I've made no secret of my raw admiration for journalists, especially those who risk their lives to write stories that change our world.
Though the news is often horrifying--Auschwitz, Watergate, babies dying from melamine-contaminated formula--our collective response is anything but. When faced with our failures as humans, we form world coalitions to halt genocide, demand transparency from those we've elected, and impose stricter regulations on food suppliers.
It's an age-old cycle: Exposure. Shock. Response.
But there's a less virtuous cycle, too. We humans adore our distractions, and I'm guiltier than most. But amid the manufactured outrage, the tawdry circus of Weiner photos and starlet mug (I said MUG, dammit) shots, a few journalists bravely paw through the muck for stories that truly matter to humanity.
Enter the humble honey bee.
Known as Apis mellifera, the western honey bee has for centuries pollinated our berries, vegetables, nut and fruit trees.
And bees are disappearing.
So quickly, in fact, that whole sections of food production are threatened. Scientists have been screaming and waving their arms for nearly a decade. Now journalists have taken up the call. TIME magazine has even decided the plight of the honey bee is as cover-worthy as a mom breast feeding a six-year-old.
Bees are important, though. And losing them will change our world. Last winter alone, the USDA reports that a third of all colonies collapsed. Add in the loss of other natural pollinators, and humans are facing a genuine crisis.
We love watching celebrities make fools of themselves. But we NEED to eat. And without bees, that'll be darned challenging.
Oh, sure. We'll have wheat and corn and other wind-pollinated crops. But without honey bees, human existence will be poorer. We need to understand what's happening, and why. And we need to take steps to fix the problem. Exposure. Shock (one hopes). Response.
My first job as a member of humanity is to make sure our species thrives. So the next time I reward a pointless, inane article with my valuable 'click,' I should ask myself why I'm not rewarding journalists who've exposed a real problem and demanded a response.
Maybe I should ask when I last saw a honey bee...
And whether I'll ever see another.