EU approves complete ban on bee-killing insecticides

April 27, 2018 by  
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In a monumental decision that has been years in the making , all member nations of the European Union have approved a total ban of neonicotinoids, the most widely used insecticide in the world and a well-documented danger to bees and other pollinators. The ban is expected to go into effect by the end of this year, though use of the insecticide will still be allowed in greenhouses . The rapidly declining population of pollinator species in recent years is in part due to the widespread use of harmful pesticides. The ban should result in a healthier pollinator population, which is essential for global food production. The vote follows recent studies that have confirmed the danger that neonicotinoids pose to pollinators, directly and through water and soil contamination. “The commission had proposed these measures months ago, on the basis of the scientific advice from [the EU ‘s scientific risk assessors],” Vytenis Andriukaitis, European commissioner for Health and Food Safety, told the Guardian . “Bee health remains of paramount importance for me since it concerns biodiversity, food production and the environment.” Related: NASA has a plan to put robot bees on Mars This policy change pleased activists. “Finally, our governments are listening to their citizens, the scientific evidence and farmers who know that bees can’t live with these chemicals, and we can’t live without bees,” Antonia Staats at Avaaz said. Meanwhile, industry representatives disapproved. “European agriculture will suffer as a result of this decision,” Graeme Taylor, of the European Crop Protection Association , said. “Perhaps not today, perhaps not tomorrow, but in time decision makers will see the clear impact of removing a vital tool for farmers.” Research suggests that Taylor’s concerns are unfounded, while the dramatic decline in pollinator populations — which will continue to occur without action — proves disastrous for food production. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1)

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EU approves complete ban on bee-killing insecticides

Total field ban on bee-harming neonicotinoids likely after new EU assessments

March 1, 2018 by  
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A total ban on pesticides that harm bees is highly likely in the European Union, according to The Guardian . The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published new assessments Wednesday confirming the risks of neonicotinoids for bees. Countries will vote next month, and a total field ban is likely. EFSA just put out new assessments, releasing conclusions updating ones from 2013 on the neonicotinoids clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam. The assessments cover honeybees , as well solitary bees and bumblebees for the first time, according to The Guardian, which also said the authority scrutinized over 1,500 studies to come to their conclusions. EFSA finalized them after consulting with pesticide experts in the European Union , whom they said supported their conclusions. Related: Over 700 North American bee species are heading towards extinction EFSA’s Pesticides Unit head Jose Tarazona said they were able to arrive at very detailed conclusions as there’s an ample amount of data, saying in a statement, “There is variability in the conclusions, due to factors such as the bee species, the intended use of the pesticide, and the route of exposure. Some low risks have been identified, but overall the risk to the three types of bees we have assessed is confirmed.” Many environmentalists and scientists welcomed the news, according to The Guardian. Friends of the Earth campaigner Sandra Bell said in a statement , “We have been playing Russian Roulette with the future of our bees for far too long. The UK government has already said it will support a complete ban on the outdoor use of these three bee-harming chemicals — a move that is fully justified by this report. Other EU countries must now back a tougher ban too.” The EU passed a partial ban in 2013, according to The Guardian, following EFSA’s first assessment finding unacceptable risks for bees from neonicotinoid pesticides. + European Food Safety Authority Via The Guardian Images via Danilo Batista on Unsplash and Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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Total field ban on bee-harming neonicotinoids likely after new EU assessments

