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Air Pollution Can Disrupt Pollinating Insects By Concealing the Scent of Flowers

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the all-the-better-to-smell-you-with dept.

Earth 67

vinces99 writes Car and truck exhaust fumes that foul the air for humans also cause problems for pollinators. In new research on how pollinators find flowers when background odors are strong, University of Washington and University of Arizona researchers found that both natural plant odors and human sources of pollution can conceal the scent of sought-after flowers. When the calories from one feeding of a flower gets you only 15 minutes of flight, as is the case with the tobacco hornworn moth studied, being misled costs a pollinator energy and time. "Local vegetation can mask the scent of flowers because the background scents activate the same moth olfactory channels as floral scents," according to Jeffrey Riffell, UW assistant professor of biology. "Plus the chemicals in these scents are similar to those emitted from exhaust engines and we found that pollutant concentrations equivalent to urban environments can decrease the ability of pollinators to find flowers."

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First Boo Fucking Hoo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330485)

Flowers are for women and fags.

Re:First Boo Fucking Hoo (2)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 5 months ago | (#47330623)

"Flowers are for women and fags."

And the food web. Don't forget that.

Re:First Boo Fucking Hoo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330669)

I didn't. Women and fags cook the best food, so there's that.

Re: First Boo Fucking Hoo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330677)

Ironic you are calling people fags when you have a dick in your ass.

Re: First Boo Fucking Hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331013)

Ironic you are calling people fags when you have a dick in your ass.

Ironic? He may very well be a fag himself - and still believe in such stereotypes. He didn't actually say anything negative about fags . . .

Re (1)

luminousone11 (2472748) | about 5 months ago | (#47331111)

Really I don't get why everyone keeps referring to each other as a bundle of sticks, its very confusing.

Re:First Boo Fucking Hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331285)

Flowers are for women and fags.

Women and Cigarettes? What the hell are you talking about?

Re:First Boo Fucking Hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331973)

I give you 5 out of 10 for your trolling efforts.

Easy fix (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330487)

We just need to create tiny insect robots to replace the defective real insects.

Re:Easy fix (1)

idji (984038) | about 5 months ago | (#47330987)

http://www.honeycouncil.ca/chc... [honeycouncil.ca]
Bees need to fly twice around the word (50,000 miles) and visit 2.6 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey.
Your robots are not coming to save us any time soon.

Re:Easy fix II (1)

golodh (893453) | about 5 months ago | (#47331565)

I have another easy fix proposal.

Just calculate the marginal cost of a kilogram of combusted fuel due to pollination problems and, add it to the fuel tax, and spend it on research to drive down the cost of more fuel-efficient cars and hydrogen vehicles.

Re:Easy fix II (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#47332167)

Just calculate the marginal cost of a kilogram of combusted fuel due to pollination problems and, add it to the fuel tax, and spend it on research to drive down the cost of more fuel-efficient cars and hydrogen vehicles.

I think if you research the actual numbers, you will find that government regulation has done anything but reduce the cost of vehicles.

Re:Easy fix II (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334115)

That's because of this [ted.com] ! Without regulations, you only see apparent cost. Then someone sees the negatives for that particular activity and (a) estimates cost for recovering from that negative (b) tacks on additional cost to discourage such activity.

Re:Easy fix II (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#47335311)

That's because of this! Without regulations, you only see apparent cost. Then someone sees the negatives for that particular activity and (a) estimates cost for recovering from that negative (b) tacks on additional cost to discourage such activity.

I'll grant that you have a point, but I'm not convinced the positives have actually made up for the negatives.

Re:Easy fix II (1)

golodh (893453) | about 5 months ago | (#47339339)

Tthe point is to incorporate costs that are caused by air pollution (like the pollination issue mentioned in the article), that are only felt by parties other than the ones who buy the product that causes the problem.

Costs that aren't reflected in the price of causing air pollution (caused e.g. by car-driving), but devolve on other parties, are known as "external costs".

