that they are right.

      • eru 2 months ago

        I sometimes feel the urge to read Zero Hedge with a five year delay. Ie read their output from June 2017 today.

        I imagine that would be mildly entertaining, because a lot of their bullshit would be so much more obvious.

        Do you remember when they made a big deal out of how the gold derivatives market is bigger than the market for physical gold? As if that is a problem. Or the scandal about Goldman allegedly manipulating aluminium prices by ferrying the metal around town?

        • foobiekr 2 months ago

          I remember both of those. That’s why I kind of love it. So much of it is obvious bullshit, every now and then and negative truth, but bullshit in the way that watching Alex Jones is kind of fun. Somewhere out there are people who are true believers, and they are the suckers that keep the world turning.

  • jamal-kumar 2 months ago

    Endemic zika virus is horrible if you're in a region that has it like me. As if we didn't have enough with dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever and malaria... Any of these diseases feel like getting run over by a bus to get and only two of those have effective preventative vaccines (Yellow fever and now thankfully malaria), but if I get dengue again I could possibly die. The fact that herd immunity kicked in is definitely why you haven't heard as much about it but trust us, this isn't a fun thing to get used to and many, many lives are affected daily by neglected tropical diseases. Maybe you will notice when these diseases make it north of Florida.

  • at_a_remove 2 months ago

    I am very fond of the Summer of the Shark.

  • lkbm 2 months ago

    SSC did a blog post about the various environmental panics of the 1990s. Some were real, some weren't; some were solved, some weren't[0].


    • ZeroGravitas 2 months ago

      This article is notable in that it contained this sentence:

      > Recycling remained inefficient and of dubious benefit, and never really caught on.

      Which made me realise, the first time I read it, that he didn't know what he was talking about and was just repeating what he heard in his weird echo chamber with unwarranted confidence. If you're in that bubble that will apparently seem like a totally normal thing to say, if you're not then it will seem like utter insanity.

      Even more so when you follow the link, and realise he's linking to a New York Times op-ed, which doesn't even agree with the claim (though it's trying pretty hard to give the impression it is).

      > THE environmental benefits of recycling come chiefly from reducing the need to manufacture new products — less mining, drilling and logging. But that’s not so appealing to the workers in those industries and to the communities that have accepted the environmental trade-offs that come with those jobs.

      Oh so recycling actually works, but we need fake jobs for people who don't care about economic efficiency? I'm glad we got some clear eyed realists in to explain this all to us.

      • Dylan16807 2 months ago

        > Oh so recycling actually works, but we need fake jobs for people who don't care about economic efficiency? I'm glad we got some clear eyed realists in to explain this all to us.

        That's not what the op-ed is saying. The existence of benefits does not mean the benefits are bigger than the costs. In context, that sentence is part of an argument against the idea that landfills are filling up.

        So how big are the benefits relative to the costs?

        Well, it cites some data to say that recycling paper and metal does a good job, and that everything else combined is pretty useless. That doesn't strike me as wrong in any obvious way.

        Combine that with "That money could buy far more valuable benefits, including more significant reductions in greenhouse emissions." and "He concludes that the social good would be optimized by subsidizing the recycling of some metals, and by imposing a $15 tax on each ton of trash that goes to the landfill." and this doesn't sound like an argument for fake jobs or ignoring economic efficiency to me.

        • ZeroGravitas 2 months ago

          So the quote:

          > Recycling remained inefficient and of dubious benefit, and never really caught on.

          Linking to an article that, in your words:

          > cites some data to say that recycling paper and metal does a good job


          > the social good would be optimized by subsidizing the recycling of some metals

          But also says metal mining and logging communities are against it because they 'have accepted the environmental trade-offs'.

          Again, from within a certain bubble that may not seem contradictory and illogical, but it is.

          Nor is cheaper ways of reducing CO2 a sensible argument. Every method of reducing CO2, except for one, has cheaper options. We should do all the ones that are a net positive, and so save us money, not only the very best one.

          The whole article is weak sophistry of this kind. As I said, it doesn't support the argument, just does its best to pretend it does.

