Honey and Hobgoblins

Dave Killion — January 22, 2012


What up, bee?

H. L. Mencken –

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

Although the Sage of Baltimore was writing about politics, this insight of his applies equally as well to journalism and environmentalism.

For some time we had been subjected to agitated hand-wringing concerning  Colony Collapse Disorder, yet now it is seldom spoken of. Now our friends at the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) ask What Ever                                                           Happened With Colony Collapse Disorder? –

“If you were to rely on media reports alone, you might be inclined to believe that honeybees and honey are now in short supply. Based on the recent documentaries about Colony Collapse Disorder, you might believe that crops are at risk of going unpollinated and that we are heading towards a different “silent spring”—one in which the familiar springtime buzzing of the bee is no more.

Yet, somehow, the honey is in the cupboard and farmers across the country are still able to supply food to stock our shelves, all with little or no economic impact from CCD. How can this be?”

The series goes on to reveal to us how the market response to this potential disaster was so swift and adept that not only were early predictions of tremendous crop losses avoided, but consumers were largely unaware of any changes. This incident provides a lesson and a warning. The lesson? A free market response to potential shortages is extremely effective. The warning? That if the media continue to report carelessly on over-stated environmental concerns, both institutions will be ignored on the day they actually have good reason to cry “Wolf!”

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