By Alison WentzellBGgreennews_logo1

The Planet’s Budget Crisis

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their fifth comprehensive report on climate change.  One of the most frightening observations the panel made was that we have almost maxed out our carbon budget.  The burning of fossil fuels and dumping of carbon pollution into our planet’s oceans and atmosphere has taken its toll on our greenhouse gas emissions.

The carbon budget was developed to prevent us from exceeding the amount of fossil fuel we can burn before exceeding the tipping point.  If we continue at our current rate, we would only be able to last another 15 years before having to stop burning fossil fuels altogether.

Scientists can no long ignore the drastic changes we have seen because of climate change.  With 95% of scientists agreeing that climate change is caused by human industrialization and pollution, climate change deniers are struggling to come up with reasons to prevent action.  Despite the grim news about our planet’s health, there is a silver lining.  The IPCC’s report could perpetuate more focus and spending on America’s environmental sector.  There is the potential to create new jobs in energy efficiency and clean energy, as well as in other areas of environmental concern.

See the Huffington Post column by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) for more on this topic.

Gas Exhaust Reduces Bees’ Ability to Find Flowers

Bees are a vital part in our ecosystems and are responsible for more than half of the food in your fridge.  However, bee populations are rapidly declining as concerns about food security rise at an increasing rate.  Scientists have mostly been studying the adverse effects of chemical pesticides on bees with the hopes that if we reduce or change pesticides we can get more bees to pollinate.  They have discovered that the chemicals have prevented bees from doing their job.

Unfortunately, bees are exposed to myriad pollutants and chemicals every day, many of which come from car exhaust.  Neuroscientist Tracey Newman, who worked on the study, explains, “We got into this because we were aware of the impacts of airborne pollutants on human health, so it didn’t seem so wild that there may be impacts that extended beyond human health.”

What she and her fellow scientists found was that the chemical odors given off by flowers got “lost” after reacting with exhaust fumes.  The loss of chemical odor from the flowers has hindered the bees ability to track the scents and procure nectar in the most efficient way.

Now the race to improve air quality no longer impacts human health, but bees’ health too.  If bees stop being able to gather nectar in the most efficient manner, then we also risk a severe reduction in food availability and biodiversity loss in ecosystems.

For more information, check out the BBC article here.

Events

Come meet Christy Nordstrom of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals and help create a local chapter of the organization.  This is a great opportunity for networking and opening conversations.

  • Pitch for Charity, October 10, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM, Washington Post Building,1150 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC

Come pitch your start-up at the CleanTech Southeast Open “Pitch for Charity” event.  If your pitch wins, $1000 will go towards the charity of your choice.  You only have 60 seconds, so make it smart, persuasive, and fast!

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on environmental politics, cultural aspects of the environment, and environmental conflict.

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