External costs can however be included in the price of the product (in this case driving an internal combustion vehicle) by means of a tax, and that is often the only way for external costs.

The market that determines the demand for fuel combustion can do its work only if the "true" cost of driving is felt by the ones who actually buy that particular product, instead of other parties further down the line.

Re:Easy fix II (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 5 months ago | (#47343063)

The best solution to any problems the world faces is not rules, regulations, but technology. You have to make the price of running nuclear (or even renewable) origin liquid ammonia fuel cell powered vehicles that emit no organic carbon scents low enough to compete. By the way, I never got a chance to respond to another slashdot posting, citing sodium metal, and sodamide as an economic way to crack ammonia back to its elements, citing ruthenium, the most efficient catalyst, is too costly. Well, hello, as far as I know the Haber-Bosch process uses reduced iron oxide catalyst, and one of the prime rules of catalysis, is that a catalyst does not change the equilibrium constants, it only lowers the activation energy, the temperature required for a process to happen, and whatever catalyst is best at driving a reaction forward, is usually also the best in driving it backward, so why you need to mess with sodium metal or ruthenium when you can just use simple Haber-Bosch catalyst? If a hydrogen-nitrogen mixture is what you're after, but that mixture may not be a well combusting one, as the extra nitrogen might dilute the combusting air mix to below the explosive limit. I'm too lazy to look it up now, let's just say ammonia is not combustible, and even if cracked ammonia is combustible, the situation is similar to adding 10% ethanol to gasoline giving you less miles than if you just bought 90% straight 100% gasoline, and ran with that, being a Carnot-cycle high temperature achieved efficiency issue. In fact running pure oxygen from a cylinder plus straight gas gets you much better mileage than running air plus gasoline, and similarly, running pure oxygen and pure hydrogen into a car engine is much more efficient, than running air and hydrogen, let alone running air and cracked ammonia hydrogen+nitrogen. The energy in ammonia is there, you just have to know how to get to it, and combusting it is not the answer, but fuel cells can get the 60% efficiency per gram of hydrogen supplied, almost irrespective if diluted or not with hydrogen, while an internal combustion engine has to heat the inert nitrogen too. (Stirling cycle engine-like copper-gauze recouperators can be used to recover nitrogen waste heat from a fuel cell, but recouperators don't really have a place inside an internal combustion piston, the deadweight of extra nitrogen there directly driving down the high temperature achieved during explosion number of the Carnot cycle efficiency formula, devastating the efficiency numbers.) Of course the best solution is a hybrid, one that has a lithium ion battery that'll take you 5-10 minutes on a commute, and if you run out of that, then the ammonia fuel cell kicks in, but you can probably not make a fully electric car economical and have a long driving range of hours and hours too. Unfortunately for a fuel cell iron catalyst probably does not work well, as it has to be something that allows the hydrogen through the metal, and ionization of it at the interface, such as a platinum or palladium coating on a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org] proton conductor such as a Nafion membrane. However, microholes in an iron membrane similar to those developed for micron filtration via electron beams, or a nanothin film of iron oxide reduced to iron, or mixture of nickel-iron, such coatings might work well enough instead of platinum. Carbon black and charcoal are typical replacement in catalysis where platinum is unavailable, so simply carburizing the nafion membrane surface with a flame or some similar plastic that chars better than nafion might work, also adding iron or nickel or cobalt or whatnot compounds to the surface can get you a platinumless low temperature fuel cell. You're also talking a nano-thin film of platinum, and the amount is so small, that, say 80 bux may cover a dozen square meters, and that's not too high a cost when you consider new car costs are never under 10 grand anymore. For a moped or 2-cycle engine gasoline bicycle you could probably not afford a liquid ammonia handling fuel system at say 50 bux platinum plus 5 cubic feet of fuel cell, which is too big to lug around on a bicycle, but no problem for 50 cubic feet of light fuel cell membranes in a car, mostly underbody. Low temperature fuel cells are preferred, but in need high temperature solid oxide fuel cells would work without any catalysts, in low fuel cell volume per horsepower, but the problem is that the yttria stabilized zirconia ceramic solid oxide conducting ceramic membrane cracks like any ceramic on thermal cycling, and needs frequent replacement, just like the zirconia oxygen sensors in your car, imagine having to replace your fuel cell, the heart of the car, every time you had to replace an oxygen sensor. Intermediate temperature molten phosphates may also work, with gentle catalysts, but the potassium hydroxide fuel cell as used on the Shuttle is extremely sensitive to any kind of impurities in the fuel, such as carbon dioxide, or other impurities, but it made economical sense on the Shuttle because ultrapure hydrogen and oxygen could be guaranteed there, but usually it does not make economical sense anywhere else, especially if your oxidizer is air, which is what it is, as no car is gonna carry ultrapure liquid oxygen around just to run a KOH alkaline fuel cell (and imagine the accidents in liquid oxygen spilling gas stations, with ammonia at least you hold your breath and run, but liquid oxygen is cooooold, and requires constant boiling bleed-off to keep cool, and it can explode with huge force if the temperature cannot be held cold, while liquid ammonia does not need to be kept cold while liquid, the pressure is very moderate.)

