Something strange is happening to honey bees. They seem to be getting lost while they are away from their hives, leaving queen bees and immature workers alone, without food, in a syndrome called "Colony Collapse Disorder." The thing is, these insects are the ultimate in social producers, pollinating plants and crops that account for up to a third of the U.S. diet. All free, as long as there are bees to do the work.
Researchers at Landau University, a German university, have found evidence that Would you give up your wireless phone to save the bees? What about to prevent your grocery bill from climbing by 50 percent, or 100 percent?wireless phone radiation can interfere with bees' navigational abilities. According to WirelessWeek, "up to 70% of bees exposed to radiation from a cordless phone docking unit placed in their hive later failed to find their way back to the hive."
The rise of Colony Collapse Disorder does seem to correlate to the increased use of wireless communications in human society, especially when you consider that wireless-intensive regions of Europe and Brazil are reportedly severely affected.
The research has focused on wireless phones, but a wide range of products for the office and home today and intended for the near future are based on wireless data transmission that may impact the local bee population.
But I am not here to put the stamp of accuracy on these researches (God forbid I invite the ire of George Ou!). No, the question I'd like to discuss is whether we—IT users and influencers—should be thinking ahead, beyond the revenue goals of our business plans for nifty new technology.
It seems to me that if our grandparents had done a little of that, we'd have a better transportation system and lots less PCBs in the soil, among other things. We don't need to give up technology, just use our improved ability to model impacts to architect a more profitable future that accounts for all the economic costs of today's decisions.
What, for argument's sake, if we are polluting the electromagnet spectrum? The navigational ingenuity of bees has provided mankind with free field workers throughout time.
The cost of manually pollinating crops, let alone wild plants that produce oxygen and eliminate greenhouse gases, would be astronomical. A loaf of bread might double or triple in cost. The potential for sustainable fuels based on crop waste would go out the window (though it may be of dubious economic value already). What if bees are the "bellwether species" that signal a wide-ranging impact on the environment?
These may or may not be relevant questions, depending on what continuing research finds. The problem is, there are plenty of people who will argue that we ignore these questions all the while, even as weird things happen to the bee population, which is a concrete problem we face today.
Would you give up your wireless phone to save the bees? What about to prevent your grocery bill from climbing by 50 percent, or 100 percent? So, to put it simply, what cost is too high for you to continue to use your mobile handset? If there is no cost that is too high, why?