Global extinction risk for insects

A team of Australian scientists has assessed 73 studies on species extinction from around the world and come to a dramatic conclusion: the populations of almost half of all insect species are declining so rapidly that insects could die out completely in the next hundred years. The major causes are intensive farming and urbanisation, the researchers say. What should be done?

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The Guardian (GB) /

Only self-restraint can save the planet

Western consumer behaviour must change radically, The Guardian demands:

“For all our individual and even collective cleverness, we behave as a species with as little foresight as a colony of nematode worms that will consume everything it can reach until all is gone and it dies off naturally. ... Some governments have done some necessary things. The EU has banned neonicotinoid pesticides. But the necessary change also relies on individual action. As individuals we must consume less in every way, which helps with climate change. We must also change our food habits. To eat less meat and more organic is not just piety. A little self-restraint in this generation will make all the difference to our grandchildren.”

Svenska Dagbladet (SE) /

Bees more important than sugar beets

Swedish authorities have given the sugar beet producers in the province of Schonen permission to use the plant protection agent Gaucho WS70, which contains the pesticide imidacloporid, even though this poses a massive threat to biodiversity. In Svenska Dagbladet a number of experts call on the Swedish government to finally put insect extinction on the agenda:

“If we want to take the survival of bees and other pollinators seriously we must take measures to offer a broader range of plants that haven't been treated with harmful control agents. ... In return we get more honey as a healthy alternative to white sugar and many farmers can increase their harvests thanks to a greater number of pollinators. The Swedish Chemicals Agency must immediately withdraw its permit for the use of banned control agents.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Half-hearted requests no good

Politicians have been far too faint-hearted in protecting species, Le Monde explains with an example:

“In view of the immense threat to biological diversity, the powerlessness of the public authorities is as patent as it is unbearable. And France is no exception. The Ecophyto Plan adopted in 2008 as part of the Grenelle Environment Project [under former president Nicolas Sarkozy] called for a 50 percent reduction in the use of pesticides over the next ten years - 'if possible', as the plan wisely added. The failure is glaring: in 2018, far from having dropped pesticide use has risen by 22 percent. The repeated changes of opinion on the part of successive governments over whether to ban glyphosate only confirms this negligent blindness.”

Savon Sanomat (FI) /

Overdramatising is bad for the environment

The study deals only with populations that are already in the process of decline, making its results appear particularly alarming, Savon Sanomat criticises, arguing that this approach is counterproductive:

“Because of this exaggeration the fact that the populations of many other different insect species have collapsed has gone largely unnoticed. The causes behind this are pesticides, urbanisation, forest destruction, climate change and the disappearance of field borders due to intensive farming. ... To protect nature, many people want access to reliable scientific information about where and how they can reduce their footprint. Of course any kind of mistake in scientific reporting is deplorable, but exaggerations are the worst poison.”