Insect abundance drops 75% over 27 years

The recent article released by the Guardian today [21 October 2017] shares the shocking truth that our insect ecosystems are collapsing due to human pressures. This could be a catastrophe.

Insects are an integral part of life on Earth

The shocking article titled ‘A giant insect ecosystem is collapsing due to humans. It’s a catastrophe’ from the Guardian, shares the estimations made by Terry Erwin thirty-five years ago that we could have in excess of 30 million species of tropical forest canopy fauna. This was calculated from his experiments extracting all living things from one species of tropical tree and extrapolating his counts across the 50,000 other species of tropical trees we predict to exist. But it seems the vast abundance of insects is at serious risk and action is called to prevent the drastic decline for all our sake.

Whether you are a swatter, a collector, a screamer or an admirer, there is no denying the critical importance insects play in our ecosystem. They are an integral part of life on Earth, both as pollinators for much of the food we eat and as prey for other wildlife, impacting the entire food chain. Lynn Dicks, from the University of East Anglia, says to the Guardian, “Flying insects have really important ecological functions, for which their numbers matter a lot. They pollinate flowers: flies, moths and butterflies are as important as bees for many flowering plants, including some crops. They provide food for many animals – birds, bats, some mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians. Flies, beetles and wasps are also predators and decomposers, controlling pests and cleaning up the place generally.” Many of the foods we eat cannot be grown without insect pollination. This list provided by the Pollinator Partnership may surprise you.

However, recent research undertaken in Germany warns that the abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years. Yet another study to warn us of the potential for an environmental and ecological Armageddon. Even the windscreens of our cars are telling the same story, with so few bugs being squashed than ever before. Prof Dave Goulson of Sussex University stated, “If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”

But are you listening?

Does any of this worry you? If it does worry you and you are anything like me, you’ll be wondering, ‘what on earth can I do about it?’

After every tragic article, they pose the crisis and the cause as typically being related to mass development, pollution, loss of habitat, intensive agriculture and pesticides. But they don’t mention what the mere mortal can do about it to help be the change we want to see.

What habits will help make a difference? What can I say or do to save the world from its track of self-destruction?

I don’t have the answer.

All I know is our consumption plays a huge factor in the way the world works. So maybe we should put our money where our mouth is to try to make that little difference to the world that sadly revolves around it.

Food: Organic farming seems like one sensible solution and possibly one of the biggest changes that need to be made. I try to buy as many products as my salary allows that are grown organically. You can find out more about organic produce from the Soil Association here: Why Organic? You can buy organic from your local supermarket, but often at a premium cost many of us simply can’t afford, but there are other ways you can be an organic consumer. Here are just a few suggestions:

Clothes: There are also the clothes you buy, the materials they are made from and the places they are stitched together. I wrote a blog a little while back on choosing more ethical fashion, just click here.

Energy: It should be simple to switch your energy bills nowadays, so why don’t so many of us do it? There are many ‘green’ energy suppliers out there that will not only provide you with better service but also leave you with that warm feeling of doing good and not pollute the planet every time you want a cuppa. These companies include Ovo (2017 uSwitch Supplier of the Year for three years running), Ecotricity and Good Energy. They may well come up a little more expensive, but always check the comparison websites and make sure you really explore the true costs. Sometimes the service you receive is worth its weight in gold and they may even donate to your local charity, so what’s a couple of extra quid to save the planet, make a difference and have a pleasant experience managing your energy bills?

If you know of any other good ideas worth sharing then please do post below. I also recommend reading the book ‘What’s Mine is Y-ours’, I wrote a blog on it a while ago – it will give you lots more ideas to change your consumption habits and slowly make the world a better place – hopefully before it’s too late.

Be the change.

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