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Joshua trees, honey bees and global warming

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When John Fremont walked across the high and cool Mohave Desert 150 years ago, he noticed the Joshua Trees dying off in some clumps but migrating to slightly better environs at a crawling pace.

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He called aloud in a John Fremontism for all time: "Joshua Trees are the Prophets of the Desert!" The problem Joshua Trees face today, however, is not just moving to the water, but the alarming rate of drastic changes taking place faster than they can move.

Three inches a year is growth rate on average, lifetimes are hundreds, and young Joshuas travel by seed of sparse fruit - never far from home. Time will tell whether our rapidly devolving environmental conditions mark the end for these iconic creations, named for a Biblical character, armed in prayer and roaming the Mohave.

Joshua trees tell of drying times faster than they can run

If we could watch their patterns like scientists do, and we could track and define their shifting moods, then we’d see fewer and fewer Joshuas thriving here. Many barely survive as thousands dry up and die out in our southwest deserts.

We dedicated a National Park so folks could hang out with Joshua Trees, experience them in natural splendor, and respect these creations growing in harmony like our own sister species in the Tree world - spectacular grateful dancers blooming glorious life in the scorching desert.

Joshua Tree is a spectacular place to visit, and our planet may well learn to appreciate some of the lessons reflected in our treatment of places and trees and blooms and bugs. Local Artist Philip K. Smith created an inspirational modification of an old Joshua Tree shack, a California cabin that reveals helpful insights.

Laying for Honeybees

Recent studies around the world confirm impacts of pesticides unleashed a few years ago on our honeybee population. Along with sunshine beaming and rain falling, the third leg of plant life around this planet is left to the workings of none other than the lowly honeybee.

This blend of pesticides confuses bees after touching ~1000 flowers. They lose connection to the hive, and hives collapse. Most pesticided bees just buzz around lost until they die.

Termed neonicotinoids, this cocktail of chemicals curtails basic bee functions and results in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in an alarming rate of increases just since being introduced recently. When scientists identified the virus afflicting the bee, it turns out to be a plant based-, not animal based-critter, the rapidly mutating Tobacco ringspot.

International manufacturers of pesticides - Monsanto, BASF, Syngenta, Bayer - have soaked a third of the market with these dizzying bee bombs. Since Europe discovered them, they are banned there for at least a 2-year moratorium. Marketed as Pristine, the German product from BASF was linked to massive bee colony collapse in California almond orchards this spring.

When drones do arrive at the hive unwittingly packing poisons unknown, the problem results in two growth anomalies: One group of these intended neurotoxic implants will lodge permanently in the bees’ brains, and the other morphs around in the tiny mites which reside inside like a hidden incubating petri dish for frequent mutations of the pesticide-laced pollen.

Colony Collapse Disorder: just a problem for BEES?

Historic events such as the Plague jump into our world as quietly as a rat riding a ship, carrying fleas. It wasn’t the ship. It wasn’t the rat. It was the flea that consumed our culture and botched our best efforts for several centuries. Picture a clueless drone bee as an unwitting ship, a Trojan Horse doing the covert installation of torture within its hive and ours!

Almond trees had a new best friend, a chemical concoction that included only a couple of pesticides deemed not quite toxic. To this blend they added adjuvants that first spread the pesticide across the entire leaves rather than forming droplets.

With improvements, along comes a ‘super-dooper’ adjuvant that first spreads the pesticide across the entire leaves and now penetrates the leaf so it does not ‘wash off’ the leaves.

According to local reporters at the time (Numbers Ch.14; verse 22 -24), when Joshua reported his view of the Promised Land, his arms opened skyward, exalting creation and praising the spectacular harmony of it all. For this love, Joshua and Caleb are the only two souls in their generation to access the Promised Land.

Another likely casualty may not flutter by as it did before - the butterfly suffers a similar fate as a downstream indicator of how our arsenal of chemicals may be affecting this floating wonderland.

Europe agrees to 2-year moratorium to study bee

In spite of opposition from some powerful lobbies in the European Union to maintain the highly successful pesticide/fungicide concoctions, Europe is moving forward cautiously, implementing detailed and comprehensive studies of the interactions. They no longer allow any application of these products until results are available of the impacts on our broader environment, including the 2-year moratorium now in effect.

With the revolving-door policy interbreeding Monsanto and the EPA in the US, we are in limbo. Money talks. Corporations morph and sustain. Sorry, bees.

The collateral damage is our dinner. The attack comes from interested and well invested corporations, my friends –Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, BASF – planting death to all unwitting slurpers of nectars. Our problem now, however, is there’ll BEE no dinner!..Until the bee drone comes to our rescue. Funny how stuff works, huh?

See next article to discover what money and power can do to plant life in paradise.

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