Heavenly Organics uses honey to foster peace in conflict zones across India

February 20, 2018 by  
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Amit Hooda hopes to eliminate conflict with sustainable honey harvesting. He started Heavenly Organics , a company selling honey with the goal of providing ethical jobs , to foster peace . The company supports almost 600 family farmers in conflict zones across India, selling raw, organic honey they describe as the “cleanest sourced honey you can find.” Hooda discussed with his agronomist father, I.S. Hooda, how he might help people living in conflict zones. His father had spent 35 years building relationships with farmers to preserve traditional organic farming practices, according to Heavenly Organics , and help them earn money from their products. Amit grew up near a conflict zone in India during the Punjab Insurgency, and that experience inspired him to figure out a way to help others. Together, the Hoodas envisioned a company that could provide people with ethical job opportunities as a way of defeating conflict. Over a decade later, Heavenly Organics supports hundreds of farmers and sells cane sugar, chocolate honey patties, and honey. Related: Vacant lots are being transformed into urban bee farms in Detroit They don’t sell just any honey, but raw, organic honey sourced from wild beehives in the forests of Central and Northern India and the Himalayas. They say the free-range bees that create their honey and their hives have never been exposed to antibiotics, pollutants, genetically modified crops, or pesticides . Farmers harvesting honey draw on smoke-free methods to conserve wild bee colonies. Happy Fathers Day! Fathers inspire us to be our best selves and to make a real difference in the world. Amit Hooda's father is the living embodiment of this effect in action. #HeavenlyOrganics #OneSweetWorld A post shared by Heavenly Organics® (@heavenlyorganics) on Jun 18, 2017 at 9:24am PDT Heavenly Organics enables displaced people to find markets for their products and earn a reliable income, according to the website. The company says, “Our goal is to increase the number of farmers we work with to 5,000 in the next five years and to extend this business model into other countries to help create long-lasting sustainable economies in other isolated areas and conflict zones.” Our honey harvesting methods are as pure as our products. Our harvesters use a bee-friendly and smoke-free way of honey collection to protect wild bee colonies and prevent forest fires and deforestation. These sweet methods keep our honey and environment clean and harmonious. #HeavenlyOrganics #OneSweetWorld #SaveTheBees #HoneyHarvest2017 #HoneyHarvester #India #Sustainable #PeacefulProfits A post shared by Heavenly Organics® (@heavenlyorganics) on May 12, 2017 at 3:13pm PDT Like the Native Americans in the US, there’s an indigenous population within India known as the Adivasis. Unfortunately, they have been poorly treated. As a result, they are more easily convinced to join a growing movement of insurgents looking to take up arms against the Indian Government. This conflict is known as the Naxalite Insurgency. It is rarely talked about in the West, but it is a significant source of strife throughout India. The good news is, when you purchase a jar of Heavenly Organics honey, you help put an end to this conflict by supporting families caught in the crossfire. #HeavenlyOrganics #OneSweetWorld #Honey #RawHoney #Organic #FairTrade #USDAOrganic #Neem #SustainableHarvesting #SmokeFree #GlyphosateFree A post shared by Heavenly Organics® (@heavenlyorganics) on Sep 21, 2017 at 12:55pm PDT Find out where Heavenly Organics products are sold near you here . You can also read more of the company’s story in this recent Wired article . + Heavenly Organics + Heavenly Organics Story Image via Pixabay

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Heavenly Organics uses honey to foster peace in conflict zones across India

BEEcosystem observation hives can be installed inside or outdoors

February 12, 2018 by  
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Today in the United States there are 3.5 million fewer beehives than there were in 1947, a worrying decline given that bees pollinate one out of every three bites of food. Addressing the need for more bees, and in general new awareness about their crucial role as pollinators, Dustin Betz and Mike Zaengle teamed up to design the hexagonal BEEcosystem observation hive . Safely installed either inside or outdoors, the modular beehive can be stacked for growth in much the same way honeybees expand their combs. The pair first introduced BEEcosystem in 2015 , and now, for 2018, they’ve improved upon the original design with nifty new features. Zaengle told Inhabitat that while customers who received BEEcosystems have been thrilled with their purchase, many wished the hive would open from the front, rather than the back. “This slight change would make the hives that are situated outside easier to maintain,” he said. Instead of having to remove the hive from the wall, it can now be maintained in place. Zaengle adds that they “have already worked through this design modification with our current manufacturer and have started our initial production run for the 2018 beekeeping season .” Another limiting factor for potential BEEcosystem owners is lack of experience. People who are unfamiliar with apiculture may be intimidated to bring bees into their homes, while business owners who want to support the pollinators may simply lack the necessary expertise. In response, Betz and Zaengle have set up a new ambassador program. Betz says the Beekeeper Ambassador Program will allow them to build a network of beekeeping experts who can provide services to B2B customers such as farm-to-table restaurants, vineyards and hotels. “We feel the BEEcosystem hive can add tons of value to eco- and agri-tourism businesses,” he said, “and the Ambassador Program will allow more of those businesses to purchase our product without having to have someone in-house manage the hive – this network will also help to educate the next generation of beekeepers, and greatly increase the reach of our social impact.” Related: The world’s first observation hive to ship with an established colony BEEcosystem has forged a partnership with the Clift hotel and beekeeper Roger Garrison in San Francisco, according to Zaengle, as part of a broader effort to expand their mission with “other hotels with a sustainable and eco-driven mission .” Another new feature that facilitates hive expansion includes unique patent pending vent-to-passageway magnetic connection points. “Because both the hive’s side vents and additional hive bodies attach magnetically, by simply sliding out any one of the four side-ventilation screens, another BEEcosystem hive body can be attached to create a more spacious hive interior—giving your colony room to grow and thrive,” according to information detailed in their latest crowdfunding campaign . “By using magnetic alignment, BEEcosystem units connect together effortlessly—and because we use powerful magnets, they also connect together securely—delivering both peace of mind and ease of installation.” A new mason jar top feeder allows budding beekeepers to supplement feeding when necessary, and removable top bar frames makes it easy to harvest honey. A detachable red acrylic piece ensures bees, which, similarly to humans, operate on a circadian rhythm, can enjoy light-free sleep. And the transport tube, like a bee version of a dog door that allows pollinators to travel outdoors to forage, is sealed in with a magnetic safety clasp. Betz and Zaengle have finessed what was already an elegant, minimalist design to ensure maximum comfort for both bees and their human caretakers. They call theirs the most “user-friendly observation hive ever built.” If you would like to support their efforts to scale up manufacturing and expand their educational initiatives, feel free to check out their Indiegogo campaign . They have lots of worthwhile gifts to share. + BEEcosystem + BEEcosystem on Indiegogo

