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Last week, more than 100 protesters tuned into a virtual rally for a milestone push in a three-year battle against the Williams Pipeline, a controversial project that would bring a new supply of natural gas into New York City and Long Island. With individual pleas, homemade signs, musical performances, and speeches from the likes of Bill McKibben, Cynthia Nixon, and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, the protestors tried to summon the people power of a live event to tell New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration to stop the pipeline once and for all.
“We can’t pretend we are making progress on combating climate change if we continue to build out fracked gas infrastructure that will lock in emissions for years to come,” said Stringer, who is rumored to be considering a run for New York City mayor in 2021. “Let’s finish stopping this pipeline and move on to building out a cleaner, more sustainable city.”
The rally was held ahead of the May 17 deadline for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to rule on a key permit for the project. The pipeline would cut through northern New Jersey and then out about 23 miles into New York Harbor to connect with the existing gas system. One year ago, the agency denied the permit on the grounds that it failed to meet the state’s water quality standards. New Jersey’s environmental agency did the same. Both rejections were issued “without prejudice,” meaning Williams could reapply — which it quickly did.
National Grid, a gas utility that operates in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island, would be the sole customer of the pipeline’s gas. As the fate of the project hangs in the balance, so do National Grid’s long-term plans — and, according to many observers, the fate of New York City and New York State’s climate goals. Both the city and state passed landmark laws last year that seek to drastically reduce carbon emissions by 2050. The city’s Climate Mobilization Act specifically aims to cut emissions from buildings — the majority of which come from natural gas heating systems.
After the Williams Pipeline permits were denied last summer, National Grid began rejecting new customer applications, claiming that it would not be able to meet future demand unless the pipeline was built. Real estate developments were stalled, new restaurants were left in limbo, and homeowners finishing up repairs couldn’t get the gas turned back on. The issue came to a head in November when Governor Cuomo accused the utility of extorting New Yorkers and threatened to revoke its license. The resulting settlement required National Grid to go back to the drawing board and come up with a slate of alternatives to make sure New Yorkers aren’t left in the cold if the pipeline isn’t built.
In February, before the novel coronavirus swept the country, the utility released a report with 10 ideas. One of them was the Williams Pipeline. The rest were smaller projects, none of which would alone solve the supply problem, the report said, although a scenario with some combination of them could. Most of the solutions involved building new gas infrastructure, like a liquefied natural gas terminal where gas would be delivered by tanker, or a smaller “peak shaving plant” that would store excess gas during the summer for when demand ramps up in the winter.
Some of the solutions on the menu were projects National Grid was already working on, like the construction of a new compressor station that will increase the amount of gas received through an existing pipeline. There were also three “no infrastructure” options that would expand existing programs that reduce demand for gas, like incentives for people to weatherize their homes and to replace their gas boilers with electric heat pumps. (National Grid is already required to offer these kinds of programs under New York State law.)
Critiques of the company’s report poured in from activists, environmental groups, politicians, and even the City of New York during a series of virtual public meetings the company was required to hold and in an online forum for public comments. During the meetings, National Grid President John Bruckner asserted that the company had not decided on any particular solution yet. However, some commenters felt the company’s report continued to make it seem like the Williams Pipeline was the only viable way for National Grid to avoid another moratorium, which could scare regulators into approving it. “If targets are not met, will have to restrict new gas customer connections,” the report reads, referring to potential scenarios with minimal to no new gas infrastructure.
Several groups, like the Environmental Defense Fund and NY Renews, an environmental justice coalition of more than 200 groups across New York State, criticized the company for failing to analyze the emissions impacts of each option, which would be necessary in order to evaluate whether they’re compatible with New York’s climate targets.
In comments submitted on behalf of New York City, lawyer Adam Conway wrote that adding new gas infrastructure runs counter to the city’s policies, and therefore only the “no infrastructure” options were viable tools for National Grid to address supply and demand gaps. An analysis performed by Synapse Energy Economics, a research and consulting firm, on behalf of the Eastern Environmental Law Center, alleged that National Grid’s assessment was flawed even prior to the pandemic, and that the company does not actually face an impending supply shortage. It found that the utility did not account for city and state energy efficiency and emissions reduction programs that will reduce demand for gas in the coming years.
