New book on Bee Death


Lyons Press, 2008, $24.95.

Lyons Press, 2008, $24.95.

Referencing the French experience with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), Schacker implicates IMD, a relatively new pesticide and close cousin to DDT, manufactured in its most widespread form by Bayer. This revelation has a feeling of inevitability to it, like finding out that the murderer who drew the light sentence was the Congressman’s cousin. Though Schacker’s tone can sometimes get a little strident, any initial annoyance on the reader’s part is dissipated by the urgency of his message. By the time we get to the section titled “The Government Responds?” we are very much with him.

As the front flyleaf of the book points out, it’s been 100 years since the birth of Rachel Carson, and A Spring without Bees makes a fine testament to how right she was—and how little she’s been heeded. Looking beyond IMD and Bayer to uncover the deeper whys, Schacker makes it crystal-clear that deregulation of pesticide manufacturers—and the lobbyists who currently steer the EPA and the FDA—have brought us all to the brink of a new definition of CCD. That would be Civilization Collapse Disorder, and intervening at this point will take a vast and basic paradigm shift. But Schacker doesn’t merely wring his hands and moan. He offers a potpourri of hopeful small suggestions that, if widely adopted, could have big results: nontoxic lawns, starting our own bee gardens, planting our streetscapes with lovely silver linden trees and our agricultural fields with hedgerows. Organic and regenerative agriculture, he points out, are things we know how to do. Natural predators can take care of bee mites without hurting a soul, and the Earth, properly understood, can still rebound enough to help us heal its biosphere. But there is no time to waste.

Schacker has not only written a book that manages to convince, educate, and somehow amuse at the same time, he’s also the founder of The New Earth Institute, an online transformative learning center. At this writing, he’s recovering from a catastrophic stroke. He should be in all our thoughts. Not only is his heart very clearly in the right place, but his boring-but-erudite statistics are relegated to appendices, a habit more science writers might emulate. A Spring without Bees poses the question: could the humble honeybee be the agent of our planetary awakening? Michael Schacker’s book is a powerful wake-up call.

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