Wipeout

Written By: - Date published: 10:04 am, May 21st, 2018 - 31 comments
Categories: climate change, science, sustainability - Tags: , ,

It’s Monday morning, and not for the first time, I find myself agog that most people reading this will have gone to work to do some stuff, in the expectation that the school kids they might be passing on their way to do whatever they do, will be able to do the same type of stuff, and harbour the same broad expectations as they do when they grow up.

Yet another piece of research has been published on the perilous position of the world’s insect population. Apparently the most comprehensive study to date, it suggests that up to half of insect habitat will be “unsuitable” by century’s end if governments honoured cuts promised with the Paris Agreement.

The study has been published in “Science” which is behind a paywall, and at the time of posting I’m having problems accessing Sci-Hub to read the whole paper for myself. Regardless, what is clear from the Guardian’s reporting on it, is that yet again, the elephant in the room is being assiduously ignored.

The study looked at current geographic ranges and current climate conditions within the geographic ranges of some thousands of species and then calculated how ranges would change under different temperature increases.

Obviously then, there is no factoring in of habitat loss due to changes in land use. And there is no factoring in of pesticide use. And that, besides much else, is acknowledged and fair enough.

But the big one, and the one that never seems to factor in the commentary on such studies, is the research showing degradation of remaining food sources under accelerated growing conditions and the knock on effect that has up through the food chain. The base of the food chain is losing substantial quantities of its protein under accelerated growing conditions that favour the production of sugars. That means that insects are less robust and less able to withstand a whole host of impacts that a healthy population may have happily sailed on through. (It’s a bit like how our health and resilience drops away if we only ever eat highly processed sugar laden foods.)

It’s quaint that the Guardian has published another piece, inspired by their reporting on the “Nature” study, outlining what people might do to lend a helping hand to insects. But beyond being a ‘nice thing to do’, turning gardens and verges or whatever else into supposed insect sanctuaries is utterly pointless given those those sanctuaries will only provide seriously and increasingly denuded sources of food.

Is it worth noting, knowing as we do that our staple crops are losing their nutritional value because of rising levels of atmospheric CO2, that billions of us, much like many species of insects, also obtain the bulk of our protein from plant sources?

The bit that gets me is that we know how to stop things getting any worse. And yet…

So why do we continue doing what we do?

Do we hate this world?

 

31 comments on “Wipeout”

  1. Sabine 1

    no, but the vast majority of the world does not have the power to change anything, and those that have the power don’t see the need as they believe they will not be affected by their actions.

    We might want to take public transport, but if the state does not put the infrastructure in place we sill have to use private transport.
    And so it is with everything else.

    besides, we are in the ‘endtimes’ 🙂 , so its loot slash n burn, cause after us it will be the deluge. And that is the mind set of many. I have mine, and you having yours is not important.

    In the meantime i plant for insects, cause why not? We have nothing to loose, right?

    • Bill 1.1

      So if this is “end times” and “deluge” or whatever, then why keep ourselves constrained with all the striving and expectation and planning for stuff that’s going to ‘heading south’?

      The moment we stop playing along with the fantasy that promises a linear improvement on today’s prospects, the people who currently enjoy power become impotent.

      And seeing as how all we have to do is not do, it’s a devastatingly simple thing to bring this apparent juggernaut to a dead stop.

      I know that “me” not driving or holding down a job or flying and whatever else is likely just the imperceptible shifting of an unnoticed grain of sand on a beach. That said, just the smallest or seemingly insignificant movement “of a nothing” on a mountainside can presage a landslide or catastrophic collapse. Or not. 😉

      • Sabine 1.1.1

        Bill, ‘the endtimes’ refer to our way of life that is literally in death throws as it is not sustainable.
        Apres moi la deluge – after me the floods is simply a saying of many that they don’t care so as long as they have what they want. Hoskins and his ilk come to mind,

        The people that currently enjoy power do so because sadly we gave it to them or they took it. You go up to parliament and try to throw one out of the window – and i am all for a few cases of ‘defenestration’ (it worked so well in the 14 century leading to the thirty year war ) but alas, the police which is not there to serve and protect us but is there to uphold the privileges of the movers and shakers, will take us and charge us with the crime of throwing some gasbag out of a window 🙂 . Go back in history and accept the fact that there will always be a strong man or women – elected by the people or by the gun.
        So even tho that i know change is gonna come, and most likely it will not be good change’ will continue to plant for insects. Why? Because i can. Simple as.

        And maybe if more of us would do what we can, rather then discussing what our ‘elite’ does not do – not for want nor money – we would actually get somewhere.
        But as long as we expect stuff to be done for us, and that is the crux of the matter, nothing will change, cause obviously there is no need for it, or else we would change? No?

        • Bill 1.1.1.1

          It seems we’re basically in agreement Sabine.

          I’m not convinced that every society in every culture throughout history had a ‘hard set’ social/political hierarchy headed up by an entrenched leader or clique. But then, I’ve been accused of being a dreamer before now 🙂

  2. Phil 2

    But wait there’s the wedding to report…… As McPherson says, ” Nature always bats last. “

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    So why do we continue doing what we do?</blockquote?
    Because rich people are getting richer.

    That has been the modus operandi of every government for the last few centuries – make rich people richer. The fact that doing so causes huge amounts of poverty and deprivation and can now be seen to damage the environment is studiously ignored.

    • adam 3.1

      Greed, a whole book dedicated to it’s vice and promoting it not happening has been roaming around for quite some time. Mind you the Koch brothers have done a good job funding the whole prosperity theology fundamentalist gig.

      Prosperity Theology, for those who can’t quite grasp the core message of the gospels. And need a little help getting over being greedy.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology

    • tc 3.2

      +100

      Also the more you move the hives about desperate to get the honey production your business model is based on the more of the hive you lose each time. There’s also these imported wasps that seek and destroy the hive colonies.

      Heard an oceanographer present some research on over 300 fish species that asks do the bigger ones in a species have a bigger impact i.e lay more / larger eggs spawning bigger fish.

      A categorical yes they do (using research that’s been about for decades) yet we continue to hound and plunder species like Tuna into extinction also. So on land and at sea we’re decimating the ecosystems we need to sustain the creatures that in turn sustain us.

      • greywarshark 3.2.1

        And when it comes to fish the research shows that those in charge of protecting and controlling the harvest of this resource in our government department have been filing in an out-of-the-way shelf any information that shows that Something Must Be Done to conserve it. Can’t give source, you’ll have to fish it out for yourself. Using a long-line of course which may affect your net profit.

      • cleangreen 3.2.2

        100% tc.

        Pushing productivity is the evil killer of our ecosystems for sure as we see it every day now.

  4. Ovid 4

    The bit that gets me is that we know how to stop things getting any worse. And yet…

    So why do we continue doing what we do?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons

    • Bill 4.1

      The “Tragedy of the Commons” argument is a thoroughly discredited piece of bullshit, and anyway, can hardly be applied to the situation of capitalism that has quite deliberately enclosed and destroyed the commons the world over.

      • Sabine 4.1.1

        oh mate, please show me the society that not has its own elite, with its own hard set of social / political hierarchy headed by some fuckwit with the biggest stick.

        As a women i would love to see that society and what happened to it 🙂 and I don’t consider myself a dreamer.

      • greywarshark 4.1.2

        Why is The tragedy of the commons a ‘thoroughly discredited piece of bullshit’?

        • Bill 4.1.2.1

          It inserted notions of individualism into the basis of the argument and assumed a complete absence of any possible collective management.

          • greywarshark 4.1.2.1.1

            Is this like the NZ colonial government trying to get Maori to accept individual title on their land. And till now, refusing them investment money on their collective titled land, so that they are hamstrung from doing much with it?

          • Bewildered 4.1.2.1.2

            See 4.1.1,

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.2.2

          The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons

          Where’s the evidence?

          Given the subsequent influence of Hardin’s essay, it’s shocking to realize that he provided no evidence at all to support his sweeping conclusions. He claimed that the “tragedy” was inevitable — but he didn’t show that it had happened even once.

          Hardin simply ignored what actually happens in a real commons: self-regulation by the communities involved. One such process was described years earlier in Friedrich Engels’ account of the “mark,” the form taken by commons-based communities in parts of pre-capitalist Germany:

          “[T]he use of arable and meadowlands was under the supervision and direction of the community …

          “Just as the share of each member in so much of the mark as was distributed was of equal size, so was his share also in the use of the ‘common mark.’ The nature of this use was determined by the members of the community as a whole. …

          “At fixed times and, if necessary, more frequently, they met in the open air to discuss the affairs of the mark and to sit in judgment upon breaches of regulations and disputes concerning the mark.” (Engels 1892)

          Historians and other scholars have broadly confirmed Engels’ description of communal management of shared resources. A summary of recent research concludes:

          “[W]hat existed in fact was not a ‘tragedy of the commons’ but rather a triumph: that for hundreds of years — and perhaps thousands, although written records do not exist to prove the longer era — land was managed successfully by communities.” (Cox 1985: 60)

          That would be, contrary to what the capitalists tell us, communism working.

