A waggle-dance warning

By: Melanie Weber; Real Food Challenge Team member

In light of the hysteria surrounding sudden decline in bee populations, I found the documentary More Than Honey one that was compelling, informative and surprisingly emotional. Something I truly appreciated about the film was how it brought to life the different faces of honey production. The audience is introduced to the diverse world of bee-keeping; starting with a traditional bee keeper in the high mountains of Switzerland, who maintains his hive of native bees out of family tradition; to a traveling bee-keeper who transports thousands of bees in semi-trucks, pollinating America’s massive agricultural fields; and even a breeder of bees, who tricks the hive into producing extra queens to ship around the world.

While exploring the spectrum of bee keepers, I also began to piece together the personality of the main character, the bees themselves. Approximately 50,000 bees are buzzing around one hive, but not one could survive on its own. For this reason, scientists have chDrinking_Beeosen to refer to the hive as the organism, not the individual bee. The efficient delegation and communication in the hive keeps things running smoothly, as the film points out, because there is no one bee enforcing the rules, but each bee performs a task as if it was assigned. Collectively, an average hive has 500 billion neuron cells — five times the neurological capacity of a human. As a human, an independent entity, it is easy to misunderstand the bees’ relationship to their hive.  More than Honey provides the known science of bees, but also provides the viewer with a chance to observe the subtleties and emotions within hives.

Honey has amazing properties. It is filtered by the bees themselves, creating a food that is free of impurities. It also slightly acidic, helping your body fight localized infections. Plus, honey has additional antibacterial compounds. Anyone who experiences allergies can eat local honey to help their immune system. I want to still be able to enjoy my honey, but to make sure I was eating honey that was produced by a bee keeper who was respectful to the hive that produced it.

I decided to do some research on a local honey distributer: Honeyville, located just north of Durango. After talking with the folks there, I found out that Honeyville purchases honey from smaller producers all over- extending throughout the Southwest, into Colorado’s Front Range, and even into Wyoming. Something that was pressing on my mind was the use of antibiotics on hives. The Honeyville representative I spoke to informed me that bee keeping is impossible without the use of antibiotics. The bees sacrifice themselves for the sake of the honey—believing that it is for the longevity of the hive—and filter all those things out with their bodies. While I was informed that no significant levels of antibiotics can be found in the honey, I found myself equally concerned about the bees’ exposure.




Round up of great documentaries about environmental issues

Environmental Film

Environmental Film

Issues that affect the entire planet can sometimes be difficult to grasp from a book or an article. Fortunately, there are increasingly more
filmmakers creating great documentaries that provide footage of the actual effect climate change and other environmental issues are having on the world, on ecosystems, and the people living on the planet. The great part about it is that many of them are also available online for free. I have selected some of the ones I watched recently and provided them here for you (you don’t even need to leave this page. Well… Almost.):

Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (2011)

 Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization was produced by PBS as one of the episodes of the series Journey to Planet Earth. It is a great documentary because it lays out many of the environmental issues we are facing, but also provides a hopeful road map of ways to solve them.

Climate Refugees (2010)

Climate Refugees is an amazing award-winning documentary that discusses people who have been displaced due to environmental disasters caused by climate change and how we should expect more people to face problems like these in the near future. It provides a very powerful statement that brings up many important questions about human rights, immigration, and responsibility in these issues.

Blue Gold (2008)

Blue Gold is a great documentary about the most basic and precious resource we need as living creatures: water. It talks about the very serious issues relating to water scarcity and how that is already affecting many people and could potentially become a major cause of conflict in the world.

Chasing Ice (2012)

Chasing Ice is this beautiful and powerful award-winning documentary about climate change, but you’ll have to come to the Environmental Center’s next REEL Film Experience fundraiser on December 5th, 2013 to watch it. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to see this film and support the EC!

~ Hari Baumbach, Climate Action Team

Going with The Current

Current FilmFor over a year I have had the amazing opportunity to go through the process of producing a documentary film with a great friend and co-producer. I have been with it from its conception of the idea, to the birth of it, and now to a growing product which we can be proud of.  It is something I could have never pictured five years ago. And now, the trailer has just been released and I am full of excitement and nervousness.

