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Donkin's World: Bees Do It

Richard Donkin tells of a crisis in the bee world that could have catastophic consequences for humankind.

Do please visit Richard's well-stocked Web site

Details of his book Blood, Sweat and Tears which is acclaimed world-wide can be found here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Sweat-Tears-Evolution-Work/dp/1587990768/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214554429&sr=1-2

As far as the health of the planet is concerned the human race is less significant than bees and plankton according to a recent Earthwatch debate in London.

Earthwatch has been running these balloon-style debates for a few years now where academics take the platform at the Royal Geographical Society and argue in favour of a particular environmental cause or species.

This time the voting audience had to rank bees, bats, primates (including us), fungi and plankton in order of their importance to the environment. Prof David Thomas almost won the day with plankton but George McGavin swung it for bees with an argument that highlighted the plight of declining bee numbers, globally.

A quarter of a million species of flowering plants depend on bees. Many of these plant species are crucial to world agriculture. Forget your apples and oranges without bees. Some bee populations are in trouble http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_Collapse_Disorder yet a world without them would be "totally catastrophic," said McGavin.

It's good to know where we come in Earth's pecking order. I can't say I was surprised to discover that humans came behind plankton. In my experience it's not always easy to tell them apart.

If, like me, you missed the debate, there's a chance to catch it on BBC Radio Four at 8pm, New Year's Eve.



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