bat hangingThe classic symbol of Halloween, bats are the only true flying mammals. Bats are found all over the earth, except in extreme hot conditions and extreme cold conditions (the poles). There are over 1,000 species of bats in the world (47 in the United States) and, at this time, at least seven of these species are endangered with the possibility of becoming extinct.

A large number of bat deaths each year can be attributed to loss and/or fragmentation of habitat. The conversion of lands, road construction, deforestation, fires, floods and other environmental disasters are examples. Household threats are cats, traps, pesticides and other household chemicals. Loss or scarcity of food and disturbances in nature (both man-made and natural) are also having a negative impact on bats.

White Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a fungus that gets into the hair follicles and the sebaceous glands on the wings, ears, and snouts of hibernating bats, giving them a grey-white appearance and causing ulcers to form on their skin. Since its discovery in 2006, WNS has spread to over 115 caves and mines in the Northeastern United States and five Canadian provinces. As of April 2014, WNS has been found in half of the United States. WNS is spread from bat to bat. It spreads quickly and kills whole bat colonies. WNS is also thought to be transmitted by people who may inadvertently carry the disease from colony to colony on their clothes or other belongings. Signs of the disease are a white fungus on the face, wings or ears; emaciation; difficulty flying; and flying in the daytime. The sores caused by the fungus wake the bats from hibernation, causing them to literally go batty, flying about looking for food and water. Bats have been found dead in clusters at the mouths of caves and mines. Since the first cases of WNS were reported, an estimated 6-7 million bats have died from the disease.

Each year wind turbines kill around 600,000 bats. The problem is a double-edged sword (or turbine blade, as the case may be). Blunt force trauma is one danger. Migrating bats often unintentionally fly into the blades of the turbine. The second danger occurs due to the slight changes in the wind created by the rotating blades of the turbine. This difference of pressure between the bat’s body and the environment, known as barotrauma, causes fatal internal hemorrhaging.

The situation is grave. A bat-tery of approaches is necessary. Protection and management of roosts is important. Care should be taken not to disturb roosting bats. More research needs to be done on bat migration, hibernation, feeding, and breeding habits. We need laws protecting bats. Natural pesticides/insecticides should be used whenever possible. When it is not possible to use natural products, we should reduce the amount and/or frequency of chemicals used.

Dealing with White Nose Syndrome is not as straightforward, however. Cavers and visitors should clean and disinfect their clothing and gear after leaving roost areas, respect cave and mine closures, stay out of places where WNS is known to exist, and report unusual bat behavior.

With a minor adjustment, almost half the bat wind turbine fatalities can be avoided. Most bat turbine deaths happen at low wind speeds because bats can’t fly in high winds. Wind turbines have a “cut speed” of 9 mph. This means that the turbines shut down in any winds that are less than 9 mph. Raising the “cut speed” to 11mph would reduce the fatalities by about 44%.

Maybe the most significant help will come from educating the public about the many ways bats are beneficial. Bats are night pollinators and seed spreaders. Bat poop, “guano,” is a great organic fertilizer. A single bat can eat up to 1,200 insects in one hour, saving farmers – and ultimately the consumer – millions of dollars on insecticides each year. It is always sad when a species is threatened with extinction. Humankind will regret the loss of this important animal if we do not act to save it now.



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Pick My Solar

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In California, Max Aram and Chris Blevins are two young men who are committed to finding solutions to the energy crisis with their start-up company,, an online marketplace where solar providers bid against each other on residential installations, reducing cost to homeowners by twenty-five to thirty percent. The company has grown by word of […]

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Robin Williams

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“PAY 2 PLAY” Green Carpet Premiere & Community Discussion

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For the past few presidential elections, border control has been a constant discussion. Regardless of the restrictions that the government implements on both legal and illegal immigrants, it seems inevitable that the country is becoming increasingly assimilated with Latin American culture. The fact is that Latin Americans are incorporating themselves into the mainstream of culture, […]

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June 8, 2014

“The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day.” -Hippocrates One of the most controversial discussions our nation is having today has to do with health care. It’s a main source of polarization in the country, and rightfully so as it affects everyone. It’s an exhausting conversation. The truth […]

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ICU Eyewear: Ethical Sophistication

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Small business owners are creating change right before our eyes. Who says we need to wait around for Jack to chop down the beanstalk in order to defy the giants? Some entrepreneurs out there have found their very own magic beans and are making a big difference. One progressive company I’d like to place in […]

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Have you ever wondered how many chemicals you come into contact with every day? Ed Brown asked himself this very question. And after his healthy wife suffered two miscarriages, he set out on a quest to find the answer, documenting his journey in the film Unacceptable Levels. And the answer to the question? We are […]

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Ethica and the Business of Green Fashion

March 21, 2014

Have you ever thought about fashion as an important aspect for reducing your carbon footprint? Considering that we all wear clothes, it’s pretty important! No matter what we buy, it’s our responsibility to ensure our money is being spent ethically. From food to clothing, we can make a difference in our economy and environment. When […]

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