As part of Greenpeace's "Save the Bees" campaign, the environmental organization is showcasing a faux advertisement depicting a future in which robots have replaced natural pollinators. But while well-intentioned, it's a rather myopic view of where we're likely headed.
The video is not as outlandish as it appears (though the suggestion that robotic bees will attack and kill predatorial wasps (or natural bees) is utterly ludicrous). The world's bee population is in dramatic decline, leading some to worry about their eventual extinction. The elimination of these essential pollinators could have disastrous consequences to the ecosystem as many plants are dependant on them for reproduction. That's why, in the absence of real solutions, there have been calls to create robotic bees, including initiatives launched by Harvard Microrobotics Lab and the Green Brain Project.
Obviously, it's important that we do our best to preserve our bee populations before having to resort to such drastic measures (duh). But if we can't remedy Colony Collapse Disorder, it's not a terrible solution. It might seem unsettling, and a violation of our aesthetic sensibilities, but we'd essentially be replacing biological "robots" with synthetic ones. It may actually be a sign of things to come as we increasingly introduce designer organisms to the environment.
But here's how Greenpeace sees it:
If we carry on with chemically intensive agriculture model, it is quite possible that we may affect our pollinating insects to such a degree that we reach a global "pollination crisis".
This is the imaginary future we do not want. This future where bees and the biodiversity they help maintain, have finally fallen victim to chemically intensive industrial agriculture.
So, here is the question: should we create a new world or save our own?
At the petition site, Greenpeace writes:
Add your voice to thousands of people around the world who want to protect the bees by banning bee-killing pesticides and unsustainable industrial agriculture and promoting ecological farming. The more people who sign, the more we can influence the governments and companies who can act to save the bees.
What do you think? Is Greenpeace genuinely concerned about the bees, or are they frightened by the future? Or, is this merely an attack (justified or not) against current agriculture practices?