Few things are certain in this world, but that food is important is one of them. We can’t really survive without food, so anything that is a threat towards maintaining our food sources should be quickly fixed. But nothing is as simple as that. According to a new United Nations report, world pollinators’ decline is endangering food security.
The birds and the bees
There is a very large amount of pollinator species out there, and that is the only reason we still have some left. Out of all the bees, flies, butterflies, and other animals that are doing all of us a favor by pollinating out plants, many are disappearing. And it’s a not a slow but sure disappearance, instead they are becoming extinct concerningly fast.
Out of the almost 20,000 species contributing to our survival as species, many are already gone. Two out of every five species of pollinating insects are almost extinct, while one out of six species of pollinating vertebrates (like bats and hummingbirds) are suffering the same fate.
The main concern is that hundreds of billions of dollars spent on agriculture will go to waste if we run out of pollinators, and so will our food. We’ll be stuck with only the food that doesn’t require pollination; but while there’s plenty of that, out bodies need the nutrients in pollinated food.
Where are they going?
There are multiple reasons for the species’ rapid extinction. Most causes are anthropocentric, but not all of them. These ecosystems are so fragile that pretty much anything can lead to their entire collapse, be it man-made or natural.
Some examples of these man-made causes would be insecticides, changes in land use and agricultural practices, and the one and only climate change. Non-anthropocentric causes of the pollinators’ demise are invasive and parasitic species, diseases, pests, as well combinations between more of those (see the nasty combination of the varroa mites and the broken wing virus which is decimating honeybees).
Since hundreds of billions of dollars, as well as our food supplies are at so big a risk from losing our pollinators, experts are of course looking into ways to stop this from happening. Some are more complicated than others, some are more expensive than other, but the important thing is that we have at least some solutions to the problem.
Some of these solutions would be to create a diversity in our agricultural practices, change the types of insecticides and pesticides so they stop killing important insects, be careful about not letting healthy species get in contact with diseased species, and most importantly raise awareness.
Image source: Wikimedia