Category: planet earth

Tomorrow’s the big day! Get outside and apprec…

Hi Tumblr-errrrs! We here at TED-Ed believe that every week is Earth Week – but that hasn’t stopped us from celebrating Earth Week hard this week! We hope you’ve enjoyed our tips on how to do right by Mother Earth and give her the love she deserves. Every little bit counts! (And every lotta bit counts even more!!)

Tomorrow’s the big day! Get outside and appreciate our beautiful planet. Plant some flowers meant for bees + butterflies. Organize a trash pick-up sesh. Join the litterati. Spread the good word! <3

5 actions to protect birds where you live

How do birds learn to sing? – Partha MitraWelcome to Earth Week on TED-Ed Tumblr! We’ll be sharing ways for you to be a more considerate resident of Planet Earth all week (that you can apply…all year!)

In honor of Earth Day, we took a few tips from Audubon on how to take action to protect birds! We’ve paired them with some of our favorite bird visuals from our TED-Ed Lessons <3

1. Reduce or eliminate pesticide and herbicide use. By using few chemicals in and around your home, you will help keep birds, pets, and your family healthy.

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2. Plant native plants. Native flora provides birds with food in the form of fruit and seeds, and is home to tasty invertebrates like bugs and spiders.

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3. Identify the non-native invasive plants in your region, and work to remove them from your yard. And don’t bring any new invasives into your backyard! Invasives don’t provide as much good food or habitat as natives do, and can threaten healthy ecosystems.

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4. Attract hummingbirds with sugar water, made by combining four parts hot water to one part white sugar, boiled for one to two minutes. Never use honey, artificial sweeteners, or food coloring. Clean hummingbird feeders with a solution of one part white vinegar to four parts water once a week.

5. Make your windows visible to birds to prevent crashes. Put up screens, close drapes and blinds when you leave the house, or stick multiple decals on the glass (decals need to be no more than two to four inches apart to be effective).

And here are some TED-Ed Lessons to watch for the love of the birds:

Bird migration, a perilous journey – Alyssa Klavans

How do birds learn to sing? – Partha Mitra

How did feathers evolve? – Carl Zimmer

Love the Earth, and the Earth will love you back! Happy Earth Week!

Artwork & Animation above by Artrake Studio, Lisa LaBracio + Tara Sunil Thomas, & Compote Collective.

The Life Cycle of a Plastic Bottle

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We’ve all been told that we should recycle plastic bottles and containers. But what actually happens to the plastic if we just throw it away? Here are the life cycles of three different plastic bottles.

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Bottle One, like hundreds of millions of tons of its plastic brethren, ends up in a landfill. This huge dump expands each day, as more trash moves in and continues to take up space. 

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As plastics sit there being compressed, rainwater flows through the waste and absorbs the water soluble compounds it contains, and some of those are highly toxic. Together they create a harmful stew called “leachate”, which can move into groundwater, soil, and streams, poisoning ecosystems and harming wildlife. It can take Bottle One an agonizing 1,000 years to decompose.

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Bottle Two floats on a trickle that reaches a stream, a stream that flows into a river, and a river that reaches the ocean. After months lost at sea, it’s slowly drawn into a massive vortex, where trash accumulates – place known as “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” This is one of five plastic filled gyres in the worlds seas. 

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Some animals mistake the brightly colored plastic bits for food. Plastic makes them feel full when they’re not, so they starve to death, passing the toxins from the plastic up the food chain, eventually to us.

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Bottle Three, on the other hand, is recycled. It’s taken away on a truck to a plant, where it and its companions are squeezed flat and compressed into a block. The blocks are shredded into tiny pieces, which are washed and melted, so they become the raw materials that can be used again. Bottle Three is ready to be reborn, as something new.

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So, what can you do? First – reduce your use of plastic altogether! And when you do find yourself needing to buy a bottle, don’t forget to recycle it. You’ll be doing Planet Earth a great, big favor.

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From the TED-Ed Lesson What really happens to the plastic you throw away – Emma Bryce

Animation by Sharon Colman Graham

Counting down to Earth Day 2018! Here’s an act you can perform every day to help love our Earth better.

teded: Welcome to Earth Week on TED-Ed Tumblr…

teded:

Welcome to Earth Week on TED-Ed Tumblr! We’ll be sharing ways for you to be a more considerate resident of Planet Earth all week (that you can apply…all year!)