At both the virtual meetings and among the online comments, some parties, like a nonprofit called Heartshare that provides utility grants to low-income households and the Community Development Corporation of Long Island, argued that the Williams Pipeline would be the safest option to ensure that low-income New Yorkers have an affordable way to heat their homes.
But National Grid agreed to play ball and evaluate its options again. On Friday, one week after the comment period closed, the company filed a supplemental report that incorporated some of its critics’ suggestions, including a greenhouse gas analysis and an update to the way the forecasted gap between supply and demand was calculated — which slightly reduces the projected gap. The new report narrows down the solutions and proposes two viable paths forward. Option A consists of the compressor station upgrade, a combination of “no infrastructure” measures to reduce demand, and a brand new option that was not in the original report — upgrading an existing liquified natural gas plant to increase its capacity. Option B is the Williams Pipeline.
If all of the criteria National Grid considered are given equal weight — safety, reliability, cost, compatibility New York’s climate targets — the report recommends Option A. However, if greater importance is placed on reducing risk and making sure the company can meet demand, “then the preferred choice is Option B” it says — the pipeline.
The company’s settlement with New York indicates that one of these paths will have to be decided upon by early June. Whether or not Option B is really on the table now sits in the hands of the Department of Environmental Conservation and Governor Cuomo.
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India’s capital city of New Delhi has been making headlines this week for its abysmal air quality as the concentration of particulate matter reached above 400 micrograms per cubic meter, 20 times the levels deemed healthy by the World Health Organization and the worst the city has seen since 2016.
On October 31, the government declared a public health emergency, closing schools, banning construction and fireworks, and limiting private vehicle use to every other day for five days in an effort to protect the population and make a dent in the pollution. Flights have been delayed and hospitals inundated with patients suffering from coughs, dry eyes and throats, and other symptoms brought on or exacerbated by the toxic air.
On the ground, it looks like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie. Blanketing the streets is smog so dense you can’t see the length of a city block, and the sharp smell of smoke is detectable even through a mask, without which you’d be exposed to air that, over the course of a day, is equivalent to smoking a couple packs of cigarettes.
Unfortunately, this sort of air pollution is nothing new to the residents of Delhi, nor those of many other Indian cities. A study released earlier this year found that 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India, and the fall and winter months are always especially toxic.
The stew of pollution choking New Delhi this time of year doesn’t have one single source. Massive clouds of smoke drift south from the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana, where farmers burn crop stubble from their fields after the harvest to trap nutrients in the soil. Fireworks set off in the streets by the city’s 2 million residents during the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, don’t help either. And then there are the usual suspects: car and industrial emissions.
But it’s not just human activity that’s to blame — local weather patterns don’t help the problem, either. Cold air settles into the low-lying city, bringing with it, and holding in, pollutants.
The government has been struggling for years — mostly without success — to curb air pollution. Crop burning and firecrackers are both illegal, but people mostly ignore these bans, as well as the efforts to replace the practices with greener alternatives.
Hopefully residents will be breathing easier soon — air quality has begun to improve significantly in the last couple days thanks to winds, the odd-even car scheme, and a reduction in crop burning in Haryana. But these are short-term fixes, and just as history tells us that this year’s emergency-level air pollution wasn’t a fluke, it also suggests that large-scale measures will need to be taken if the people of New Delhi hope to avoid future polluted falls and winters.
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North Carolina is a magnet for hurricanes. Hurricanes Matthew and Florence both paid a visit in recent years, inundating towns and causing billions in damage. So if anyone in the United States knew firsthand that climate change was here, it would be the residents of New Hanover County, home to Wilmington and one of most vulnerable places in the country to hurricanes and sea-level rise.
A new study published in the journal Climatic Change looked at whether homeowners in this coastal county accepted climate science, and whether that made a difference in how they safeguarded their house against a future storm. The short answer: It didn’t.
The conventional wisdom is that if people knew the threat they faced and believed measures to protect their home would work (and had the money to act) they’d do the logical thing and try to keep their family safe. But the new research, which surveyed more than 600 homeowners in New Hanover County in 2017, found that none of these factors made a difference. “That was the biggest sobering takeaway,” said Tracy Kijewski-Correa, an author of the study and an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences at Notre Dame University.
