Bees are rapidly disappearing, a troubling phenomenon scientists have attributed to climate change. And while this does mean fewer kids have to worry about getting stung on the playground, it's not great news for the world's food supply—the United Nations says that "hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of crops" are at risk annually thanks to the dwindling bee population.
According to a report released yesterday, 40 percent of species of invertebrate pollinators—bees and butterflies—face extinction, as do one in six pollinators with backbones, as with birds and bats. This is bad news bears for global agriculture: "Everything falls apart if you take pollinators out of the game," the report reads. "If we want to say we can feed the world in 2050, pollinators are going to be part of that."
Experts say a number of factors could be leading to the pollinator decline, including "changes in land use, intensive agricultural practices, and pesticide use, alien invasive species, diseases and pests, and climate change," according to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Vice-Chair Sir Robert Watson.
There are ways to mitigate the oncoming pollination disaster, which include reducing pesticide use and creating safe, protected habitats for bees and their ilk. Still, if we don't do something soon, we're screwed—bees provide us with a significant amount of produce, along with dairy products, meat, chocolate, and other foods.