Much like voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330489)

amid the wafting stench of bought airtime.

Re:Much like voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330509)

... because the government should control all political speech, and should make sure everything is fair and everyone is equally represented.

What could go wrong? Shirly our wise and exalted representitives would be fine guardians of the 1st Amendment.

Re:Much like voting (0)

torsmo (1301691) | about 5 months ago | (#47331409)

Don't call me Shirley.

Re:Much like voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332661)

Is this some kind of bust?

Re:Much like voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332891)

Nice beaver

Yeah (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330549)

Like forest fires and volcanos

smells (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330551)

One scent can overpower another scent. That's why deodorant and toilet sprays work. It just so happens in this case that the smells are similar?

Re:smells (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330647)

Please form your question in the form of, you know, a question.

Re:smells (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331081)

no?

Gardeners have already known this (4, Informative)

CycleMan (638982) | about 5 months ago | (#47330585)

It's been standard knowledge for home gardeners that growing just one thing (e.g. tomatoes or carrots) in a certain space makes it easy for the bugs that feed on it to find it, but if you mix things up then the pests are confused and less successful. To protect against plant-specific pests, put a variety of things together in your garden: flowers, herbs, vegetables. The good pollinators like honeybees will love it; the carrot fly and tomato hornworm moth will have a much harder time finding the carrots and tomatoes to land on and lay their eggs.

Re:Gardeners have already known this (3, Funny)

Mashiki (184564) | about 5 months ago | (#47330863)

Shh. If you tell people that they won't know that this has been known since we started agriculture. As a useful tip: Planting tobacco plants mixed with plants that are sensitive to pest infestations will help minimize it.

Re:Gardeners have already known this (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#47331515)

Shh. If you tell people that they won't know that this has been known since we started agriculture. As a useful tip: Planting tobacco plants mixed with plants that are sensitive to pest infestations will help minimize it.

Dill keeps away rabbits. There's a whole "Amateur scientist" Thing with this. I grow a lot of stuff, and I still constantly finding out new things. The issue is that it's regional... what works here might not work 50 miles away. The Internet is not good at disseminating such specific information. The best suggestion I have is to know other people in your area that do the same thing. Especially old people... Farmers almanac is good to. But keep in mind, there's a lot of BS in both sources as well so be skeptical.

Re:Gardeners have already known this (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 5 months ago | (#47332277)

Good to know. I've been unable to plant anything because a local rabbit (or family of rabbits) will constantly chew up anything I try planting. Does dill work on chipmunks too? (And, if so, can I sprinkle some dried dill into a chipmunk hole to encourage them to leave?)

Re:Gardeners have already known this (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#47334367)

yes, in my experience Dill keeps away small mammals.

