Wednesday, 19 February 2020

More wildlife fun with The Guardian

As a follow up to Bayard's beaver post (see below), I'll up the ante...

From The Guardian:

The study by University of Sussex researchers raises fears that bees and other flying pollinators may struggle in the higher and more frequent winds caused by global heating.

The bees, which usually feed on wild flowers after leaving their hives in the campus gardens, were lured into the shed with sugar water feeders. Only one bee was allowed in at a time, and their visits to artificial flowers were videoed and timed under different fan speeds, which mimicked calm and windy days.

With no wind, the bees on average took nectar from 5.45 flowers during their 90-second time trial. When wind speeds were increased, this fell to an average of 3.73 flowers. Over the course of a day, a bee’s capacity to supply its colony with food would be significantly curtailed.

Yes, bee and insect numbers have plummeted over the past few decades, as anybody who can remember scraping dead flies off the car windscreen (or in my case, watching my Dad do it, I'm not that old) will confirm. This is perhaps something we should be worried about, and maybe we could slow or reverse this trend.


a. Bees evolved quite a while ago, I'm sure they know how to handle a stiff breeze or two.

b. There's no reason to assume that 'global warming' will increase wind speeds. Wind speeds and turbulent events like tornadoes are caused by temperature differences between regions, or cold air meeting hot air, and not absolute temperature.

We are told that 'global warming' is reducing temperature differences - from Wiki: Presently, the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.

In contrast, it's bloody hot in the Sahara in the day time, but it's not subject to gale force winds from sunrise to sunset. On average, winds are stronger in Antarctica, even though it's much colder (the opposite of the claim in the article).

And apparently, there is barely any wind on the surface of Venus, which has fallen victim to 'runaway climate change' (in truth, it's that hot because atmospheric pressure at the surface is ninety-three times higher than on Earth).


johnd2008 said...

One of the reasons that there are fewer insects on your car windscreen is that modern cars are better aerodynamically. This means that the bugs are swept aside by the air flow instead of splattering your windscreen.

Mark Wadsworth said...

J, I would be very relieved if that were the case. But somebody did a test, drove round in a 1960s Morris Minor, and that too remained insect free. It was mentioned on telly recently.

Bayard said...

However, mysteriously, the summer before last was very buggy, after a long run of bug-free summers.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, do you think there's an inverse correlation between number of sat nav's and number of insects?

Penseivat said...

Could it be (no pun intended) that a 1960's Morris Minor is so slow that an insect can spot it and have plenty of time to get out of the way?

Mark Wadsworth said...

P, nope. It was on Countryfile or something like that. Some old chap drove his Moggy round that he'd had from new and established there are a lot fewer dead insects on the windscreen. All very scientific.

Lola said...

Morris 1000's are fairy aerodynamic - Alec Issigonis was no mug. Need to use a flat windscreen like my old Defender. That got pretty buggy until i sold it in 2012.

Lola said...

Countryfile or whatever getting it wrong - again. Well it's the BBC. No agenda then?

Morris 1000 CD = 0.342

From here

How about a Ford Focus 2020 - 0.273

From here

How about a Defender - 0.65

From here

I'd go for the fact that modern cars do have better aero, generally. Why? Because it massively helps fuel economy at speed.

Personal evidence. I race a thing called a Diva GT. It's small and slippery. It has a 1300 engine. It could easily pull away from a 3.5 Litre Morgan Plus Eight and a 1500 CC Lotus 7 on Brands GP from Surtees to Hawthorns and generally has a low bug screen.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, but that was the point. The old bloke was comparing in his moggy in the 1960s with his moggy in the 2010s. So he was comparing like with like.

Lola said...

MW Ah. Misunderstood. But how does he remember what it was really like? Not exactly objective.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, he wasn't putting an exact number on it. It's just "a lot less" nowadays.

Lola said...

MW. However, there is some correlation with aero. IMHO. Although I agree, that subjectively, there are a lot less dead bugs in ones windscreen these days.

I blame the EU / Brexit (Pl choose)

Dinero said...

I don't see why the aerodynamic issue it is not straight forward - when a car is aerodynamic, aerodynamic means not disturbing air flow and so light insects that move with airflow do not hit windscreen.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L and Din, I am not disputing that aerodynamic cars will tend to get fewer bugs on the windscreen, but this is a side issue. Clever scientists have been saying for years that insect numbers are dropping, although they are not sure why.

And all of that has nothing to do with the actual post :-)