Bee Vectoring of Organic Pesticides

On August 28, the EPA approved the first-ever bee-distributed organic pesticide for the US market—a fungus-fighting powder called Vectorite that contains the spores of a naturally occurring fungus called Clonostachys rosea (CR-7). CR-7 is completely harmless to its host plant and acts as a hostile competitor to other, less innocuous fungi. It has been approved for commercial growers of flowering crops like blueberries, strawberries, almonds, and tomatoes.

The beauty of Vectorite is that it mimics a “locally appropriate natural system,” said Vicki Wojcik, director of Pollinator Partnership Canada. “It’s an interesting twist… where care for the health of the pollinator is actually vital because it is your actual vector.”

Thus… bee vectoring.

More: A new pesticide is all the buzz: The EPA has approved the first-ever bee-distributed pesticide for the US market

Carbon Bubble

 

Are the world’s capital markets carrying a carbon bubble? This question related to the fact that there is unburnable carbon, and some of that is owned by listed companies. In terms of carbon there is a clear overhang of fossil fuels beyond what can be burned in a 2°C scenario; there is a lively debate about the financial implications. Some of the issues that have arisen include:

  • Are there assets which are being valued in a manner inconsistent with the expected future scenario?
  • Does the short-term bias of valuation models mean that the impact of lower-than-expected future demand is largely discounted out at present?
  • Is the market capable of pricing in the complex set of factors which could affect demand and price?
  • Do large diversified companies (eg mining stocks or oil majors) dilute the impact of a reduction in coal or oil revenues?
  • Do current accounting rules capture the value and any potential impairment of assets in a consistent and useful manner, (eg compare mining vs oil; contrast IFRS and US GAAP)?
  • If capital expenditure continues to be used to replace reserves could this lead to the inflation of a carbon bubble which would have to be corrected in a scenario of sudden drastic action to prevent dangerous climate change?

More: Carbon Tracker and Wikipedia entry on Carbon Bubble

Hedonistic Sustainability

…In Copenhagen, there’s a new power plant “embodying the notion of hedonistic sustainability.”

Known both as Amager Bakke and Copenhill, the site is a waste to energy plant designed to convert enough tons of waste to provide clean energy for 150,000 homes. The giant chimney was intended to blow giant smoke rings, but that plan was abandoned.

…The exterior features enough facilities to host the X-Games, including a ski slope, freestyle park, climbing wall, and running trail.

Source: Power plant looks like it’s holding a giant cigarette (and features its own year-round ski slope)

More information: Bjarke Ingels On The Future Of Architecture

Increase in Artificial Light at Night Impacting Plants & Animals

Buns, Downtown Delaware, OH (source)

Since 2010, the scientific literature has exploded with research examining light’s effects on individual species, from birds to fish to trees to humans. The news, in general, isn’t good. Artificial light changes animal migration and reproduction, tree leaf growth, bird nesting and fledging, pollination, human sleep, and much more. It even affects the spread of diseases. In July, researchers reported that West Nile–virus–infected house sparrows that live in light- polluted conditions are infectious for two days longer than those that live in darkness are, increasing the risk of a West Nile outbreak by 41 percent.

More: The Dark Side of Light

Recycling rates improve when people know what items will become

Jeans into insulation, plastic bottles into coats – details like this make people more inclined to use the blue bin.

When you throw something in the recycling bin, do you ever stop to think about what it could become? And when you do, does it make you more inclined to use that recycling bin, instead of lazily tossing an item in the trash? Several consumer psychologists designed a study around these questions, in an effort to determine whether or not explaining to people what their recyclables are transformed into would help boost recycling rates.

More: Recycling rates improve when people know what items will become

More: Recycling rates could rise significantly with this simple tweak

University of Alberta vice-president resigns over seemingly pro-climate change billboards

The University of Alberta’s vice-president of university relations has resigned over the school’s “beefier barley” billboards, which were slammed as promoting climate change.

“The messaging on the ad called the reputation of the University of Alberta and its extensive research on climate change into question,” vice-president of university relations Jacqui Tam said in an announcement posted Sunday.

“As Vice-President (University Relations), I apologize for this and take responsibility. In the best interests of the institution, I am announcing my departure from the University of Alberta, effective immediately.”

Read more: University of Alberta vice-president resigns over ‘beefier barley’ billboards

 

Can We Redesign The Modern City With Synthetic Biology? Could We Grow Our Houses Instead Of Building Them?

Imagine waking up every morning in a house that is just as alive as you are. With synthetic biology, your future home could be a living, breathing marvel of nature and biotechnology. Yes, it’s a bold ambition. But this kind of visionary thinking could be the key to achieving sustainability for modern cities.

More: Can We Redesign The Modern City With Synthetic Biology? Could We Grow Our Houses Instead Of Building Them?

 

Whales worth about $1 trillion in carbon sequestration

A new analysis of whales suggests that each one is worth about $2 million in carbon sequestration — and the global population is thus worth about $1 trillion.

How do whales sequester carbon? By eating stuff, getting big, then drifting to the bottom of the ocean after they die. This makes them carbon sinks on a scale even bigger than most trees

Source: Whales worth about $1 trillion in carbon sequestration, analysis finds

Source: Nature’s Solution to Climate Change: A strategy to protect whales can limit greenhouse gases and global warming

Lead in Turmeric and Microplastics in Tea

Many traced the issue to the 1980s when a massive flood left turmeric crops wet and relatively dull in color. Demand for bright yellow curry led turmeric processors to add lead chromate—an industrial yellow pigment commonly used to color toys and furniture—to their product. The practice continued as a cheap, fast way to produce a desirable color.

More: Researchers find lead in turmeric


There’s a new trend in tea — out with the old, flat paper tea bags and in with the pyramid-shaped mesh bags that allow bigger leaves extra breathing room. The bags, which have been around since at least 2006, are sometimes called “silken” sachets. They can be made from hemp, corn-based plastics, nylon or PET (polyethylene terephthalate). But most often it’s one of the latter two: plastics.

But research out this week in Environmental Science & Technology reveals that plastic tea bags are doing a lot more than holding on to your tea. When you steep them in hot water — AKA make tea — they break down just enough to release billions of plastic microparticles right into your beverage.

More: Plastic Tea Bags Release Billions of Microplastics Into Every Cup

Tree-planting Drones for Firing “Seed Missiles” into the Ground

 

In September 2018, a project in Myanmar used drones to fire “seed missiles” into remote areas of the country where trees were not growing. Less than a year later, thousands of those seed missiles have sprouted into 20-inch mangrove saplings that could literally be a case study in how technology can be used to innovate our way out of the climate change crisis.

More: These tree-planting drones are firing ‘seed missiles’ into the ground. Less than a year later, they’re already 20 inches tall.