June 18-24 marks a weeklong celebration of the hardworking critters that fertilize our planet’s flowering plants! Let’s take this National Pollinator Week to recognize both the indispensable contributions of pollinators in our daily lives—and the major threats they face thanks in part to rapid population growth.
Bees may be at the center of the spotlight among pollinators (and rightfully so), but other insects, such as butterflies and beetles, and vertebrates, such as hummingbirds and bats, also do their job to move pollen around. Here’s just some of what we’d miss without the world’s 200,000 pollinator species:
- The approximately 87.5% of all flowering plant species around the world (including three quarters of our major food crops) that rely on the services of pollinators.
- One in every three bites of food we eat and half of our oils, fibers, and other raw materials.
- Over $217 billion of production in the global economy each year (from bees alone!)…
- …not even counting the priceless ecological goods and services provided by the plants they pollinate.
Given these facts, it’s frightening that pollinator populations continue to decline. You may have seen, for example, all the news reports about outbreaks of Colony collapse disorder (CCD) decimating bee colonies across the globe—often followed by appeals to “save the bees!” These declines are the result of multiple interconnected factors, most of which are, unsurprisingly, caused by humans. Pesticide exposure and habitat loss, perhaps the two most pressing threats to pollinators, can be directly attributed to human population growth. Other threats, such as poor nutrition and an increase in disease-carrying pathogens, as well as the effects of climate change, are also the results of human activities.
How can we help? For starters, Pollinator Partnership, the organizer of National Pollinator Week, suggests these “7 Things You Can Do for Pollinators”. The ailing pollinator populations, however, are just one of many global environmental crises looming on the horizon. It’s a clear reminder of how our quality of life will greatly suffer without a stable global population. If we want to reduce humanity’s strain on Earth’s limited resources, supporting Population Connection’s advocacy and education programs remains as essential as ever.