          • Dylan16807 2 months ago

            If mass recycling doesn't work well except for two materials, then it's not unreasonable to disparage recycling in general. Especially when you're talking about recycling as an alternative to landfills.

            > Nor is cheaper ways of reducing CO2 a sensible argument. Every method of reducing CO2, except for one, has cheaper options. We should do all the ones that are a net positive, and so save us money, not only the very best one.

            Since CO2 is all fungible, we should only spend significant amounts of money on the methods that are in the same ballpark as the cheapest option.

            And what do you mean "save us money"? One main point of that piece was that it cost a lot of money to try to recycle everything.

            You can't even give away many kinds of recyclables, after paying to collect them.

            > The whole article is weak sophistry of this kind. As I said, it doesn't support the argument, just does its best to pretend it does.

            The argument was that trash isn't piling up. Which is supported just fine.

            • ZeroGravitas 2 months ago

              Yes, the article tried to give the vague impression that recycling is expensive, and then admits that metal recycling would increase the social good and should be subsidized.

              So it's not 'expensive', it's expensive not to do it, no matter how much that total subsidy comes to. In fact the higher the total subsidy the more we save. (Not coincidentally the same applies to CO2, carbon fees are the economists solution to achieve higher efficiency by subsidizing alternatives)

              Which must be hard for a contrarian libertarian to admit, so the fact that he does so in an article about how bad recycling is, is very telling. I mean he's just told us that mining communities don't like this idea, it's just stupid rich liberals from the other tribe who want a more efficient economy, now he's telling us to use tax money to put miners out of jobs, for the 'social good'? That we should tax landfills to reduce their use and incentivise alternatives? What kind of hippy talk is that?

              So, back to SSC, he proved that trash wasn't going to pile up, which he dubiously claims is the original, false reason given to recycle, by linking to an article and saying "recycling didn't work and never caught on", but the article says it saves money and we should do it for that reason.

              His source literally calls for a pigouvian tax on landfill use. To reduce landfill use. So he proves trash wouldn't pile up and we'd never run out of landfills, by citing an op-ed by a guy who thinks we should disincentivise landfills? Where is the logic here? Maybe people wanted to reduce landfill usage for whatever unstated reason his source has for wanting the same thing and believing it was economically optimal?

              • Dylan16807 2 months ago

                > In fact the higher the total subsidy the more we save.


                If someone offers a way to spend a hundred thousand dollars per ton of CO2 saved, you should not give them a single penny. It does not increase social good to fund such a program.

                Unless that sentence was just about the efficient types of recycling. In which case yes, fully fund those programs.

                > which he dubiously claims is the original, false reason given to recycle

                The argument the article makes is "90s environmentalism said we'd run out of landfill space and trash would pile up everywhere. This was wrong."

                Not that it was the only reason to recycle, but that it was a massive part of the messaging, and completely wrong.

                You're so laser-focused on that single sentence that you're making a strawman out of the article. The section is not geared at the overall practice of recycling. One single sentence is going too far by being too glib.

    • lisper 2 months ago

      These historical successes are encouraging, but it is very important not to extrapolate any of them to anthropogenic climate change. The processes underlying every single one of the examples in the SSC article operate on time scales of years or decades. CO2 causes effects over centuries and persists for millennia. It is a completely different beast.

      • whatshisface 2 months ago

        The atmospheric chemistry one was Ozone which turned out to be real, and was solved through regulation.

        • lisper 2 months ago

          Yes, but you've missed the point: the problem with ozone was depletion in the upper atmosphere by CFCs. But CFCs do not persist for millennia and ozone is continually produced by natural processes. So if you stop emitting CFCs the problem naturally fixes itself in a short period of time (a few decades).

          But even if we reduced CO2 emissions to zero tomorrow that would not solve the problem because we are already at 150% of pre-industrial CO2, and CO2 persists for thousands of years. We've taken carbon that was sequestered by natural processes over a period of hundreds of millions of years and released it back into the atmosphere in a period of a few hundred years. That genie will not go quietly or quickly back into its bottle.