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NNadir

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Between 2004 and 2014, the world spent $875.5B on solar energy; $711B on wind...

...$137.5B on biofuels, and 2015, from preliminary projections was even worse for all three forms of so called "renewable energy."

When small hydro, geothermal, and tidal energy is added the grand total spent on so called "renewable energy" amounted between 2004 and 2014 to 1.804 trillion dollars.

This is the claim registered by the so called "Frankfurt School UNEP Collaborating Center for Climate and the Environment".

Their data may be found at their website: Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2015

The amount of money spent on so called "renewable energy" exceeds the individual gross domestic product of countries like Russia, Canada, and Australia.

The amount spent on wind and solar alone exceeds the gross national product of Indonesia, a nation with more than 250 million people living in it.

The result of all this spending in the last ten years is that 2015 was the worst year ever recorded for increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the first year whose average value was more than 3.00 ppm over the previous year. For all of 2016, the weekly rates of comparison with the same week of the previous year are averaging 3.15 ppm.

The figures all represent an enormous failure. Of course this is an unpopular thing to say, and one can get in a lot of trouble and hear infinite amounts of whining that amounts to denial for saying it, as I have learned, but it is nonetheless, irrespective of whose hair it singes, the truth.

So called "renewable energy" is not sustainable because of its intense demand for metals and other materials, many of which are fairly exotic. The low energy to mass ratio - which by the way is made even worse by the thermodynamically absurd plan to "store" energy - means that there is not enough material on the entire planet to sustain it very much longer.

Solar and wind energy, combined, do not provide even 5 of the 560 exajoules humanity consumes each year. Their entire annual output assembled over half a century or relentless cheering for them does not exceed the single year increase in dangerous natural gas use.

Continuing this vast extremely expensive experiment and expecting a different result is not going to change a damned thing.

The world built close to 450 nuclear plants in a period of about 25 years, with the world's largest producer of nuclear energy, the United States, with roughly 100 such plants built, enjoying some of the lowest electricity prices in the world, although prices are rising nationally because of our desire to run down the so called "renewable energy" rabbit hole.

Worldwide, nuclear power plants produce about 28 exajoules of primary energy, and easily outstrip all the world's forms of so called "renewable energy" combined.

Now we hear that "nuclear energy is too expensive" and "nuclear energy is too slow."

These are announcements that what has already happened is impossible.

There is no reason that nuclear power plants should cost $10 billion dollars each, other than the fact that ignorant people - like arsonists complaining about forest fires - have done everything in their power to destroy nuclear intellectual and physical infrastructure by continuous specious appeals to fear and ignorance. This results in practically every nuclear plant built in modern times being a "FOAKE" case, "first of a kind engineering."

Suppose though that we spent $10B on each reactor, each designed, unlike wind turbines or solar panels, to run for 60 years, more than half a century. For the money squandered on solar and wind alone in the last ten years, we could have built 85 nuclear plants in the last ten years. The thermal output of a large scale nuclear plant is roughly 3000 MW(th), plus or minus a few hundred MW, registered as primary energy, which translates to an average annual energy yield of 95 petajoules. Eighty-five plants would yield thus close to 8 exajoules, and do so, without replacement, for 60 years. Each plant built would represent a gift made by our generation to the future generations.

That's not how we live today, of course; we place no value on the future, and couldn't care less about future generations but if we did...

I oppose spending another dime on so called "renewable energy." We have a technology that is far superior, more sustainable, and far cleaner. No amount of money will make so called "renewable energy" work, and, I note, with more than passing disgust, that since the wind does not always blow, and the sun doesn't always shine, it makes the "need" for dangerous natural gas (or worse, batteries) permanent.

I'm sorry if that offends anyone, but I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't state clearly what I have found out. I often feel like the mythical Cassandra, who always told the truth but was never believed, but that is what it is.

Have a nice day tomorrow.

What "unique risks" are you talking about?

All of the nuclear operations, including Chernoybl and Fukushima - events which people who know very little science burn coal & gas to generate electricity to complain about endlessly - for the last half a century won't kill as many people as will die today and tomorrow from air pollution.

That would be 38,000 people, more or less, half of whom will be under the age of 5 when they die.

The experimental risk of nuclear power is vanishingly small, which is not to say that people who don't know anything about the topic don't keep inventing imaginary events that they value over the real event: More people dying every seven years than died from all causes, genocide, civilian bombing, combat deaths, and starvation, in World War II.

Your fear of "unique risks" trumps 50 million deaths every seven years how, exactly?

