By now you’ve probably heard the news: insect populations are plummeting. Around 40 percent of all insect species are in decline, many of them in danger of going extinct for good. The food chain relies on all its many links to thrive, and with both the bottom (insects) and top (predators) links in that chain enduring major damage because of actions taken by man, or even climate change, the environment is on the brink of collapse.
We know the planet is in the midst of a sixth mass extinction. We know we’re at fault. And we aren’t doing anything about it. Most people don’t really understand how far flung and far-reaching this catastrophe is, or where it even begins. If you wanted to start looking for answers, you could find no better place to start than insects.
Take bees, for example. Bee populations have collapsed in the last couple of decades, and there have been many theories as to why. Some people think it’s our cell phones that killed them. But really, it’s most likely the fact that their habitats aren’t as strong or as diverse as they once were (and pesticides, duh).
Bees and flowers live together in harmony, but without bees to pollinate flowers…well, you get the idea.
A global scientific review and number of peer-reviewed scientific papers conclude that we need to take steps to save these insect populations or we, too, will pay the price. One paper published in a scientific journal titled Biological Conservation says, “Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades. The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.”
There is an annual loss of insects at about 2.5 percent. That’s a staggering percentage that adds up quickly. Francisco Sanchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney describes more of the journal’s findings: “It is very rapid. In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.”
But that’s assuming the 2.5 percent rate of insect population loss remains consistent over the next century — and that’s not very likely. If anything it will speed up as the effects of climate change become stronger and the temperature increases more substantially.
“If insect species losses cannot be halted,” says Sanchez-Bayo, “this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind.”
Many people assume that we will survive no matter what. But many scientists don’t count themselves among that group, because it isn’t all that likely. Humans are just as susceptible as any other species if things get bad enough.