Pollinator Challenges & Our Self-Interested Responsibility

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A wasp lands on a flower in a garden in Srinagar, India, Sept. 8, 2009. Bees and other pollinators face increasing risks to their survival, threatening foods such as apples, blueberries and coffee worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year, the first global assessment of pollinators showed on Friday.

It is worth seeing how various media outlets cover the same news we first linked to here. The CS Monitor, as always, has a thoughtful consideration of the news, asking the key question:

Earth’s bees and other pollinators need some human help: What can we do?

Pollinator populations around the world are declining, threatening hundreds of billions of dollars worth of agriculture. Humans are part of the problem, say scientists, but they can also be part of the solution.

According to the new report, two in five species of invertebrate pollinators (such as bees) are on the road to extinction. One in six species of vertebrate pollinators (such as hummingbirds) are facing the same fate.

The consequences go beyond the disappearance of species. Scientists say that popular foods like coffee, apples, and blueberries could be threatened. The report found that between $235 billion and $577 billion of the world’s food crops make it to market because of pollinators. The loss of that revenue, and food, could be devastating for farmers and the world.

Yet for all the concern, the causes of the problem are murky. The report identified several possible culprits, disease, the spread of cities, declining crop diversity, the use of pesticides (particularly the neonicotinoid pesticide), and global warming. Addressing the problem will require an equally diverse range of solutions, observers say…

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