The paper was scientific not political. It's point is that nuclear energy saves lives.

My attachment to Bernie Sanders campaign - which has nothing to do with science, since for all intensive purposes Sanders is uninterested in science, as are, apparently most of his supporters - can be found on the Senator's "Energy" page, with which I'm sure his supporters, with their questionable views on climate change, are familiar.

Nuclear has prevented 1.8 million deaths, and potentially could have saved millions more, were it not for "nuclear exceptionalism," the notion that all other forms of energy can kill at will unless nuclear energy is perfect.

Nuclear energy need not be perfect, to be vastly superior to everything else. It merely needs to be vastly superior to everything else, which it is.

Since Bernie Sanders doesn't get that, I sincerely hope that he is not accorded the Democratic nomination. If I am forced to vote for him because his opponent is either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, I will probably have to take a good stiff drink to do it, since it would violate my deepest moral views to have to vote for such a person as Senator Sanders represents. It will be the worst "lesser of two evils" moment I have faced since George H.W. Bush ran against Michael Dukakis.

Have a nice evening.

Nature: The Planet May Be In Trouble If China Controls It's Air Pollution.

Recently, in this space I referred to a paper published in Nature, (Nature 525, 367–371 (17 September 2015)) that reports that air pollution in China kills 1.4 million people per year.

My remarks are here: Nature: China's annual air pollution deaths now stand at 1.4 million per year

An excerpt from the original paper is now included:

Considering the global population of 6.8 billion in 2010, it follows that the mean per capita mortality attributable to air pollution is about 5 per 10,000 person-years. Of these 5 persons per 10,000 worldwide, about 2 die by CEV, 1.6 by IHD, 0.8 by COPD, 0.35 by ALRI and 0.25 by LC. The highest per capita mortality is found in the Western Pacific region, followed by the Eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia. The combination of high per capita mortality with high population density explains the (by far) highest number of deaths in the Western Pacific, China being the main contributor (1.36 million per year). Note that the mortality attributable to air pollution in China is approximately an order of magnitude higher than that attributable to Chinese road transport injuries and HIV/AIDS, and ranks among the top causes of death28. Southeast Asia has the second highest premature mortality, where India is the main contributor (0.65 million per year). The global mortality linked to air pollution is strongly influenced by these high numbers in Asia.


Even I rounded up, by 40,000 human lives, it still seems dire, no? (Who's counting? It's not like plus or minus 40,000 human lives count, unless the deaths can be attributed somehow to nuclear power, like say, Fukushima.)

This week's Nature raises a new worry about Chinese air pollution: That China may get air pollution under control.

First from the "news item" referring readers to the technical article within the journal:

Nature 531, 310–312 (17 March 2016)

In December 2015, world leaders agreed to limit the increase in global average temperature to less than 2 °C above pre-industrial temperatures (see Nature 528, 315–316; 2015). Meeting this aspiration will require large and rapid reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, making it imperative to understand and account for the emissions from different countries. China has undergone rapid economic development over the past few decades and now has one of the world's largest economies — and greenhouse-gas emissions to match. On page 357 of this issue, Li et al.1 comprehensively assess China's contribution to climate change and explore how this has altered as the Chinese economy has grown...

...Li et al. used a model that couples biogeochemistry and climate to estimate China's contribution to global radiative forcing over the period 1980–2010. Crucially, they account for almost all anthropogenic drivers of climate change. They find that China's relative contribution to global radiative forcing from carbon dioxide emissions associated with fossil-fuel use increased almost threefold in these 30 years. This is to be expected, given the surge in China's economy over this period. More surprisingly, they find that China's relative contribution to total global radiative forcing has remained at 10% over this time.

To understand the reasons behind this remarkable result, Li and colleagues made a detailed analysis of the different drivers of radiative forcing. They found that the air pollutants that cause China's notorious pollution haze have had complex effects on climate, counteracting some of the increase in radiative forcing from greenhouse gases. Some components of air pollution, such as black-carbon particles, absorb sunlight and warm Earth's climate. By contrast, sulfate particles scatter light, resulting in climate cooling.

Over the past few decades, China's relative contribution to global radiative forcing from sulfate has increased dramatically. This is because Chinese sulfate emissions soared at the same time that Europe and the United States instigated controls that slashed their sulfate emissions. It has long been known that some air pollutants cool the climate2; what is remarkable in the present study is that the concurrent changes in different emissions have led to a stable overall contribution of China to global radiative forcing (Fig. 1).


