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Does Congress Need to Act on the ‘Insect Apocalypse’?

by Countable | 12.3.18

What’s the story?

  • They’re calling it the “Insect Apocalypse.”
  • The population of monarch butterflies has fallen by 90 percent in the last 20 years; the bumblebee dropped by 87 percent over the same time period. And a German study found that, measured by weight, the abundance of flying insects in that country’s nature reserves had decreased by 75 percent over 27 years.
  • But the disappearance of certain species isn’t what’s most disquieting to scientists—it’s “that a whole insect world might be quietly going missing, a loss of abundance that could alter the planet in unknowable ways,” the New York Times explained.
“We notice the losses,” says David Wagner, an entomologist at the University of Connecticut, told the Times. “It’s the diminishment that we don’t see.”

Why the concern?

  • Thirty-five percent of the world’s plant crops require pollination by bees, wasps, and other animals. (As the Times points out, “In the United States, dung beetles save ranchers an estimated $380 million a year.)
  • Arthropods also chew up rotting wood and eat carrion. “And none of us want to have more carcasses around,” Louisiana State University entomologist Timothy Schowalter told The Washington Post
  • According to a 2006 estimate, “wild insects provide $57 billion worth of six-legged labor in the United States each year,” the Post explained.
“Bugs are vital to the decomposition that keeps nutrients cycling, soil healthy, plants growing and ecosystems running. This role is mostly invisible, until suddenly it’s not.” –New York Times

What can be done?

  • Regulating – or banning - neonicotinoid pesticides— neurotoxins used to treat crops that also affect insects.
  • Paying farmers to create insect habitats by leaving fields fallow and allowing for wild edges alongside cultivation
  • Integrating insect habitats into the design of roads, power lines, railroads, and other infrastructures.
  • Research into what's causing the defaunation.

What do you think?

“Unfortunately, we have deaf ears in Washington,” Schowalter said. But Congress will have to listen at some point, he added, because our food supply will be threatened.

Insects around the world are in a crisis—does Congress need to act? If so, should they focus on climate change or some other way of protecting arthropods? Take action above, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman


 (Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / imv)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(114)
  • Jennie
    Voted Yes
    12/06/2018
    ···

    Insects rule the world...the natural world that is. But they also allow us humans to eat. Without bees and butterflies to pollinate everything we would be left eating processed foods, no fruits and veggies for us! So protect the insects so we all can survive!

    Like (24)
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  • Myles
    Voted Maybe
    12/06/2018
    ···

    Our dire degrading environmental situation needs to be quickly addressed.

    Like (16)
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  • Robert
    Voted No
    12/06/2018
    ···

    No, this requires science which this administration does not recognize. Don’t waste time on something you don’t understand.

    Like (8)
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  • Next
    12/06/2018
    ···

    It's sad that insect percentages are going down, but it is more heartbreaking that millions of precious babies are murdered every year. We need to focus on more important issues!

    Like (5)
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  • Lisefreeman
    Voted Yes
    12/06/2018
    ···

    Listen to your constituents and get your head out of the sand!

    Like (12)
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  • Ronald
    Voted No
    12/06/2018
    ···

    This is a false premise. Man Made Climate Change is a hoax. Earth's climate changes normally.

    Like (6)
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  • Frank
    last Friday
    ···

    We need the bugs to sustain life on this planet, anyone with a degree of intelligence would comprehend this issue so disregard the recommendations by the imbeciles

    Like (4)
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  • Garrett
    Voted Maybe
    last Friday
    ···

    There was no statistic provided that said that there was a loss economically. I get that they know insects are helpful, and maybe they know that they are dying, but I need to know the damage the deaths have provided so far to know how critical the situation is.

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  • Jessi
    Voted Yes
    12/06/2018
    ···

    The world cannot survive without bugs. Insects and spiders have important roles that cannot be done by anyone else. they are out pollinators, bug maintenance, and decomposers. We need them to survive and thrive. Please push to enact measures that will help them stay alive and doing their parts.

    Like (9)
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  • Josh
    Voted Yes
    12/06/2018
    ···

    It’s all connected

    Like (7)
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  • Samantha
    Voted Yes
    12/06/2018
    ···

    No pollinators= no food. No food= civil uprising. I think this is pretty clear.

    Like (7)
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  • Claudia
    Voted Yes
    12/06/2018
    ···

    If the government doesn’t impose regulations then businesses have no incentive to protect the environment. We need the government’s help.

    Like (7)
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  • John
    Voted Yes
    12/06/2018
    ···

    We need to stop the war on nature and begin to live WITH nature.

    Like (7)
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  • S.
    Voted Yes
    12/06/2018
    ···

    Crony capitalism has allowed pesticide use to go unchecked, even as the devastating results become obvious. The entire food chain is collapsing from the bottom up. Unfortunately, the crisis is already upon us. Corruption and innaction have led to incredible declines in all measured insect populations, which have decimated bird and fish populations. I realize you only care about lining your pocket and it is little satisfaction to know you'll starve to death with the rest of us.

    Like (6)
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  • Scott
    Voted Yes
    last Friday
    ···

    If a significant part of the earth’s biomass dies, we die. We must act to ban destructive insecticides and chemicals that are harming our pollinators and bio-degraders.

    Like (5)
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  • Warren
    Voted Yes
    12/06/2018
    ···

    Insects keep us safe and clean. They also are a environmental indicator. When they are gone it will be too late. We should fund studies now.

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  • Greg
    Voted Yes
    12/04/2018
    ···

    We have been told repeatedly by the all of the experts in the earth sciences that our very existence is threatened by our reckless behavior. As stuarts of the earth we leave much to be desired. We are seeing the effects of an already changed climate lead to drought, fires, and a new mass extinction has already begun. No amount of money, power, or resources will protect you from what is coming if we continue on this course. Climate refugees are abandoning some of the hottest areas of the world because these places, where civilization developed can no longer sustain the societies they birthed. Even the most radical actions in the face of the existential dangers being presented by the scientific community are not unreasonable, in fact they are surely necessary to assure our continued safety. We will need a whole new economic system accompanied by strict sustainability policies to give ourselves a chance at addressing the environmental issues we face. Business as usual is no longer feasible. In fact it is suicidal. We have a hard choice. Do we sacrifice the unsustainable comforts that we have become accustomed to or do we usher in the complete collapse of our society and perhaps the extinction of all life on earth?

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  • Lesia
    Voted Yes
    last Friday
    ···

    Yes unless they wish us all to die.

    Like (4)
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  • Giovanna
    Voted Yes
    12/06/2018
    ···

    While other issues may seem more urgent, protecting insects is essential in protecting our food, our environment, and all living things.

    Like (4)
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  • Jeanne
    Voted Yes
    12/06/2018
    ···

    We need an immediate ban on pesticides and insecticides before the collapse of entire ecosystems occurs. Once insects are gone, birds and everything depending on insects will die. Our species will be next. The dead planet may eventually recover but we will not be around to see it.

    Like (4)
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  • Heather
    Voted Yes
    12/06/2018
    ···

    First insects, then us. Save the bugs!

    Like (4)
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