I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas: How to Have a Sustainable Holiday Season

by Kaelin Ferland '23
Opinion Staff


Eco Updates


Lillie Hunter ’22/The Cowl

I love Christmas, but I also love the planet. I won’t be the Grinch and take away your wrapping paper and plastic trees, but it’s important to consider the environmental impact of this holiday so that we can celebrate in a way that is more sustainable and less harmful to our planet.

One way that you can minimize your environmental impact this year is by rethinking gift wrapping. According to Biffa, one of the United Kingdom’s most prominent waste management companies, 277,000 miles of wrapping paper are thrown out every holiday season in the UK alone. Considering that the US population is about five times the size of the UK’s, the amount of wrapping paper wasted in the US is likely much higher.

 A substantial number of trees is required to produce this much paper. Deforestation not only decreases biodiversity and takes away important habitats from species, but it also impedes our planet’s natural ability to mitigate climate change. This is because trees naturally remove carbon dioxide from the  air for photosynthesis. According to a 2021 study in the scientific journal Nature, some sections of the Amazon Rainforest, which once served as an important absorber of carbon dioxide, have been releasing more carbon dioxide than they absorb due to deforestation. This has major implications for climate change.

Instead of traditional wrapping paper, try reusing the same wrapping paper each year. Saving and reusing the gift bags and tissue paper that you acquire throughout the year is also a great alternative. You can even use brown paper bags that you get from stores as wrapping paper and add some decorative twine to give it a more natural look. The Cowl you’re holding can also be a great alternative (especially if you use its festive front page). Instead of using regular plastic tape, use washi tape, as it is made from natural materials and can be recycled along with your repurposed wrapping paper. If you’re set on using ribbons and bows, keep reusing them year after year rather than disposing of them after one use. Sustainable gift wrapping doesn’t have to be ugly.

Trees are also obviously a huge part of Christmas, and there’s always the question of whether real or fake trees are better for the planet. The surprising answer is that real trees are more environmentally friendly. According to the Nature Conservancy, 10 million fake trees are purchased every year, with 90% of them being transported long distances from China to locations all around the world. This results in a significant amount of carbon dioxide emissions associated with shipping and transportation. This doesn’t even take into account the energy and emissions from artificial tree production.

The Nature Conservancy adds that in the US, there are up to 500 million trees for sale on farms. Of these trees, only about 30 million will be bought and used for the holiday season. This leaves a significant number of trees left over to be used as a habitat by many different organisms. The remaining trees will also be able to absorb carbon dioxide for the rest of the year. For the trees that are cut down, farmers will continue planting seeds in place of those trees. When you’re done with your real tree, they can also be recycled, while artificial trees cannot.

During the holiday season, we see a sharp increase in electricity use because of Christmas lights. In a 2008 report from the US Department of Energy, 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity are consumed every year for holiday lights alone. The Center for Global Development states that this is more energy than countries including El Salvador and Ethiopia use in one year. Energy use is harmful to our planet because electricity relies on fossil fuels. According to the US Energy Information Administration, in 2021, 61% of electricity consumed was generated from fossil fuels. When we burn fossil fuels like coal and oil to produce electricity, this releases greenhouse gasses which cause global warming. We should try to decrease our energy and electricity use to help mitigate climate change. Also, think of how many times you’ve taken your Christmas lights out of storage, plugged them in, and they don’t work. Buying new lights and throwing out the old ones only adds to this waste.

To help decrease the amount of energy used for holiday lighting, try looking for LED or energy efficient string lights and light bulbs. Traditional bulbs waste 90% of their energy creating heat, while only the remaining 10% is actually used to produce light. LEDs are also much more reliable and durable than traditional lights, meaning that you’ll avoid that yearly frustration when your lights don’t turn on. Additionally, you can put your lights and candles on a timer so that they aren’t on long after midnight when everyone’s asleep. This also means you won’t forget to turn them off and waste energy.

Having a sustainable Christmas doesn’t mean sacrificing your favorite traditions, but by making small changes, you can make the planet merrier.



COP27: Success or Flop?

by Kaelin Ferland '23
Opinion Staff


Eco Updates


From Nov. 6 to Nov. 18 world leaders met in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt at the 27th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, otherwise known as COP27. The two-week-long summit focuses exclusively on climate change, as well as the steps countries should take to achieve the goals outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement. The treaty reaffirms the commitment of almost all of the countries in the world to combating climate change, with countries agreeing to take the necessary actions to prevent the planet from warming an additional 1.5 degrees celsius. By avoiding this number, we can avert some of the most severe effects of climate change. However, we are far from reaching this goal, as the United Nations recently announced that the planet will warm an additional 2.1 to 2.9 degrees celsius by 2030. We’re also not close to reaching the deforestation goals established at COP26 last year.

