Quantcast

'Insect Apocalypse' Will Have Dire Con​sequences for ​All Life on Earth​, Report Warns

Animals
Butterfly habitats have fallen 77 percent in the last 50 years. Pixabay / Pexels

The last 50 years have been brutal for wildlife. Animals have lost their habitats and seen their numbers plummet. Now a new report from a British conservation group warns that habitat destruction and increased pesticide use has on a trajectory for an "insect apocalypse," which will have dire consequences for humans and all life on Earth, as The Guardian reported.


The new report by the South West Wildlife Trusts, estimates that nearly half of all insects have been lost since 1970 and that 41 percent of the world's one million known insect species are living under the threat of extinction, as the BBC reported.

"If these massive declines continue, the ramifications are enormous," said Dave Goulson, a professor of biology at the University of Sussex and the author of the new report to CNN. "Three quarters of our crops depend on insect pollinators. Crops will begin to fail. We won't have things like strawberries. We can't feed 7.5 billion people without insects."

Pesticide use has decimated insect populations and had collateral damage effects beyond its intentions. While pesticides have been effective at protecting crops against insects that will feast on them, the run off and spray has killed off insect populations in neighboring fields and in waterways, as the BBC reported.

The report focused primarily on bug populations in the UK, which has some of the most studied bugs in the world. It found that pesticide use has doubled in the last 25 years and that 23 bee and wasp species have gone extinct. Butterfly habitats have fallen 77 percent in the last 50 years. And, insects further up the food chain that eat other insects have been some of the hardest hit. The spotted flycatcher, for example, only eats flying insects. Its numbers have declined by 93 percent since 1967, according to the new paper, as The Guardian reported.

Insects are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem, serving as pollinators, recyclers, decomposers and food for other animals.

"We can't be sure, but in terms of numbers, we may have lost 50 percent or more of our insects since 1970 – it could be much more," said Goulson to The Guardian. "We just don't know, which is scary. If we don't stop the decline of our insects there will be profound consequences for all life on earth [and] for human wellbeing."

However, the report did express hope and offered solutions for how people can help insect populations, which have the potential to recover rapidly.

"Insects live in our parks and gardens. Gardeners can really make a difference," said Goulson to CNN. "The bigger challenge is making farming more wildlife-friendly. Pesticide reduction targets. That would help enormously."

The report has suggestions for what we can all do to help insect populations, including planting a pollinator garden with plants like lavender, catmint and buddleia bush. The report suggests mowing lawns less frequently and allowing weeds like dandelion to flourish since they encourage bees. It also encourages people to dig ponds, which will get colonized by dragonflies and beetles.

The report's appendix is chock full of suggestions. It advocates avoiding pesticides, growing your own food and starting a compost pile.

On a policy level, the paper called for binding targets for pesticide reduction in farming and for support for farmers to reach them, as The Guardian reported.

"The sad fact is there's actually a lot more biodiversity in insect life in urban areas than rural areas and that's down to the use of pesticides, which cause a loss of habitat to insects in the countryside," said Paul Hetherington from the charity Buglife to the BBC. "So if you can get food that doesn't involve pesticides, it's really good."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pope Francis celebrates an opening Mass for the Amazon synod, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. Massimo Valicchia / NurPhoto / Getty Images

by Justin Catanoso

Pope Francis, in an effort to reignite his influence as a global environmental leader, released an impassioned document Feb. 12 entitled Dear Amazon — a response to the historic Vatican meeting last autumn regarding the fate of the Amazon biome and its indigenous people.

Read More
A flooded motorhome dealership is seen following Storm Dennis on Feb. 18 at Symonds Yat, Herefordshire, England. Storm Dennis is the second named storm to bring extreme weather in a week and follows in the aftermath of Storm Ciara. Although water is residing in many places flood warnings are still in place. Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Britain has been battered by back-to-back major storms in consecutive weekends, which flooded streets, submerged rail lines, and canceled flights. The most recent storm, Dennis, forced a group of young climate activists to cancel their first ever national conference, as CBS News reported.

Read More
Sponsored
A group of Fulani women and their daughters walk towards their houses in Hapandu village, Zinder Region, Niger on July 31, 2019. In the African Sahel the climate has long been inhospitable. But now rising temperatures have caused prolonged drought and unpredictable weather patterns, exacerbating food shortages, prompting migration and contributing to instability in countries already beset by crisis. LUIS TATO / AFP / Getty Images

At the 56th Munich Security Conference in Germany, world powers turned to international defense issues with a focus on "Westlessness" — the idea that Western countries are uncertain of their values and their strategic orientation. Officials also discussed the implications of the coronavirus outbreak, the Middle East and the Libya crisis.

Read More
Polar bears on Barter Island on the north slope of Alaska wait for the winter sea ice to arrive so they can leave to hunt seals, on Sept. 28, 2015. cheryl strahl / Flickr

The climate crisis wreaks havoc on animals and plants that have trouble adapting to global heating and extreme weather. Some of the most obvious examples are at the far reaches of the planet, as bees disappear from Canada, penguin populations plummet in the Antarctic, and now polar bears in the Arctic are struggling from sea ice loss, according to a new study, as CNN reported.

Read More

By Petros Kusmu, George Patrick Richard Benson

  • We can all take steps to reduce the environmental impact of our work-related travels.
  • Individual actions — like the six described here — can cumulatively help prompt more collective changes, but it helps to prioritize by impact.
  • As the saying goes: be the change you want to see in the world.
Read More