Around 2006, a mysterious disease called Colony Collapse Disorder began to decimate global bee populations. Beekeepers found their hives abandoned, the bees having disappeared without a trace. As honey bees are involved in the pollination of three-quarters of the crops used in human food production worldwide, this was reason for great concern. In spite of the massive effort to pinpoint the cause, no definitive conclusions have been reached to date. The disorder has variously been attributed to a parasite, the Varroa mite, to climate change and to pesticides, in particular the family of chemicals called neonicotinoids. At this point in time, the prevailing scientific view is that the cause of the phenomenon is a combination of these and other, less prominent factors.
It has been shown, however, that neonicotinoids do have a negative effect on bees, suppressing their immune system, and affecting their memory, so that they become disoriented and cannot find their way home.
In response to this, the European Union banned neonicotinoids, or neonids for short, in 2013. Under pressure from the beekeepers, the US is considering a similar move, but has become a bit cautious about it because infestations appear to have increased and crop yields decreased significantly in Europe after three neonid-free years. Opponents of the ban consider this a decisive argument that the benefits of neonids outweigh the drawbacks. But proponents argue that this conclusion is premature at best, because neonids not only kill pests, but also the insects that prey upon them and that it will take several more years for these populations to re-establish themselves as a significant factor in pest control.
Grants Available for Green School Projects
On Sept. 24, students, teachers, parents and community volunteers will be out at local schools across Arizona planting trees, building greenhouses, doing energy audits or maybe building chicken coops as part of the fifth annual Green Apple Day of Service. This year the U.S. Green Building Council Arizona will be providing up to $5,000 in grants to help fund Green Apple projects at Arizona schools.
The Green Apple Day of Service is a global movement of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools. The Center for Green Schools is committed to placing all children in schools where they have clean and healthy air to breathe, where energy and resources are conserved, and where they can be inspired to dream of a brighter future.
USGBC Arizona will be offering up to 10 grants of $500 each. Grants are available only for K-12 schools in Arizona. The grant application submission deadline has been extended to Sept. 9 and grant winners will be announced by Sept. 16. For more information about USGBC Arizona’s grants program or to request a grant application, email Scott Pierce at [email protected].
K-12 schools in the Tucson and Phoenix metro regions can now also apply for grants up to $4000 from Water Management Group to create a living lab – an urban desert oasis. The application deadline is September 26th. Go to watershedmg.org to learn more.
Batteried Motorbikes Around The World
On August 14th, a team from the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands started out on a trip around the world on two battery-powered motorcycles. The motorcycles run on 24 rechargeable batteries, have a top-speed of 100 miles/h and a range of 236 miles on a full charge. The team claims they are the first battery powered tour bikes in the world.
Recharging locations have been arranged for every night of the 18,000 mile journey with local businesses, universities and residents, even on the desolate tract from Iran to Kazachstan. By accomplishing this feat, the team hopes to show that electric bikes perform just as well as fossil-fuel powered bikes, except that they lack that gratifying roar when pulling away at the traffic light.