Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Treatment Treadmill

I have been reading Bell's Invitation to Environmental Sociology yesterday and am intrigued by his use to the treadmill metaphor. There are social, cultural, and economic routines that we get caught up in that seem to us almost impossible to stop without everything coming crashing down on us. We may get caught in the "treadmill of conspicuous consumption" where we attempt to constantly keep up with the Joneses as the Joneses relentlessly try to keep ahead of us, creating more and more consumption that seems to have no productive end and only negative environmental impact. The "treadmill of production" leads to producing more and more products, cutting more and more corners, using more and more resources, and searching for more and more potential markets, in order to attain higher and higher profits for stockholders who already seem to have enough.

Beekeepers find themselves on another treadmill that also can lead to disasterous environmental results: the "treatment treadmill". Whether we treat for prevention or because our bees have a particularly nasty pest or disease, we jump on a treadmill that can be hard to get off. Once we treat, and interfere with Darwinian laws, we help maintain bees who are weaker and will forever be dependent on our treatments.

Some may read this and say, "Well, just jump off this treadmill...Just say no to drugs!" The chief difficulty here is that the "treatment treadmill" is in a dialogical relationship (Bell) to other "treadmills" we are equally stuck on. How can I get off the "treatment treadmill" when my commercial beekeeping outfit is also stuck on the "production treadmill" or my family is stuck on the "consumer treadmill"? Hobby and sideline beekeepers face the same difficulties in their attempts to jump off the "treatment treadmill". How does the "prestige treadmill" play out at the local beekeeping club? Do I risk all the condescension and "I told you so's" by taking a "live-or-die" apicultural approach?

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