The bees are dying off.
“So what,” you indifferently say. You even think to yourself, “it’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine“. You even hum along to this song (go on, play the video below)…
The Agricultural Research Service states that Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a “serious problem threatening the health of honey bees and the economic stability of commercial beekeeping and pollination operations in the United States.” What’s worse is that the problem is not only in the US. Scientists have been researching into many possible causes, and of course, all are man-made causes. Don’t act surprised. What does that mean for us, consumers? Higher food prices because of smaller harvests. How about for us, as humans? Ah, good question.
As far back as 1890, when Yosemite National Park was formed, the environmental movement has been addressing issues about our environment. But it wasn’t until the 1960s when the general public became even more aware of the state of the environment. Rachel Carson’s last book, Silent Spring, published in 1962, informed the public of the dangers of DDT and pesticides to the environment and to our health. The last chapter of Silent Spring titled “A Fable for Tomorrow” imagines a life that is “silenced”.
… There was a strange stillness. The birds, for example where had they gone? Many people spoke of them, puzzled and disturbed. The feeding stations in the backyards were deserted. The few birds seen anywhere were moribund; they trembled violently and could not fly. It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh.
On the farms the hens brooded, but no chicks hatched. The farmers complained that they were unable to raise any pigs the litters were small and the young survived only a few days. The apple trees were coming into bloom but no bees droned among the blossoms, so there was no pollination and there would be no fruit. …
No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves. …
Carson, R. (1962). Silent Spring. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
It sounds bleak, doesn’t it. But if we, humans, continue on the path of over-consuming and disregarding the environment to satisfy our temporary pleasures, then that imagined town will become Earth’s future reality. Back in the 1990’s, there was a TV series my sisters and I enjoyed watching called “Dinosaurs” which involved plots that revolved around environmental and social issues. (SPOILER ALERT!) The season finale of the show was just as bleak as the last chapter of Silent Spring. Follow along Earl and replace “bunch beetles” with honey bees, and for the part that goes “And technology is so bright and shiny and new” add “like my iPhone” or some other piece of technology or clothing or accessory that you replace faster than you can say “ooh” and “ahh” and you’ll get the point of the story. (SPOILER ALERT! Do not click on the video unless you want to.)
There are a lot of nay sayers out there, but why listen to them? Shouldn’t we all err or the side of caution and think of the bigger picture. Really big. Like planetary big. Planet Earth, for starters. These are the folks we should listen to: NASA on Global Climate Change, The National Center for Science Education, The National Resources Defense Council, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Geographic, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the US Environmental Protection Agency. If that’s not enough for you, your local newspapers will definitely have unbiased information on climate change.
What can we do and what should we do? We can do many things and they’re all related to the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. With “Reduce” and “Reuse” being the two most important steps we can take. When it comes to saving the earth, think like a pirate… aRRR! Speaking of reducing, here’s a useful slideshow about grocery stores committed to reducing food waste by Steve Holt of Take Part.
Let’s end on a good musical note. Here’s one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite musicians, and this is one of the best covers of the song. As the lyrics go, “But leave me the birds and bees. Please!”
Earth Day is on April 22. This year, we’re able to say “Happy Earth Day!” Hopefully, as we work towards conservation and environmental stewardship during the present, the future generations would still be able to say, “Happy Earth Day!”