Over the past four years, bee colonies have undergone a disturbing transformation. As helpless beekeepers looked on, the machinelike efficiency of these communal insects devolved into inexplicable disorganization. Worker bees would fly away, never to return; adolescent bees wandered aimlessly in the hive; and the daily jobs in the colony were left undone until honey production stopped and eggs died of neglect. Colony collapse disorder, as it is known, has claimed roughly 30 percent of bee colonies every winter since 2007.
Are we in the first act of a mass extinction that will end in the death of millions of plant and animal species across the planet, including us?
Now deliver cheap and plentiful energy, enough to desalinate tons of seawater and irrigate the vast deserts in the interior. All of a sudden, we're talking about a continent that can house and feed 300 million people, up from 23 million today. This is what cheap energy means.
And then it came, a flash across the sky, a silver streak, the biggest vapor trail there ever was. It went from this side to that side in no time. It split the sky and was gone before the shock blast hit us. Nobody said anything. We stood there and shivered and straightened up after the rumbling sound passed.
In front of me, old Fred Butler [...] cracked his knuckles. "He did it," he whispered, "All the way to Mars and back. Safe and right on schedule." He jumped up in the air and kept jumping up. [...] Factory whistles started blowing.
It was just like the papers said:
This was the day the world ended. And the Universe began.