In the past decade, the US honeybee population has been decreasing at an alarming and unprecedented rate. But why?

Emma Bryce offers some explanations in the TED-Ed Lesson The case of the vanishing honeybees.

One solution?  Plant flowers! In Marla Spivak’s TED Talk Why bees are disappearing, she reminds us that when bees have access to good nutrition, we have access to good nutrition through their pollination services.  

So get out there, Tumblr – and plant some bee-friendly flowers!

Love the Earth, and the Earth will love you back! Happy Earth Week!

Animation by Lillian Chan

Counting down to Earth Day 2018!

teded: Welcome to Earth Week on TED-Ed Tumblr!…

teded:

Welcome to Earth Week on TED-Ed Tumblr! Once again, we’ll be sharing ways for you to be a more considerate resident of Planet Earth all week (that you can apply…all year!)

Nearly one third of our food ends up in the trash can. That’s an estimated 1.3 billion tons.  America alone spends an estimate 165 billion dollars a year managing food waste. We’re wasting food, energy, and money.

But there’s another way! More and more people, even city dwellers, are taking to composting – it saves on landfill space, betters air quality, and if you have a green thumb – provides you with free soil! One method is vermicomposting, and to learn more about that, you can watch the TED-Ed lesson Vermicomposting: How worms can reduce our waste – Matthew Ross. But if worms aren’t your style, check out some simple DIY compost methods here and here and here.

Finally, if you simply have no space for soil, check out your local farm markets – chances are you can freeze your compost or keep it in a small countertop bin, and drop it off every week.

Love the Earth, and the Earth will love you back! Happy Earth Week!

Animation by Cinematic Sweden

Counting down to Earth Day 2018!

8 Formidable Facts About Bees

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Let’s hear it for the bees! (Let’s give the bees a ha-aa-aa-aaand!)

Spring is (supposedly) on its way, so we want to send a little love and appreciation to all the bees out there, making our everyday possible. Join us in celebrating these 8 reasons to celebrate our tiny, but mighty friends.

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1. Bees make our surroundings beeee-autiful. In addition to pollinating our crops, bees are responsible for pollinating all of the things that make spring sing. And they’re no novices – they’ve been producing honey from flowering trees (fruit trees, nut trees, and bee-yond) for 10-20 million years! From the TED-Ed Lesson The case of the vanishing honeybees – Emma Bryce

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2. Bees are social insects. Honey bees live together in large, well-organized family groups and engage in a variety of complex tasks not practiced by solitary insects. Communication, complex nest construction, environmental control, defense, and division of the labor are just some of the behaviors that honey bees have developed to exist successfully in social colonies. And they are not the least bit lazy: one single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day. From the TED-Ed Lesson The case of the vanishing honeybees – Emma Bryce

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3. Bees are above words. They communicate through ‘dance’ and pheromones. By performing what’s referred to as the ‘waggle dance’, bees can share information about the direction and distance to patches of flowers yielding nectar and pollen, to water sources, or to new nest-site locations. From the TED-Ed Lesson Why do honeybees love hexagons? – Zack Patterson and Andy Peterson

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4. Bees make great wingmen. Bees are very busy little matchmakers. The bees’ side of the whole “birds and the bees” business is to help plants find mates and reproduce. Today, around 170,000 plant species receive pollination services from more than 200,000 pollinator species, a good many of which are bees! In return, flowering plants are an abundant and diverse food source for pollinators. For instance, fossil records suggest that bees may have evolved from wasps that gave up hunting after they acquired a taste for nectar. From the TED-Ed Lesson How bees help plants have sex – Fernanda S. Valdovinos

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5.Bees put food on our tables. Bees pollinate our crops on an industrial scale, generating over one-third of U.S. food production. Their work alone has contributed an estimated $15-20 billion of value to the U.S. agricultural business. From the TED-Ed Lesson The case of the vanishing honeybees – Emma Bryce

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6. Bees can totally pack up a car better than you. Honeybees are some of nature’s finest mathematicians. Not only can they calculate angles and comprehend the roundness of the earth, these smart insects build and live in one of the most mathematically efficient architectural designs around: the beehive. Charles Darwin himself wrote that the honeycomb is a masterpiece of engineering. It is “absolutely perfect in economizing labor and wax.” From the TED-Ed Lesson Why do honeybees love hexagons? – Zack Patterson and Andy Peterson

