Environmentalist scare stories – Never mind!

Foreword: Environmental activists always claim they merely want better public policies, to save the Earth and its endangered species. Far too often, their real goal is acquiring more money and power – by misdiagnosing and misrepresenting, exaggerating and fabricating, ecological crises. It’s the road to the hell of badpublic policy. And it’s not always paved with good intentions.

A perfect example is their use of the (temporary) decline in domesticated honeybee numbers to drive fundraising campaigns – and demands that regulators ban neonicotinoid pesticides, the low-risk crop protection insecticides that are mostly applied as seed treatments that get taken up into plant tissue, so that they only attack pests that feed on crops. Now suddenly, the Sierra Club and Xerces Society have finally admitted that “honeybees are at no risk of dying off.  While diseases, parasites and other threats are certainly real problems for beekeepers, the total number of managed honeybees worldwide has risen 45% over the last half century. Honeybees are not going to go extinct.”

But now they’re claiming that multiple species of WILD bees face extinction, likely because of neonics. The recurrent “crises” remind me of Emily Litella’s misguided rant about “endangered feces.” It’s a good time for these environmentalist pressure groups to say, “Ohhhhh. Never mind” – and act a little more honestly and responsibly.


Environmentalist scare stories – Never mind!

Solid evidence shows there is no “bee-pocalypse,” but alarmists allege new pesticide threats

Paul Driessen

“Baby boomers” will remember Gilder Radner’s Saturday Night Live character from the ‘70s – Emily Litella, who would launch into hilarious rants against perceived problems, only to discover that she had completely misconstrued what she was fuming about.

“What’s all this fuss about endangered feces?” she asked in one. “How can you possibly run out of such a thing?” Then, after Jane Curtain interrupted to tell her “It’s endangered species,” she meekly responded with what became the iconic denouement of the era: “Ohhhh. Never mind.”

The Sierra Club and “invertebrate-protecting” Xerces Society recently had their own Emily Litella moment, over an issue they both have been hyperventilating about for years: endangered bees. For over half a decade, both organizations have been raising alarms about the imminent extinction of honeybees and, more recently, wild bees – allegedly due to the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides.

These are advanced-technology crop protection compounds, originally developed and registered as “reduced-risk” pesticides. Applied mostly as seed treatments, neonicotinoids get taken up into the tissue of crop plants, where they control pests that feed on and destroy the crops, while minimizing insecticide exposure to animals, humans and beneficial species like bees.

But not according to the Sierra Club! It campaigned incessantly for years on the claim that neonicotinoids would drive honeybees into extinction. For instance, in March 2015 the Sierra Club of Canada launched a nationwide “Protect the Pollinators Tour,” as part of its #SaveTheBees project.

“Ironically, the justification for this chemical madness is the same desire to produce enough food to feed everyone,” it said. “The chemical industry wants us to believe we have no choice; it’s their way or the highway. But the science tells us otherwise – that farmers don’t need these chemicals at all! The science also tells us we’re not just killing bees and pollinators, but other insects too. And we’re also killing birds and aquatic life. The scientists tell us we could be creating a Second Silent Spring. It’s madness.

A year later, the Maryland Sierra Club did its own fulminating, urging the state’s legislature to pass a “Pollinator Protection Act. “Help STOP Pollinator Deaths from Neonic Pesticides!” it exhorted.

“Toxic Neonic pesticides kill and harm bees and other pollinators, like butterflies and birds. Continued, unchecked use poses a serious threat to our food supply, public health and environment. Ask lawmakers to help keep Maryland pollinators safe and healthy – by curbing consumer use of toxic pesticides.”

In December 2016, the Sierra Club was out raising more money by sounding phony alarms about Trump appointees “denying the science” that supposedly links neonic pesticides to alleged bee declines:

“Bees had a devastating year. 44% of colonies killed.… And Bayer and Syngenta are still flooding our land with bee-killing toxic ‘neonic’ pesticides – now among the most widely used crop sprays in the country. Now, Myron Ebell – Donald Trump’s pick to lead the EPA transition team – denies the science that links neonics and bee death….”

