I don’t want to alarm you, but our planet is in crisis. (You were probably already in a state of alarm over this, weren’t you?)
We have islands of plastics floating in our oceans, carbon emissions warming our planet faster than we could have predicted, and species in dramatic states of decline. In February of 2019, scientists, for the very first time, officially cited climate change as the reason for the extinction of a mammal--a small rodent that lived on one island off the coast of Australia. But at even greater danger than mammals, are insects.
According to the Earth Day Network, 18% of all insect species will be lost by the year 2100 if the current rate of warming (2°C) continues. If the planet were to warm by 3.2°C, that number would rise to 49%.
That’s a lot of bugs.
Why should we care? Because insects are pollinators. Pollinators transfer pollen from one plant to another, which is the process through which seeds are produced, allowing future generations of the plant to grow.
No pollinators, no plants. No plants? BIG problems. Plants produce oxygen, provide homes for animals, control the water supply, and regulate the earth’s climate. If THAT doesn’t worry you, how about this: seventy out of the top 100 human food crops, which provide up to 90% of the world’s nutrition, rely on insects, specifically bees, for pollination.
So what can we do to help Protect the Pollinator Population?
It’s an anxiety-causing problem without a fast and easy solution. I’m not a commercial farmer, or a lawmaker, or a scientist. I’m just one person with a little home garden, so what good can I really do? Well, there are some things...
We must speak up to our local, state, and federal legislators. We must let the people who represent us know that this is an issue their constituents care about. Your vote is your voice!
We must stop using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. We must let chemical companies know that we will not use their harmful products.
We must protect and restore wild pollinator habitats.
That last one is my favorite...and my kids’ favorite, too. (It’s hard to get them excited about calling their Delegate, but playing outside? YES! Sign them up!) Here are some ideas for the gardens around your homes or classrooms:
First of all: Commit to organic gardening. Ditch the chemical pesticides and read labels on plants purchased at big box home and garden stores carefully!
Plant native species.
Do a little research or visit a local nursery to find out which plants are native to your region. These plants form the foundation of an ideal habitat for pollinators in your area by providing them with the food and shelter they need to thrive.
Invite pollinators to stay awhile in your garden!
Most bee species native to North American don’t form hives and instead make their nests in nooks and crannies in decaying wood or sandy soil. Support your local bees by installing a native bee house in your garden. You can shop online or make your own, like this one made by the preschoolers of Charlottesville!
We CAN make a difference for the pollinators in our communities. And if lots of people do lots of small things, it can add up to big changes for our planet.