FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Insect Decimation Upstages Global Warming

Photo by Jaime González | CC BY 2.0

Everybody’s heard about global warming. It is one of the most advertised existential events of all time. Who isn’t aware? However, there’s a new kid on the block. An alarming loss of insects will likely take down humanity before global warming hits maximum velocity.

For the immediate future, the Paris Accord is riding the wrong horse, as global warming is a long-term project compared to the insect catastrophe happening right now! Where else is found 40% to 90% species devastation?

The worldwide loss of insects is simply staggering with some reports of 75% up to 90%, happening much faster than the paleoclimate record rate of the past five major extinction events. It is possible that some insect species may already be close to total extinction!

It’s established that species evolve and then go extinct over thousands and millions of years as part of nature’s course, but the current rate of devastation is simply “off the charts, and downright scary.”

Without any doubt, it is difficult to imagine how humanity survives without insects, which are dropping dead in bunches right before our eyes. For proof, how many insect splats do people clean off windshields nowadays? Not many…. How many fireflies do children chase at night? Not many….

Several naturalists and environmental writers believe the massive loss of insects has everything to do with three generations of industrialized farming and the vast tide of poisons pouring over the landscape year-after-year, especially since the end of WWII. Ours is the first-ever pesticide-based agricultural society. Dreadfully, it’s an experiment that is going dead wrong… all of a sudden!

Insects are basic to thousands of food chains; for example, the disappearance of Britain’s farmland birds by over 50% in 40 years. Additionally, North America and Europe species of birds like larks, swallows, and swifts that feast on flying insects have plummeted.
But, these are only a few of many, many recorded examples of massive numbers of wildlife dropping dead right before our eyes.

Significantly, insects are the primary source for ecosystem creation and support. The world literally crumbles apart without mischievous burrowing, forming new soil, aerating soil, pollinating food crops, etc. Nutrition for humans happens because insects pollinate.

One of the world’s best and oldest entomological resources is Krefeld Entomological Society (est. 1905) tracking insect abundance at more than 100 nature reserves. They first noticed a significant drop off of insects in 2013 when the total mass of catch fell by 80%. Again, in 2014 the numbers were just as low. Subsequently, the society discovered huge declines in several observation sites throughout Western Europe.

For example, Krefeld data for hoverflies, a pollinator often mistaken for a bee, registered 17,291 hoverflies from 143 species trapped in a reserve in 1989. Whereas by 2014 at the same location, 2,737 individuals from 104 species, down 84%. (Source: Gretchen Vogel, Where Have All The Insects Gone? Science Magazine, May 10, 2017)

Down Under in Australia anecdotal evidence similarly shows an unusual falloff of insect populations. For example, Jack Hasenpusch, an entomologist and owner of the Australian Insect Farm collects swarms of wild insects but now says: “I’ve been wondering for the last few years why some of the insects have been dropping off … This year has really taken the cake with the lack of insects, it’s left me dumbfounded, I can’t figure out what’s going on.” (Source: Mark Rigby, Insect Population Decline Leaves Australian Scientists Scratching For Solutions, ABC Far North, Feb. 23, 2018)

Concerned, Mr. Hasenpusch talked to entomologists in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, New Caledonia, and Italy. All of them related similar experiences.

According to entomologist Dr. Cameron Webb / University of Sydney, researchers around the world widely acknowledge the problem of insect decline but are at a loss to explain the causes.

Obviously, something dreadful is suddenly happening throughout the entire biosphere. The insect catastrophe is a relatively new phenomenon that has caught society unaware, blindsided. Interestingly, 97% of the Animal Kingdom consists of invertebrates such as insects, crabs, lobsters, clams, octopuses, jellyfish, and worms, etc.

Scientists have been noticing the problem for some time now, but widespread public knowledge is simply not there. Jürgen Deckert, insect custodian at the Berlin Natural History Museum is worried that “there’s a risk we will only really take notice once it is too late.” (Source: Christian Schwägerl, What’s Causing the Sharp Decline in Insects, and Why It Matters, YaleEnvironment360, July 6, 2012)

The Senckenberg Entomological Institute/Frankfurt recorded a 40% decline in butterfly and Burnet moth species over a period of decades.

