The Birds, the Bees, and Bill Maher

According to Arianna’s boy Bill Maher, we’re killing the bees. He’s not sure how, exactly, but he’s sure that we humans are responsible. The fact behind Maher’s latest tantrum is this: there’s an epidemic of something called Colony Collapse Disorder that’s causing bee colonies to die off in 24 states across the continental United States and in two Canadian provinces as well as parts of Continental Europe. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened; the disease used to be called “Disappearing Disease”, and it’s been recorded since the 1890’s.

Maher claims it’s probably caused by narcissistic young Americans talking on cell phones, if not from some other human cause:

But I think we’re the ones suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder. Because although nobody really knows for sure what’s killing the bees, it’s not al-Qaeda, and it’s not God doing some of his Old Testament shtick, and it’s not Winnie the Pooh. It’s us. It could be from pesticides, or genetically modified food, or global warming, or the high-fructose corn syrup we started to feed them. Recently it was discovered that bees won’t fly near cell phones — the electromagnetic signals they emit might screw up the bees navigation system, knocking them out of the sky. So thanks guy in line at Starbucks, you just killed us. It’s nature’s way of saying, “Can you hear me now?”

This is apparently the result of his manging a news report on honey bee aversion to cell phone signals that made the rounds of the sensationalist press:

It seems like the plot of a particularly far-fetched horror film. But some scientists suggest that our love of the mobile phone could cause massive food shortages, as the world’s harvests fail.

They are putting forward the theory that radiation given off by mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the more bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world – the abrupt disappearance of the bees that pollinate crops. Late last week, some bee-keepers claimed that the phenomenon – which started in the US, then spread to continental Europe – was beginning to hit Britain as well.

The most likely cause of CCD is the fungus Nosema ceranae:

Researchers have been struggling for months to explain the disorder, and the new findings provide the first solid evidence pointing to a potential cause.

But the results are “highly preliminary” and are from only a few hives from Le Grand in Merced County, UCSF biochemist Joe DeRisi said. “We don’t want to give anybody the impression that this thing has been solved.”

Other researchers said Wednesday that they too had found the fungus, a single-celled parasite called Nosema ceranae, in affected hives from around the country — as well as in some hives where bees had survived. Those researchers have also found two other fungi and half a dozen viruses in the dead bees.

So Bill Maher and his brood over at the Huffington Post are exactly 180 degrees from the truth. It’s a natural disorder with a technical cure, the fungacide Fumagillin, which originated in nature and is now made by drug companies. Fumagillin was once used to treat malaria and is effective in protecting white blood cells from HIV. (No, this doesn’t mean that the bees have AIDS and are being punished by the Baby Jesus for their immoral lifestyle.)

Bill Maher is one of those whacked-out animal rights vegetarians who’s always the first to blame his fellow humans for all the world’s problems. Perhaps he’d like us – and himself – a little more if he could wrap his pea-sized brain around the concept that we’re animals too and probably just as entitled to our lives as baby seals are to theirs. I’m not holding my breath.

Why the Kyoto Protocol won’t work

China and India are exempt from the international agreement to limit greenhouse gases. With China set to pass U.S. as world’s top generator of greenhouse gases that’s pretty much a joke:

Far more than previously acknowledged, the battle against global warming will be won or lost in China, even more so than in the West, new data show.

A report released last week by Beijing authorities indicated that as its economy continues to expand at a red-hot pace, China is highly likely to overtake the United States this year or in 2008 as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

This information, along with data from the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based alliance of oil importing nations, also revealed that China’s greenhouse gas emissions have recently been growing by a total amount much greater than that of all industrialized nations put together.

“The magnitude of what’s happening in China threatens to wipe out what’s happening internationally,” said David Fridley, leader of the China Energy Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Back to the drawing board, fellow global-warming fanatics.