Why would they make such false claims? Well, as Sierra Club officer Bruce Hamilton once admitted: “It’s what works. It builds the Sierra Club. The fate of the Earth depends on whether people open that envelope and send in that check” (or click on the ever-present online Donate Now button).

However, a few weeks ago, a Sierra Club blog post started singing a different tune:

“‘Save the bees’ is a rallying cry we’ve been hearing for years now…. But honeybees are at no risk of dying off.  While diseases, parasites and other threats are certainly real problems for beekeepers, the total number of managed honeybees worldwide has risen 45% over the last half century. ‘Honeybees are not going to go extinct,’ says Scott Black, executive director of the Xerces Society. ‘We have more honeybee hives than we’ve ever had, and that’s simply because we manage honeybees. Conserving honeybees to save pollinators is like conserving chickens to save birds … [since] honeybees are not all that different from livestock.”

So, Never mind. Finally, after all these years, the Sierra Club (and Xerces Society) admit that honeybees are not going extinct. It would appear as well that neonic pesticides can’t be causing a honeybee apocalypse – because there isn’t one!

But in the eco-alarmism world, every silver cloud has a dark lining! This time, it’s wild bees, also called “native” bees, whose allegedly looming demise is the imminent ecological cataclysm du jour.

Honeybees are not native to North America; they were first brought here by colonists in 1622. Now – according to the Sierra Club anyway – these non-native bees pose a threat to wild bees and other native pollinators. New research, it says, “shows managed honeybees can negatively impact native bees.”

Varroa mites, deformed wing virus and other problems from commercial hives (the real causes of honeybee declines in recent years) “can be transferred to wild species when populations feed from the same flowers.” In fact, the rusty patched bumblebee, “which was listed as endangered in early 2017 after declining more than 90 percent over the last decade, may owe that disappearance to diseases spread by commercial bees.” And the RPB is not the only threatened or endangered wild bee species.

Many native bees – of which there are over 20,000 species globally, in various sizes, shapes and colors – “are experiencing incredible losses,” says a Sierra Club blog. “Of the nearly 4,000 native bee species in the United States alone, four native bumblebee species have declined 96 percent in the last 20 years, and three others are believed to have gone extinct. In the last 100 years, 50 percent of Midwestern native bee species disappeared from their historic ranges.”

Now the blog doesn’t claim all these supposed wild bee declines are due to neonic exposure. At least it doesn’t say so just yet, leaving that inference to your imagination. However, the Sierra Club is likely just as wrong about wild bee species being in trouble, as it was during its previous years of railing about the causes and reality of honeybees going extinct.

First, the overwhelming majority of wild bee species, at least in North America, never get any exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides, because they are desert species– with habitats typically tens or hundreds of miles away from croplands.

Second, the overwhelming majority of those wild bee species are specialists. They feed exclusively on the pollen and/or nectar of one or a very few plant species – and their life-cycles are tied inextricably to the flowering cycle of the (mainly desert) plants they pollinate.

They typically emerge from the ground prompted by the same natural signals (rains) that awaken the cacti and other plants. They then live just long enough to produce larvae and stock the larval nests with food (pollen and/or nectar) from the plants they pollinate before they die. This cycle is completed in days – and pesticide exposure is virtually impossible given the environments where it takes place.

All this is not to say that wild bees don’t play any role in crop pollination. Some do.

However, 59 scientists published a three-year study in Nature, concluding that only 2% of wild bee species provide “almost 80% of the wild bee crop pollination.” They also found that “the species currently contributing most to pollination service delivery are generally regionally common species, whereas threatened species contribute little, particularly in the most agriculturally productive areas.”

In other words, the handful of wild bee species that contribute the lion’s share of wild bee crop pollination – and thus are most exposed to neonic and other pesticides – are abundant and not threatened or at risk, certainly not from pesticide exposure.

This jibes with the observations by Sam Droege, the U.S. Geologic Survey’s wild bee expert whose surveys indicate that most wild bee species are doing just fine.

It’s encouraging that the Sierra Club and Xerces Society have finally acknowledged that the “honeybee apocalypse” – which they used for years to demonize neonic manufacturers and raise millions of dollars – was pure fiction. Eventually, perhaps, we hope (fat chance) they’ll admit their exaggerated claims and half-truths about wild bees are equally phony and misleading.

