If We Don't Start Caring About The Bumblebee Population Soon, They Will Become Extinct

If We Don't Start Caring About The Bumblebee Population Soon, They Will Become Extinct

We need to be aware of the dangers of environmental degradation threatening key species, whose downfall threatens our very existence.

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Well, it's official.

Bumblebees, specifically the rusty patch bumble bee, have been added to the endangered species list. They are now a part of a long list of other endangered species including seas turtles, rhinos, gorillas along with about 700 other species on the list. It's also the first bee of any type in the continental U.S. to be placed on the list.

Bumblebees are usually large, fuzzy insects with short and stubby wings and play a very important role in pollination. In short, without them, food would not grow. Just to put it into perspective, close to 345 species of bees that are native to both North America and Hawaii are teetering on the brink of extinction.

Because of this specific bee's tolerance to the cold weather, it flies in both cold and warm weather which makes it able to pollinate so many different species of plants. Their ability to be in the cold means that they are active most of the year and are responsible for about 1/3 of our food supply.

Without this bee, we would be endangering tons of plants that depend on its pollination of them to survive. In fact, the survival of a colony depends on the continuous supply of flowering plants from early spring through fall, undisturbed nest sites near those flowering plants, and overwintering sites for the next year's queens.

It's not just the rusty-patched bumblebee that is struggling in the U.S. Other species have experienced dramatic declines in recent decades.

So why list it (and other bees) as endangered now?

At one time, this species was very abundant and widespread across the US and Canada. Now though, the bee's currently only able to be found in 55 counties in 13 states and one province and are still declining. According to the US Fish & Wildlife Service, in accordance with the loss of populations, the geographic distribution markedly decreased in the last 20 years.

When determining the cause of the bees decline, there are many factors.

A disease (a parasitic fungus called Nosema bombi ) that was originally in commercially-bred bees and spread to wild bees.

Pesticides, mainly those used in agricultural and urban areas, thereby exposing bees to harmful chemicals. For example, neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides used to target pests of agricultural crops, forests, turf, gardens, and pets. They were strongly implicated as the cause of the decline of bees, in general, and for rusty patched bumble bees, specifically.

As well as habitat loss/degradation and climate change.

In short, it took way to long to officially be categorized as an endangered species.

Which is why, when it finally was, many environmental organizations praised the act. Their fight for it had been a long time coming.

And delisting them would not only be counterproductive but it would counteract a lot of work that has gone into preserving them.

Want to help the bumblebees? Some of the ways you, as an individual, can do this are by growing a garden or adding a native flowering tree or shrub to yards, and minimizing pesticide use.

Bees do a lot for humans and other species, it's time we start caring about them.

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Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?

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When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

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Vinicius Amano

@viniciusamano

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5 Easy Ways To Save Money On Your Electricity Bill This Month And EVERY Month

Only the easiest, most effective ways to keep that pesky electric bill down every month.

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When I was a kid, I never thought twice about leaving a light on while I went into a different room. This didn't stop my mom from chasing after me nagging me about it of course (love you, Mom!).

The electric bill was an elusive concept that I believed didn't truly pertain to me. But now that I have my own apartment and my own bills, I'm shocked at how easily an electric bill can rise.

In order to help other 20-somethings in their first apartment save money, I've collected this list of tips to keep your electric bill down.

1. Let's start simple — turn the lights off when you leave a room

This was the very thing my mom nagged me about as a child, but she had every right to do so.

Only keep the light on in the room you are in! There is no reason to leave lights on in rooms that aren't currently occupied. It's a waste of electricity!

2. Use as much natural light as possible

Keep your blinds, and if the weather is nice enough, your windows too, open during the day. This eliminates the need to turn the lights on during the day.

I have made it a rule to only turn the lights on after the sun has gone down and have saved a lot of money doing so! Why not use the sunshine to your advantage?

3. Only run your washing machine and dishwasher when they are FULL

When I first moved into my apartment, I formed a bad habit of running my washing machine and my dishwasher before they were full. Now I have made it a point to only run them if I can't possibly fit in another dirty dish or piece of clothing.

This saves on electricity and water, and is better for the environment!

4. Unplug devices when you are not using them

This may sound annoying at first, but a little bit of effort goes a long way. When you are done using your hair straightener or blow dryer, unplug it! When your phone or laptop is done charging don't just unplug the charger from your device, but unplug the charger from the wall, too.

Keep doing it until it becomes a habit — then you won't even have to think about it.

5. Find the right temperature for you and keep your apartment at that temperature

For me, I like to keep my place at 70 degrees. This means I won't turn the heat on unless it gets 67 degrees or lower, and I won't turn the air conditioning on unless it gets 74 degrees or hotter.

By following this rule, I've gone weeks without putting my heating or my air conditioning on. You don't need the heating or air unit to keep your apartment at that temperature for you. You can easily do it yourself.

Just doing one of these things probably isn't going to make all the difference in the world. But if you do all of these things together and consistently, over time it will make a difference. It's the little things that add up to save you money in the long run!

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