100 Panda-Shaped Solar Farms Are Being Built in China
By Tess Sohngen
As the country's national animal, pandas are everywhere in China. They appear on fuzzy slippers, crackers and coins.
And now, the beloved bear will make an appearance in a new field, quite literally: solar energy farms.
The Chinese energy company Panda Green Energy Group is building 100 panda-shaped solar energy farms across the country. From above, the assortment of panels will look like a cartoon panda smiling up at the sky.
The group has already build one in Datong, Shanxi province and is currently working on another. Still, one-fourth of China's coal reserves come from Shanxi, making the northern province a key area for the country's energy infrastructure.
According to Panda Green Energy Group, one panda-shaped solar farm will prevent the equivalent of 1.06 million tons of coal from being burned and 2.75 million tons of greenhouse gas being emitted in the next 25 years.
China is not alone in building adorable solar farms. The island nation of Fiji announced its plan in May to build a panda-shaped solar farm.
The plan to build 100 panda-adorned farms is part of a larger effort by the Chinese government to open new trade, energy and business opportunities. Titled the "Belt and Road" Initiative, the plan to create a 21st century trade route across the Eastern Hemisphere follows the ancient Silk Road path.
Infamous for its smog-filled cities, China is one of the world's worst offenders for pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. More recently, the country has put together a PR campaign to show China as a leader in renewable energy production.
China is quickly catching up to the world's top solar energy producers. According to a 2017 report, China ranks third in the world for countries that use the most solar power (8,300 MW). Germany and Italy rank first and second, respectively.
With the installment of its smiling panda farms, China is taking a step in the right direction.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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