The Death of Insects — How It’s Happening and Why It Matters

New evidence based on the work of entomologists (people who study insects) and published in the journal Plos One reveals an alarming finding: Worldwide insect populations are rapidly declining. Specifically, researchers found more than a 75% decline in flying insects over a 27 year period.

Given how much our ecosystem depends on insects, this finding should trigger additional studies on insect biomass and global interventions to save insects. Bees, butterflies, and insects are primary vectors that pollinate flowers that make most of the plant life on earth grow. We need plants, trees, flowers, and fruits to grow to feed animals and people in order to live. Humans don’t survive without insects and other flying pollinators. Insects also serve as an important food source for other animals including fishes and birds.

Who is guilty of causing this insect Armageddon? According to experts, it’s likely caused by the usual suspects: climate change, the use of pesticides, and habitat destruction. And which industry is guilty on all counts? Animal agriculture.

Greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide are released from factory farms and warm the climate. Burning fossil fuels to make fertilizer for animal feed crops also emits massive amounts of CO2. The UN’s World Meteorological Organization stated in a new report released today that CO2 levels are now higher than they have ever been in millions of years. Researchers contend that record high temperatures that result from CO2 are likely contributing to the unprecedented killing of insects. Guilty.

Factory farms use pesticides on their crops — crops they would not have to grow in such large quantities if they fed the crops directly to people. Estimates vary but even the animal agriculture industry agrees it takes multiple pounds of food fed to an animal to generate one pound of food made from an animal. That’s food waste and the needless uses of additional pesticides. Guilty.

Habitats are decimated in order to clear land to grow crops to feed farm animals and for grazing purposes, an inefficient system that wastes massive amounts of food and land. Deforestation also emits billions of tons of CO2. Guilty.

What is the punishment for posing a threat to human civilization? When does the animal agriculture industry go on trial?

How do we solve this problem? Slap the handcuffs on animal agriculture: Advocate to stop deforestation to grow crops to feed farm animals. Tell politicians to stop subsidizing animal agriculture and promote the production of more insect-friendly, less carbon intensive plant-based food. You can also buy organic food and organic cotton sheets, towels, and clothes that don’t require pesticides. Plant native trees, shrubs, and flowers in your yard and don’t use bug zappers. Learn more. Get involved. Saving insects may not feel as rewarding as rescuing an abandoned dog but such efforts are vitally important to our ecosystem and survival.

 

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