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Buzzing Artist Swarms City Walls to Save the Bees
With a little help from a spray can, a London-based street artist is swarming urban walls with a simple but important message: Save the bees.
According to the artist's website, Louis Masai Michel and his collaborator Jim Vision have painted these beautiful bee murals to raise awareness about the planet's dwindling bee population and the "detrimental effects upon the human race if they disappear."
Protecting the planet's fragile bee population is not only important for saving honey and wax, honey bees—wild and domestic—perform about 80 percent of all pollination worldwide. In fact, seventy out of the top 100 human food crops, which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition, are pollinated by bees. However, our favorite black-and-yellow pollinators are dying off due to pesticides, drought, habitat loss, pollution and other major environmental concerns, scientists have said.
Insights writer Dr. David Suzuki wrote that neonicotinoid pesticides, or "neonics," have been identified as one of the main culprits to the die-offs. While scientists say the evidence is clear, the global food market has been slow to wake up to this reality. As Suzuki pointed out, "Neonics make up about 40 percent of the world insecticide market, with global sales of $2.63 billion in 2011—and growing. That may explain why, despite increasing evidence that they’re harmful, there’s been such strong resistance to phasing them out or banning them."
A report from the U.S. National Agriculture Statistics found that the honey bee population in the country has declined from about six million hives in 1947 to 2.4 million hives in 2008, a 60 percent reduction.
Looks like being a bee isn't so easy. Some of Michel's artworks appears to show what life may be like for the buzzing insects. Check out the murals below with the haunting words, "When we go, we're taking you all with us" on a wall in Shoreditch.
There's also this grim closeup of an overturned bee with a sign that says "Save me" on Brick Lane's Sclater Street in England.
According to Colossal, after the murals became wildly popular in the English capital, they have since spread to Bristol, Glastonbury, Croatia, New York, Miami and New Orleans. You can track the artist's work with the Twitter hashtag #SaveTheBees. Below, you'll see a commissioned mural at a quince farm in Devon, England.
The inspiration behind the murals stemmed from a trip to South Africa where Michel learned about the devastating impacts of colony collapse disorder that's plaguing honeybee populations around the world. Colossal writes that Michel is currently taking a break from the bee murals to work on a different art project, but he plans to pick up phase two the bee project sometime next year.
Ever the artist-conservationist, Michel also creates art to raise awareness for other rare or endangered animals species around the world, such as the grey African crowned crane, Rothschild's giraffes, rhinos and more.
@World_Wildlife #savetherhino painted this in london to raise awareness of rhino poaching pls share it...one love pic.twitter.com/DPZao38U85
— louis masai michel (@louismasai) May 15, 2013
Michel realizes there is only so much that art can do, but points out the importance of raising awareness. "I'm not saying that by me painting a painting it's going to save any animals," he says in the video below (where he's spray-painting a picture of a Scottish bobcat at an art party). "But it might mean that people are a little but more woken. They're like, 'Oh, okay, there's only 400 bobcats left in the world. That's pretty interesting.' And then maybe they might look into it a little bit."
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Colorado River Has Lost 1.5 Billion Tons of Water to the Climate Crisis, 'Severe Water Shortages' May Follow
California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.
The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.
"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."
While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.
The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.
"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.
Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.
"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.
NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.
As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.
"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.
The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.
"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."
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A warm day in winter used to be a rare and uplifting relief.
Now such days are routine reminders of climate change – all the more foreboding when they coincide with news stories about unprecedented wildfires, record-breaking "rain bombs," or the accelerated melting of polar ice sheets.
Where, then, can one turn for hope in these dark months of the year?