The Decline of Pollinators and what it Means for the Future


The Decline of Pollinators and what it Means for the Future

In a new study, “Do Pollinators Contribute to Nutritional Health,” researchers at the University of Vermont (UVM) and Harvard University have found evidence that the loss of pollinators would create vitamin and mineral deficiencies that would harm more than 25% of the global population (Brown 2015). This startling discovery comes on the heels of new studies that shows pollinating species are declining at a higher rate than ever. This loss of pollinators, while fairly detrimental to the world population as a whole, would be devastating for many developing countries whose populations are already on the verge of malnutrition. The study by the UVM and Harvard scientists found that the loss of pollinators would push roughly 56% of Mozambique’s population into malnutrition (Brown 2015). Since pollinators are responsible for many foods that are high in vitamin A, a rapid decrease of pollinators has been linked to a rapid increase in death rates associated with diseases such as malaria. Without pollinators, many third world countries will suffer large population losses (Brown 2015).

The dying off of pollinators is a terrible loss in many ways. It is a loss because we are harming future generations, losing biodiversity and causing great harm to poorer countries. Sustainable development states that human development needs to meet the needs of today without compromising the needs of the future (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987). Human development right now is clearly progressing in a way that has serious effects on ecosystems and biodiversity. Pollinators are crucial to the survival of many people in poor countries. Yet, they are dying off in incredible numbers due to destruction of natural habitat and pollution caused by human development (Brown 2015). This is a clear example of development that is not sustainable since it is obviously harming the needs of future generations. If the pollinators continue to decrease and the level of malnutrition increases at the rate that it is predicted to increase, then there will also be a much higher number of miscarriages, stillborn and birth defects.

From a green romanticist’s point of view, one of the largest losses in this situation is the loss of the pollinators themselves, not just the effect of the loss. Since, according to green romanticism, every living being has intrinsic value, the loss of entire species due to pollution and the destruction of habitat is an incredible tragedy. We are losing more biodiversity not only because we are losing the actual pollinators, but we are also losing the plants it pollinates as well. By losing the pollinators, the entire ecosystem in which the pollinators reside will be thrown into a state of disarray.

Finally, there is the environmental justice issue of the fact that this massive increase in malnutrition would primarily be occurring in third world countries. Because these countries rely so directly on pollinators for local food, they will have a disproportional environmental burden placed on them. While the loss of pollinators will affect humanity globally, the worst effects will be felt in the poor countries.

Pollinators are an intricate part of economic, social and biospheric systems. Because of their complex role in many systems, their importance cannot be limited to a single scope or frame. That is why it is important for all actors, whether they are directly affected or not, to understand that something must be done to protect these vital species. To begin to save these species, humans must further study the pollinators habitats, food sources and ecosystems to do everything we can to preserve these species for the future.

Works Cited

Brown, Joshua E. 2015. “Research Shows Loss of Pollinators Increases Risk of Malnutrition and Disease.” Envrionmental News Network.

World Commission on Environment and Development, ed. 1987. Our Common Future. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.

About Christopher Johnson

Chris is a sophomore environmental studies and political science major at Davidson College. He is interested in pursuing research in environmental policy and law.

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