Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Save the Bees and Mind Your Own Dam Business by Investing in Research

Single environmental issues seem to create serious problems when it comes to obtaining real legislation, but I have to wonder if there is an even bigger impediment to environmental legislation than apathy, or political disagreement, or even Bush's policy on Kyoto. The problem may be sheer complexity of environmental issues that make a single comprehensive climate change bill impossible. The result may be not just one up-hill battle for the environment, but thousands. And much of the action being taken right now we don't really have great answers for.

For example, we have no idea what to do about the bees disappearing. I'm not making this up, please see the NY Times article at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/24/science/24bees.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Like many environmental issues, we know the bees are disappearing, we have a laundry list of causes, but the situation is complex. How do you save the bees when you don't know what to save them from? It may seem like a silly issue, but the potential environmental impact and economic impact is absolutely enormous. Perhaps I need a bumper sticker from Bee Watch.

On the other hand, sometimes we know the science involved but the situation is complex enough that it is difficult to tell course to take to minimize harm. A great example involves current fights over Dams in Oregon used for hydroelectric power. Do we like the dams for their (relatively) clean hydroelectric power, or do we hate the dams because they kill all the delicious (Read: ecologically vital) salmon?

What is the point? The point is that as much as we need lobbyists and all of the political pressure on reducing emissions and such, many of the real environmental problems out there
need funding for research before we can even begin to make informed choices. Saving the planet with your vote needs to be accompanied with saving the planet with your wallet.


Chris Layton said...

Maybe I spoke too soon: researchers in China found evidence that the bee population may be declining due to the proliferation of a certain fungus. I will still be taking money from anyone who wants to donate to a "Save the Bees Society." If you join, you will also automatically be enrolled in a "Save the Oxen Society." There are only so many oxen around anymore, and I am more than willing to take money in the name of saving them.

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