Although the study found a few “bright spots” — some people who connected the dots and tried to protect themselves — the correlation wasn’t strong enough to make a statistically significant difference, Kijewski-Correa said. The new research is in line with previous studies that suggest that giving information alone is not enough to change behavior, according to Susan Clayton, a professor of psychology at the College of Wooster in Ohio who wasn’t involved in the study.
Why didn’t homeowners who knew they were at risk do a better job of preparing? It comes down to the complexities of human behavior. People do things all the time that they know are risky, like smoking cigarettes and driving cars. And when it comes to hurricanes, insurance and assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency might have lulled people into complacency, Kijewski-Correa said.
“Even if people think they could be at risk, they assume that they’ll be taken care of if that bad day should ever happen,” Kijewski-Correa said. That’s often not how things turn out. FEMA just last week denied a funding request for residents of several North Carolina counties that suffered property damage from Hurricane Dorian in September. That includes some 400 people on Ocracoke Island who lost their homes.
So how do you convince people living in vulnerable places to spend time and money preparing for a catastrophe that’ll strike who knows when?
Clayton, the psychologist, recommends using social norms to apply pressure. One problem with installing hurricane-proof windows is that nobody can really see the difference, she explained. “A community could give people little signs to put in their lawns: ‘I’ve hurricane-proofed my house,’” Clayton said. “That would let people know that other people were taking action.”
Relying on people to do the smart thing voluntarily can only go so far. For a more far-reaching solution, governments could mandate enhanced building codes or use other policies to motivate homeowners to protect themselves. But the new study found that the North Carolinians surveyed “were very much opposed to the government intervening,” Kijewski-Correa said.
Money might prove the most effective way to get through to people. Kijewski-Correa suggested that the influence of real-estate markets might work better than government regulation. “One way we can change this is to change what we value in home buying and selling,” she said. So, safety measures trump granite countertops.
“Think about how many times [real-estate agents] show off the kitchen and the brand-new bathrooms,” Kijewski-Correa said. “How many times do they the show off the roof that will actually keep your family alive in a hurricane?”
One silver lining: The study suggests that denying the scientific consensus on climate change isn’t that much of an obstacle to keeping people safe.
The “leave climate out of it” approach is already having some success in towns in North Carolina. Some local governments have adopted ordinances pushing new construction to higher ground, mentioning “flood damage” but not rising seas.
Kijewski-Correa said that bringing up climate change in discussions about preventing disasters might backfire with some people who live in flood-prone areas, and recommended talking about how hurricanes are getting stronger and flooding is getting worse.
“They’re at risk,” she said, “and that’s what keeps me up at night, more than the partisan bickering around the issue.”
The unexpected culprit that could throw a wrench in the world’s efforts to stop climate change? Runaway methane levels. Researchers monitoring air samples have noticed an alarming observation: Methane levels are on the rise and no one’s quite sure why.
NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory scientists have been analyzing air samples since 1983. Once a week, metal flasks containing air from around the world at different elevations find their way to the Boulder, Colorado, lab. The scientists look at 55 greenhouse gases, including methane and its more-famous climate villain, CO2.
You might know methane as the stuff of cow farts, natural gas, and landfills. It’s also an incredibly potent greenhouse gas, absorbing heat 25 times more effectively than CO2. While the rise of carbon dioxide has been stealing the spotlight as of late, methane levels have also been on the incline.
Methane levels, not surprisingly, have been steadily rising since the Industrial Revolution. Things picked up in 1980 and soon after, the NOAA scientists began consistently measuring methane. Levels were high but flattened out by the turn of the millenium. So when levels began to increase at a rapid rate in 2007, and then even faster in 2014, scientists were baffled. No one’s best guesses came close to predicting current methane levels of around 1,867 parts per billion as of 2018. This means studies evaluating the effects of climate change and action plans to address them, like the Paris Climate Agreement, may be based on downplayed climate crisis forecasts.
Methane levels from 1950 to present. 2° Institute
So what’s the big deal? Carbon dioxide emissions are relatively well understood and can be tracked to various human activities like transportation and electricity, which means policies can be enacted to target and lower emissions. Pinning down the source of methane, on the other hand, is a little more complicated.