It is a film about water issues in the Southwest United States that follows a group of friends from the headwaters of the Animas River located in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado over 400 miles to the Glen Canyon Dam, which makes up Reservoir Powell. We follow the river as it transforms from snow into wet ground, to a small trickle, and then into one of the largest man made lakes in the West. The river goes through old mines which still release high levels of heavy metals into the stream high in the mountains. As The Animas reaches Durango, Co it enters high population density and high agricultural use, both of these have negative effects on the river system.  In Farmington, NM it meets with the San Juan River and keeps the name. The Juan, at this point is on the Colorado Plateau and in a very desert like region. In the desert is where the river lives the rest of its life. After a couple hundred miles, the river dies.

It turns into a nasty, muddy, stagnant body of water. Reservoir Powell eats the San Juan and the Colorado river and turns the moving water into one of the most beautiful sites. This beauty comes with the cost of massive environmental damage. Just a few of the issues caused by the reservoir are, loss of native fish habitat, the drowning of what Ed Abbey called one of the most beautiful canyons he’s ever seen, and the degradation of water quality.

So what? Why does this all matter?

Wherever you are sitting right now, you need water to survive. How much water do you have where you live? Do you live in the East where there is an abundance of water? Or do you live in the American Southwest where we have a limited amount of water and a growing population? Regardless, water quality and quantity are going to become or already are a topic in your local government and regional papers. Anyways, think about how you use water today, tomorrow, and the next day.

~ Stephen Witherspoon

For more information, please visit http://www.thecurrentfilm.org/.

Tapped: The Movie

Tapped the movie is coming to Fort Lewis College for FREE.
April 12th at 7:00pm in Chemistry 130


We are tapped. We are running out of water and yet we allow large corporations to fill up plastic, toxic bottles with once pure good water, usually from our own neighborhood. Tapped will display this demonstration in a clear and spine chilling fashion.  It breaks down the effects of bottled water on our health, climate change, pollution and dependence of oil. Is water a commodity that should be bought and sold? Or is the access to clean drinking water a basic human right? You make the call! Come watch Tapped and have some mind altering fun! This event will include various pockets of goodness including a Take Back the Tap Table, Environmental Center table, an ocean display about plastic, free reusable water bottles and free pizza!! Bring a smile and open mind! We all hope to see you there!!!

For more information about this documentary, please visit www.tappedthemovie.com.

Gloom and Doom

One of the problems with most environmental news and documentaries is that they present all of the negative aspects of our lives. They show us how we have destroyed the earth and tell us all is lost. Some may present methods for us to clean up our act but most don’t even worry about that. Many documentaries and authors tend to focus on the past and the present, not the future. They show us how in the past the people were one with the land and then somehow in the present we have lost that and have begun to destroy the land for our own needs.

Many of these documentaries tend to present the past as being the ideal. A time when humans and the earth lived in harmony, well that is a lie. Humans have always changed their environment to better suit themselves. From the construction of shelters to the creation of fires, humans have always left an impact on the Earth. We evolved our hands and feet and bipedalism so that we could better grasp tools, to better manipulate our environments. Even nomadic people impact their environment, albeit less than their capitalist neighbors, but they still create shelters, and hunt and gather. The past is not full of answers, it is full of questions. History and archaeology are fields of study that attempt to interpret the past but they cannot predict the future.

We should look at the past, not for answers, but for examples of what has been done. We can find new ways, we will adapt. Humans have always been good at adapting to our environments. If we do cause the ice caps to melt then we will adapt to that new climate and will be able to survive. All of the gloom and doom environmentalists are just scared that they will not be able to think up a new way to save us, and therefore have decided that it would be better to lay down and acknowledge how bad the world is. In one film, The End of Suburbia, all of the experts that were interviewed were white, middle aged, men. This does not represent the present, let alone the future. There are new thinkers and therefore new ideas being developed. If the world was over and there was no way to fix it, don’t you think we would have realized it by now?

– Ben Rogers