This means that this year’s COP27 summit was more important than ever. Unfortunately, it seems like every year, people are left underwhelmed and disappointed by the lack of political progress made during the conference, accusing it of being performative rather than productive. The conference has been harshly criticized by many, including 19-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who claimed that it’s “mainly used as an opportunity for leaders and people in power to get attention,” and people need to “realize what a scam this is and realize that these systems are failing us.” When speaking at COP26 in 2021, she publicly denounced the summit as “a failure,” saying that it will just “maintain business as usual,” allowing those in power to benefit at the expense of the planet. It wasn’t surprising that Thunberg did not attend this year’s conference as she has in the past.

When investigating the companies that sponsored COP27, it does seem as though Thunberg is correct in her description of the summit as “a scam.” Understandably, the conference received a lot of criticism for being sponsored by Coca-Cola, a company that profits from plastic water bottles made of petroleum and oil. According to a report by Corporate Accountability and the Corporate European Observatory, 95 percent of COP27 sponsors had connections to the fossil fuel industry. as stated in another report from Global Witness, somehow 636 lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry were at the conference. There’s no reason this many individuals profiting from the very thing that is driving climate change should be allowed to attend a conference trying to phase out fossil fuels.

At this year’s conference, around 80 countries, including the United States, were in favor of the elimination of fossil fuels by 2025. However, many countries that rely on oil exports economically did not support this proposal. This was a huge missed opportunity to drastically decrease our global emissions.

There were some positive agreements reached at the conference. As expected, climate justice was at the forefront of the summit. This is important because the conference was held in Egypt, and Africa is the continent most affected by climate change, despite contributing to it significantly less than developed countries. After days of negotiations, leaders of developed countries finally agreed to establish a fund to provide financial support for developing countries that are most impacted by the climate crisis.

Developed countries have already made such a promise in 2009, agreeing to give $100 billion to countries threatened by climate change every year. While this number would be nowhere near the amount of money required to help developing countries adapt to this threat, it shows how developed countries are starting to acknowledge their greater role in causing environmental problems. However, this agreement was supposed to happen by 2020, but it still has yet to take effect. With the failure of the last pledge and climate change worsening, this new fund will be imperative to help developing countries.  



Changing How We Talk about Climate Change: The Difference Between Climate and Weather

by Kaelin Ferland '23
Opinion Staff


Eco Updates


Photo courtesy of the Arizona Mirror

Climate and weather are two entirely different concepts. When we talk about the weather, we’re referring to short-term changes in our atmosphere, whereas when we talk about climate, we’re referring to long-term changes and atmospheric trends over time. Yet despite these important distinctions, whenever there’s an abnormal period of warm weather in November or December, everyone’s quick to claim that it’s climate change or global warming (also two very different concepts, but that’s a topic for another article).

The facts make the existence of climate change inarguable. However, to be informed and knowledgeable about this issue, we need to change the way we talk about climate change and be familiar with and more aware of what we’re talking about. By using incorrect language and terms, it seems as though we don’t fully understand what climate change is, which is a problem. If we want to raise awareness and advocate for change, we need to understand the issue at hand in order to have these discussions.

We can’t say that last week’s temperatures reaching the high 70s is climate change. It was the weather, a brief period of warm temperatures. What is climate change? Is it the fact that these past years have had significantly higher temperatures than the years before? The World Meteorological Organization just announced that the last eight years were the hottest on record. This is evidence of climate change. We can use these temperature trends to support the existence of climate change, but we can’t cite this temporary increase in temperature that we experienced in the middle of November as proof.

Another example is hurricanes and natural disasters. Yes, there were many hurricanes and floods this year, but we can’t say that this is evidence of climate change without looking at data from previous years. If the data shows that the frequency of hurricanes and natural disasters has been increasing in recent years, and it is higher than it was in the past (which they do), then we can say that this is evidence of climate change. According to a 2021 report by the World Meteorological Organization and United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, natural disasters have increased in frequency by five times over the past 50 years.

The same relationship is true for when it’s abnormally cold for a day or two in the spring and summer months. Some take this as an opportunity to deny climate change, an inaccurate statement as they are making this claim based on the weather, not climate. These short-lived fluctuations in temperature cannot be used as evidence against climate change.

