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Monarch Migration Plunges to Lowest Level in Decades

Monarch Migration Plunges to Lowest Level in Decades | Environmental Science | Scoop.it
The monarch population has declined with extreme weather and a lack of the milkweed that the butterflies feed on, experts say.
Rachel Blundon's insight:

Main points:

Monarch butterflies have steadily decreased in the number of butterflies who are migrating back to Mexico for the winter. The geographical area that is occupied by these butterflies, once at 50 square acres, has fallen to less than 3 square acres. This decline has occurred over the last 8 years. The latest decrease in butterfly numbers was due to high heat and drought in North America, which contributed to early hatching, low and dry food supply and drying out of some of the eggs laid. The Midwest is the largest feeding grounds for the Monarchs and because of the increase in herbicides on agricultural products, the herbicide is also killing off the milkweed plant that the Monarchs feed on. An expansion of farmland in the US has also cut down on the Monarchs feeding grounds. An issue resulting in the decling of the butterfly is a chain reaction up the food chain. "Fewer butterflies probably means there are fewer other insects that are food for birds, and fewer birds for larger predators." 

 

I would defintely recommend this article, it was very easy to read and understand for someone who didn't know much about the topic. It also gave clear explainations to the cause of the decline and the solutions that Mexico is taking to fix this condition. 

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A Scarcity of Rare Metals Is Hindering Green Technologies by Nicola Jones: Yale Environment 360

A Scarcity of Rare Metals Is Hindering Green Technologies by Nicola Jones: Yale Environment 360 | Environmental Science | Scoop.it
A shortage of 'rare earth' metals, used in everything from electric car batteries to solar panels to wind turbines, is hampering the growth of renewable energy technologies.
Rachel Blundon's insight:

Main points:

There isn't enough rare earth metals to make products and green solutions that  would be less harmful to the environment. Companies aren't willing or able to make better prodcuts (e.g. wind turbines without a gear box or new generation fluorescent lightbulbs) because of the unavailability of these metals. This scarcity and high price is due to the Earth's geology and political plots. Oftentimes, these metals can only be found in small quantities at very specific locations on Earth. Also the price is very volatile because there is such a high demand for it, but often not enough supply from rare metal processing countries like China, as  result the price skyrockets. Efforts to research better solutions to earth metals are run by only a handful of laboratories world-wide. Another problem these researches are trying to fix is the recycling of these rare metals. Less than 10% are recycled each year. So governments and institutions have set up plants to recover such metals in China and Nigeria, but this has a negatice effect on the health of people in and outside the plant as well as the environment. Companies are encouraged to recycle their own products. Some alternatives are to open new mines, become more efficient or to  remodel products to use less of these rare metals. 

 

Recommend:

Yes it was a great article. 

 

Thoughts:

I thought this article was a great read. Especially as a consumer it opened my eyes as to how wasteful and harmful to people and the environment the extraction and even recycling of these rare earth metals is. I wasn't well versed on this topic before but I definitely feel more aware now of issues concerning renewable energy efforts. 

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Soaring Bee Deaths in 2012 Sound Alarm on Malady

Soaring Bee Deaths in 2012 Sound Alarm on Malady | Environmental Science | Scoop.it
A mysterious ailment appears to have expanded drastically in the past year, wiping out as many as half of the hives needed to pollinate much of America’s produce.
Rachel Blundon's insight:

Main points:

A disease called "colony collapse disorder" has been killing honeybees all over the world since 2005. It has gotten so bad in the US, the disease has completely wiped out 40% to 50% of the hives needed to pollinate the nation's friut and vegetables. Scientist's don't have a solid explaination but are looking into the effects of pesticides that are inside the plant (e.g. neonicotinoids) and how it effects bee colonies. Bee keepers and farmers all across the US have seen losses in bee populations over the last year, and have seen the number of deaths increase dramatically-- from 1/3 of the population to almost half while normal death rates were between 5% to 10% before the disease surfaced. The Agricultural Department and the Environmental Protection Agency have done extensive research and investigation into this sudden plight. A pattern shows an increase in death over the winter and autumn seasons. Fewer bees means smaller harvests and higher food prices. Shortages on bees will also drive up the price for farmers who now have to buy more bees to make their harvest, which will also increase food prices. Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides combined have created a very toxic environment for bees. The constant exposure to neonicotinoids are causing the bees to be sick (like alcohol, if you drink it every night, your liver will shut down). Animals adapting and overcoming these chemicals have increased the usage of such chemicals or upped the strength of them.


I really like this article, it was clear and easy to read and understand particularly if you had no background information on the subject. I would recommend. 


I thought it was very informative and gives you an understanding about the bees and the health issues they're facing and how important they are to the vitality of the entire planet and particularly to our food needs. 



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