Ethanol is obviously not the solution to pollution. Like Kunstler
says, we gotta give up the damned driving.
Why Flowers Have Lost Their Scent
Pollution is dulling the scent of flowers and impeding some of the most
basic processes of nature, disrupting insect life and imperilling food
supplies, a new study suggests.
The potentially hugely significant research - funded by the blue-chip
US National Science Foundation - has found that gases mainly formed
from the emissions of car exhausts prevent flowers from attracting bees
and other insects in order to pollinate them. And the scientists who
have conducted the study fear that insects’ ability to repel enemies
and attract mates may also be impeded.
The researchers - at the University of Virginia - say that pollution is
dramatically cutting the distance travelled by the scent of flowers.
Professor Jose Fuentes, who led the study, said: “Scent molecules
produced by flowers in a less polluted environment could travel for
roughly 1,000 to 1,200 metres. But today they may travel only 200 to
300 metres. This makes it increasingly difficult for bees and other
insects to locate the flowers.”
The researchers - who worked on the scent given off by snapdragons -
found that the molecules are volatile, and quickly bond with pollutants
such as ozone and nitrate radicals, mainly formed from vehicle
emissions. This chemically alters the molecules so that they no longer
smell like flowers. A vicious cycle is therefore set up where insects
struggle to get enough food and the plants do not get pollinated enough
Already bees - which pollinate most of the world’s crops - are in
unprecedented decline in Britain and across much of the globe. At least
a quarter of America’s 2.5 million honey bee colonies have been
mysteriously wiped out by colony collapse disorder (CCD), where hives
are found suddenly deserted.
The crisis has now spread to Europe. Politicians insist that CCD has
not yet been found in Britain, but the insects have been declining here
too, and the agriculture minister Lord Rooker has warned that “the
honey bee population could be wiped out in 10 years”.
The researchers do not believe that they have found the cause of CCD,
but say that pollution is making life more difficult for bees and other
insects in many ways.”