Minutes from Meeting of the Transitional Govt. of the UMC
3:00 Imbrium Standard Time, New Angeles, American Division
2/6/2063 Earth Date, Second Rotation

Pres. George Tason: We begin today's meeting facing a grave problem that threatens the entirety of the UMC. [Slide shown: bee with mite] As most, if not all of you know, the varroa mite, in both its North American and Asian variants, has been found infesting several honeybee hives in different sections of the gardens, hydro-farms, and forests within the capital. In addition, at least three bumblebee colonies and other honeybee colonies have been contaminated by the tracheal mite. I present to you now Dr. John Florenza, head researcher at the Collaborative Information Database.

[Florenza walks to podium]

Dr. John Florenza: For the last few days since my colleges and I were alerted to the problem, we have been researching the effects of these mites on the bee populations on Earth from our databases, and the problem is severe. [Interruption]

Sen. Bruskton: How many of your colleagues have been privy to this confidential information, doctor? I trust that you understand the gravity of this situation and the problems it would cause if it became public.

Florenza: Only five, and they have all sworn to secrecy, sir. The enormity of this project in the short span of time required more than one person.

Pres. Tason: I trust Florenza's judgment in terms of his colleagues. Continue.

Florenza: Starting in the 1980's the varroa mite had been attributed the loss of many hives in Europe in Asia. In 1987, it succeeded in jumping the Atlantic Ocean and started to infect the American industry, and though pesticides had been approved and mildly successful, the mites developed a resistance to these. Throughout the following years, different types of deterrents had been tried, including the introduction of Russian queens, which were more resistant to mites, and the isolation of the odors that attracted the mites to the bees to try to construct traps. Since the infestations now are of both the European and American subspecies, the different types of honeybees are, unfortunately, unhelpful. More research is being done to determine the exact chemicals that were used in the traps, but the result will most likely not be very efficient, given the continuing problems reported from Earth even after the discovery of these chemicals.

The second of these contaminations, the tracheal mite, is not only dangerous to the honeybee, but to the bumblebee as well. Theses mites infect the respiratory systems in bees and kill them relatively quickly. The only known solution for this problem has been to place methanol crystals at the center of the hive, which is a fairly effective solution.

Pres. Tason: Thank you, Dr. Florenza. We appreciate the time you generously spent researching this topic for us on such a short notice. We look forward to your findings regarding the different treatments for the mites.

Florenza: It was an honor, Mr. President. [Florenza escorted out of the room]

Sen. Ford: How were these mites introduced to the hives? The last known Earth shuttle departed years ago, and all of the cargo should have undergone the routine bug check and decontamination.

Sen. Bruskton: I suspect sabotage. The Earth Alliance must have planted these mites with an agent at the beginning of the Byrd Talks in case of a break in diplomacy. This raises a host of possibilities about the security of the farms; if they are infiltrated, who's to say all of the crops won't be poisoned to kill all of us off?

Pres. Tason: [Retakes podium] Unfortunately, the presence of these mites is even more dire than it initially seems. As I am sure you are aware, bees are the only source of pollination because of their efficiency and inability to be carriers for human diseases such as other biting insects. Without their pollination, the next crop will be nonexistent. In a best case scenario, we would survive long enough for the Earth Alliance to starve us into submission. In reality, the death would be widespread asphyxiation. Without enough plant life, the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide will dramatically shift towards the prominence of carbon dioxide.

This brings me to our next problem. The lack of oxygen places a much greater strain on our carbon resources, especially given the state of the war. Currently, our rocket boosters are fueled by liquid oxygen, which, given the impending scarcity of oxygen, will be most easily interchanged with a hydrocarbon fuel. The production of methanol to counteract the tracheal mites will also require more carbon. In addition, we need more carbon to continue to production of synthetic clothing for our pilots and carbon steel for machined parts.

Sen. Rilfkin: Could hydrazine be implemented in place of the hydrocarbons?

Sen. Greves: Not effectively. The reason that it has not been used before is because it uses too much water in production.

Sen. Rilfkin: How, then, are we going to come by large amounts of hydrocarbons? The moon has no natural coal or petroleum deposits.

Pres. Tason: It is true we are at a disadvantage concerning the development of alternate fuel sources because there was no organic material on the moon to turn into any fuels, but we do have some carbon deposits from meteorites that are already being mined. We can offer government subsidies to mining companies to increase production. The one advantage that we do have is the abundance of solar energy that we can use to force carbon reactions with hydrogen to make the hydrocarbons.

Sen. Greves: Can the plants that will be unpolinated as a result of these mites be used?

Pres. Tason: Take us off the record.