It’s a real pity that so much public hysteria – and pressure on politicians and regulators to combat fictitious bee problems – was generated in the process. That was especially true in Europe, where regulators gave in to agitator pressure and misrepresentations, and banned neonics this year. Now farmers will have to spray crops with pesticides that really are harmful to bees, or will lose more to voracious insects.

Environmental activists always claim to be pushing for better public policies, to “Save the Earth.” Misdiagnosing and misrepresenting non-existent ecological crises is precisely the road to the hell of bad public policy. And it’s not always paved with good intentions.

At least when it comes to claims about another “bee-pocalypse,” it’s time to say, Never mind.

Paul Driessen is the author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death and other books and articles on energy, climate change and environmental activism.

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Susan

Someone was running a Facebook campaign to get our local council to stop using glysophate in order to protect bees. I had to point out that glysophate is a herbicide not a pesticide.

Trevor

SUSAN :
THAT is a perennial problem that COMES UP on an ANNUAL basis !
The perpetuators of this obviously subscribe to the belief “that if you
repeat a lie often enough, people will become to believe it , and you
will even come to believe it yourself ” !
THEY have probably reached the latter stage and convinced themselves !
THE kindest thing that you can THINK is that they
SIMPLY don’t KNOW the difference !
So..please keep CORRECTING THEM !!
[ There is a GOOD CASE to be made for keeping SOME WEEDS ALIVE
such as MILKWEED for Wanderer Butterfly’s caterpillars to feed on ! ]

Tim

The World Health Organization proclaimed in 2015 that glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup, was “probably” carcinogenic.

Phoenix44

And is the only organisation that has done so. It is actually a sub-division of the WHO, which tests everything ad pronounces everything carcinogenic, because it uses animals bred to be exceptionally sensitive and then gives them doses that are utterly impossible under everyday conditions.

Even the EU has struggled to say that Roundup is carcinogenic: the European Chemicals Agency, for example, concluded in March 2017 that “the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen.”

And then there’s this:

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/who-iarc-glyphosate/

So Tim.
the hundreds of glyphosate tests that did NOT
find the chemical carcinogenic, over four decades,
don’t count at all — they are overruled by ONE so called “test”
by a biased organization, that finds over 99% of the
chemicals they test to be carcinogenic!

I wrote an article on RoundUp late last year
for one of my blogs, but can’t find the link,
so here’s the whole article from
my backup WORD file — I hope it is
worthy of some bandwidth here:
.
.
“Modern climate science
is not the only fake science!

French International Agency
for Research on Cancer (IARC)
received over $48 million
from America’s National
Institutes of Health (NIH).

They have “tested” over 900 chemicals,
and 899 were claimed to be carcinogenic!

Complete nonsense!

The IARC has now “tested” glyphosate,
the active ingredient in RoundUp herbicide.

My wife and I happen to use a gallon or two,
every year at home.

IARC colluded with
anti-chemical activist groups,
and class action lawyers.

IARC manipulated scientific reports.

IARC deliberately withheld other studies,
concluding glyphosate was safe.

IARC panelists inserted new statistical analyses,
that reversed the study’s original finding,
saying glyphosate was safe.

NIH Cancer Research Institute scientist
Aaron Blair conducted a years-long study,
that found glyphosate was safe,
but he kept his study secret,
until after IARC published their “study”,
so IARC would not have to mention,
his “unpublished” study in their report.

Fortunately, the European Union
just barely extended its authorization,
for glyphosate use,
but only for 5 years,
instead of the usual 15 years.

IARC rulings are used by predatory lawyers,
to sue glyphosate manufacturers.

IARC reviewers told US congressmen,
who were asking questions about their science,
to come to France,
if they wanted answers!

Congress authorizes taxpayer funding,
for IARC, but apparently congressmen,
have no right to question their work?

Glyphosate is the most popular herbicide
in the world, important for modern agriculture.

Before the IARC “study”,
there had already been 3,300 studies,
over four decades,
proving glyphosate was safe.

Only IARC said glyphosate causes cancer.

