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Gas pollution confusing bees …

May 5th, 2008 · No Comments

Reason 1347 to get off fossil fuels: Fossil fuel pollution is obscuring the flowers’ scent and inhibiting bees (and other insects) ability to find flowers and pollinate. As Science Daily opened their story,

Air pollution from power plants and automobiles is destroying the fragrance of flowers and thereby inhibiting the ability of pollinating insects to follow scent trails to their source …. This could partially explain why wild populations of some pollinators, particularly bees — which need nectar for food — are declining in several areas of the world, including California and the Netherlands.

As per Juliet Eilperin reporting in today’s The Washington Post, University of Virginia researchers have been working to determine how much impact hydrocarbon molecule pollution has on the movement of flowers’ scents.

In the prevailing conditions before the 1800s, the researchers calculated that a flower’s scent could travel between 3,280 feet and 4,000 feet, Fuentes said in an interview, but today, that scent might travel 650 feet to 1,000 feet in highly polluted areas such as the District of Columbia, Los Angeles or Houston.

This has a cascading impact. Not only does it make it less likely that bees will find a particular flower, but the additional efforts to find flowers weakens the bees, which then might lead to less pollination, which means fewer (and more disperse, potentially) flowers, which …

Now, as a side note, an interesting item is how long something takes to make it into the general press. This is a month-old story, something of import, that was discussed in the blogosphere and elsewhere (see Google search … over 10,000). Yet, the ‘newspaper of record’ in Washington, DC? Sigh …

So, for those urging along a gasoline tax holiday, one that will foster even more gasoline use rather than help us reduce our oil addiction, getting bees to your roses (and all of our food plants) is reason 1347 to move aggressively toward a lower fossil-fuel future.

Tags: Energy · environmental

0 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Susan Mix // May 19, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    I got the impression that wild bees were ok but the commercial hives were the ones in trouble - course they are put under continual stress.

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