What works better is a properly raise bed garden. Meaning you build walls above ground to contain the dirt. Then Put wire mesh at the bottom so they cant dig up through. Put down a layer of dirt. Fill it with your favorite mulch/soil. Viola. Make sure its about 2ft high or so, so the rabbits cant just climb up.

Second solution: A good pellet gun.

BEST solution (by far) a fenced in yard and a good dog.

Re:Gardeners have already known this (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 5 months ago | (#47332123)

Shh. If you tell people that they won't know that this has been known since we started agriculture. As a useful tip: Planting tobacco plants mixed with plants that are sensitive to pest infestations will help minimize it.

I heard what is better is to plant marijuana between your corn plants.

Re:Gardeners have already known this (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#47332233)

I heard what is better is to plant marijuana between your corn plants.

That certainly helped keep one kind of major pest away.

Re:Gardeners have already known this (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#47334065)

University of Washington and University of Arizona researchers found that both natural plant odors and human sources of pollution can conceal the scent of sought-after flowers.

Methodology: mash up some flowers and alfalfa, then put it under your armpit all day in summer. See if the bees want it.

so electric cars (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 5 months ago | (#47330629)

are good for something other than driving.

Re:so electric cars (3, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 5 months ago | (#47330809)

It's a good idea, congratulations on thinking outside of the box, but electric cars are a bit too cumbersome for that. They'd also need a driver, as tobacco hornworns can't drive.

Re:so electric cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330911)

Well, they would be able to if these commie pinko statist liberal atheists would deregulate the roads, but instead they keep artificially weighing the system down wiith spped limits, drink-drive laws, license and insurance requirements, etc. If you want to be safe, don't go places cars can go: this is the free market solution that they are ignoring becuase their buddies own the road sign factories.

Re:so electric cars (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 5 months ago | (#47330975)

It's a good idea, congratulations on thinking outside of the box, but electric cars are a bit too cumbersome for that. They'd also need a driver, as tobacco hornworns can't drive.

I meant, use the cars to pollinate the flowers

Re:so electric cars (1)

randomErr (172078) | about 5 months ago | (#47331267)

To manufacture electric cars you have to use materials that are more costly, harder to mine and toxic (lithium and mercury). So they create more pollution to. Also electric cars have to get there electricity from somewhere that's generating pollution as well. The sum gain of electric cars is about the same as regular cars. The pollution just comes in another form.

Pity (1)

tsa (15680) | about 5 months ago | (#47330695)

That's a pity for the insects, but we live on this planet too, you know. We can't undo all of our pollution.

Re:Pity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330715)

Not for long, dumbass. Insects ruled for millions of years, your shit is hundreds of days old.

Re:Pity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330789)

That's a pity for the insects, but we live on this planet too, you know. We can't undo all of our pollution.

I really hope you are joking as (low id and such), but in case you aren't:
We need pollination for our crop. And a pure meat diet wont work as we need to feed the cattle. Which leads to us humans killing our food source.

Bonus information: There is no wild honey bee in europe anymore. Every stock that escapes into the wild dies in half a year to parasites we imported from asia.

Re:Pity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330883)

I'll repeat it for you since you didn't seem to read it the first time: we can't undo all of our pollution.

What is your solution to this problem?

Re:Pity (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 5 months ago | (#47330991)

we can't undo all of our pollution.

What is your solution to this problem?

Interplanetary colonization.

Therefore it becomes a problem of time. Ergo of speed. So, it all boils down to the size of that "all" you used.

Re:Pity (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 5 months ago | (#47331035)

Interplanetary colonization.

That brings us full circle back to pollination.

The colony that became Sydney didn't have a famine because nobody thought to bring the trees.
They had trouble because nobody thought to bring the bees.


Australia has plenty of pollinating insects but they have short tongues and can't easily get into those deep European flowers. Agriculture had trouble until some hives were shipped out.

Similarly with interplanetary colonization we've got to work out what unexpected requirements there are - hence NASA growing tomatoes at the South Pole and similar experiments.