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BEEcosystem observation hives can be installed inside or outdoors

Hanergy’s thin solar panels break multiple world records for efficiency

February 12, 2018 by  
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The China-based international energy corporation Hanergy was recently lauded for its newest solar production module, the highest efficiency single-junction solar module ever created. Hanergy’s US-based subsidiary Alta Devices produced a module, with a 25.1 percent conversion efficiency, capable of powering drones, electric vehicles and sensors that were once out of reach for solar power. Solar modules from subsidiaries Solibro and MiaSole have also broken efficiency records – double glass CIGS solar modules at 18.72 percent and sputtering CIGS solar modules on flexible substrate at 17.88 percent. “As we move toward a world of autonomous machines, developing sources of power that can be replenished without interruption is increasingly important,” Alta Devices Chief Marketing Officer Rich Kapusta told PR Newswire . “Each time our technology achieves a new world record, it has been designed with a clear focus on this goal.” The ultra-efficient, thin, flexible solar panels from Hanergy are possible as a result of gallium arsenide (GaAs), a semiconductor that is moisture and UV radiation resistant. The panels are constructed by growing a thin layer of GaAs on top of a single crystal GaAs wafer using a process known as metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD). The thin layer is then peeled off the wafer to produce a flexible, lightweight solar cell. These thin solar panels can then be applied in a variety of situations, including as part of a solar-charging backpack featured above. Related: Solar record-breaking China aims for 50GW installed in 2017 The GaAs modules produced by Hanergy achieve efficiency up to two times that of traditional flexible solar cells and have broken conversion efficiency records four times since 2010. They currently hold the world record for the highest conversion efficiency rate (in a laboratory setting) of 28.8 percent. Hanergy has collaborated with European automakers to apply their ultra-efficient solar modules in panoramic vehicle roofs, seamlessly integrating solar power with style. Their modules are also well-suited for drone applications because of their light weight and flexibility that does not affect a drone’s aerodynamic profile. Via PR Newswire and China Daily Images via Miasole and Hanergy (1)

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Hanergy’s thin solar panels break multiple world records for efficiency

"Bee-friendly" plants sold in the UK are coated in harmful pesticides

May 16, 2017 by  
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Conscientious buyers know to look for plants that aren’t covered in bee-killing pesticides , but as it turns out, those plants may be doing more harm than good. That’s because, according to a recent study, most of the plants sold in UK garden centers are coated with deadly neonicotinoid chemicals. Researchers bought plants from four major garden centers and a local nursery in the UK and found that 70 percent had neonicotinoid chemicals on them in quantities high enough to harm bees. Two plants were free of chemicals, while 23 had one or more (and up to 10) chemicals. Neonicotinoids have been shown to kill bees and contribute to colony collapse . Related: EPA finally admits popular insecticide threatens honeybees So how does one be sure that they aren’t harming bees? “Gardeners who wish to gain the benefits without the risks should seek uncontaminated plants by growing their own from seed, plant-swapping or by buying plants from an organic nursery,” said the researchers. Researchers published their findings in the journal Environmental Pollution . Two of the garden centers responded to the report, stating that they do not knowingly sell plants containing neonicotinoids. Via The Independent Images via Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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"Bee-friendly" plants sold in the UK are coated in harmful pesticides

Here’s the buzz on Häagen-Dazs’ plan to protect honeybees

March 9, 2017 by  
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It takes a village of brands, farms and nonprofits to help pollinators produce berries, nuts and everything else we like to eat.