“The really fascinating thing about methane,” Lori Bruhwiler, a NOAA research scientist, told Undark, “is the fact that almost everything we humans do has an effect on the methane budget, from producing food to producing fuel to disposing of waste.”
As if things weren’t complicated enough, a study published in AGU100 distinguished microbe-produced methane from fossil fuel methane — historically the more abundant one — and found that “natural” methane had taken the lead. This unexpected result might explain the upticks in methane levels that do not seem correlated with human activity. Of course, it could also be any number of human-made causes, including warming temperatures freeing up the gas and more frequent floods amplifying the methane output of wetlands.
Natural methane or not, this finding doesn’t exonerate anyone. The study’s authors made that clear in their concluding remarks.
“If the increased methane burden is driven by increased emissions from natural sources,” they wrote, “and if this is a climate feedback—the warming feeding the warming—then there is urgency to reduce anthropogenic emissions, which we can control.”
Curbing methane could be a powerful tool in our upcoming climate fight. Since the greenhouse gas is relatively short lived, only around 12 years, versus the 20 to 200 years of CO2, and is more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, addressing methane emissions could be effective as a short-term climate remediation tool. The first step? Bringing more attention to methane so we can figure out where it comes from and nip it in the bud.
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Earth Month starts tomorrow, and there’s never been a better time to?kick your green living into gear. These easy sustainability will help you get started.
Climate change is looking pretty grim?we no longer have the luxury of considering sustainability an “option”. Each and every one of us needs to start pulling our weight and pressuring businesses and governments to make rapid, significant?shifts if we care about?rescuing our planet.
To get you started on the road to personal sustainability, here are a few straightforward ways you can have a major impact on the planet (without much effort)?just in time for Earth Month!
1. Buy less stuff.
Fast fashion is a sustainability nightmare.?Buying new clothes every season? Guess what happens when you?toss your old clothes out?they get thrown in the landfill. And since?many clothes are made with manmade materials like polyester, they likely aren?t biodegradable. Let?s not forget that manufacturing clothing requires a tremendous amount of water resources and chemicals pollutants.
To lessen your impact, shop second hand when you have a craving to go shopping.?If you must buy new, invest in high-quality pieces that will last for years to come. It?s time to ditch fast fashion for good.
2. Take it easy on the new smartphones.
It can be tantalizing to go out and buy the latest and greatest tech device as soon as it hits the market, but if you care about sustainability you?re going to want to think twice.
According to the New York Times, ?The production of an iPhone 6, for example, released the equivalent of 178 pounds of carbon dioxide, or about as much as burning nine gallons of gas, according to a 2015 study.?
Sure, Apple and other tech companies have become more environmentally conscious since the iPhone 6 launched way back in 2014 (Apple has some particularly cool green initiatives going on), but the most sustainable option is still to keep your current phone for as long as possible.
You don’t?really need the latest,?shiniest phone, if you have a perfectly fine functioning one. And when it is time to replace your old phone, definitely make sure to recycle it with the manufacturer, so that it doesn’t leach chemicals in a landfill somewhere.
3. Divest from fossil fuels.
Take a peek at your retirement funds or other investments. Are you supporting the fossil fuel industry (and climate change alongside it)? Divesting is becoming a popular (and effective) way to take a stand.
According to a 2018 report, ?Today, nearly 1,000 institutional investors with $6.24 trillion in assets have committed to divest from fossil fuels, up from $52 billion four years ago?an increase of 11,900 percent.?
It’s not a fringe idea anymore?and it’s sure to make a direct impact on fossil fuel companies. Don?t be afraid to?take a real stand.
4. Reduce your use of plastics.
If you’ve been avoiding it, it’s finally time. No more single-use plastics. That means cutting back on plastic straws, single-use flatware, cups and bottles, grocery and produce bags, food wrap and even garbage bags.
It?s relatively?easy to find more sustainable alternatives?for all these plastic products?whether they?re compostable bio plastics or 100 percent plastic-free. All it requires is a small amount of effort.
