Mutants & Chimaeras

Three Man-Made Freaks
& One Beauty All Her Own

To be riveting, a view of the future has to be unsettling, unfamiliar, disturbing even. The whole sci-fi genre is built upon fears of the unexpected, the threat of chaos taking over natural order. In fact, it should first get rid of concepts such as natural and order altogether.
It’s a completely different animal when that extends to our world, and it affects, well, animals. Uneasy when it’s warm in winter? check. Nervous with melting glaciers? check. But have you seen a two-headed snake lately? An odd butterfly? What about a human-milk producing goat?
And the worst part of it all is, we did that. Our so proud species, capable of writing symphonies or reaching for the moon, can also act ever so casually towards that same natural world that was around billions of years before us. And treat Earth as our landfill.
It gets personal when we’re talking about living, breathing, beautiful beings, of course. For the record, though, we’re no prudes; nature has been creating oddities since forever, and to consider it ‘gentle’ is a fatal, wishy-washy mistake, often deservedly punishable by death.
But exactly because we claim to be a step higher of the brutal and uncontrollable forces of the wild, it’s also our responsibility to own up our flaws. For every once in a while, the unpredictable tops itself and produces a creature of rare beauty, even if it may frighten us a bit.

NATURE’S SCARY MONSTERS
You may say that all animals are routinely harmed in ways our civilization considers acceptable: though the condition that produces a two-face specimen has been around since ancient times, but it seems to be increasingly linked to chemical pollution. The odd butterflies were found around Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plants. And genetic engineering is behind the goats with human milk.
Scary, isn’t it? What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder, wrote Aldous Huxley in his 1931 nightmarish, but no longer that far from the present, view of the future. Brave New World may have anticipated out thirst for cellphones, and social media, and gadgets to tell us what to do next, even without mentioning it. Our very best wishes usually lead us to committed misguided deeds.

TRANSGENIC SEEDS & GOATS
Surviving on this planet have been always complex, but for as long as natural resources seemed unlimited, we’ve managed it. We’re too many now, though, and such a demographics explosion is virtually intractable. Thus at times, we cheat a bit, just to catch our breath.
Consider hunger: we produce more food than ever before, and yet, many still go to sleep hungry or die of starvation. Science does its part the only way it knows: by trial and painstakingly error, experimenting with this and attempting to use that. But since food is also a big, multi-billion business, so not every side is playing by the rules.
It’s in this vacuum that corporations seize research, and rush to market unproven technologies. After all, there are profits to be made. Genetic manipulation may hold the key to create super crops, able (more)
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Read Also:
* Finger Picking
* Nuking the Future
* X-Rated Fruit

Continue reading

Honey, We’ve Shrunk the Bees

The Unbearable Silence of
Disappearing Pollinators

Be quiet for a moment. Can you hear it? Probably not, but it’s not all your fault. The sound that is missing is the buzzing of billions of bees, that have been disappearing at an alarming rate lately. And the deafening silence from most people, who remain aloof to all of it.
They’re up to a rude awakening, however. Managed care of honeybees, used to pollinate a third of U.S. foods, is on the verge of collapsing, in synch with the insects’ own collapse because of, you guessed it, our own doing. And the proposed solution won’t be enough to stop it.
Consider the Obama administration’s plan, announced this week, to counter a 42% loss of colonies reported last year by U.S. beekeepers. It’s been greeted with dismay by environmentalists because it doesn’t address the key factor that may be single-handedly causing their demise: a new class of pesticide.
Neonicotinoid insecticides were developed by Shell and Bayer as a milder alternative to other pesticides. Instead, soon enough they too became linked to even worse environment effects, top among them, the honeybee colony collapse disorder. That’s why their use is already restricted in European Union nations.
Thus, it’d be logical to expect that the EPA, underfunded as it is, would be charged with controlling and enforcing its phasing out, given the alarm sounded by apiaries. Not so fast, apparently; despite a year worth of petitions to ban neonicotinoids, the new proposal simply ignores it.
But it’s not all bad. Even critics cite the restoration of seven million acres of bee-friendly areas, lost to urbanization, as a positive step included in the plan. It’ll all depend on the bees, however, since as it happens, they seem now prone to get addicted to other sources of sweets. In that case, we’re all doomed.
Or not. Many doubt that the eventual disappearance of bees will bring about such an apocalyptical scenario. They think it’s too melodramatic. Then again, they don’t usually care for fruits. Or vegetables. Or, what the hell, nature. Neither they see a problem when dolphins die, so you do the math.
We could do without so much sweets (or repeats, for that matter) but we do value the fruits and veggies undocumented immigrants and their families work their asses off to bring to us. So if not for the birds and the bees, then at least for the humans who may be breathing neonicotinoids too, let’s say it’s time.
It’d be dumb to discard the stunning beauty by which pollinators and specially bees grace this world, on behalf of our pedestrian mores. Between them and us, it’s hard to say which is the clear favorite. And speaking of repeating ourselves, here’s a post we’ve published over a year ago on the subject.

Bee Friends Ask Lovers of Roses
& Chocolate to Help Save Colonies

A number of environmental groups have chosen Valentine’s Day week last year to remind everyone in general, and lovers in particular, that the massive disappearance of bees continues on but, as far as we now know, it can still be halted.
Their timing is appropriate. That mostly shopping holiday, treasured by precious few but still feverishly cheered by many, is a major sales day for roses and chocolate, and neither will be around for the taking for too long, if pollinators are to die off.
As a matter of fact, nor will human folk, if Albert Einstein was right in his grim prediction. Whether the quote is apocryphal or not, $30 billion worth of U.S. crops face the catastrophic threat of not surviving many more winters without enough bees to assure their pollination.
If that happens, it wouldn’t be for lack of warnings, just like climate change and the annual extinction of Continue reading

Scary Monsters

Three Man-Made Mutants
& One Beauty All Her Own

To be riveting, a view of the future has to be unsettling, unfamiliar, disturbing even. The whole sci-fi genre is built upon fears of the unexpected, the threat of chaos taking over natural order. In fact, it should first get rid of concepts such as natural and order altogether.
It’s a completely different animal when that extends to our real and present world, and it affects, well, animals. Feel uneasy when it’s warm in winter? check. Nervous with melting glaciers? check. But have you seen a two-headed snake lately? Or an abnormal butterfly? What about a human-milk producing goat?
And the worst part of it all is, we did that. Our so proud species, capable of writing symphonies or reaching for the moon, can also act ever so casually towards that same natural world that was around billions of years before us. And treat Earth as our landfill.
It gets personal when we’re talking about living, breathing, beautiful beings, of course. For the record, though, we’re no prudes; nature has been creating monsters since the beginning of times, and to consider it ‘gentle’ is a fatal, wishy-washy misconception, often deservedly punishable by death.
But exactly because we claim to be a step higher of the brutal and uncontrollable forces of the wild, it’s also our responsibility to own up our flaws. Thank goodness then that every once in a while the unpredictable tops itself and produces a creature of rare beauty, even if not as esthetically pleasing as nature is so used to producing.
You may say that all animals below were indeed harmed by ways our civilization considers acceptable: the condition that produces a two-face species has been around since ancient times, but it seems to be increasingly connected with chemical pollution. The odd butterflies were found around Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plants. And genetic engineering is behind the goats with human milk.
Scary indeed, isn’t it? “What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder,” wrote Aldous Huxley in his 1931 nightmarish view of the future, Brave New World. And the thing is, we want that, just like we wanted cellphones, and social networks, and machines to tell us Continue reading