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7. Bees are hooked on coffee, too. When bees pollinate coffee plants, they consume low doses of caffeine from the coffee flower nectar, which means that bees are **BUZZZZZING** from a caffeine high just like us, AND helping us to get our coffee fix on the daily! From the TED-Ed Lesson The case of the vanishing honeybees – Emma Bryce

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8. Honeybees are disappearing at astonishing rates. Not to be a **buzzkill**, but here’s a not-so-fun fact. In the past decade, the U.S. honeybee population has been decreasing at an alarming and unprecedented rate. Bee mortality rates in commercial production have more than doubled in the last decade, and in 2015, 40% of bee colonies were reported lost in just a single year. There are a variety of factors causing Colony Collapse Disorder, and scientists everywhere are working to prevent further loss of bees. Keep reading to see how you can help. From the TED-Ed Lesson The case of the vanishing honeybees – Emma Bryce

Love bees as much as we do? Well, let’s give the bees a hand, for real! Plant some bee-friendly flowers this spring and remember, when bees have access to good nutrition, we have access to good nutrition through their pollination services

When many individual organisms, like locusts, …

When many individual organisms, like locusts, bacteria, anchovies, or bats, come together and move as one coordinated entity, that’s a swarm. From a handful of birds to billions of insects, swarms can be almost any size. Gigantic swarms can host millions of insects and travel thousands of miles, devastating vegetation and crops. They stay close to each other, but not too close, or they might get eaten by their hungry neighbors. 

What all swarms have in common is that there’s no leader. Members of the swarm interact only with their nearest neighbors or through indirect cues. Each individual follows simple rules: Travel in the same direction as those around you, stay close, and avoid collisions. There are many benefits to traveling in a group like this. Small prey may fool predators by assembling into a swarm that looks like a much bigger organism. And congregating in a large group reduces the chance that any single individual will be captured. Moving in the same direction as your neighbors saves energy by sharing the effort of fighting wind or water resistance. It may even be easier to find a mate in a swarm. Swarming can also allow groups of animals to accomplish tasks they couldn’t do individually. When hundreds or millions or organisms follow the same simple rules, sophisticated behavior called swarm intelligence may arise.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why do animals form swarms? – Maria R. D’Orsogna

Animation by Matt Reynolds

Can 100% renewable energy power the world?

Every year, the world uses 35 billion barrels of oil. This massive scale of fossil fuel dependence pollutes the Earth and it won’t last forever. 

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Scientists estimate that we’ve consumed about 40% of the world’s oil. According to present estimates, at this rate, we’ll run out of oil and gas in 50 years or so, and in about a century for coal. 

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On the flip side, we have abundant sun, water, and wind. These are renewable energy sources, meaning that we won’t use them up over time. What if we could exchange our fossil fuel dependence for an existence based solely on renewables? 

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We’ve pondered that question for decades, and yet, renewable energy still only provides about 13% of our needs. 

That’s because reaching 100% requires renewable energy that’s inexpensive and accessible. This represents a huge challenge, even if we ignore the politics involved and focus on the science and engineering.

Be sure to watch the TED-Ed Lesson Can 100% renewable energy power the world? – Federico Rosei and Renzo Rosei to understand what the switch to renewable energy would involve.

Animation by Giulia Martinelli

The sun continuously radiates about 173 quadri…

The sun continuously radiates about 173 quadrillion watts of solar energy at the Earth, which is almost 10,000 times our present needs. It’s been estimated that a surface that spans several hundred thousand kilometers would be needed to power humanity at our present usage levels. 

So why don’t we build that? Because there are other hurdles in the way, like efficiency and energy transportation. To maximize efficiency, solar plants must be located in areas with lots of sunshine year round, like deserts. But those are far away from densely populated regions where energy demand is high. In principle, a connected electrical energy network with power lines crisscrossing the globe would enable us to transport power from where it’s generated to where it’s needed. But building a system on this scale faces an astronomical price tag. 

Getting to 100% renewable energy remains a challenge for these and other reasons, but it’s important we keep exploring and building new technologies to tap into the renewable resources we have, before the limited resources we rely on run out.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Can 100% renewable energy power the world? – Federico Rosei and Renzo Rosei

Animation by Giulia Martinelli