Here is the technical paper: The contribution of China’s emissions to global climate forcing (Nature 531, 357–361 (17 March 2016))

From the text of the technical paper:

Figure 1 shows the relative and absolute contributions of historical Chinese emissions since 1750 to each component of global RF in 2010. Overall, China contributes 10% ± 4% (0.30 ± 0.11 W m−2 out of 2.88 ± 0.46 W m−2) of the current net global RF from anthropogenic emissions since 1750. This contribution is the sum of two terms with opposite signs. China contributes 12% ± 2% (0.48 ± 0.09 W m−2 out of 4.13 ± 0.40 W m−2) of the global positive RF from WMGHGs, tropospheric ozone and black carbon aerosols, and 15% ± 6% (−0.18 ± 0.06 out of −1.26 ± 0.24 W m−2) of the global negative RF from LUC-induced surface albedo changes, stratospheric ozone, the effect of ozone precursors on CH4 lifetime, and sulfate, nitrate and particulate organic matter aerosols.


Abbreviations: RF = Radiative forcing. WMGHG = Well Mixed Green House Gases LUC = Land Use Changes

According to the authors, the past counts, in case people want to argue that it's all China's fault, even though China's per capita emissions are about 1/4 that of Americans:

...It is important to note that the contribution of China to current global annual anthropogenic emissions is larger than its contribution to radiative forcings (Fig. 1). For WMGHGs that have long atmospheric lifetimes7 (from a few decades to several centuries), the legacy of past emissions from countries that began to emit early (such as Europe and the USA) still have a contribution to present-day RF larger than that of China, despite China’s much higher emissions nowadays. In contrast, because SLCFs have short atmospheric lifetimes7 (from days to months), it is the spatial distribution of current emissions, and the local processes controlling their atmospheric transport and removal, that determine the contribution of Chinese emissions of ozone precursors and aerosols to the global RF...


Of course, you had nothing to do with it at all, because you have a solar powered electric car made by BMW or Tesla or some other wonderful company that works on your brain like a narcotic at best, a hallucinogen at worst.

Sigh...

Some graphics from the paper:



a, The global RF components and their uncertainty, as estimated by the IPCC7. b, The relative contributions of China to the various components of global RF in 2010, with our assessment of uncertainties (see Methods). When one component of the RF is driven by only one species, China’s relative contribution to present-day emissions of that species is also shown as an empty bar oulined in the same colour. c, The absolute contributions of China to the RF components and uncertainties, as obtained by combining the values of the two previous panels using a Monte Carlo approach (n = 50,000). The ‘Total’ columns of a and c are obtained through Monte Carlo summation (n = 50,000) of the corresponding RF components; the ‘Total’ column of b is then deduced through the element-wise ratio of these two Monte Carlo ensembles. All uncertainties are one standard deviation.


And...



All-sky RF of the SLCFs induced by China through emission of short-lived pollutants and precursors in 2010. These RFs are direct outputs from the LMDz-INCA model. a, The net RF of all the SLCFs combined. b–f, The RFs from black carbon, sulfates, tropospheric ozone, nitrate and particulate organic matter, respectively.


Returning to the news item:

Air pollution is a serious environmental issue in China, where 1.3 million people die each year because of exposure to poor-quality air outdoors3. Reductions in the emissions of air pollutants are urgently required to improve air quality, but this will also affect Earth's climate. Li et al. find that the current composition of Chinese air pollution causes almost no net radiative forcing — the cooling effects of sulfate aerosols balance the warming impacts of black-carbon emissions.


(The round down by 60,000 human deaths, but who's counting? It's not like Fukushima is involved.)

If you think it's hot now, just wait. China's rapid coal growth has stopped, and, as a result, it's sulfate loads are no longer rising as fast. Like many other rich countries, they're burning more and more dangerous natural gas. (They also have the world's largest program of building nuclear reactors.)

Don't worry. Be happy. France is building a solar roadway. It's meaningless, but it's the thought that counts.

Have a nice day tomorrow.

Mars

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"Sinclair was an outspoken socialist and ran unsuccessfully...

...for Congress as a nominee from the Socialist Party. He was also the Democratic Party candidate for Governor of California during the Great Depression, but was defeated in the 1934 elections."

This makes him a little different than Bernie Sanders of course, since Sanders ran as a socialist and won. Whether he will become the Democratic candidate for President and whether he will win, is entirely another question.

The quote above, of course, is only from Wikipedia, the wonderful but sometimes suspect source on which we have all come to depend, the page devoted to Upton Sinclair.

