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Bees; the budget; climate change in schools: March in headlines



Here, Blue & Green Tomorrow rounds up some of March’s biggest headlines – a month that rippled with debates over the protection of bees, the removal of climate change from parts of the national curriculum and George Osborne’s latest budget speech.

According to a study published in the Nature journal, two common pesticides have been found to compromise the neurological functions of honeybees (Studies shows bee brain damage caused by pesticides). Since then, the level of protection for honeybees, alongside other pollinators, has been up for debate.

Gaining further insight into the results from this research, BBC science reporter Rebecca Morelle spoke to Dr Sally Williamson, one of the researchers behind the study, who said, “It would imply that the bees are able to forage less effectively, they are less able to find and learn and remember and then communicate to their hive mates what the good sources of pollen and nectar are” (Neonicotinoid pesticides ‘damage brains of bees’).

Writing in Chemical & Engineering News, Carmen Drahl and Britt E Erickson discuss the lawsuit that faces the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its policy to allow the use of a pesticide classified as damaging to bee populations.

New evidence that the compounds may damage the brains of bees could convince the agency to reconsider”, they wrote (Pesticides Shown To Damage Bee Brains).

Meanwhile, Business Week explained how the European Union committee had failed to reach an agreement on March 15 on a two-year ban previously proposed by regulators. The ban would have limited the use of neonicotinoid insecticides (Farm Pesticides May Cut Bees’ Learning Ability, U.K. Study Shows).

Another topic that evoked a large audience in March is that of the teaching of climate change in schools.

After education secretary Michael Gove eliminated the subject from the national curriculum for children under 14-years-old, a petition created by a 15-year-old girl received over 26,800 signatures (Government accused of ‘obscuring the truth’ by school climate change petition).

A Guardian article summarises the backlash that Gove has faced, as teachers express negativity towards his decision. Including thoughts from Richard Baker, head of education and youth at Oxfam and former secondary head of geography, we hear how “the fact that climate change and the concepts of sustainability and sustainable development are not explicitly included is a matter of real concern in a national curriculum for the 21st century”. (Climate change and the curriculum: teachers share their views).

Anders Lorenzen from HuffPost Students expressed how effective the new petition could be, drawing on energy giant EDF which decided to back down over taking climate activists to court after its actions were met with a massive backlash from the general public.

It would not surprise me if this could prove to be another EDF movement”, Lorenzen wrote (Gove’s War on the Teaching of Climate Change).

The final big story of last month, which was met with anger and dismay by many sustainability-minded businesses, scientists, entrepreneurs, NGOs and local communities, was George Osborne’s fourth budget speech (Myopic budget threatens UK’s long-term prosperity).

London Evening Standard columnist Amol Rajan  criticised the coalition’s green commitments, saying the environmental measures in George Osborne’s budget were “pitiful” and that the current government’s lethargic approach to the environment was a “betrayal of conservatism itself” (It’s good to be green – especially if you’re a Tory).

The Guardian wrote a piece about how “the budget will no doubt grab some decent headlines but is likely to prove a five-minute wonder” giving reasons as to why this is the case (Budget 2013: George Osborne is still wedded to plan A).

Elsewhere, an article by the Daily Mail expressed how former chancellor Lord Lawson claimed that Osborne was too busy negotiating with the Lib Dems to see the problems that placing a cap on charity tax reliefs would cause (‘Osborne took his eye off the ball’: Chancellor’s 4th budget U-turn axing cap on charity tax relief will cost treasury up to £100m a year).

Finally, Hunter Ruthven, editor of GrowthBusiness, spoke to entrepreneurs to find out if they were happy with the announcements from the budget, and what they would have like to have seen included (The Budget 2013: Entrepreneurs react to George Osborne’s fourth Budget speech).


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