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Falling insect numbers… February 11, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This is genuinely troubling, a report in the Guardian on how at the first global scientific review of insect numbers has show:

More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.




The planet is at the start of a sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. They are “essential” for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the researchers say, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients.

And here’s an anecdote to bring it home:


Sánchez-Bayo [Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, who wrote the review with Kris Wyckhuys at the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing] said he had recently witnessed an insect crash himself. A recent family holiday involved a 400-mile (700km) drive across rural Australia, but he had not once had to clean the windscreen, he said. “Years ago you had to do this constantly.”


I remember that in Ireland in the 1970s. And more recently driving the length and breadth of the island at various times across a year I’ve noticed the same. It’s uncanny.


1. GW - February 12, 2019

Oh gods now there’s a subject that I, as an old-time tree-hugger, can barely bring myself to think about. Eco-system collapse is happening even faster than pessimistic auld bollixes like me anticipated.

I remember insect density from my childhood that you just don’t see now. Especially at sundown.

If insects die off we are well an truly forked. Not just pollination but without, for instance, ants we’ll be knee-deep in rotting organic detritus. Entire flows of organic matter stop flowing.

I try to console myself with the thought that on the other side of the Capitalistocene and its attendant ecological vandalism we will have cadres of talented repair ecologists at work – and the speed at which new eco-systems can be bootstrapped may surprise us.

Much of the quantative field biology were done by teams of amateur ecologists. They are the kernel of some hope.


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