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Bees And Other Pollinators Are Facing Extinction

Bees And Other Pollinators Are Facing Extinction

Global Research, February 28, 2016
Climate Process 26 February 2016


Bees and other pollinators are in trouble — so much so that many of them are facing extinction, according to a new report.

The report, released Friday by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), is a two-year assessment of the threats facing pollinators — both vertebrates, such as birds and bats, and invertebrates, such as bees, butterflies, and other insects. It noted that, in some regions, 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species are so threatened by myriad environmental impacts that they’re facing extinction, with butterflies and bees seeing the highest risk. Among vertebrates, 16.5 percent of species are threatened by extinction worldwide. Pollinators are a major group: there are 20,000 species of wild bees across the globe, the report notes, and many of them haven’t been identified yet.

Pollinators are also a hugely important group of animals. Almost 90 percent of wild flowering plants depend on pollination by animals, and 75 percent of food crops around the world depend on pollination. Globally, $235 – $577 billion worth of global crops are affected by pollinators each year, the report found.

“Without pollinators, many of us would no longer be able to enjoy coffee, chocolate and apples, among many other foods that are part of our daily lives,” said Simon Potts, co-chair of the assessment, said in a statement.

A hummingbird hawk-moth

A hummingbird hawk-moth.

IPBES, which looked at existing research to compile the report, cited pesticides and disease as two threats posed to pollinators, especially managed honeybees. Varroa mites, for instance, have become a plague on honeybee colonies. They attach themselves to bees and suck out their circulatory fluid, weakening the bees and spreading dangerous diseases. Pesticides, especially the widely-used neonicotinoids, have been found to damage bees’ brains and contribute to bee losses. The Environmental Protection Agency in January released findings on one neonic pesticide, imidacloprid, the most commonly-used neonic in the United States. The agency found that, when applied to certain crops, the pesticide was harmful to bees. The EPA is still looking into three other neonicotinoids.

The organization also listed land use changes, climate change, and invasive species as threats to pollinators. Land use changes can turn wildflower-covered fields into fields of just one or two crops, a switch from a high-nutrition landscape to a lower-nutrition one. And climate change can lead to a shift in peak nectar flow for flowering plants. If managed honeybees miss this nectar flow — if they’re delivered to beekeepers too late, for instance — the hive can be weakened. The report also found that climate change has already shifted distribution of bumblebees and butterflies and pollinator-dependent plants.

"We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."


  • Matt_ADMIN_Matt_ADMIN_ Administrator
    Is a world without coffee and chocolate and apples a world worth living in?
    "...Say, 'GOD is sufficient for me.' In Him the trusters shall trust." (Quran 39:38)
  • GrumpyGuyGrumpyGuy Member
    edited February 2016
    Here's a list of things we can't have anymore without bees, or at least a bunch of people to hand-pollinate (which will be hard and will make these items expensive luxuries):

    Potatoes, carrots and onions.  Peppers of all sorts.  Melons, citrus fruits and berries.  Beans.  Grapes.  Many more foods.

    That means no stews, no sides to accompany the slabs of meat everyone loves, no spicy pepper-based foods, almost no fruit, lame salads, no staple that vast populations depend upon (beans) and no wine. 

    No wine, chocolate or strawberries means decadent consumerist women will commit suicide in despair.  No potatoes and onions to go with meat means pretty much every tough meat & potatoes man in Northern Europe and North America will commit suicide in despair.  No beans mean many people in Central & South America and Africa will die from malnutrition.  No coffee means everyone who works in an office will jump out the nearest window.  Nations that depend on potato alcohol will suddenly lack it, and will have to deal with that absence.  Consider a Russia that has just been collectively told that Vodka no longer exists.

    Many nations will lose out on traditional foods.  To use Japan as one example, they'd suddenly lack tofu and red beans - both being important and traditional parts of the diet.  They also wouldn't be able to buy $100 melons for their bosses anymore either, although that last bit is sad to think about for entirely different reasons.

    A pretty bleak future.

    An interesting book that in some ways deals with the absence of bees is "Generation A" by Douglas Coupland.  Worth a read.

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