From NEWSWEEK (May 6, 2013) —
Over the past four years, bee colonies have undergone a disturbing transformation. As helpless beekeepers looked on, the machinelike efficiency of these communal insects devolved into inexplicable disorganization. Worker bees would fly away, never to return; adolescent bees wandered aimlessly in the hive; and the daily jobs in the colony were left undone until honey production stopped and eggs died of neglect. Colony collapse disorder, as it is known, has claimed roughly 30% of bee colonies every winter since 2007.
If bees go extinct, their loss will trigger an extinction domino effect, because crops from apples to broccoli rely on these insects for pollination. At the same time, over a third of the world’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction, and Harvard evolutionary biologist and conservationist E.O. Wilson estimates that 27,000 species of all kinds go extinct per year.
Are we in the first act of a mass extinction that will end in the death of millions of plant and animal species across the planet, including us? Proponents of the “sixth extinction” theory believe the answer is yes…
The climate change that occurred during the Great Dying – most likely involving megavolcanoes that erupted for centuries in Siberia – was similar to the one our planet is undergoing right now. Regardless of whether humans are responsible, the sixth mass extinction on Earth is going to happen. We have ample evidence that Earth is headed for disaster, from elevated rates of extinction among birds and amphibians to superstorms and the recent Midwestern drought, corroborating the idea that we might be living through the early days of a new mass extinction.