[link:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upton_Sinclair|Wikipedia, Upton Sinclair.

I've been thinking about Sinclair a lot lately, because I attend the wonderful "Science on Saturday" lectures at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab with my family, and whenever fusion energy is discussed there vis a vis fission energy - I'm a huge supporter of fission energy, I am reminded often when they bad mouth fission over there of what may be Sinclair's most famous remark:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"


It occurs to me that Sinclair is relevant to present times in a disturbing way. Plus ca change...

I am old man, a tired old man, an aging baby boomer who is deeply distressed about the world my generation is leaving behind, ashamed of our illusions and our delusions that have brought the planet to a kind of abyss whose depth cannot be measured.

As far as this election goes, I feel like I'm watching a train wreck of the worst sort, an election dominated by petulance, sloppy thinking, innuendo, and yes, a healthy dollop of old fashioned straight up grotesque racism.

I'm sure that some brittle people will vilify me for saying as much, but I am terrified at the thought that the next President of the United States will be anyone but Ms. Clinton. I'm not sure that Ms. Clinton is the greatest person on earth; I'm not sure I even like her; I certainly do not agree with everything she has said or done.

But she's the only grown up on the stage right now. The only one.

Good luck to the United States, but even more importantly, good luck to the world, and, as we hurtle out of control to the 2016 election, I wish all future generations that they will survive what we have done.

February 2016 recorded as the worst February ever, by far, for carbon dioxide increases over the...

...previous year.

The Mauna Loa carbon dioxide observatory reports the monthly increases in CO[sub]2[/sub] over the previous year.

I keep a record of these monthly increases and sort them from greatest to least.

The data accessed today, March 11, 2016 is here: Trends in Carbon Dioxide, Mauna Loa

The data has been recorded since 1958, with differences being recorded since 1959. The average concentration for this dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide shows that in February 2016, we were at 404.02 ppm. In February 2015, we were at 400.26 ppm.

The difference, 3.76 ppm over February 2015, exceeds the previous record value for any February of 3.18 ppm set in 2013. The third worst February was February 1999, at 3.00 ppm over February 1998,immediately after vast fires consumed much of the Southeast Asia Rain forest when fires meant to clear rain forest for palm oil plantations - for "renewable" biodiesel among other things - went out of control.

In fact, 3.76 ppm, is the worst monthly increase for any month in the total history of carbon dioxide measurements at Mauna Loa. The previous record worst month was October of 1998, at 3.64 ppm over October of 1997.

The popular solution for addressing this accelerating tragedy is of course, so called "renewable energy." One can have some arguments with people who insist that this approach, which has sucked two trillion dollars out of the world economy in the last ten years, is reasonable.

The data signature, written in the atmosphere in irrefutable terms, suggests otherwise.

It's, um, not working.

The scope of this failure might inspire some shadenfreud from nuclear advocates like myself, but I wish I'd been wrong actually.

Kliban put it well:



Have a nice Friday.

Nature: "Current models of climate economics assume that lives in the future are less important...

than lives today, a value judgement that is rarely scrutinized and difficult to defend..."

This language comes from a news feature "focus" article from Nature featured on this issues cover: Nature, Vol. 539 Iss. 7591 pg 397 (2016)

The issue, at least in its news and viewpoint sections, is devoted to reflections on scientists' need to reflect on how their work will impact future generations.

One "news" article asks the question, "Should parents edit their children's genes." Nature 530, 402–405 (25 February 2016) It now seems perfectly technologically feasible to do so, owing to the invention of CRISPR-Cas, a technique using complementary genetic material to carry a protein which is a nuclease, designed to clip sections of DNA enabling the insertion of other genes.

This has very high potential to edit the genome in a very facile and efficient way, not only humans, but practically every other high species on the planet. Ultimately it is a technology by which humanity could, were it so inclined, design its own ecosystem and all of the creatures in it?

Were this technology fully developed when the embryo that ultimately became me, my parents might have considered snipping and replacing the gene for type II diabetes, which I apparently carry. Would I be me? Would I know that I wasn't me? Would I care?

My son, who just was admitted to a fairly prestigious art school, is dyslexic, generally associated with chromosome 18. Would I have been wide or foolish to edit it?

Of course, the implications go way beyond any particular individual, myself included. These are not easy questions to answer.

