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?