In response to the continuing decline in the bee population globally, an interesting and timely film documentary by Markus Inhoof brings attention to the phenomenon of colony collapse disorder— the name given to this occurrence.  This film notes that 80% of plant species require bee pollination to survive, and without the necessary pollination, “most fruit and vegetables could disappear from the face of the earth”.  Additionally, the honeybee is “as indispensable to the economy as it is to man’s survival”. 

In this film, Inhoof takes a close look at honeybee colonies in California, Switzerland, China and Australia.  He examines several agents responsible for “weakening of the bees’ immune defense“, including pesticides and medicine used to combat them, parasites (notably Varro mites), new viruses, traveling stress and the “multiplication of electromagnetic waves disturbing nano particles found in bees’ abdomen.

A particularly interesting finding shown to negatively impact the lives of bees is “factory farming“.  Beekeeping for the production of honey, beeswax, royal jelly and other products has become very popular in the past few years.  Bee farmers rely on factory-farmed honeybees, resulting in an annual production of 176 million pounds of honey with a value greater than $250 million.  To accomplish this goal, honeybees are manipulated with exploitation of their “desire to live and protect their hives”.  They are subjected to unnatural living conditions, genetic manipulation and stressful transportation“.  The white boxes traditionally used for beehives since the 1850s have been “moved from shapes that accommodated their own geometry to flat-topped tenements, thereby sentencing the bees to life in file cabinets.  Additionally, beekeepers also clip the wings of new queens to prevent the natural division of hives upon the birth of a new queen that would result in a decline in the honey production.

All of these factors stress the bee population and could serve as a threat to mankind’s very existence because of the need for these very important pollinators to remain in existence.   

To date, the documentary, More Than Honey, has received good reviews, particularly in regards to its beautiful nature photography.  This is just one story about human invasive practices that threaten our food supply, and it is a very important one that cautions us to remain ever mindful of our need to ensure that we protect our environment and our food supply.  To do so is to live green, be green.


honey bee, pollinating

honey bee, pollinating (Photo credit: turnbud)

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You probably are familiar with the old adage, “put your money where your mouth is”.  This saying definitely applies to the green movement.  Green initiatives require an enormous financial commitment to develop and advance the technologies necessary to address the issues of climate change and to reverse the pollution of the Earth.  Statistics collected in Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2012 Report, a study backed by the UN Environment Program, have tracked financial investments in green energy globally since 2004.  These statistics reveal the following:

  • Investment in renewable energy accounted for 44% of all new energy generation capacity added last year.  This represents an increase in renewable investment, up from 34% in 2010 and 10.3% in 2004.
  • The majority of the money invested in renewable energy came from the private domain and largely was invested in the area of research and development.  In fact, investment from the private sector was twice that of government and public bodies.
  • The renewable energy sector of emerging economies, such as India and China, has the biggest boost.
  • In 2009, China surpassed the United States in total annual investment, and in 2011, it attracted more money than any other country.

While these statistics show a financial commitment to the green movement, statistics indicate that investment in green initiatives still lags behind that of traditional sources.  In 2011, only 6% of the world’s energy requirements were generated by renewable sources.  A caveat to this situation is that many clean tech companies have suffered from the volatility of the markets over the past two years, and in many countries, policies established to encourage investment in renewable energy have been weakened by austerity measures undertaken to upright faltering economies.

When considering investing in renewable energy or other green initiatives, the due diligence requirement cannot be understated.  Thorough understanding of this market sector is mandatory.  For example, it is important to know that these markets require government confidence and commitment in order to be successful.  Financiers require stable policy to back green investments.  It is important to identify mature technologies because they have longer track records.  These often include onshore wind and solar energy.  Remember:  Lower technological risks equal more finance.

Investing in renewable energy and green initiatives presents potential opportunities for financial gain, as well as moral commitment to the green movement.  As with any investment, make sure you do your homework and seek professional advice so that you understand the many factors involved.  A place to start your journey to green investments is:

Let’s live green, be green!

Due diligence– Prior to investing in any commodity, do your homework, and if necessary, seek professional financial advice.

The U.S. Energy Information Agency has released a report this month which states that energy related carbon dioxide emissions during the first four months of 2012 fell to about the levels noted in 1992. While acknowledging the contribution of conservation efforts, the lagging economy and greater use of renewable energy to the decrease of carbon dioxide emissions, the agency largely attributes the drop-off in levels to low-priced natural gas. The decrease in price of natural gas is driven by higher levels of shale gas drilling in some areas of the northeastern United States, as well as in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. It is cheaper now to burn natural gas than coal, and as a result, utilities are starting to rely on gas-fired generator plants.

The quick-turnaround from coal to gas has surprised many government and industry experts. The messages regarding climate change and the need for cleaner energy are not new. It appears that people are predominantly cost-driven. An environmentally friendly solution to a pollution problem that is less expensive than an environmentally harmful practice is sure to win.

It is important to mention that any efforts made to counter human-induced climate change must be global. Unfortunately, the use of coal for energy is growing, rather declining in some other countries, specifically in China. Global cooperation to seek cleaner energy solutions is mandatory in order to be effective for any one part of the planet. Another issue looming on the horizon lies with the use of natural gas because while it burns cleaner than coal, it still emits some carbon dioxide. Also drilling for natural gas carries potential risks, some of which are not fully understood. Environmentalists state that in fracking operations, the large volumes of water, sand and other chemicals injected into shale rock to break it apart and free gas often pollute underground drinking water and cause methane leaks, which in turn, and produce air pollution. This contributes to global warming. Some groups, such as the Sierra Club, have major concerns with the potential risks versus the net benefits of using natural gas.

It will be interesting to see the developments in energy sources that will accommodate global expectations, satisfy federal mandates, and effectively address economic and environmental concerns. Research and development in the field of energy is challenging, but hopefully some solutions will be found in the near future. Let’s do all that we can to live green, be green.

Natural gas power plants”cycle” on and off more efficiently than their coal counterparts.