Political opposition to technologies that could artificially cool the planet is in full swing. A field test of geoengineering, planned for October in Sculthorpe, UK, has been postponed for six months. Meanwhile, the European Parliament has passed a resolution that "expresses its opposition to proposals for large scale geoengineering".
According to the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which is funding the project, the delay was recommended by an independent panel to allow external parties to air their concerns.
The decision follows a concerted campaign by a Canadian NGO, the ETC Group. Last month they issued an open letter to the UK government calling for the project to be suspended. "We believe there should be a ban on all field experimentation until there's an international agreement," says programme manager Diana Bronson. ETC Group is not seeking a ban on theoretical and modelling work or lab-based trials.
The European Parliament's resolution was pushed through by Kriton Arsenis, a Greek Socialist MEP. If the other bodies in the European Union approve it, the anti-geoengineering statement could become part of the EU's negotiating position for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. In theory, it could then be included in any international agreement that comes out of Rio.
It's not the first attempt to control geoengineering. In late 2010, a meeting of the UN Convention on Biodiversity imposed a moratorium on any form of geoengineering that might affect biodiversity. However this shouldn't apply to Watson's field test, says Tim Kruger of the Oxford Geoengineering Programme at the University of Oxford. "I don't think anyone could argue that spraying water into the atmosphere would have an effect on biodiversity," he says.
Nevertheless Kruger is supporting the delay, arguing that public opinion must be seriously considered before experiments begin. "It's very important that work on geoengineering is not just legally but also socially acceptable," he says. "We want to avoid the kind of backlash that affected GM crops and nuclear power."
Excerpts from various sources Sept. 30, 2011 Brevard County, Florida
CBS: Florida officials are abuzz as to how millions of honey bees were killed in Brevard County. Experts say pesticides might be behind the lost beehives. [Or, it could be a heavy dose of chemtrails. ~Ed.]
"The fact that it was so widespread and so rapid, I think you can pretty much rule out disease," Bill Kern, an entomologist with the University of Florida's Research and Education Center, told Florida Today. "It happened essentially almost in one day. Usually diseases affect adults or the brood, you don't have something that kills them both."
Florida Today: Charles Smith last saw his bees alive early last week. When the Fellsmere beekeeper checked them Monday, his heart dropped as he saw the mounds of dead bees spilling out of all 400 of his hives off Babcock Street, about a half-mile south of Micco Road near the Indian River County line.
Another beekeeper about a mile south found a similar amount of his bees dead, around the same time, Smith said.
"This is a total wipeout," Smith said as he opened the green wooden hives to show the destroyed honey. "This is all no good. It's been sprayed."
Brevard County Mosquito Control sprayed the area — just south of Deer Run subdivision — by helicopter the night of Sept. 21, said Peter Taylor, an operations manger for the agency.
But that spraying of dibrom droplets wouldn't have likely killed the bees, he said, because the pesticide only remains active about 30 minutes. They sprayed the area at about 9 p.m. that night, he estimates, when the bees would have been inside their hives.
Bees are crucial pollinators.
Farmers can raise avocado yields by 25 percent, for example, by using bees, according to the Florida Farm Bureau. They increase citrus yields, too, and squashes, melons, cucumbers. Cantaloupe can't produce fruit without them.
Like canaries in a coal mine, bees also reflect the overall health of the environment. The nation has been undergoing a rapid loss of bees over the past few years that may signal a decline in the health of the planet, biologists say, and a symptom of a much larger environmental problem.
But experts say the recent South Brevard bee die-offs don't fit the usual signs of so-called "colony collapse disorder." Usually, no dead bees are left behind in colony collapse.
Adult bees disappear from the hive, leaving behind the queen, boxes full of honey, pollen and a few other bees.
Scientists are studying multiple potential causes of colony collapse disorder, which some suspect may not even be a new phenomenon.
Inquiries have pointed to simple malnutrition, genetically modified crops, a mite that transmits viruses to bees, or some undiscovered pests or diseases.
Bees twitched and struggled Thursday among piles of their dead kin at Smiths lost hives.
"I rolled the dice on my whole life," said Smith, who switched back to beekeeping from construction and roofing a few years ago after the housing crash. He's got 32 years experience beekeeping, he said, and he's had small die-offs in the past, but never anything like this. "I will never get compensated for what I've lost."