RAYMOND — Has everyone forgotten about the bees? You certainly don’t hear our presidential candidates talking about them – nor our news media asking about them. A Media Matters for America analysis last month found that in the first eight debates, moderators asked only nine questions about climate change – less than one-tenth of the 93 questions on nonsubstantive issues, such as “How far has your stock fallen in this race?” and “If elected, what would your Secret Service code name be?”

Well, last week a U.N. report warned that it’s not just bees but also butterflies, hummingbirds and bats that are in danger. Nature’s pollinators are losing the battle against pesticide use, habitat loss, pathogens and global warming. Two out of five invertebrate pollinator species (such as bees and butterflies) and one in six pollinators with backbones (such as hummingbirds and bats) are on the path toward extinction.

So, how would we get by without these little creatures to pollinate the crops that feed us?

Well, I suppose we could pay illegal immigrants to collect pollen and dab it on apple blossoms, cucumber flowers, potato buds, etc., by hand? Oh, no. That’s right. We’re sending them back where they came from and building a wall to keep them out.

Maybe we could turn the task over to our schoolchildren. Turn pollinating into educational field trips. Pack them on school buses and send them out to area farms to pollinate by hand blueberry bushes, apple trees and broccoli plants. Well, maybe we better not trust them to pollinate broccoli.

Another alternative would be give up on our little pollinators and get used to eating corn and wheat (pollinated by wind) and squash, tomatoes and eggplant (more easily pollinated by hand).

Me? I’d really miss blackberries, raspberries, apples, peaches, avocados and honey. (Let’s not forget – no bees means no honey.) And then there’s coffee. I suppose we could learn to live without coffee. Not really nutritious. Just helps us wake up in the morning. (“COFFEE? Did he just say ‘coffee’? OMG! We’ve got to do something!”)

But the alternative I prefer is to cut back dramatically on pesticide use and start planting wildflowers, because pollinator extinction can be addressed on a local scale, not just globally. And this year, climate change (or “Mother Nature,” for those who don’t believe in climate change) seems to be giving Maine an opportunity: an early spring.

If we cut down locally on spraying insects and weeds with pesticides, fewer local bees, hummingbirds and bats will get poisoned. And if we grow more food for them, if we plant lots of wildflowers, far fewer will starve. And if neither poisoned nor starved, our local pollinators will give back locally in the form of fresh Maine produce.

Another thing we could do is elect a president who believes that fresh produce, family farming and protecting wildlife are important. Unfortunately, our candidates have said very little specifically about those issues, so it’s hard to figure out who that would be.

Perhaps Bernie Sanders, who has consistently worked for wildlife protection and recently said that because of climate change, “this planet and its people are in trouble.”

Maybe John Kasich. Although in August he said, “We don’t want to destroy people’s jobs based on some theory that’s not proven,” he’s also declared that protecting the Earth is important. And when pressed at a Feb. 20 Vermont town hall, he stated: “I know that human beings affect the climate.”

Hillary Clinton clearly believes that global warming is a danger, saying in December, “We cannot afford to be slowed by the climate skeptics.”

However, her recent focus has been on clean energy, not food or wildlife: In July, she announced her plan to promote solar panels and in November, her proposal to support transitioning away from coal.

In contrast, Donald Trump in 2014 called global warming science “a hoax” and in September flatly told CNN, “I don’t believe in climate change.” Similarly, Ted Cruz recently said, “Climate change is not science – it’s religion,” and last year, he signed on to a proposal that would make it harder to protect endangered plant and animal species.

Marco Rubio has also expressed skepticism, including during the September Republican debate, when he opposed environmental regulations that might hinder business development.

It’s not much to go on, but you might consider raising the issue during the Republican and Democratic caucuses this weekend. Think of it as planting seeds, suggesting we all consider whether species extinction should be a factor in deciding who we choose to be our next president. As the Bible says: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

— Special to the Press Herald