By: Allison Johnson
Everyday there is a breaking headline and “this just in” reports in the news. It’s hard enough sifting and sorting through what you’re being told and what’s being “fed” to you. There is no question that “the news” is biased, but beyond their biases and agendas there also lies sheer contradictions. In Chris Mooney & Sheril Kirshenbaum’s, Unscientific America, this phenomenon is compared to the effects of whiplash on viewers. One day the media is in a flurry about something and then the next there are reports saying everything is fine.
A perfect example of this “whiplash” phenomenon is the topic of bees. For years now there has been some chatter in regards to the declining population and colonization of bees and what that might mean. Then weeks after you’ve signed a few online petitions and purchased a “Save the Bees” shirt, there is another report that’s come out saying everything is okay. Just this month “bees” have been added to the endangered species list.
From my view of things, that is my subscription to social media, the internet is loosing it. This escalation of efforts to preserve certain bee species has both concerning and exhausting efforts. It is quite concerning to fathom a world (one where food doesn’t grow naturally) without bees, however it’s extremely tiring trying to keep up with what’s happening. Questioning if it’s an issue, a conspiracy or a small blimp in the progression of bees, I’m at a loss.
So in lieu of the hard fact, I give you the chaos that is the media coverage on an issue has significant loses and gains for both the public and the private sector.
“Bees Added To U.S. Endangered Species List For 1st Time”, this was the first article I came across (Kennedy). It explains how the bees that were places on this list are seven species of the yellow-faced bee (Fig. 1), which is are native to Hawaii. There is mention of both uplifting information, like how over the past 15 years 11 new species of bee have been found there. However, a study sponsored by the U.N. reporting that “about percent of invertebrate pollinator species (such as bees and butterflies) are facing extinction (Kennedy).” The article finished off on a concerning note, stating that “about 75 percent of the world’s food crops … depend at least partly on pollination.”
“Believe it or not, the bees are doing just fine”, this was the title of second article I accessed from the Washington Post. Within the first few sentences the write puts all concerns at rest stating, “that the newly endangered bees are a handful of relatively obscure species who live only in Hawaii” (Ingraham). The tone is nonchalant, the point of view is conveyed as being “not your problem” since it’s only in Hawaii. There are a few links to things like, “data released by the USDA”, which provided an eyesore of a spreadsheet. Honey production is up and the bees are happy is the main take away from the article.
These are two very differing sources. The only irrefutable information I gathered from both was that:
- Bees have made it to the endangered species list
- The species of bee that is on that list located in Hawaii
Beyond that everything else becomes blurred and turns into a he said she said debate.
Kennedy, Merrit. “Bees Added To U.S. Endangered Species List For 1st Time.” NPR: the two-way breaking news from NPR, 3 Oct. 2016, http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/10/03/496402620/bee-species-added-to-u-s-endangered-species-list-for-1st-time. Accessed 11 Oct. 2016.
Ingraham, Christopher. Believe it not, the bees are doing just fine.” Washington post, 10 Oct. 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/10/10/believe-it-or-not-the-bees-are-doing-just-fine/?tid=pm_business_pop_b. Accessed 11 Oct. 2016.
(Fig. 1) Kaia, John. A yellow-faced bee in Hawaii. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/10/03/496402620/bee-species-added-to-u-s-endangered-species-list-for-1st-time. Accessed 11 Oct. 2016.