If you look at the numbers, it’s clear that climate change is happening. All of the data indicate that with each year, temperatures continue to rise along with natural disaster frequencies. But when it’s unusually warm during the winter, we can’t just say that it’s climate change, just as when it’s unusually cold during the summer, this doesn’t disprove climate change’s existence. In the end, climate change is happening regardless of whether or not we notice it, even when we can’t feel or see it ourselves. However, we can’t and shouldn’t only pay attention to the problem when we feel its effects. At some point, we’ll end up noticing it but won’t be able to do anything to solve it.



Ray Composting: How Much Waste Have We Diverted from Landfills?

by Kaelin Ferland '23
Opinion Staff


Campus


After many years of trying to implement composting on campus, ECOPC was finally able to bring composting to Raymond Dining Hall last spring, and the program has since extended to Alumni over summer. This has had a substantial impact on decreasing our on-campus environmental impact, specifically in the area of food waste. From April 2022 through September 2022, we had already composted about 68.2 tons of food waste in Raymond Dining Hall alone. Since extending the program to Alumni over the summer, 3.3 tons of food in Alumni have been composted instead of being brought to  landfills. This number accounts for just the months of August and September, bringing the total to 71.5 tons of food waste that we have diverted from landfills.

This is not a small number. Composting will have a significant positive effect on our planet. This is a huge step in starting to take environmental issues seriously at PC. There is still a lot to be done in terms of sustainability on campus, but we are definitely moving in the right direction. Hopefully this will open the door for even greater and more impactful sustainability projects at PC.

Over one third of food is wasted around the world, and it’s estimated that people waste one billion tons of food annually. This is a huge waste of the water and resources that go into producing this food. Also, with food decomposition in landfills being responsible for up to 10 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, food waste has devastating consequences in terms of climate change.

With Thanksgiving approaching, it’s important to keep this in mind. However, reducing our food waste is something that we should focus on year-round given its environmental impact.



Summer in November: How Global Warming is Affecting Our Planet

by Jezel Tracey '24
Opinion Staff


Opinion


Photo courtesy of Rawpixel

A regular day of fall on a college campus looks like girls wearing Uggs and guys wearing the same sneakers as they did in the summer. However, this year, fall in Friartown is a bit different. One day, winter is approaching. Next, winter takes a pause and the sunshine is almost 40 degrees warmer than it was before. As animals begin to prepare for hibernation, emotions prepare for seasonal depression, and the leaves prepare to fall, the weather is saying something different. Although most do not pray for the cold, when it hits almost 80 degrees in November, the prayer becomes for the world more than it is for themselves. When a friend gets sick around this time, their response is “it’s because the seasons are changing.” However, this has been the response for most people for the past three months. Whether it’s cold when it’s supposed to be hot, or hot when it is supposed to be cold, the Earth is undergoing an inevitable change: global warming.

Global warming is exactly what it sounds like. When the earth is affected by global warming, it experiences abnormal shifts in weather. However, the problem of global warming is deeper than the decision fatigue that one might experience as a result of not knowing what outfit to put on. Rather, these shifts in weather increase temperatures that can be uncomfortable and damaging in a month like November. Hurricanes, storms, great bodies of water drying out, and wildfires are evident in today’s most recent disasters.

What seemed like an increase in temperature or a nice day of summer meant death, calamity, and catastrophe for the animals around us. When the Earth is warm during times that it is not supposed to be, the ecosystem reflects just that, and the environment as well as society is negatively impacted by it.

Every year, the temperature of the earth increases. Global warming is not news. However, seeing its effects in daily life makes it feel more real or present. It should not be viewed from a superficial level, but rather from a more serious perspective. While it is affecting your choice of outfit, ultimately it has very damaging and catastrophic effects on the future of the earth.

Generation Z has never been the one to take things seriously. In today’s society, the primary source of news comes from social media. While it does play an impactful role in informing the world about what is going on, what often cycles through the feeds and timelines is not an awareness of a given situation. Instead, more memes are being reshared about children never being able to grow up because of the decreased fate of the world and Thanksgiving becoming a cookout. Oftentimes jokes like these are used as coping mechanisms to distract society from the threat global warming has on humanity’s existence.

It is important to look at global warming as not only an environmental issue. Rather, many societal factors need to be considered as well. Oftentimes when individuals have conversations about global warming, they look at what is being affected more than who is being affected.

There are a plethora of communities that don’t have the privilege of turning on the air conditioning when it reaches 80 degrees in November. Specifically, low-income and impoverished communities are susceptible to becoming a victim of natural disasters due to a lack of the proper financial resources to combat them. While the victims of tragedies are taken into account, the reasons why they become victims are not.

