Sunday, May 06, 2007

Bees, the tides and seawalls

Everywhere one looks there are signs of faster change than expected. It is as if the planet is trying to get our attention, once last time.

There are the honey bees. It took a long time, but finally the mass media noticed the reports of their die-off. Maybe global warming has nothing to do with it; maybe the cause is cell phone radiation or genetically modified plants. No one knows, but it is fair to consider the impact of a few degrees of extra warmth on all creatures. And not to put too fine a point on it, on us. Ready for a bread and water diet?

The New York Times reported last week on the acres of coastline farms in England that have washed away just in the last few years. The Brits have decided they will no longer support the network of sea walls that have been in place for years. No point anymore. The land is not economically viable. Cheerio.

What the article only barely implies is the sadness locals must feel in seeing ancient farmland, a part of their personal history, and a part of the English landscape and cultural patrimony, disappear forever. What happens when warm weather hemp and jalapeno replace cold weather beets is dramatic in how that changes the character of the landscape, local food culture and other traditions. What is Italy without its olive trees and vineyards? What is Scotland without its heather? Oregon without its Pinot Noir? We are saying good-bye to who we are, who we were.


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