We are all aware of the environmental crisis, but some of you may not know that bees are under threat. One of the main contributors to the threat of bees is the pesticides used on crops. Thankfully Europe have banned the use of them, but we are the rich and privileged West. The BBC reported in August 2019 in their article, ”Why 500 million Bees have died in Brazil in 3 months”, that scientists believe it is due to the use of pesticides such as the Neonicotinoids and Fipronil, which are what Europe have banned. The most obvious question, therefore, is why hasn’t Brazil also banned them? The answer is that Brazil’s economy is reliant upon their agriculture and it is this which is the crux of the environmental crisis across the world. Just as Brazil is protecting their population, and the farmer to maximise his crop yield to finance, feed and house his family, the West continues to use fossil fuels because the economy is reliant upon them. Until Western governments recognise this and fund to incentivise greener alternatives that won’t harm everyday families, nothing will change.
What does all this have to do with “The Forgotten Pollinators”? We must not save just the bees; we need to save all the other insects as well…. Only 30% worldwide agriculture is fertilized by bees, (Reference: TED, “The Inconvenient Truth”, Jonathan Foley, Oct 2010). Some crops maybe self-fertile, but others rely on a number of other flying insects; from wasps to flies, they all have a role to play. These are the forgotten pollinators and they are just as important as bees. The pesticides will be killing these pollinators too, as well as the “nasty” bugs. Even though pesticides have been banned in Europe these insects aren’t embraced either. Insects are swatted, sprayed, caught on sticky fly tape, electrocuted by traps, and generally killed wherever possible, yet they are just as crucial as bees. To help both the bees and the forgotten pollinators we need to increase the green areas and making our continuing urban sprawl greener. Letting areas around us grow wild like roadside verges will all help.
We need these pollinators to sustain the human population which is continuing to grow by almost 75 million per year (Reference: TED, “The Inconvenient Truth”, Jonathan Foley, Oct 2010). Impacts to our source of food and water is ultimately what will threaten our survival. Even if you are vegan, the size of land required to feed the world’s population is vast. Land for crops and pasture is removing diversity of plant life that ultimately sustain a variety of pollinators and species. In 2010, 16 million square kilometres of the world’s land (approximately the same size of South America) was dedicated to crops and 30 million square kilometres (same size as Africa) to pasture. (Reference: TED, “The Inconvenient Truth”, Jonathan Foley, Oct 2010). Becoming vegan is not necessarily the solution, firstly it is an economic luxury of the West; large numbers of people around the world eat whatever they can to survive. Even if it was possible for the whole human race to become vegan, it will simply change pasture to crop land usage. Poorer communities are clearing the rainforests to accommodate demands of the West, so that they can fund and feed their families. It is just as much an economical question as it is an environmental one.
Even as I write this blog, an article from the BBC entitled “Climate change: Loss of Bumblebees driven by ‘climate chaos’” has been published stating that bees are sensitive to the increasing temperatures that climate change is causing. This article reinforces my concerns that it is not just one environmental factor that is causing a decline. The BBC article states that “the worldwide population of Bumblebees have declined by a third since the 1970’s and their decline is more severe than previously thought.
For all these reasons, I have spent the week creating this series of drawings, it is not just about highlighting the importance of these creatures, but the environmental crisis in general and how our thinking needs to change towards the environment. Yes, even that annoying humble wasp is useful, and is still a pollinator, which the human race desperately needs.
We all need to be less judgemental of our fellow humans and how they live their lives, as we won’t know the full reasons. Instead we need to collaborate to resolve these issues and do what we can, when we can. We need to put pressure on governments of the world to support poorer communities, so that the changes we need to make in saving the environment won’t make people suffer.
Ultimately, on a daily basis, each and every one of us need to be more mindful of the nature around us and the impact we have on it, on both a small and large scale. Do we need manicured gardens and mown lawns, or can wildflowers and insects live there instead? Do you really need to kill flies and wasps this summer? Instead could you let them be, or even better release them back outside to let them go about their business? When you help a bee, help a wasp or fly too. These are all beautiful creatures, that have a purpose within nature and the ecosystem.
I hope you enjoy my series of “The Forgotten Pollinators” and this has highlighted your appreciation for these little creatures. I rarely offer my drawings for sale, as they are an important part of my research process. However, these are available for just this week for £195 to highlight their importance. If any of these drawings are purchased before 14th February 2020, I will donate 10% of the price to the charity Buglife. Message me now, so as not to miss out firstname.lastname@example.org
They are all charcoal on paper, UNFRAMED (image below is for example purposes only) and A4-A3 on A3 paper. Free postage. They will be dispatched in a cardboard tube. They are fixed with artist quality fixative, but because of the nature of the drawing should not be touched or rubbed and should be framed under glass by a professional framer.