Re:Pity (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 5 months ago | (#47331745)

Australia has plenty of pollinating insects but they have short tongues and can't easily get into those deep European flowers.

My mind wandered off topic.

Re:Pity (1)

itzly (3699663) | about 5 months ago | (#47331215)

Even if interplanetary colonization ever becomes reality, it is unlikely that more than a few % of the human population ever gets a chance to leave the planet. So your "solution" may save the human genome, but it won't save the majority of the people.

Re:Pity (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 5 months ago | (#47332079)

Ultimately the genome is what really matters. That's not to say we shouldn't try to be better to our environment here on our home planet, but in terms of the very long term it's the genome that matters the most.

Re:Pity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47332733)

Then go die.

Re:Pity (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 5 months ago | (#47338419)

No thanks, but I'll go to your funeral if you want to volunteer to do so.

Re:Pity (1)

xelah (176252) | about 5 months ago | (#47331027)

There are quite a lot of well known and in some cases proven ways to reduce traffic pollution, some available sooner than others. Some examples: better car emission standards, more and better trains trains, electric cars, high fuel taxes (to affect vehicle choice and travel distance), encouraging shorter commuting times or telecommuting and urban tree planting.

Re:Pity (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 5 months ago | (#47330813)

I disagree. Human being work actually quite well as an air filter. We just need to breathe more to retain as much pollution as we can in our lungs before dying and returning the components to the ground.

All green parties should be supporting this "Breathe more!" campaign.

Re:Pity (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 5 months ago | (#47332803)

But can we exhale, and release extra CO2?

Pest (1)

itzly (3699663) | about 5 months ago | (#47330735)

The tomato hornworm moth is a pest anyway. Good riddance.

Neonicotinoids can cause problems for pollinators (2)

tlambert (566799) | about 5 months ago | (#47330743)

Neonicotinoids can cause problems for pollinators by concealing their metabolism.

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ne... [harvard.edu]

Re:Neonicotinoids can cause problems for pollinato (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330827)

Neonicotinoids are banned in europe, but the industry is lobbying for a lift of the ban.

Duh-doy son (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47330767)

Well, duh doy, son.

Thank God (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 5 months ago | (#47331397)

Well, it's a good thing we don't grow a whole lot of food crops in the streets of New York City. For a minute there I was worried.

Re:Thank God (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331595)

It's a good thing all the cities are domed up and the air can't blow to anywhere else.

Too bad the "London fog " killed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47331611)

Everyone in se UK. Oh wait...

Bad example (2)

cmdr_tofu (826352) | about 5 months ago | (#47331649)

I'm pretty sure tobacco hornworms are a pest, not a farm-aid. At least if my memory serves me correctly they are BIG critters and demolish tomato plants. Luckily a tiny wasp (bracconid) likes to lay its eggs in the skin of the tobacco hornworm and the hatchlings devour that critter. Whenever I'd find them in my garden I'd toss them into the woods.

I guess in their moth stage they are pollinators. I did not know this.

Perfume (0)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 5 months ago | (#47331717)

Parfum can disrupt men by concealing the scent of a woman. Then, when you've had your whole life not being used to it, one drops panties and you're like, OH GOD I CAN'T GO DOWN ON THAT!

The next day, your bedroom is loaded with Glade Plug-Ins.

Bees? (1)

vdoogs (765125) | about 5 months ago | (#47332267)

Anyone else think this is related to the declining bee population?

Easy solution (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 5 months ago | (#47332533)

Don't try to grow stuff in urban environments. Growing food on a farm and trucking it in (or better yet hauling it on an electric train) is a far more efficient and greener use of land than single-family homes with back yards.

"If you love nature, stay away from it." --Henry David Thoreau

I knew it! (1)

PPH (736903) | about 5 months ago | (#47333031)

Potpourri is evil.

This is more better than others (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47339929)

Visit it tips [ittechinfoo.com]

This is more better than others (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47339947)

Visit it tips [blogspot.com]

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