IARC employed Italy’s Ramazzini Institute,
to work on their study — Ramazzini had
falsely claimed in the past,
that cell phones and artificial sweeteners,
cause cancer.

Evidence is accumulating that Ramazzini
worked closely anti-chemical pressure groups,
and even trial lawyers.

The 2014 advisory group
that decided IARC would review glyphosate
was led by activist statistician
Dr. Christopher Portier.

Shortly after serving on the advisory group,
Portier signed up with trial lawyers,
to work on their glyphosate law suits,
and has already been paid at least $160,000.

This is leftist fake science,
supported by US tax dollars,
used to drive safe chemicals,
off the market.

More than 1,000 US lawsuits,
already claim glyphosate causes cancer.

No more US money should be wasted on
IARC’s junk science.”

Gilbert K. Arnold

Richard: I seem to recall a discussion (post) here a while back that talked about the shoddy science of the IARC. Perhaps the wayback machine can find it for us.

Maybe this is the WUWT article,
which happens to be by the same author
as the current article:
https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/03/05/will-congress-finally-get-tough-on-junk-science/

ozspeaksup

well you obviously believe that everythings safe and that corporations dont lie for money?
and that the research done BY labs dont ever supress remove any bad results?
lax laws dont insist that ALL results are made available.
hence the killer human meds that get by the FDA as well.

theres around 8k chem used in house n personal products
very few ever got tested alone for issues..let alone in combination.
when companies were asked to replace the known harmfuls with safer ones at the cost of a cent or two per bottle they refused.
says a lot.

john harmsworth

And we live longer and eat better than ever before! Corporations that lie and falsify studies stand to be sued and prosecuted and lose literally billions. What risks do the Green liars take?

RHS

“Probably” Carcinogenic is the same category as working the night shift for years.
Probably is pretty far from definitely.

Bill Treuren

actually it is but less than a third of the carcinogenic effect of table salt so once that’s banned lets get to work on roundup.

Everything is carcinogenic including life.

buggs

Susan,
As respectfully as I can: all herbicides are pesticides, not all pesticides are herbicides.

Unfortunately you raised a substantial flag for me. Most often in discussions or articles in the media we will see comments such as “pesticides and herbicides…” which tells me the author has no real clue. It does this because of the statement above. The same can be said regardless of which category of pesticide is put into the comment (pesticides and insecticides…, etc.).

‘Pesticides’ is the overarching term that includes insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, algaecides, etc. Most people think pesticides refer specifically to insecticides but that is simply not the case. I hope in your case it was nothing more than a simple error.

Hivemind

But just to be clear: glyphosate doesen’t kill insects.

ozspeaksup

its its on the plants bees can still absorb it it gives them severe gut issues. besides which sprayed areas should inc colourant so pets and people know to stay clear ..dermal absorbtion for pets feet is an issue as well as little kids in playgrounds parks.

Robert of Ottawa

Your children will never know the taste of honey in the snow.

Johann Wundersamer

Lots of children already use the honeysweet white snow.

MarkW

Just stay away from the yellow snow.

Henning Nielsen

Why the gloom?
Apo-calypso is much more fun.

Gary

It’s got a catchy beat and you can dance to it.

Peta of Newark

Would it not be pertinent to ask these folks how the tobacco plant reproduces itself?

garywgrubbs

Years ago in eastern Pennsylvania the firefly population was in decline. It was very noticeable. Of course the environmentalists stated the obvious fact that it was insecticides that was the cause and we had to change our life style or all insects and even those of us that call ourselves mammals would perish. This was just a warning.

Three years later they were back in full force and now they are more prevalent than ever. Never did hear the official reason but most think it was nature being nature. A disease had hit the firefly population and their number decreased before recovery allowed their population to increase.

Time after time after time their proclamations and predictions fail to materialize and yet time after time they are called back to give their expert opinions.

Kip Hansen

Desert Bees ==> Like desert birds, desert-environment bees are tied to the cycle of the land — the Southwest has been in an extended drought for years and all species there are watching and waiting for the rains to return to enjoy their cyclical population boom.

Jtom

Perhaps a few hungry attorneys will file class action fraud-in-the-inducement lawsuits against some of these groups.

