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article imageOp-Ed: Insect apocalypse getting grim, severe population drops

By Paul Wallis     Nov 4, 2019 in Environment
Munich - Insects are critical operators in all ecologies. They pollinate, they support the food chain, and they manage a lot of materials in all types of environments. German studies indicate a 40% population crash, which is catastrophic.
This story is about insect extinction. If the insects go, they could take the whole environment with them. Despite multiple warnings, things have got worse. Insecticides, pollution, toxic materials, you name it; it’s all crashing the environment in different ways. The German study, conducted by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) over 2008 – 2017 shows major damage to populations.
Grassland insect populations dropped by about a third. The German scientists were shocked by the rapid decline in a relatively short period. Indications are that the decline is affecting all insect groups, which interact on many levels. If a prey population drops, predators also decline, etc. According to the study estimates, the total mass of insects is declining by about 2.5% per year. That equates to no more insects in 40 years.
This is a regional study. It doesn’t mean the insect decline is consistent worldwide. Invasive species certainly aren’t on the decline, but they also decimate local insect populations. The problem, as usual, is lack of a globally coordinated study to pin down the current situation.
Further dimensions – Food chain crash risks
Insect decline means that a lot of birds, reptiles and arachnids will also basically starve. They won’t be alone. Animals and humans depend to a large extent on pollinated plants, and crashing food supplies could be the result of further insect population crashes.
While it would be nice to assume artificial pollination could do the work, it’s a far more complex problem. Most of the world couldn’t tool up fast enough to avoid serious food shortages. It’d take years to get the right mechanisms in place, and current pollination systems aren’t as efficient. Some experts even say artificial pollination is undesirable.
Flowering plants of all kinds, including trees and grasses, could be affected. The loss of trees and other major infrastructure for the environment will have major collateral damage effects, further decimating the insect population, and removing major components of soil structures. It’s not a great look, and it’s not getting any nicer to look at as new data comes in.
So – Who’s doing what about the situation? Guess.
Solutions from robot bees to hooking up bees to the internet abound. None of these systems are proven, and on the scale required, these systems need to be almost miraculously efficient.
Scientific warnings, of course, are being totally ignored, in keeping with the total hatred of experts of any kind in political environments. When bees started suffering from colony collapse, it took at least 5 years to get proper acknowledgement and actual remedial measures trying to operate. The results have been mixed.
Nor is anything being done about the usual suspects, glyphosate and other mega-hyper-overkill pesticides which are as bad as DDT or worse. The levels of incomprehension and incompetence seem to be directly linked to the rather dubious intellects of the duly elected generations who never respond effectively to any current issues.
What bothers me is that Rachel Carson covered all this in Silent Spring, all those years ago. Nobody seems to have learned, and this particular lesson, if it decides to teach, will be a very harsh lesson indeed.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about insect extinction, bee population decline, pesticides and insect extinction, Glyphosate, political inaction on insect crisis
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