7-Mile ‘Bee Corridor’ of Wildflowers Will Feed London’s Pollinators This Summer
It's a scary time for the world's pollinators. A study published in February warned that more than 40 percent of the world's insects could go extinct within the next 30 years. Another study published in Nature in March found that a third of wild pollinator species in the UK had declined since 1980.
But one North London council has a plan to fight this trend: a seven-mile "bee corridor" of wildflowers seeded through Brent Council's parks and green spaces.
"Bees and other insects are so important for pollinating the crops that provide the food that we eat," Brent Councillor Krupa Sheth told London's Evening Standard. "We must do all we can to help them to thrive."
Seven mile long corridor of wildflowers has been created in the London borough of Brent and should be ready for pol… https://t.co/uOJTDyDGqw— BBKA (@BBKA)1557127203.0
The corridor will combine 22 wildflower meadows and should be in bloom this summer. The flowers will help not only bees, but also butterflies, dragonflies and moths.
"The team curated the mix of wildflowers with bees and other insects in mind, choosing varieties that would attract these pollinators," Projects Manager Kelly Eaton said, as BBC News reported.
That mix included ragged robin, cowslip and common poppy. Workers are currently plowing the selected meadows and will then begin planting. The council said it believed the initiative was the first of its kind in London, according to The Independent.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn called the corridor a "fantastic initiative" in a Tweet Monday.
Bees are vital to the environment and are important pollinators - a third of the human diet is from plants that are… https://t.co/fdBFizaXmF— Jeremy Corbyn (@Jeremy Corbyn)1557136300.0
The decline in wildflowers and other natural habitat in the UK has been cited as one reason for the decline in pollinators. Since World War II, more than 97 percent of the country's wildflower meadows have disappeared, The Independent reported. Other likely reasons for the decline of bees and other pollinators are pesticide use and climate change, according to the March study.
Wonderful chat with @GregMcTweets & @VanessaOnAir on @BBCRadioLondon this morning about @Brent_Council’s exciting n… https://t.co/itZY9Yb4HW— Cllr Krupa Sheth (@Cllr Krupa Sheth)1557304244.0
Brent Council announced the plan the same week as a major UN report on biodiversity, which warned that human activities had caused wild mammal populations to fall 82 percent since 1980, halved the space occupied by natural ecosystems and continue to threaten one million species with extinction, according to The Independent.
"The loss of species, ecosystems and genetic diversity is already a global and generational threat to human well-being," UN Biodiversity Chief Robert Watson said ahead of the report's release. "Protecting the invaluable contributions of nature to people will be the defining challenge of decades to come."
In this context, the "bee corridor" could be seen as a small part of the solution.
"I'm proud of Brent's commitment to boost biodiversity in the borough and look forward to seeing the meadows in full bloom in just a few months' time," Sheth said, as The Independent reported.
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A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
Is it Time to Declare a Climate Emergency?<p>At what stage, and at what rise in global temperatures, will these tipping points be reached? No one is entirely sure. It may take centuries, millennia or it could be imminent.</p><p>But as COVID-19 taught us, we need to prepare for the expected. We were aware of the risk of a pandemic. We also knew that we were not sufficiently prepared. But we didn't act in a meaningful manner. Thankfully, we have been able to fast-track the production of vaccines to combat COVID-19. But there is no vaccine for climate change once we have passed these tipping points.</p><p><a href="https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2021" target="_blank">We need to act now on our climate</a>. Act like these tipping points are imminent. And stop thinking of climate change as a slow-moving, long-term threat that enables us to kick the problem down the road and let future generations deal with it. We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and fulfill our commitments to the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Paris Agreement</a>, and build resilience with these tipping points in mind.</p><p>We need to plan now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but we also need to plan for the impacts, such as the ability to feed everyone on the planet, develop plans to manage flood risk, as well as manage the social and geopolitical impacts of human migrations that will be a consequence of fight or flight decisions.</p><p>Breaching these tipping points would be cataclysmic and potentially far more devastating than COVID-19. Some may not enjoy hearing these messages, or consider them to be in the realm of science fiction. But if it injects a sense of urgency to make us respond to climate change like we have done to the pandemic, then we must talk more about what has happened before and will happen again.</p><p>Otherwise we will continue playing Jenga with our planet. And ultimately, there will only be one loser – us.</p>
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