(One of two independent discoverers of CRISPR-Cas, Jennifer Doudna, wrote a wonderful rumination a few issues back, also in Nature on how ill equipped she was to deal with the ethical implications of her work, the emergence of which surprised her and got her to thinking in new ways: Genome-editing revolution: My whirlwind year with CRISPR (Nature 528, 469–471 (24 December 2015))

One of the articles in the current issue also features a rumination on the Environmental issue before us, climate change. An economist, Nicolas Stern, authored an article titled Current climate models are grossly misleading. The point here is that climate models talking about a 2[sup]o[/sup]C increase is a global average, but the economic effects locally can hardly be expected to the same everywhere. The author writes:

Current economic models tend to underestimate seriously both the potential impacts of dangerous climate change and the wider benefits of a transition to low-carbon growth. There is an urgent need for a new generation of models that give a more accurate picture.

Dark impacts

...The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in 2013 and 2014, provided a comprehensive overview of the literature on the costs of action and inaction. But the assessment understated the limitations of the research done so far. Essentially, it reported on a body of literature that had systematically and grossly underestimated the risks of unmanaged climate change. Furthermore, that literature had failed to capture the learning processes and economies of scale involved in radical structural and technical change, and the benefits of reducing fossil-fuel pollution, protecting biodiversity and forests, and so on...


An article with a larger physical science focus was published a few weeks ago:

Allowable CO2 emissions based on regional and impact-related climate targets (Nature 529, 477–483 (28 January 2016))

The authors show that a 2[sup]o[/sup]C "average" temperature increase in the climate is dominated by the relatively mild changes over the oceans; elsewhere the impacts will most extreme.

The following graphic demonstrates this:



Here's another plot from their paper:



The authors write:

This figure is compelling because it shows a clear linear relationship between cumulative CO2 emissions and a measure of the global climate response. The obvious consequences are (1) that every tonne of CO2 contributes about the same amount of global warming no matter when it is emitted, (2) that any target for the stabilization of ΔTglob implies a finite CO2 budget or quota that can be emitted, and (3) that global net emissions at some point need to be zero2, 3, 4, 5, 6.


"Every tonne contributes the same amount of global warming no matter when its emitted."

This includes tons emitted when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining. We may think we're doing something by mouthing mindless platitudes about how great wind and solar and other forms of so called "renewable energy" are, but we are lying to ourselves.

What we are doing isn't working; it isn't working at all.

2016 has been an unprecedented year, with the weekly data as compared to the same week the year before routinely being over 3 ppm higher. February 21, 2016, 3.33 ppm higher than the weekly average of 2015

I don't think we'll find the wherewithal to stop at 2C. It's going to be much worse.

Have a nice week.

I'm so embarrassed. My governor endorsed a raging racist to be President of the United States.

The State of New Jersey is, I think, one of the best places in the world to live, but somehow we have a problem electing decent Governors.

Now we have the height of obscenity. Our useless Governor, Chris Christie, a blubbering incompetent buffoon, announced that he supports a freak racist.

I'm so embarrassed.

It's looking very bad these last few weeks at the Mauna Loa carbon dioxide observatory.

At the Mauna Loa carbon dioxide observatory website, they have a data page which compares the averages for each week of the year with the same week of the previous year.

The data goes back to 1974, and comprises 2,090 data points.

I import this data into a spreadsheet I maintain each week, and calculate the weekly increases over the previous year. I rank the data for the increases from worst to best, the worst data point being 4.67 ppm over the previous year, which was recorded during the week ending September 6, 1998, when much of the rain forest of Southeast Asia was burning when fires set to clear the forests for palm oil plantations got out of control during unusually dry weather. Six of the worst data points ever recorded occurred in 1998 during this event, another was recorded in the January following that event.

Of the twenty worst data points ever recorded out of 2090 two of them have occurred in the last four weeks. The week ending January 31, 2016 produced a result of a 4.35 ppm of increase. The week just passed, that ending, 2/14/2016, produced a result of 3.79 ppm increase, tying it for the aforementioned week in January 1999, that ending on January 24, 1999, and that of January 2, 2011.

Of the twenty highest points recorded, 9 have occurred in the last 5 years, 10 in the last 10 years.

The week ending February 7, 2016 was until today's data was published, the 20th of the top 20, it was pushed out and is now the 21st worst.

I also keep a record of the monthly data that is similar to that for the weekly data. This data, unlike the weekly data, goes back to 1958.

November of 2015 was the second worst November ever recorded, 3.08 ppm over the previous November, December of 2015, the worst ever recorded, 3.07 ppm over the previous December, and January of 2016 the 4th worst ever observed, 2.56 ppm over the previous January.

