While remote learning has brought a never-ending host of challenges, UCI students are finding creative ways to stay connected and make a difference by participating in important environmental action projects. In early December, students were invited to participate in a virtual event called “Bee-ing Green in Quarantine,” which educated the audience on how to create pollinator-friendly spaces both on campus and at home. For example, the students learned how to create a bumble bee hive/nest in their backyard.
The goal of the webinar was to educate and mobilize students on a critical issue: the recent decline in bee populations. Bee populations, which are important contributors to Earth’s ecosystems, have declined by as much as 40% over the past year. As one of the countless environmental issues facing the planet, the loss of bees threaten global food production, biodiversity, and species survival.
There are numerous reasons for shrinking bee populations, including habitat loss from climate change that fact that American households and agricultural industries are increasingly exposing bees to a class of pesticides called “neonicotinoids,” which harm the pollinators’ ability to survive and pollinate. Massive amounts of these pesticides are sprayed on our homes, gardens, and public spaces every year.
To mitigate the issue, universities across the country have been committing to eco-friendly events and policies, partnering with the Xerces Society to become officially certified “Bee Campuses.” UCI is working to achieve Bee Campus certification by joining fellow UCs (including UC Berkeley and UCLA).
UCI’s project is being led by students in a nonprofit organization known as the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) Students.
Working as an intern for CALPIRG Students, UCI sophomore Alyssa Romea is spearheading the effort for UCI’s Bee Campus certification.
In addition to the “Save the Bees” campaign, CALPIRG Students will be working on two other campaigns in 2021. The Group plans to launch a new campaign to urge Governor Newsom to move up the deadline for California’s switch to 100% renewable energy from the 2045 to 2030. CALPIRG Students will also focus on making sure that UCI becomes a zero-hunger campus to ensure that no student is faced with food insecurities.