There’s a cheap, quick, dirty, and controversial way to combat global warming that isn’t on the agenda of the United Nations climate summit in Paris, which runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11. It involves replicating the planet-cooling effect of a volcanic eruption. When Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines blew in 1991, its emissions briefly reversed most of the global warming that had occurred since the start of the Industrial Revolution… Rutgers University climatologist Alan Robock is highly skeptical of what he sees as tinkering on a planetary scale. Robock, 66, is a onetime Peace Corps volunteer whose website features pictures of himself braving the cold in Antarctica and posing with Fidel Castro in Cuba. The late Edward Lorenz, a pioneer of chaos theory, was Robock’s adviser on his Ph.D. thesis in meteorology at MIT. Robock’s list of 26 downsides to geoengineering ranges from the vital (“whose hand is on the thermostat?”) to eye of the beholder (“affect stargazing”)… Strangely, Keith and Robock wrote a paper together last year with other authors and agree on much of the basic science. Where they disagree is on how to weigh costs and benefits. Without singling out Robock, Keith says many scientists are exaggerating the risks because they don’t trust the world’s governments to handle such a powerful instrument.
Betting on Nature to Solve the Bee Crisis
Simpelaar is one of hundreds of farmers turning to wild bees after nearly a decade of federally funded research failed to identify a solution or even a definitive cause for colony collapse, blamed on a variety of causes including pesticides and mites. A study released on May 13 by the government-funded Bee Informed Partnership showed winter losses in commercial bee colonies slowed this year to 23 percent from an average of 29 percent, but a spike in summer deaths pushed losses from April 2014 through this past March to 42 percent, the second-highest on record… With at least $15 billion in U.S. crops dependent on commercially raised honeybees, the government has allocated about $40 million a year to study the insects and other pollinators such as birds and bats, four times the 2006 level. What entomologists have found is that growers of some orchard and vine crops may not need commercial bee services at all. Wild bee species including bumblebees and blue orchard bees nest alone rather than in hives. “We have real good evidence that native bees are more effective for some crops, including apples and squash,” says Rachael Winfree, an entomologist at Rutgers University. “But they get no credit. No one raises them. They live on the margins.”