Insect apocalypse

apileofbees2018_largeFew of us love insects, but the fact is that without them, we’re dead, as is much of life on Earth. Insects occupy so many critical ecological niches that make plants grow and make waste materials go away that without them, we’d starve pretty quickly. Which is why the numbers on their decline are frankly terrifying.

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.

Now, 2.5 percent a year doesn’t mean that rate is going to continue; it could level off. It could accelerate. But it doesn’t take insects vanishing to seriously disrupt our food system.

It’s really not wise to predict doom from any one statistic like this, but the statistics that suggest massive changes happening just keep coming. Here’s the thing: massive changes in our ecosystem are not things that are associated with health, happiness, and comfort. Or with stable food supplies. Or with peace and political stability. Or with long term survival.

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