5. Support businesses who care about sustainability.
When you buy things, put your money where your mouth is.?Find sustainable alternatives for the products you use most, and support the businesses that make them. For instance, instead of buying plastic food wrap a couple times a year, why not invest in parchment paper or reusable (and incredible) Bee?s Wrap?
The more we support green businesses, the more power we gain as consumers to encourage greater sustainability efforts across the board.
Do you have any other easily-adoptable tips for living a sustainable lifestyle? Share them with the community in the comments section below!
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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.
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A battle is erupting over a proposed gas pipeline on the doorstep of New York City, with environmental groups claiming the project is unnecessary and would lock in planet-warming emissions for decades to come.
Energy company Williams, based in Oklahoma, plans to build a 23-mile-long underwater pipeline through New York’s lower bay to bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania to New York. The $1 billion project would link existing infrastructure in New Jersey to the Rockaways in the New York borough of Queens.
Pipeline proponents argue the project is needed to allow thousands more New Yorkers to switch from oil to gas for their heating, but environmental groups are marshaling a growing protest movement to pressure Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, to block the development.
“This pipeline would incentivize reliance on gas, which is way more carbon-intensive than renewables,” said Robert Wood, a campaigner at 350.org, a climate advocacy group. “It would be a nightmare happening, not in a rural area, but right here in New York City.”
A draft of a study commissioned by 350.org disputes many of the assertions made by Williams and National Grid, the utility that will be the sole customer for the gas. According to the analysis, New York is already well on its way to eliminating the dirtiest types of oil, a carbon-heavy fuel, for heating, and the state’s power operators are forecasting a drop in electricity use due to efficiency improvements.
Measures such as installing heat pumps, replacing old boilers, expansion of renewable energy, and planned improvements to building energy efficiency should be “ramped up before considering construction of costly and potentially risky infrastructure like a massive pipeline in the New York harbor,” concluded the analysis, conducted by Suzanne Mattei, a consultant and former regional director of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Environmentalists also fret that the pipeline’s construction could stir up toxins from the harbor’s seabed and potentially harm vulnerable marine life such as humpback whales, which have made a comeback to the New York area in recent years.
Wood said a decision on the pipeline will be a “major test” of Cuomo’s green credentials. The Democratic governor previously banned fracking in New York and has set climate change goals that would cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
The building of the pipeline would be a “a monumental step backwards” in meeting this target, according to Scott Stringer, comptroller of New York City. Stringer, along with a host of other local elected officials and green groups, contends that while gas has a lower carbon content than oil or coal, methane leaks from gas drilling and transportation can make it a nefarious fossil fuel.
However, National Grid said it has experienced “significant growth” in the need for natural gas in New York City and Long Island, with demand expected to grow by more than 10 percent over the next decade as households make a city-mandated switch away from oil to gas for heating.
“A clean energy transition is good for our customers and the economy, and the right thing to do,” said a statement from National Grid that estimated the so-called Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE) would displace 900,000 barrels of oil a year, the equivalent of removing 500,000 cars from the road.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has been holding public hearings into the pipeline in the wake of its approval by the federal regulator. Williams has said it could start construction within a year.
The battle over the pipeline is a microcosm of the struggles within the Democratic party over whether to follow a more incremental approach to climate change or heed the warnings of scientists and conduct a rapid shift away from fossil fuels.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a congresswoman from New York, has spearheaded the more energetic approach as outlined by the Green New Deal, while Cuomo is seen as more of a moderate on the issue.
While environmental groups are planning a series of protests to sway Cuomo, labor unions, another key part of the governor’s base, have said they support the Williams project because of the promise of thousands of construction jobs.
Meanwhile, it emerged last year that Cuomo hired a Williams lobbyist to run his re-election campaign.
Comment was sought from the offices of Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, but neither would answer whether they supported the Williams project.
Over the past decade, the honeybee story has been the stuff of science fiction. Back in 2006, beekeepers first noticed their honeybees were mysteriously dying off in huge numbers, with no clear cause. For some, a whopping 30 to 90 percent of their colonies were disappearing, especially on the East Coast. Worker bees were abandoning their queens and leaving hives full of honey. That first winter, beekeepers nationwide lost about a third of their colonies. Since then, the numbers haven’t improved.
