NEXT MEETING: June 1, 2018
No meeting this Friday. See you June 1st.

Fire Chief Adrian Sheppard

Join Richmond’s Fire Chief, Adrian Sheppard, for an update on the Fire Department’s accomplishments, challenges and goals for the future. Those challenges can be significant.

Witness the recent fire at the Sims Metal Recycling plant on Cutting Boulevard. In addition to the fighting the fire and protecting the public, after the emergency was addressed Chief Sheppard faced a vote of no confidence in the City Council. Some council members questioned whether the same person can effectively serve as both fire chief and fire marshal, a position which the city lacks.
We know Fire Chief Sheppard will have much to say on the technical and managerial aspects of the critical role he plays in the Richmond’s public safety.

MEETING OF May 18, 2018

Welcome

President Connie called the meeting to order. Don lead the pledge, as everyone’s eyes focused on some unseen point out the window. Herb invoked a wish for peace, freedom and justice on Earth. (You mean this Earth?) And Syd offered a though from that great American counselor, Groucho Marx: “I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.”
Connie welcomed our guests, George and Heidi McCray, from El Cerrito. George was today’s speaker.

Announcements

There will be no meeting this Friday! Stay away. Plant tomatoes. Have an outing at the Bay Shore. Read “Remembrances of Things Past.” Don’t come. (Betcha someone will still show up at the RCC.)

Pam Jones had a brief and not altogether encouraging report on the our performance at the recent Rotary Bowl-a-thon. Richmond Rotary bowlers came in “5th or 6th” in a field of 15. But who’s counting? They had fun.

Pam also announced a Memorial Day bash—best Margaritas north of the border— at the San Ramon Arts and Wind Festival. Visit the booth of the San Ramon Valley Rotary Club on Sunday or Monday, May 27th and 28th for this mildly intoxicating fundraiser.

Recognitions

Happy and Sad Dollars

Norm’s Nonsense

PROGRAM

Bees: The Current State of Affairs

Nick introduced today’s speaker, George McCray of the Alameda County Beekeepers’ Association. Turned out Nick and George recognized each other when they met up last Friday. They worked together on a Poinsett Park creek restoration project back in… oh, must have been the Mesozoic Era. George observed that the plantings around the creek have flourished since then.

Not so bees. Bee populations, George told us, started crashing in the early 2000s. This is a worldwide phenomenon that has resulted in declines of honey bees of between 30% and 90%. Because honey bees are among the world’s most critical pollinators, our food supplies and national economies are at risk. Thank bees for one out of every three forkfuls of food you put in your mouth.

Scientists are not certain about all the possible causes for the sharp decline in bee populations, but there is widespread agreement on these:

  • Parasitic organisms, and in particular the Varoa destructor mite, which attacks fat tissue in bees’ bodies.
  • Insecticides, especially neonicotonoids. Citing multiple studies linking “neonics” to declining bee populations, the EU recently banned the use of this class of insecticides. The US has not.
  • Land management practices and industrial agriculture. Monocropping—growing a single crop year after year on the same land—robs bees of the nutrition they derive from a diverse range of floral resources.
  • Climate change also threaten bee survival. As average monthly temperatures rise, flowers bloom earlier in the spring, creating a potential mismatch in seasonal timing between when flowers produce pollen and when bees are ready to feed on that pollen. Bees may fail to migrate to cooler areas to establish new colonies, so bees experience habitat loss.

There is a great deal of research, here and abroad, focused on methods and treatments that will reverse the trend and avert a “pollination crisis.” But George described a number of things we can do to aid in the survival of bees:

  • Support local beekeeping. Smaller scale, local bee colonies that exploit more diverse habitats aid in the survival of bee populations.
  • Buy organic foods. Residual neonic levels are lower in organic fruits and vegetables.
  • Vote! Support members of Congress and state legislators committed to following good science. The EPA and FDA have been, or are threatening to, lift regulations—let’s call them “protections”—and those actions are detrimental to the health of honey bees and wild bee populations.
  • Support small farmers dedicated to healthier land use practices. Which leads us to…
  • Shop locally, and buy only as much as you need. This country grows far more food than we consume. The consequent over-production drives industrial-scale agriculture, which is highly dependent on pesticides.

Nick Despota, pinch-hitter scribe