Pollinators in Decline: Causes and Effects
Written by Maia Alling
Pollinators are in charge of pollinating many food crops and wildflowers. They help supply us with food, beverages, medicine, and spices produced by plants. Without pollinators, humans would not be able to live the way we do now - we would not be able to walk into a grocery store and see the variety of healthy foods anymore. It is important to realize that humans and other creatures depend on pollinators for their overall health, and ultimately their own survival.
First of all, it is critical for people to understand exactly what pollinators are and what they do. A pollinator can be defined as any creature who pollinates flowers and crops, but the most popular species of pollinators are bats, birds, bees, and butterflies. Some species of pollinators are more efficient at their job than others, as “In a small apple orchard, 250 females of a kind of native bee called the blue orchard bee can do the work of 35,000 honey bees.” (National Wildlife Foundation) This is just one example of how native pollinators are usually quicker and more efficient at pollinating than their non-native counterparts. Yet, non-native or native, all pollinators should be equally appreciated and considered important.
However, pollinators are starting to die out at an alarming rate. One example of this is how “beekeepers lost 42 percent of their colonies between April 2014 and 2015.” (The Washington Post) If the bees are dying so suddenly, and so quickly, there is obviously a major problem with the way we treat pollinators. For example, humans have been increasing the use of monoculture farming methods (growing only one type of crop over a large strip of land) which limits the quantity and variety of food available for pollinators. Also, research has shown that using harsh chemicals or pesticides on flowers and crops can cause bees’ brains to become severely damaged, leaving them unable to find their way back to the hive and ultimately causing “Colony Collapse Disorder,” or killing the bees upon ingestion of the pesticides. (Maria Spivak)
Pursuing this further, pollinators are becoming extinct due to anthropogenic mistreatment and humans will have to face the consequences. Pollinators are vital to the survival of multiple plant and animal species, including humans. For an example, if wildflowers and fruit-bearing plants are not pollinated, creatures that depend on vegetation for food will die out, resulting in humans having less reliable sources of protein from meat. Pollinators also help provide more than ⅓ of the world’s food supply, (Maria Spivak) and pollinate 75% of the crops grown worldwide. (National Resource Conservation Service) Without pollinators, humans and other animal species will not be able to survive due to a corrupt food chain.
To summarize, numerous plant and animal species, including humans, would not be able to survive without pollinators. Pollinators are dying out due to increasing popularity of monoculture farming methods and continued use of harsh chemicals and pesticides. If we continue to let this happen, pollinators will eventually be completely wiped out, resulting in a corrupt food chain and the slow extinction of the human race.
Fortunately, it is not too late to prevent this disastrous outcome. People can help supply pollinators with the proper shelter and food they need to survive by avoiding the use of harmful chemicals on flowers and crops, planting a pollinator garden complete with wildflowers and milkweed in their backyard, or just by simply spreading awareness about this issue. Here at Massabesic Middle School, team Carrabassett is planting a pollinator garden to encourage the survival of pollinators native to our state of Maine. It is possible to reverse the damage we have done to pollinators. If we take action now, we could be saving the human race from extinction.