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[Feature] [20 Must-know GEI] 7. Would a world without bees be a world without humans?

by Eco Generation | 21-07-2016 11:17 Comments 4 recommendations 0

20 Must Know Series-Title

7. Would a world without bees be a world without humans?

1. What would happen if all animals disappeared?

"If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth,
man would only have four years left to live."

     This quote by Einstein indicates that scholars are interested in the effects of bees, insect pollinators, on humans. As 2/3 of the world's food plants are produced by animal pollinators, the extinction of the bee would cause a serious danger to us. Unfortunately, bee populations have recently been dropping. The main cause is loss of bio-diversity! Of course there are other reasons, but it is mostly because species of pollen plants have been reduced. What can we do?
20 Must Know Series-Image 7-1
[Illustration 1: A disconcerted bee not being able to find flowers]

2. Endangered animals 

     Would it be okay if one species of animal disappeared? If you look at the history of Earth, you will find many species that naturally went extinct. One of the most well-known examples is the dinosaurs. There were also mammoths and elephant birds, with which we are not that familiar. They all had different reasons for extinction, and the extinct species was replaced by another kind of animal. Sometimes the natural extinction of animals became an opportunity for them to evolve into a new species.
     Even today, animals are under extinction: polar bears, emperor penguins, arctic foxes, pandas, koalas, and reindeer. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) predicts that today's rate of species extinction is 1,000 times faster than before. However, the current phenomena are caused by humans:  from habitat destruction to climate change, land degradation and pollution, animals have suffered from man-made causes. 
20 Must Know Series-Image 7-2
[Illustration 2: A polar bear balancing precariously on a block of ice]

3. The dodo's tale.

     In 1507, Portuguese sailors landed on the island of Mauritius for the first time. In 1598, Dutch explorers arrived. Being exhausted from sailing for a long time, the sailors ate the unfamiliar and fat birds to get protein. These birds were none other than the dodo! The dodo, with its big rear end, was slow and didn't try to run away from people. In only 180 years since people landed on Mauritius, the dodo became a rare species, and in 1681, the last dodo bird was killed. 
     Is it no big deal that one species, the dodo, disappeared? Unfortunately, after the dodo became extinct, Mauritius experienced changes the number of calvaria trees on the island started to decrease, and by 1973 only 13 of these trees—more than 300 years old—were left. Why did the calvaria population decrease? The answer lies in the relationship between the dodo and calvaria trees. Dodo birds had eaten the tree's seeds. The dodo ate the tree's seeds, digested the thick coat of the seeds and then passed them so that they were able to germinate. When the dodo became extinct, the seeds had no way of germinating and the calvaria tree population declined.
     Animals affect each other. They are eaten by others or eat others, and they cooperate with each other. Like the dodo and calvaria trees, animals are affected by the relationships with others. Moreover, they are influenced by abiotic factors such as temperature, water, air, and soil. We humans also live with other animals by affecting one another. Environmental changes caused by us will inevitably affect other animals.
     The extinction of animals like the dodo is caused by reckless environmental destruction by humans. In order to solve the problem, we need to identify the conservation status of many species specifically and investigate an ideal growing environment appropriate for animal species.
20 Must Know Series-Image 7-3
 [Illustration 3: A calvaria tree and the dodo – the dodo is defecating under the calvaria tree]

3. The loss of biodiversity is an irreversible process!

     Biosphere 2, a failed project to create a replica of Earth's ecosystems 

     Biosphere or Biosphere 1 means the ecosystem in which we live. Have you heard of Biosphere 2? It is an isolated and closed artificial ecosystem science research facility located in Arizona in the United States. It was named 'Biosphere 2' because it was meant to be a second Earth.
     On September 26, 1991, eight scientists entered Biosphere 2, cut off from the outside world. They voluntarily participated in the two-year experiment in preparation for future humans living in space. Their mission was to identify and manage various changes in the climate and soil inside Biosphere 2, which is divided into biome areas such as rainforest, savannah grassland, desert, wetlands, ocean, a human habitat and an intensive agricultural system.
     Could they set up an ecosystem? As Biosphere 2 was equipped with 3,800 species of flora and fauna, it was a miniature version of Earth. Contrary to initial expectations, however, the amount of oxygen rapidly declined. This was because concrete inside Biosphere 2 absorbed oxygen, which resulted in a dramatic increase of carbon dioxide. The ocean became acidic and coral reefs dissolved. Morning glories that the researchers planted to decrease carbon dioxide started to overgrow. The number of insects soared the population of red ants and cockroaches increased by about ten times. The experimenters lasted two years, but it ended in failure.
     Biosphere 2 has taught us that it was nearly impossible to replicate and create Earth's ecosystems even with the world's best experts. No matter how excellent mankind's scientific technology is, it is difficult to know every relationship in an ecosystem. Therefore, we need to make efforts to not only preserve one species but also maintain the balance of the entire ecosystem.


Biosphere 2, University of Arizona

Script by : Prof. Yoon, Sun-jin's Environment & Energy Lab
                Seoul National University
Illustration by : Kim, Jeong-kyeom


  • says :
    There is a whole chapter in the Quran named after bees 'Surah Al Nahl' and in that chapter there is elaborate teaching about the importance of bees for the planet and its inhabitants and how the greenery of the world and the spread of fruits and vegetation are all thanks to the bees.

    Moreover in Islam the honey produced by bees is considered as having numerous health benefits. All this shows us how our ancestors respected and recognized the value that bees hold in our eco-system.
    Posted 29-08-2016 04:44

  • Anthony Emecheta says :
    What a sad one for Mauritius (and the world in extension). I have heard about the dodo bird extinct but it is surprising to hear how their extinction affected a tree. Using it as a pointer, I am getting worried about the fate of man if bees should go extinct too. We need to protect out environment (both flora and fauna).
    Posted 30-07-2016 22:55

  • says :
    Rachul , i really like this one it is great.
    Tunza , this is very nice of you to inform us, the Tunza experience is getting better everyday.
    Posted 26-07-2016 23:50

  • says :
    Very informative report.thank you so much dear eco generation&#128515
    Biodiversity loss is not the loss for nature but a threat to human civilisation. We are destroying ourselves for the lust of luxury.
    This article is written in very balanced and lucid manner and easy to grab even by those unfamiliar with 'environment'
    Posted 25-07-2016 19:19

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