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Danger facing the planet starts with absence of bees

By By Bill Fletcher, Jr./NNPA Columnist
On June 8, 2015

Credit: freeimagecollection.com

There is a bee that hovers by my mailbox. I have never had this experience. When I approach the mailbox, it flies in out of nowhere and hovers by the box. It does not attack me but makes sure that I know of its presence. When I walk away, the bee either flies off or remains in place hovering. It is one of the most unusual experiences I have ever had. It is as if the bee is trying to communicate something to me.

If the bee is trying to communicate something it may be that there is a crisis facing bees. There has been a 40 percent loss of honeybees as hives collapse. There are many theories as to why this is happening, and none of them are good. It very likely has something to do with a combination of climate change along with devastation brought about by pesticides. In either case, the loss of these bees will have profound implications for agriculture since humans rely on bees to pollinate.

President Obama has announced that he wishes for the federal government to take some steps to address this crisis. As important as is this announcement, we should recognize the loss of bees as evidence of the larger environmental catastrophe we are experiencing. While climate change denial seems to be declining, it is being replaced not by climate change activism, but something more akin to climate change fatalism, i.e., the belief that there is nothing that we can do, that this situation is out of our hands.

The 40 percent loss of bees is a national “canary in the coal mine” moment. It is telling us that there is a much larger danger facing planet Earth. We have time to get out of the “coal mine,” but it will necessitate dramatic global, national, state, local and personal action. For everyday people, this can mean stepped up pressure on elected officials to demand steps taken, including regulations that are focused on protecting the environment and attempting to reverse the environmental crisis.

It may be my imagination that the bee at my mailbox is trying to communicate something. But every day when I see that bee, I am keenly aware that the time may arrive when its disappearance signifies more than the loss of one bee, but actually something transpiring on a scale that only a few years ago I would have found unimaginable.

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