Insect populations are suffering “death by a thousand cuts”, with many falling at “frightening” rates that are “tearing apart the tapestry of life”, according to scientists behind a new volume of studies.
The insects face multiple, overlapping threats including the destruction of wild habitats for farming, urbanisation, pesticides and light pollution. Population collapses have been recorded in places where human activities dominate, such as in Germany, but there is little data from outside Europe and North America and in particular from wild, tropical regions where most insects live.
The scientists are especially concerned that the climate crisis may be causing serious damage in the tropics. But even though much more data is needed, the researchers say enough is already known for urgent action to be taken.
Insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals on Earth, with millions of species and outweighing humans by 17 times. They are essential to the ecosystems that humanity depends upon, pollinating plants, providing food for other creatures and recycling nature’s waste.
The studies show the situation is complex, with some insect populations increasing, such as those whose range is expanding as global heating curbs cold winter temperatures and others recovering from a low level as pollution in water bodies is reduced.
The good news is that the raised profile of insect declines in the past two years has prompted government action in some places, the scientists said, while a “phenomenal’’ number of citizen scientists are helping with the huge challenge of studying these tiny creatures.www.theguardian.com/...
The 12 new studies are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Nature is under siege [and] most biologists agree that the world has entered its sixth mass extinction event,” concludes the lead analysis in the package. “Insects are suffering from ‘death by a thousand cuts’ [and] severe insect declines can potentially have global ecological and economic consequences.”
The biggest systematic assessment of global insect abundances to date, published in April 2020, showed a drop of almost 25% in the last 30 years, with accelerating declines in Europe
Another paper in the series, co-authored by Wagner, concluded: “To mitigate the effects of the sixth mass extinction event that we have caused, the following will be necessary: a stable (and almost certainly lower) human population, sustainable levels of consumption, and social justice, that empowers the less wealthy people and nations of the world, where the vast majority of us live.” read more:www.theguardian.com/...
Weatherwatch: does lightning strike on Venus?
Flash of light detected on planet, about 10 times more energetic than lightning on Earth, reopens debate
Does lightning strike on Venus? It’s a question that has perplexed planetary scientists for decades. Given that lightning has been detected in the clouds of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, you’d expect lightning to occur on Venus, too, but the planet’s dense clouds ensure that any lightning remains well hidden. Now a tantalising flash has reopened the debate. .theguardian.
The government's relentless push for development is destroying rural England
Brexit forces Northern Ireland buyers to cancel orders for 100,000 trees
Exclusive: Ban on plants being moved across Irish Sea is major setback for tree-planting programmes in region
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