While climate change does affect the fate of the Earth’s existence, this does not mean there are no solutions to the issue. Some things one can do to help prevent or slow down the process of global warming are switching to a plant-based diet, recycling, and walking more than driving.

Conversations about global warming are bigger than Twitter and Instagram memes about the world ending. To understand and be proactive in change, it is important to look at the causes, effects, and impacts of environmental issues.

Is Throwing Cans of Soup the Solution to Climate Change?

by Kaelin Ferland '23
Opinion Staff


Opinion


The United Nations released a report just last week about how we are in dire need of climate action, explaining that “the world is still falling short of the Paris climate goals, with no credible pathway to 1.5 degrees C in place.” With these goals out of reach and no concrete plans to prevent our planet from warming an additional 1.5 degrees C, the UN warns that it seems as though immediate changes will be necessary to prevent climate catastrophe. 

World leaders are not doing enough. The report adds that the COP26 Summit held last year did practically nothing to help mitigate climate change at the level that we need to. The UN explains that we will need to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent in the next eight years. This number is unheard of, proving how desperately we need climate action and have waited too long. With a World Meteorological Organization report published the day before the UN’s statement that 2021 was a record-breaking year for greenhouse gas emissions, it seems as though climate change poses its greatest threat yet. 

Even as individuals protest and scientists make constant warnings, politicians don’t listen. Recently, activists representing the Just Stop Oil organization have escalated their protests, for example, by throwing soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and mashed potatoes at Les Meules by Monet. One activist even glued his head to Vermeer’s famous Girl with a Pearl Earring. None of the paintings were ruined in the process. 

For many, these acts don’t make sense, and they are unsure of how these paintings connect to climate change and environmental issues. Others are worried about how these protests could cause environmentalists to be viewed in a negative light. However, some did support the Just Stop Oil protestors, pointing out how it’s frustrating that people are more angered about these actions than the lack of political action in the environmental sector. 

It is confusing why the activists are targeting these paintings, specifically, given they have no relation to climate change; however, this isn’t the point of these demonstrations. The activists are trying to make a statement about how these paintings will be worthless if we continue to do nothing. In our society, it can feel like our traditional forms of protesting are not enough. Every September, Fridays for Future organizes a global climate strike involving hundreds of locations around the world and hundreds of thousands of protestors. In Germany alone, there were protests in 270 cities and approximately 280,000 people took to the streets. However, every year it seems as though these protests are overlooked and ignored by world leaders who continue to not take political action. 

These protests haven’t caused nearly as much conversation about climate change as these activists have. While the Just Stop Oil demonstrations are over the top and seem to go too far, they have been effective in starting a massive conversation about climate change. However, as with most protests, this attention will be short-lived, and society will move on and forget. These efforts will ultimately be overlooked and climate action will be delayed, despite the scientists’ warnings and our demands for change.

Feeling Hopeless About Climate Change: Why We Need Climate Optimism

by Kaelin Ferland '23
Opinion Staff


Editorials


When you look at climate change in the news, it is easy to feel hopeless and discouraged. It is impossible, especially recently, to open your phone without seeing headlines on social media about how the climate crisis has already begun to devastate communities around the world. From natural disasters like Hurricane Ian, which has been named the second deadliest hurricane to hit Florida since 1935, to the large-scale flooding in Pakistan that has left over 30 million people displaced, it can seem as though we are already too late. 

It is easy to feel powerless in the fight against climate change, and when you keep seeing people with plastic water bottles in their backpacks while you try to carry your reusable one every day, you might feel like your actions are pointless. When you and only a handful of other students attend ECOPC meetings on a campus of over 4,000 students, it is just as easy to assume that you’re the only one that cares.  

Climate optimism does not mean ignoring the news and the reality of climate change or not advocating for sustainability because everything is going to be okay. It is definitely not a form of denial, naivety, or ignorance. Rather, climate optimism requires us to do the opposite and be aware of what is going on. We need to acknowledge what humans have already done to mitigate climate change. It is a form of hope for our future.  

There are many actions that have already been taken to help slow the effects of climate change, all of which should inspire climate optimism. The governor of New York recently announced that the state is going to ban gas-powered cars by 2035. This means that all new cars in the state will have to be zero-emissions vehicles. Other states including California, Massachusetts, and Washington have set similar goals. In other news, the founder of Patagonia has recently decided to give away his company and donate all profits to help fight climate change. Additionally, the Biden Administration announced plans to plant one billion trees in an effort to combat deforestation. At the end of September, researchers reported that because of conservation projects, grizzly bears, white-tailed eagles, and gray wolf populations in Europe saw a 44 percent, 445 percent, and 1800 percent increase, respectively.  

