Monday, December 29, 2008

Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen

Rachel Carson famously predicted a silent spring, when the ill effects of chemical pesticides would permanently silence many of the world's songbirds. She also warned of a fruitless fall, a time when "there was no pollination and there would be no fruit." Last year this nearly became a reality when commercial beekeepers found that one third of the world's bee population - thirty billion bees - had mysteriously died.

The deaths have continued. Fruitless Fall uses the mystery of colony collapse disorder (CCD) to tell the bigger story of how essential bees are to our daily lives. With their disappearance, we won't just be losing honey; industrial agriculture depends on bees to pollinate most fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Yet this system is falling apart. The number of these professional pollinators has be come so inadequate that they are now trucked across the country and flown around the world, pushing their colonies ever closer to collapse.

In a style that is vivid and engaging, Rowan Jacobsen reports from the almond fields of California's Central Valley to the Ocala National Forest, one of Florida's beekeeping capitals. He explores the causes of CCD, debunking the myths along the way; lays out a long history of missteps that may have led to the current crisis; and offers the first tentative steps toward a solution. Yet he never loses sight of the miracle of flowering plants and their pollinating partners, and urges readers not to take for granted the Edenic garden Homo sapiens has played in since birth. Our world could have been utterly different - and may be still.

The author has a great style, reminiscent of Michael Pollan, which made reading about what could have been as dry as an economics textbook incredibly pleasurable. Plus, the author's pretty hot! :)

The author explored the history of CCD and the potential causes and laid out everything like Poirot in the climax scene of an Agatha Christie. He made everything easy to understand, and explained exactly what could be done to correct the problem - if people care enough. He made me want to try my hand at beekeeping even more!

This one gets a firm eight stars. It was packed with information and had a great flow to it. I definitely can't wait to read more from this author!

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆


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