ResourceGuy

I guess they met their fundraising quota and it’s time to shift gears while doing the cool-down actions on the prior campaign. After all, multiple scare campaigns could cannibalize each other in marketing and scare messaging. The world needs more retired marketing execs to explain all of this with a blog so the public (targets) will know what’s up.

Jeroen

Today on dutch radio a woman was asked about a pinguin population declining over 1 year in the indian ocean. Must have been an island near Antarctica. She stated it was probally due to climate change…. Without any research. The radio-dj did not even asked how she knew it or if she was sure. He just accepted it.

I instantly called BS, since I know the Southern -hemisphere oceans are not warming up at all compared to the Northern-hemisphere. Probally, because the cycles are less apparant? I bet you the woman(I refuse to call her a scientist) did not even checked the local temperature trend for the island or the ocean. Or even the antartic ice extend she just assumed it herself as well.

What I do know is that we know very little about pinguin colonies so I am not to worry about them.

ozspeaksup

go to science alert for the story
its an island they havent been to in a loooong time
other colonies have increased nearby
i reckon the missing ones moved
the article implies they dont do that;-)
antarctic ones sure did

Phoenix44

As an atheist, since I could understand
what the word meant (a long time),
I see the similarity between religious leaders
predicting a disaster, if you don’t do
as they say (you go to “hell”)
… and secular environmentalists
predicting a disaster,
if you don’t do as they say
(Earth will become a “hell”) .

I consider myself immune to scary predictions
of the future, and I resist unnecessary authority
(the ‘do as I say’ folks).

What surprises me is how many people believe
the scary predictions, based only on faith.

And how the predictions have become
“anything goes” in the past few years,
because no one in the mainstream media
asks any questions, or expresses any
skepticism!

The crazy predictions of doom
inspired me to launch a free no-ads
climate change blog as a public service
to help people understand
how little real science is involved
in the false claim of a coming global
warming catastrophe.

But it’s tough to change people’s minds.

Many people will believe scientists without question.
I don’t.
After reading their predictions about CO2,
and other boogeymen, such as acid rain,
for several decades, I wouldn’t buy a used car
from a scientist !

And in my opinion, two of the funniest words
in the English language are:
“Scientists say …”

My climate change blog:
http://www.elOnionBloggle.Blogspot.com

ResourceGuy

I think we need a scare tracking system using key word filtering to gauge all the twists and turns of the advocacy marketing-trolling methods in real time. They appear to be doing a current job to downplay satellite temperature data knowing that a cooling is in progress and likely to continue in the aftermath of a super El Nino and other natural cycles. Such a system would also give a good track record over time of the bob and weave focus that is typical of their style.

If you talk to most people they don’t know the difference between honeybees and other types of insects like wasps. In part it is the over zealous that kills all them. It wasn’t global warming that killed the feral honey bees in NJ, it was the cold. Farmers in NJ are being urged to grow crops in a way that encourages native pollinators to thrive. Sure the mites were/are a problem, as well as a man made virus that looks like it was spread from country to country. Destroying the honeybees is a weapon of war.
Other gardeners in my area have beautiful foliage, no fruit. I have both honey bees and mason bees, I have too much of everything.

Ed Zuiderwijk

They were wrong about CO2. They were wrong about bees. What other subjects are they wrong on? Fracking, GMOs, windmills, solar panels? The odds that they are right on any of those don’t look good.

ResourceGuy

Peak oil and other run-silent topics off the stage

Matthew Thompson

It is indeed gratifying to read a post on the Sierra Club’s website: “[…] the total number of managed honeybees worldwide has risen by 45 percent over the last half century.” Nonetheless, it is educational to read the source and see in detail what is being proffered. For example, in the same post:

“Of the nearly 4,000 native bee species in the United States alone, four native bumblebee species have declined 96 percent in the last 20 years, and three others are believed to have gone extinct. In the last 100 years, 50 percent of Midwestern native bee species disappeared from their historic ranges.”