As the generation that will be responsible for dealing with the climate crisis and its consequences, it can feel overwhelming, especially for young people. It can sometimes feel like the fate of the world is in our hands. While this is true, it does not have to be intimidating. We still have some time left to fix the problem, but having a constant doomsday mindset will not get us anywhere or help us come up with solutions. If we continue to be pessimistic about our future and claim that humans are too late to reverse what we’ve started, we cannot expect the problem to be solved. Optimism is what will ultimately inspire, change, and save our planet.  

Why Halloween is Scary for Our Planet: How to Have a Sustainable Halloween

by Kaelin Ferland '23
Opinion Staff


Campus


Photo courtesy of flickr

With Halloween right around the corner, many of us are starting to prepare for costumes and parties. Most of these preparations are often unsustainable and it’s important to consider alternatives that are less environmentally harmful.  

According to a study from the United Kingdom, seven million costumes are thrown away each year in that country alone. This is equal to 2,000 metric tons of plastic or 83 million plastic water bottles. One of the most popular materials used in costume production is polyester, accounting for about 69 percent of all costume materials. To reduce plastic waste in this area, try buying costumes that aren’t made of polyester. You can also donate or give your costume to a friend to reuse next year. An even better solution is to go thrifting for a costume and purchase items that you can wear after Halloween is over. There’s no point in buying something that you’ll only wear once. Thrifting is also much more ethical than fast fashion websites.  

These costume statistics, however, don’t include the plastic waste associated with candy wrappers and packaging. Americans spent 2.6 billion dollars on Halloween candy in 2019, equivalent to 600 million pounds of candy. Because candy wrappers aren’t made with recyclable materials, this means that billions of wrappers will be thrown into landfills. To add to this issue, plastic is primarily composed of oil, a fossil fuel, which further worsens the environmental impact of plastic. To help minimize candy wrapper waste, you should look for candy that comes in cardboard or paper, as these materials are recyclable. 

Another unsustainable Halloween tradition is pumpkin carving. While it may not be obvious, there are many different reasons why this activity is harmful to our planet. According to the World Economic Forum, 900,000 metric tons of pumpkins are thrown away in the United States every year. In the United Kingdom, 95 percent of pumpkins grown annually are used for Halloween. Because most of these pumpkins will be used for carving and subsequently thrown away, this means that 18,000 metric tons of pumpkins will end up in landfills. This poses an issue in terms of food waste and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as waste associated with pumpkin cultivation.  

Like the rest of our food waste, as pumpkins decompose, they release methane and carbon dioxide. These greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming. The United Nations states that about 8 percent of all greenhouse emissions are the result of food waste. Because of the significant number of pumpkins wasted around the world, it is undeniable that they will have a large contribution to global warming. If we are growing pumpkins for the sole purpose of carving them and then throwing them away once Halloween is over, this is an unnecessary waste of resources like cropland and water. Instead of buying real pumpkins to carve, buy a fake, hollow pumpkin from a craft store. They look realistic and you can reuse them year after year. 

Halloween doesn’t have to be scary for our planet. It’s easy to make different choices and changes to make it a more sustainable and less wasteful holiday.  

Ecofeminism: How Environmental Issues and Gender Inequalities Intersect

by Kaelin Ferland '23
Opinion Staff


Eco Updates


Climate change intersects with many different areas of social justice, including race, gender, and class. Gender equality and feminism, specifically, have connections to climate change and environmental issues, as women are disproportionately affected by climate disasters. This means that gender inequality is worsened by climate change.

The Ecofeminist Movement is centered around the relationship between climate change and gender equality, both of which are the result of the world’s patriarchal society. By advocating for the rights of our planet, we also advocate for women’s rights.

A recent study found that women and men, while spending approximately the same amount of money, release significantly different amounts of greenhouse gasses. This is primarily because men spend more money on gasoline and fuel, while women purchase products that have much lower carbon footprints. Despite emitting 16 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than men, women are more vulnerable to climate change and its effects.

Women in poverty are most vulnerable to the climate crisis. Usually, women in developing countries, such as Kenya and Benin, are responsible for getting water and food for their homes, and this process becomes more difficult as climate change worsens. With drought and food scarcity projected to worsen in the future, this process will become even more difficult and dangerous for women. As women and girls spend more time trying to find these resources, they have less time available for their education. This means that the climate crisis will have an impact on women’s education in poor communities.