Researchers now call this ongoing phenomenon “colony collapse disorder,” but scientists still haven’t identified a singular cause. They say it’s a combination of factors: pollution, habitat loss, herbicides, and viruses, though some experts believe viruses may be the primary driver. For instance, “deformed wing virus,” which causes bees to develop disfigured, nonfunctional wings, can be nasty, and, like other viruses, is transferred to bees by parasitic mites. Until now, scientists haven’t developed any antiviral treatments to protect the bees.
But in a landmark study published Thursday in Nature journal Scientific Reports, researchers revealed they’ve discovered the first-ever “vaccine” for bees, procured from an unexpected source: mushrooms. Specifically, it’s mycelia — cobweb-like fungal membranes found in and on soil — from two species, “tinder fungus” and Red Reishi mushrooms.
Total winter colony loss rate in the United States (preliminary 2017-2018 results)National Honey Bee Colony Loss Survey / Bee Informed.
“Up until this discovery, there were no antivirals reducing viruses in bees,” Paul Stamets, the lead author on the study, tells Mother Jones. “Not only is this the first discovery, but these extracts are incredibly potent.” Stamets is a Washington-based mycologist and author whose work includes books “Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World, Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, and Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World.” Stamets also holds patents “pertaining to the use of fungal extracts for antiviral activity and honeybee health,” according to the study.
This giant discovery actually has very humble origins. Decades before colony collapse hit the United States, Stamets says he had noticed bees in his own yard feeding off water droplets on the mushrooms that were growing on wood chips in his garden. They had pushed the wood chips aside to expose the mycelium. At the time, he thought they might be getting sugars from the fungi, and it wasn’t until about five years ago — after researching the antiviral properties of fungi for humans — that he made the connection to viruses affecting bees. “I had this waking dream, ‘I think I can save the bees,’” he says.
In collaboration with researchers from Washington State University, Stamets decided to conduct a two-part study to test his theory that fungi could treat the viruses in honeybees. First, in a controlled, caged experiment, he and his team added small amounts of mushroom extract, or “mycelial broth,” to the bees’ food (sugar water) at varying concentrations and measured how it affected their health. Then, they tested the best-performing extracts in the field.
The extracts worked better than Stamets ever imagined.
The team measured the virus levels in 50 bees from 30 different field colonies and found the bee colonies that consumed the mycelium extracts saw up to a 79-fold decrease in deformed wing virus after 12 days and up to a 45,000-fold reduction in Lake Sinai virus (another virus linked to colony collapse) compared to the bees that only ate sugar water.
“We went out of the laboratory, into the field — real-life field tests,” says Stamets. “And we saw enormous benefit to the bees.”
So what’s going on here? Stamets says the operating hypothesis is this: “These aren’t really antiviral drugs. We think they are supporting the immune system to allow natural immunity to be strong enough to reduce the viruses.” More research, he says, is needed to fully understand how the fungi are working.
Diana Cox-Foster, a research leader and entomologist at the USDA’s Pollinating Insects Research Unit in Utah who was not involved in the study, tells Mother Jones the research looked “promising” and adds that it could have ramifications for other pollinators, like bumblebees. “These viruses are widely shared,” she says. “If we could knock down viruses in honeybee colonies, it could lead to greater health in other pollinators.”
The paper provides “valuable new data,” Erik Tihelka, an insect researcher Hartpury College in the U.K., tells Mother Jones in an email. But it may only help solve part of the problem. “The health challenges honeybees are facing are multifactorial and interacting,” he says, “ranging from loss of the flowering plots for nutrition, use of pesticides in agriculture, a complex of parasites and pathogens, and other stressors.”
The results could be particularly impactful for farmers. Some crops are almost entirely dependent on honeybee pollination for survival, including blueberries, avocados, onions, broccoli, carrots, and cantaloupe. Almonds are 100 percent dependent on honeybees. California farmers currently rent bee colonies from out of state to pollinate their trees in spring.
On a planet where about one-third of all our crops rely on pollinators, losing bees could be disastrous. “A loss of bees is like rivets in an airplane,” says Stamets. “If we lose the bees, it is a critical rivet in an airplane that can lead to catastrophic failure.”