2019-2020 AP Environmental Science Summer Assignment
CURRENT EVENTS: ENVIRONMENTAL ARTICLES SUMMARIES AND REFLECTIONS
Since the mid-nineteenth century, crop production has drastically increased. Flowering crops that produce fruits, vegetables, nuts, and especially soybeans have been growing due to increased crop production. Even know this should be helping insects like bees that depend on these flowering plants, they are causing adverse effects on them. Forests and natural land is destroyed to make space for crops like soybeans, which are inexpensive to grow. Then chemicals and pesticides are sprayed. This process kills and destroys homes for bees and other animals. As more crops are being planted, more bees are dying. More crops aren't being pollinated, as bees and other pollinators can't keep up with the spike in crop production. Plants that didn't need to be pollinated are being replaced with pollinating needing monocultures, leading to soil erosion and even more deforestation and other environmental problems. The cost of plants lost due to these farming practices is over half a billion. Though the damage is significant, it can be reversed by just undoing what has been done. Diversifying crops, adding more produce to monocultures, and planting more self-pollinating plants like corn can help restore land and save bees.
This is a situation most of the world is aware of, but little is being done to mitigate the damage. It is frustrating that monocultures are still being created to save money and labor despite the injuries being done to the environment. Before reading this, I was privy to the fact that this has been happening since the mid-nineteenth century. After world war two, advancements in agriculture, including pesticides and monocultures, were created to prevent mass famine. Cover crops, which are crops that are planted in the off-season to avoid soil erosion, increase biodiversity, and provide bees and other animals with nectar and other nutrients, were slowly being phased out of farming practices. I also knew pesticides used to kill bugs, like aphids, could unintentionally kill bees. A lot of farmers use pesticides that the plant absorbs. These are called systemic pesticides. When insects bite the leaf, they ingest the pesticide and die. This pesticide can also make its way into the nectar, killing or disorienting the bee, making it lost and unable to find its way home. This information has been known for years, making it even more frustrating that farmers are still choosing to do this. To understand the severity of monocultures and other farming practices on the environment, it would have been helpful to tell us if bees need a diverse mixture of flowers, as it would help us see more of the effect of monocultures. Also, including numbers on how much land is lost to farming would have shown the extent of the damage. The article gives us claims supported with numerous text evidence and quotes with links to credible sourc...