Women and girls also have a higher chance of being harmed in natural disasters. They are less likely to be notified of impending severe weather events, leaving them little time to evacuate. Women also have less accessibility to resources that help them prepare for these emergencies, and following the disaster, they’re less likely to receive aid and relief. Because climate change also intensifies social, political, and economic issues, violence against women also could be heightened.

Gender inequality continues to be a prevalent part of our society. Until changes are made to ensure women’s rights across the globe, women and girls will continue to bear an unfair burden for climate change. They are most affected by climate change, yet there aren’t many women in power to advocate for themselves in this area. There needs to be more representation for women in the political sphere so climate change and gender equality are taken more seriously. Women and girls need to start becoming involved in environmental activism so that they can advocate for themselves and stop being overlooked.

Don’t Bee Scared: Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of These Important Pollinators

by Kaelin Ferland '23
Opinion Staff


Eco Updates


Despite their tiny antennae, fuzzy bodies, and adorably disproportionate eyes and wings, it seems like everyone is scared of bees. Yes, they sting when they’re threatened, but without bees, we wouldn’t be able to survive. Unfortunately, through climate change, pesticide use, and habitat loss and fragmentation, we have caused significant declines in the populations of these important pollinator species.  

Bees are responsible for pollinating one third of the food we eat. When they travel from flower to flower, pollen adheres to their legs, transporting pollen to the next flower. Without bees, it would be significantly more difficult for this pollination to take place, preventing crop production that we rely on to survive. Because of these rapid declines in bees, people in China have begun pollinating crops by hand; however, this is an extremely ineffective method compared to the efficiency of bees. This shouldn’t be viewed as a possible solution if bees go extinct.  

Bees are involved in food production at every level, not just with fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Without bees, we wouldn’t have alfalfa or other crops that are consumed by cows. This means that our meat and milk supply would also be negatively affected. More obviously, bees produce honey out of nectar, directly impacting our honey supply. 

Bees also help in our fight against climate change. By pollinating flowering plants and trees, they help these organisms that naturally convert carbon dioxide into oxygen via photosynthesis to reproduce. While wind pollination is somewhat effective in transporting pollen to plants, this method is unreliable and doesn’t work for all plant species. For 75 to 90 percent of flowering plants, they need to be pollinated by pollinators like bees and butterflies, making wind pollination insufficient. 

Aside from their importance to our food systems, bees also help promote biodiversity by pollinating flowers. Without bees we would not have the variety of trees and flowers that we do now, leaving our world barren and empty.  

Threats like pesticide use, habitat loss and fragmentation, and climate change have all had dramatic effects on the global bee population. In conventional agriculture, farmers rely heavily on chemical pesticides to deter pests and protect their crops; however, they adversely affect the same bees that are responsible for pollinating the crops. By killing bees with pesticides, crop yield is minimized. There’s no reason why we should be using these chemicals that are toxic to the very insects that are responsible for producing our food.  

Habitat loss and fragmentation are also significant threats to bees. As the human population continues to grow exponentially, so does our demand for food. This means that more fields and forests that are home to many pollinators need to be cleared for cropland. Also, through our irresponsible agricultural methods, soil is depleted of its nutrients, making it infertile and unable to grow more crops. This leads to more clearing of natural and wild land for agriculture.  

One of the easiest ways that we can protect bees at an individual level is by planting a diverse variety of wildflowers, specifically those most beneficial to pollinators, such as zinnias, toadflax, coneflowers, and lavender. By increasing the availability of these flowers for bees, we provide them with greater amounts of pollen and nectar that they need to survive. Many people are also unaware that bees need to drink water. Putting a small, shallow water source near the garden will also help these pollinators. 

On a larger scale, we need to rethink conventional agriculture to be more considerate of bees. This involves being more conscientious about pesticide use and switching to biological methods of pest control that don’t involve toxic chemicals. Additionally, habitat destruction for the sole purpose of cropland needs to be reconsidered, meaning that farmers should switch to agricultural methods that don’t deplete soil nutrients as frequently. This would allow the same cropland to be reused year after year, preventing deforestation in another area and the cycle from repeating.  

Without bees, our global food system would collapse and our planet wouldn’t be nearly as biodiverse as it is right now. A world without bees is much scarier than a world with them. Because of everything that humans have done to bees, it seems like they should be more afraid of us than we are of them.