If you’ve been paying any attention at all over the last several years, you know the future of this planet is pretty bleak. The earth’s temperature is rising, the polar ice caps are melting, and more severe storms are raging and long term droughts are becoming the norm.
In addition, as a recent study has shown, species are now disappearing from Earth about 10 times faster than biologists had earlier believed, and the world on the brink of a sixth great extinction.
Yes, mass extinctions have happened five times before in our planet’s history. As I learned from an episode of the new Cosmos, the worst of these extinctions occurred about 250 million years ago, and about 96 percent of marine species and 70 percent of land species died off. What caused such an event? Well, it is interesting to note that most scientists agree this mass extinction was caused by a huge volcanic event that released a tremendous amount of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere.
Sound familiar? It should because that’s what human kind has been doing since the industrial revolution, and increasingly so over the last several decades. Humans haven’t been kind to nature: we’ve cleared away huge areas of rain forest; we’ve hunted many species to extinction; and we’ve pumped billions of tons of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere. We’re proving even more destructive than that huge volcanic event; it’s just taking us a little longer to destroy life as we know it.
But we may not need to wait much longer. The most recent victim of our destructive ways are bees, and their loss could be our ultimate undoing. Sure, they sting and swarm around our beer and soda cans and hummingbird feeders, but without them nearly 90% of the world’s plants and hundreds of crops in American will not survive. If bees go extinct, their loss will trigger an extinction domino effect: all the plants that bees pollinate will die; all the animals that eat those plants will die; and up the food chain the dying goes. By some estimates, the human race won’t make it past 2019 if bees disappeared tomorrow, and they are disappearing now at such a rate that species extinction is a real possibility.