Other bloggers will seize on this second quote, pepper it with accusations and dire warnings in order to evidence whatever cause they push. The missing element is boring analytical reasoning. A loss of 96 percent (ignoring for the moment the rather fake-sounding one-percent accuracy) is certainly an eye-grabbing headline. But those that give a mote of thought would realize bees’ ranges will quite possibly change over twenty years due to a host of human or even nature-induced reasons. Were 4,000 species studied, and ONLY 0.1% were found in catastrophic decline?

The Sierra Club post seems to first present an undeniable and logical fact about the domestic bees as a literary device to make whatever drivel they follow with seem rational. They are not really changing their position.

Pop Piasa

Late to the party, but this limerick appears to apply here:

Ode on Climate Activism

I long was a fan of Ecology,
‘Til it became “Gaia’s Theology”.
To question the memes
Is heretical it seems,
And errant exceeding apology!

Rather than Meteorology,
These pontiffs espouse Ideology.
To shape human feeling
Is foremost their dealing;
Inducing remorse with Psychology.

Yes, the science-of-climate’s esteem
Is built on “unprecedented extreme”.
Discoveries mundane
Would be ill to their gain,
As it’s lucrative for them to scream.

So, it’s up to the people to learn,
And the facts from the spin to discern.
Is the planet in harm,
Or just false alarm?
Which way will society turn?

Edwin

Back in the late 1980s and 1990s we were dealing with honey bee hive collapse issues as part of mosquito control environmental policy. As I understood it at the time neonicotinoids were being blame for hive collapse in Europe by the greens. The organized environmentalist here pick up the torch. When we were first approached about neonicotinoids we pointed out that they were not used for mosquito control in Florida. At first it was “Oh, never mind.” A couple of meetings latter suddenly the same presentations were being given by the environmentalists but they had replaced neonicotinoids with Naled (dibrom).

The most successful paradigm in modern environmentalism was the “Silent Springs” mythology. Since they believe it worked, they and many technocrats come back to that paradigm regularly when it comes to pesticides or other manmade chemicals. They start playing the same old song just with a different verse. Then throw in the “precautionary principle.”

There are going to be a bunch of unhappy beekeepers that once allied themselves with Sierra only now to be told they are a problem with native bees going extinct.

ozspeaksup

the rise in kept bees is in part due to small hobby keepers
theyre the biggest risk as they dont recognise disease until its too late
they mean well but lack the skills to assess AFB EFB and persian disease and it needs be done at least fortnightly
sick hives need to be killed and the boxes boiled in wax to kill pathogens,hobby keeprs cant do./dont know that . irradiation promoted but personally i say its expensive and doubt its as good as either burning the entire hive or the wax sterilizing.

ozspeaksup

neonicotinoids get taken up into the tissue of crop plants, where they control pests that feed on and destroy the crops, while minimizing insecticide exposure to animals, humans and beneficial species like bees.

ok
theyre systemic so every cell of the plants affected
so every sprayed/treated crop contains that residue and you and our animals eat it.
there are NO studies or work done at all so far on those levels in our food or grains as far as i know.
roundup levels in food have been raised quite a bit recently, they had to because so much food contains residues now. not that thats saying its safe
its a CYA for finding glyphosate in urine and blood of people who dont use it , and in babys cord blood at birth

Bayer admitted they caused nontarget species deaths up to and including mice n bats.
neonics travel well in water tables
were found to be in trees surrounding croplands as well.
have a long residual hang around.

they moved TO seedcoating after many farmers reported issues with their own health and the high killrates of bees when they sprayed.
the dust from coated seeds still is a problem

mr dreissens total acceptance of GMO and chemical farming annoys the hell out of me, when there IS evidence that harm is done soils are damaged soil biota and insects ARE harmed by pesticides. hell if they werent harmed thered be no sale for them!
i did soil testing for some time
the biota in roundup and other chem use soils was nearly zero and i tested in all seasons for 2 yrs.
its the soil biota that break down minerals for the plants to assimilate
oh and you think the chem does worms any good?
worms turn massive tonnage of soil per yr per acre of healthy soil bringing up deep minerals and removing vegetation that would otherwise create more disease problems if left.

Khwarizmi

Lots of people actually smear neonicotinoids on their pets.
I’ve done it myself once or twice.

I shall try to keep bees away from my cat if I have to do it again, now that I know the consequences.