"I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him." - Revelation 6:8 (KJV, Christian Bible)
For the last few years, word of massive bee die-offs has hit various news sources, and the internet fringe has picked the stories up and run of with them. These are the same people that shout so loudly and constantly about the end of the world that you'd think they're actually hoping it happens. There are images and memes being created that are regularly blaming everything from Monsanto's nicotine-based pesticides to the, now defunct, HAARP program.
However, there is a small, but important, fact that nobody seems to make mention of. There are other species of insects that can perform the same function as bees, were they put in that position. If all the bees in the world were to die, the insects that bees were pushing out of the way to get to that sweet nectar, would begin consuming it. This is so because it is very rare that any food source goes unused in nature, especially an almost pure source of sugar. They would get covered in pollen in the process, the same as bees do now, and they would, just the same, pass it on to the next flower along their journey. Bees happen to fill this niche because they are bigger and more aggressive than the other insects that could take their place if they were no longer here. Underestimating the mechanisms that have kept this planet green and life-sustaining for millions of years seems to be the norm these days, and people forget that plant life not only existed, but thrived well before the bee came onto the scene. Plant life grew with such abundance before the arrival of the bee that gargantuan herbivorous dinosaurs could feed constantly and never worry about depleting their food supply.
There's a lot of fear-mongering going on, and while it is distressing that bees are dying off by the billions across the country, I'm not so sure it will be the end of days if they die out. Perhaps it would cause problems initially, but many plants are wind pollinated too. This is actually true for quite a lot of the plants that we eat. Of course I'm not saying nothing should be done to stop the problem, but I also wouldn't let fear get in the way of rationality and judgement. I just find it odd that people are always so eager to declare that the world is ending, and that brings me to my main point. People have been predicting the end of the world for millennia, just look at the Christian biblical story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The list below, taken from Wikipedia, is a timeline of every recorded end of the world prediction made since the reign of Octavian Caesar in ancient Rome along with links to earlier predictions. Is it not fascinating how the end of the world has been just around the corner ever since humanity first started recording its history? Honestly, it has likely been around longer than that. People sometimes forget about oral traditions.
End of the world predictions.
One of the worst examples of this "End of the world" proselytizing is the story of the Millerites. William Miller headed a fairly large congregation as a lay-preacher and through some complicated, obfuscated, and entirely proprietary math, determined that the world would come to an end on April 28, 1843. His math was apparently based up on a great many years of studying events and timelines in the Bible. This would later be revised to October 22, 1844. On that date, his congregation sold all of their possessions, and stood all day on the edge of a cliff hoping to see their savior ride down from heaven on a white horse to begin the new age. Unfortunately for them, Christ never showed up, and many were left destitute and disillusioned. Miller's movement subsequently collapsed. The event came to be known to history as The Great Disappointment. Interestingly enough, this was not the last time that this exact set of events would be played out. Harold Camping did much the same thing in his lifetime. He predicted that May 21, 2011 would be the day that Christ would return to Earth. He was, of course, incorrect, and his reputation suffered for it.
So, why do we have this insatiable desire for the world to end and for everything to be destroyed? Arguably one of the biggest genres in modern fiction is the "Zombie Apocalypse," with shows like "The Walking Dead" being the largest grossing television series in the history of the medium. This is encompassed in the larger genre of "End of the World" movies. Movies like "Deep Impact," "Armageddon," "Independence Day," "World War Z," all 50 or so living dead and zombie films, "The Road," and "I am Legend" are just a minuscule fraction of the total amount of attention that Hollywood has paid to the genre. The compulsion for end of the world scenarios has made it into book series like "Metro 2033" and "Left Behind." I'm sure you can find massive lists of other apocalyptic books, television series, and movies across the net, but putting an entire list of such media here would be beyond exhaustive. There's just something about the struggle to survive that is innately compelling to the average person. It is almost as if there is some deep yearning for a simpler life where all vestiges of the modern world melt away. Why else would images of abandoned buildings and ghost towns be so popular as works of art? Maybe the compulsion for end of the world scenarios is actually just a byproduct of the urban dweller's search for a simpler life, where all of the stresses of modern living do not exist.
The one thing we can be sure of, without a doubt, is that the world is not ending. At least not until our star goes supernova and expands to consume the entire planet in around five billion years. Until then, as George Carlin put it, "The world isn't going anywhere, we are!"