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The Buzz About Bees

It isn't easy or cheap to move a beehive at night to avoid being sprayed with a chemical that is toxic to pollinating bees, an issue that Sharon Levy brings up in "The Vanishing" (Summer 2006). The bee caution label on pesticides is routinely ignored, yet crop sprayers manage to avoid liability for destroying our hives. As beekeepers we would like to see a law passed that imposes a surcharge on pesticides that are toxic to bees. Such a fee would be paid to a fund that would reimburse keepers when their bees are killed. You could test dead bees for chemical residues to find out which pesticide killed them and avoid altogether the bickering over whose spraying killed which bees.
Paul Hendricks
Tom Theobald
Niwot, Colorado

Although Levy acknowledges the importance of native bees, she relegates them to backup status. The real story of honeybees in North America is that they never should have been here in the first place. They're invasive species brought over from Europe and Asia.
Jason McGarvey
Germantown, Maryland

Drilling at Home

Opponents of wind turbines proposed near Cape Cod should be moved, McMansions and all, to Silt, Colorado. Wind power could replace some of the natural gas used to generate electricity, the extraction of which is partly responsible for the devastation described by Michelle Nijhuis in "Wrecking the Rockies" (Summer 2006). The gripers who don't want to see turbines on the horizon might prefer to see drill rigs in their backyards instead.
Lee Bidgood, Jr.
New Smyrna Beach, Florida

I would guess that Garfield County, Colorado, a rural western county whose residents are complaining vociferously about the Bush administration's oil and gas policies, voted heavily in favor of President Bush and his party. They got what they voted for. The Republican Party has no reason to change its "rape, ruin, and run" public lands policies until it starts losing western states because of them.
Robert Handelsman
Evanston, Illinois

Editor's note: Bush won Garfield County in 2004 with 53.9 percent of the vote.

That's an Order

Instead of celebrating the fortunate convergence of military and environmental needs, Kevin Krajick ("Home on the [Artillery] Range," Summer 2006) goes into a reflexive criticism of the military, implying that we need to use environmental laws to control the situation. What will happen if we further restrict training on these lands? If the military moves out, who will move in? Will residential developments, farms, or parks take over? No one could protect these lands as well as the military does when it creates off-limits zones for training.
John Walsh
Arlington, Virginia

Sea Change

J. Craig Venter's gene sequencing of oceanic microbes ("Voyage of the Sorcerer," Summer 2006) is an amazing technological tour de force. However, I'm not as sanguine about its promise to protect the oceans. If we are ever to achieve real ecological sustainability it will not come from standard reductionist science, but from an authentic whole-systems approach.
Fred Cichoki
Boca Raton, Florida

Errata: In our Summer 2006 issue, the article "Whale Facts: Keeping the Navy Honest" (page 44) incorrectly states that 150 whales died after crowding into Hawaii's Hanalei Bay; 150 were stranded, but only one died. Also: There was an error on page 9 in "Voyage of the Sorcerer." The sentence that refers to "bacterial viruses" should have read "bacteria and viruses."

Ethanol Debate

In "Fuel Made From Amber Waves of Grain" (Summer 2006), Laura Wright mischaracterizes future fields of switchgrass as looking more like the "land mapped by Lewis and Clark than the industrialized corn belt." These fields will certainly require agricultural input-fertilization, irrigation-albeit less than corn fields would need, and they will still be monocultures. And although switchgrass a native plant, when grown on an industrial scale it will probably most resemble... a field of corn.
Mary Blackmore
Forreston, Illinois

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OnEarth. Fall 2006
Copyright 2006 by the Natural Resources Defense Council