A Stanford University global index developed by Rodlfo Dirzo showed a 45% decline for invertebrates over four decades. Of 3,623 terrestrial invertebrate species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, 42% are classified as threatened with extinction.

The Zoological Society of London in 2012 published a major survey concluding that many insect populations are in severe decline. And in both the U.S. and Europe researchers have recorded 40% declines in bee populations because of colony collapse disorder and sharp losses of monarch butterflies.

“Of particular concern is the widespread use of pesticides and their impact on non-target species. Many conservationists view a special class of pesticides called neonicotinoids — used over many years in Europe until a partial ban in 2013 — as the prime suspect for insect losses… “There are many indications that what we see is the result of a widespread poisoning of our landscape,” says Leif Miller, director general of the German chapter of Bird Life International,” Ibid.

Widespread poisoning of ecosystems is the norm in modern day society. “Ours is a poisoned planet, … This explosion in chemical use and release has all happened so rapidly that most people are blissfully unaware of its true magnitude and extent, or of the dangers it now poses to us all as well as to future generations for centuries to come.” (Source: Julian Cribb, Surviving the 21st Century, Springer Nature, Switzerland, 2017, page 104)

“Most people are blissfully unaware” may be a blessing in disguise as the angst, dread, and uneasiness that knowledge of this horrendous crisis brings is the root cause of severe bouts of sleeplessness along with difficult spells of deep depression.

More articles by:

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at rlhunziker@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
August 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Lights! Camera! Kill! Hollywood, the Pentagon and Imperial Ambitions.
Joseph Grosso
Bloody Chicken: Inside the American Poultry Industry During the Time of COVID
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: It Had to be You
H. Bruce Franklin
August 12-22, 1945: Washington Starts the Korean and Vietnam Wars
Pete Dolack
Business as Usual Equals Many Extra Deaths from Global Warming
Paul Street
Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Predatory Capitalism and the Nuclear Threat in the Age of Trump
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?
Ron Jacobs
It’s a Sick Country
Eve Ottenberg
Trump’s Plan: Gut Social Security, Bankrupt the States
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s Fake News
Jonathan Cook
How the Guardian Betrayed Not Only Corbyn But the Last Vestiges of British Democracy
Joseph Natoli
What Trump and the Republican Party Teach Us
Robert Fisk
Can Lebanon be Saved?
Brian Cloughley
Will Biden be Less Belligerent Than Trump?
Kenn Orphan
We Do Not Live in the World of Before
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Compromise & the Status Quo
Andrew Bacevich
Biden Wins, Then What?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Criminology of Global Warming
Michael Welton
Toppled Monuments and the Struggle For Symbolic Space
Prabir Purkayastha
Why 5G is the First Stage of a Tech War Between the U.S. and China
Daniel Beaumont
The Reign of Error
Adrian Treves – John Laundré
Science Does Not Support the Claims About Grizzly Hunting, Lethal Removal
David Rosen
A Moment of Social Crisis: Recalling the 1970s
Maximilian Werner
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf: Textual Manipulations in Anti-wolf Rhetoric
Pritha Chandra
Online Education and the Struggle over Disposable Time
Robert Koehler
Learning from the Hibakushas
Seth Sandronsky
Teaching in a Pandemic: an Interview With Mercedes K. Schneider
Dean Baker
Financing Drug Development: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us
Greta Anderson
Blaming Mexican Wolves for Livestock Kills
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Meaning of the Battle of Salamis
Mel Gurtov
The World Bank’s Poverty Illusion
Paul Gilk
The Great Question
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
Trump Doesn’t Want Law and Order
Martin Cherniack
Neo-conservatism: The Seductive Lure of Lying About History
Nicky Reid
Pick a Cold War, Any Cold War!
George Wuerthner
Zombie Legislation: the Latest Misguided Wildfire Bill
Lee Camp
The Execution of Elephants and Americans
Christopher Brauchli
I Read the News Today, Oh Boy…
Tony McKenna
The Truth About Prince Philip
Louis Proyect
MarxMail 2.0
Sidney Miralao
Get Military Recruiters Out of Our High Schools
Jon Hochschartner
Okra of Time
David Yearsley
Bringing Landscapes to Life: the Music of Johann Christian Bach
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail