Despite what some evil well-heeled detractors might say, climate change is overheating our planet, drowning Manhattan, dehydrating California, killing our crops, poisoning our atmosphere, and making this polar bear very sad. In addition, scientists say global warming is seriously diminishing the world's bumblebee population, with a new report finding that bees' ranges have shrunk by as much as 190 miles since the 1970s.
Bee populations have been dying out for years, and though that sounds like good news if you suffered post-traumatic stress after getting stung on the playground, a world without bees means a world without a massive chunk of global produce and other necessary FOOD. According to a study published in Science Mag today—and first reported on by the Times—it's global warming that's been killing the bees.
“Bumblebee species across Europe and North America are declining at continental scales,” conservation biologist and lead report author Jeremy Kerr told the Grey Lady. "And our data suggest that climate change plays a leading, or perhaps the leading, role in this trend." Researchers studied 67 different European and North American bumblebee species and documented their migration patterns and habitats from 1900 to 2010. They found that from 1974 to 2010, bumblebees began heading north from their southernmost ranges at a rate of about 3 miles per year—that shift coincided with the rise of global temperatures.
Some scientists say the study shows the bumblebee population is rapidly shrinking, though there are researchers who disagree. "What they’ve shown is that climate change has at least some effects on the population changes of some bumblebee species," entomologist James Strange told the Times. "But I did not come away convinced that climate change is causing these movements." Strange noted that other bee-killing factors include pesticides, parasites, and habit destruction—either way, the bees are dying and so are we.