    • Molly 4.2

      From my point of view, the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ is used as justification for privatisation. The real tragedy is that as people were disconnected from communities the social contract for common resources was broken, and greed and self-justification for the same became a method of getting ahead.

      The ‘commons’ use of resources can be found in many societies – including western – and works because of the geographical closeness of those involved. If you took more than you should, you had to deal with other members of the community when you were trading, selling and socialising. There was a self-correcting mechanism. As resources became monetarised, ‘owners’ could go elsewhere, and live their lives without the need to face the consequences of taking more than their share. The tragedy really is the use of capital to appropriate true ‘commons’.

      • Bill 4.2.1

        The tragedy really is the use of capital to appropriate true ‘commons’.

        Yup.

  5. greywarshark 5

    Well said Bill. The general public haven’t caught on to the seriousness for the world’s future. Money is still the most important thing and then you can buy your way out of personal responsibility to others, to a tax system that is fairly progressive, to the environmental requirements that are boring and not newsworthy.

    The little people with obsessions, the Greenies, flap on endlessly about their favourite dogma. What do they know, they’re poor and harp on about old-fashioned practices because they haven’t the brains to see that the answer for the future is in technolology, that’s the way to make money; those others can do their thing and just scratch a living.

    What is needed is a group who can see it all and join together in a way that dramatises the urgency and the wisdom. They can group and call themselves SuperHeroes. Superman and his cohort try to do good. So would this group and be looking at all sorts of action with a vow to be careful, controlled, try to be positive and keep in touch with the latest activity and monitor the results. They must care about people and respect them as there is a group that likes the idea of an Eden for themselves while people are a nuisance and a blot on the world. Actually it turns out that we are, but we have to take equal portions of disdain, and try to utilise our strengths in problem solving and rejigging ourselves and society.

    It would excite the young, so willing to take risks in sports such as mountain biking and adventure marathons. One aspect of the excitement is that the group would be targeted by government and business because it would be a restraint on business as they know it. Big business even when it appears to be thinking environmentally and socially, will fall to the corruption meme – the bigger and more powerful and monetised, the more corrupt.

    SuperHeroes would have to care about people as well as the environment, insects etc. And all be doing something agreed as wise, not just providing funds. There are plenty of fence sitters watching and protesting occasionally and funding, good but not enough to make a difference. And who’re ya gonna call – SuperHeroes! No, SuperHeroes need to be there before the dull and the diverted have to realise the volume of the problem.

  6. adam 6

    So much for the plan to eat insects with the collapse of agriculture then…

  7. pat 7

    Fear…

    ..of the future

    ..of the unknown

    …of change

    ….of difference

    It is safer (and easier) to live in the present state of delusion. The mindset you describe applies in the main to the wealthy ‘west’ I would suggest, not those whose existence is daily challenged….and sadly it is that (our) cohort that is responsible and able to (attempt) to effect the necessary change….we won’t.

  8. Robert Guyton 8

    Do we “hate the world”?
    Most of us do; the wild world any way, just as we have been taught to do.
    Love wasps? Convolvulus? Couch? Blowflies? Borer beetles? We’ve been fooled into thinking that our place in the order of things relies upon destroying all life that doesn’t benefit us directly. That’s resulted in us hating, unconsciously perhaps, almost everything that lives.

  9. greywarshark 9

    I can’t love wasps Robert, or convulvulus or the other things mentioned. I don’t like perfection and sterility though so perhaps I’m not so bad. But no sainthood for me.

    But I can make prophecies. No-one here will say what a good idea it is this SuperHero thing. Let me at it. What there will be is judicious chewing or outright rejection of the idea.

    Because that is what we are good at these days, thinking and quarrelling and scathing and belittling, and being cautious because – to quote from Yes Minister,
    “Many, many things must be done, but nothing must be done for the first time.”

  10. DB 10

    DDT making bugs relax, there in your food like poison tacks. – Iron Butterfly, 1968.

    Here in NZ just last season cows had the screaming shits as the high temps and rainfall were making grasses more sugar less protein – this I got from a Fonterra Exec.

    Who needs to wait for the future.

  11. eco maori 12

    Good post Bill Ka pai e hoa we need to treat all the living beings on Papatuanukue with the respect they deserve the insects have been on Papatuanukue for hundreds of millions of years and we are going to wipe them out in 100 years we need the wild life all life for us to searvive they are the canary in the mines a warning if they go we are next Ka kite ano

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