The observatory is still evaluating the final results for 2015; it involves a running average from November through February compared with the data of the previous year. A few weeks ago the preliminary data suggest that 2015 was the worst year ever observed, the data today declares that it is actually a few hundredths of a ppm (a few hundred millionths of a part) behind 1998.

There is no event of which I'm aware comparable to the 1998 fires, and that makes this doubly disturbing to me at least, since it suggests what may be an out of control event such as temperature driven out gassing of sequestered carbon dioxide from permafrost or from oceanic hydrates.

But there's no reason that you should be disturbed as I am. Don't worry, be happy: They're building a solar roadway in France, and even if it ends up covered with grease, skid marks, tire wear marks, sand and salt, it's the thought that counts.

My worry that we are kidding ourselves to the point of suicide by thinking we're actually doing something is pure "Chicken Little," I'm sure.

I now return you to the Hillary vs. Bernie cartoon show.

Enjoy what's left of the weekend.

Nature: Historical Nectar Resources of the British Isles Reflects Their Rise and Fall.

This paper really caught my eye when I was leafing through the current issue of Nature:

Historical nectar assessment reveals the fall and rise of floral resources in Britain (Nature 530, 85–88 (04 February 2016))

An excerpt of the opening lines from from the text:

There is considerable concern over declines in insect pollinator communities and potential impacts on the pollination of crops and wildflowers1, 2, 3, 4. Among the multiple pressures facing pollinators2, 3, 4, decreasing floral resources due to habitat loss and degradation has been suggested as a key contributing factor2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. However, a lack of quantitative data has hampered testing for historical changes in floral resources. Here we show that overall floral rewards can be estimated at a national scale by combining vegetation surveys and direct nectar measurements. We find evidence for substantial losses in nectar resources in England and Wales between the 1930s and 1970s; however, total nectar provision in Great Britain as a whole had stabilized by 1978, and increased from 1998 to 2007. These findings concur with trends in pollinator diversity, which declined in the mid-twentieth century9 but stabilized more recently10. The diversity of nectar sources declined from 1978 to 1990 and thereafter in some habitats, with four plant species accounting for over 50% of national nectar provision in 2007. Calcareous grassland, broadleaved woodland and neutral grassland are the habitats that produce the greatest amount of nectar per unit area from the most diverse sources, whereas arable land is the poorest with respect to amount of nectar per unit area and diversity of nectar sources...


A graphic included therein:



Another graphic showing the mass of sugars available to pollinators throughout the British Isles:



The closing text:

Our findings provide new evidence based on floral resources to support habitat conservation and restoration. First, we provide evidence of the high nectar value of calcareous grassland for pollinating insects. Calcareous grassland area has declined drastically in Great Britain, and only a small fraction of the historical national cover remained by 2007 (refs 13, 14). Second, the low availability and diversity of nectar sources in arable habitats highlights the need to provide supplementary resources to support pollination services in farmlands, especially as the use of insect-pollinated crops has increased nationally24 and globally25. The conservation and restoration of broadleaf woodland and neutral grassland as components of the farmland matrix could help to support diverse flower-visiting insect communities in arable land. The contrast in nectar productivity between linear features and the surrounding vegetation is particularly high in arable land, suggesting that linear features, especially hedgerows, provide an efficient means to enhance floral resources in farmlands if they are managed appropriately to allow flowering26. While agri-environment options such as nectar flower mixtures can also enhance the supply of floral resources locally, their contribution to nectar provision nationally remains low. The higher profile given to floral resource provision in the revised Countryside Stewardship guidelines for England16 may substantially enhance resources in future. Finally, our results indicate that improved grassland has the potential to contribute massively to the nectar available nationally. Small adjustments to the management cycle in improved grasslands, allowing white clover, the dominant resource species, to flower, would help realize this potential, although its utility might be restricted to a limited number of pollinator species (Extended Data Table 2). Together, our results on the nectar values of the commonest British plants and the historical changes in plant communities provide the evidence base needed to understand recent national changes in nectar provision and identify the management options needed to restore national nectar supplies.


This was quite an interesting perspective about which we don't think, at least about which I haven't thought. It demonstrates the importance of diversity in both species and habitats, and the important inter-dependency of the our commercial agricultural land on what surrounds it.

In New Jersey we often see bumper stickers (issued by our State agricultural department) that read "No farms, no food."

One may extend this to: "No pollinators, no food."

This speaks to efforts in some midwestern states in the US to make grassland parks, and points, one thinks to the economic as well as the aesthetic value of doing so.

Enjoy the weekend.

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