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Here’s the buzz on Häagen-Dazs’ plan to protect honeybees

The robots eyeing my job

March 7, 2017 by  
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Beware the mechanization of everything, even desk-based knowledge workers. Even the bees are swarming.

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The robots eyeing my job

Japanese scientists build tiny drone that pollinates like a bee

February 10, 2017 by  
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As concern over dwindling bee populations mounts, a team of chemists at a Japanese institution came up with a robotic solution. They designed pollinating drones : tiny machines that grab and deposit pollen in flowers . The scientists hope their drones won’t utterly replace bees, but would instead take some of the pressure off the remaining pollinators should more perish. Chemists from Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology designed the little drones. On the underside of a two-inch G-Force PXY CAM drone they attached animal hair, and covered it in sticky gel. When the altered machines brushed up against Japanese lilies, they were able to pick up and drop off pollen. Related: Bees placed on the endangered species list for the very first time The journal Chem published a study this week about the advance. Paper co-author Eijiro Miyako told Gizmodo, “TV programs about the pollination crisis, honey bee decline, and the latest robotics emotionally motivated me. I thought we urgently needed to create something for these problems.” Miyako said this is the first instance of drones pollinating flowers, but the little machines aren’t yet ready to zoom out into the world. The scientists aim to add GPS, artificial intelligence , and high resolution cameras to the small machines, which also need to crawl inside certain plants, as bees do. Critics aren’t so convinced pollinating drones is the best solution to the worrying bee crisis. Biologist David Goulson of the United Kingdom’s University of Sussex wrote a blog post on the topic and said, “I would argue that it is exceedingly unlikely that we could ever produce something as cheap or as effective as bees themselves. Bees have been around and pollinating flowers for more than 120 million years; they have evolved to become very good at it. It is remarkable hubris to think that we can improve on that.” Goulson said there are roughly 3.2 trillion bees – which feed themselves at no cost to us but also give us honey – and argued to replace them with machines would be incredibly expensive. Gizmodo points out it could cost $100 per bee to employ pollinating drones. Plus, unless the machines could be made biodegradable , Goulson said we’d potentially experience a huge amount of drone litter. Via Gizmodo and Engadget Images via Eijiro Miyako and G-Force Hobby Facebook

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Japanese scientists build tiny drone that pollinates like a bee

Earth’s water may not have originated with comet collisions after all

February 10, 2017 by  
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Scientists used to think our planet’s water arrived on Earth after comet collisions deposited ice. But a new study reveals that liquid so vital for life may have originated on Earth after all. Research led by University College Dublin shows chemical reactions between fluid hydrogen and silicon dioxide deep down in Earth’s mantle could create water. At high temperatures and pressures, fluid hydrogen and silicon dioxide in quartz can react to form liquid water, scientists discovered. They ran computer simulations, checking different temperatures and pressures similar to those found in the upper mantle 25 to nearly 250 miles below Earth’s surface. When fluid hydrogen and silicon dioxide are exposed to a pressure 20,000 times greater than the atmospheric pressure on Earth, and a temperature of around 2,552 degrees Fahrenheit, the two substances can produce water. Scientists thought water resulting from the chemical reaction would form on the quartz’s surface. But the water was instead trapped inside the quartz, building up pressure. The scientists think when this pressure is released, it could result in earthquakes under the Earth’s surface. Related: There may be water far deeper in our planet than previously thought The journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters published the study online in January. Along with two scientists from University College Dublin, three other researchers from Canada’s University of Saskatchewan and China’s Jilin University collaborated on the paper. Their findings lend further credence to Japanese 2014 experiments on fluid hydrogen and silicon dioxide. Paper co-author Niall English of University College Dublin said, “We were initially surprised to see in- rock reactions, but we then realized that we had explained the puzzling mechanism at the base of earlier Japanese experimental work finding water formation. We concluded that these findings help to rationalize, in vivid detail, the in-mantle genesis of water. This is very exciting and in accord with very recent findings of an ‘ocean’s worth’ of water in the Earth’s mantle.” Via University College Dublin Images via Pexels and James St. John on Flickr

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Earth’s water may not have originated with comet collisions after all

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