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Dragonfly On Stem
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Insect populations suffering death by 1,000 cuts, say scientists

This ‘Frightening’ global decline is ‘tearing apart tapestry of life’, with climate crisis a critical concern...

Insect populations are suffering “death by a thousand cuts”, with many falling at “frightening” rates that are “tearing apart the tapestry of life”, according to scientists behind a new volume of studies.

The insects face multiple, overlapping threats including the destruction of wild habitats for farming, urbanisation, pesticides and light pollution. Population collapses have been recorded in places where human activities dominate, such as in Germany, but there is little data from outside Europe and North America and in particular from wild, tropical regions where most insects live.

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Butterfly On Flower
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

Scientists decry death by 1,000 cuts for world’s insects

"The problem, sometimes called the insect apocalypse, is like a jigsaw puzzle. And scientists say they still don’t have all the pieces, so they have trouble grasping its enormity and complexity and getting the world to notice and do something..."

The world’s vital insect kingdom is undergoing “death by a thousand cuts,” the world’s top bug experts said.

Climate change, insecticides, herbicides, light pollution, invasive species and changes in agriculture and land use are causing Earth to lose probably 1% to 2% of its insects each year, said University of Connecticut entomologist David Wagner, lead author in the special package of 12 studies in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences written by 56 scientists from around the globe.

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Beetle
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‘One of most disturbing articles I have ever read’ scientist says of study detailing climate-driven ‘bugpocalypse’

"Climate warming is the driving force behind the collapse of the forest's food web." —Bradford Lister and Andres Garcia

When a scientist who studies the essential role insects play in the health of the ecosystem calls a new study on the dramatic decline of bug populations around the world “one of the most disturbing articles” he’s ever read, it’s time for the world to pay attention.

The article in question is a report published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) showing that in addition to annihilating hundreds of mammal species, the human-caused climate crisis has also sparked a global “bugpocalypse” that will only continue to accelerate in the absence of systemic action to curb planetary warming.

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Dragonfly
Unsplash

Scientists sound alarm about insect apocalypse

"[T]aking actions that address issues such as climate change can synergistically promote insect diversity. Climate change is increasingly recognized as a primary factor driving local and regional plant and animal extinctions."

A collection of new scientific papers authored by 56 experts from around the world reiterates rising concerns about bug declines and urges people and governments to take urgent action to address a biodiversity crisis dubbed the “insect apocalypse.”

Emphasizing the consequences of such declines, University of Connecticut entomologist David Wagner, the package’s lead author, told the Associated Press that insects “are absolutely the fabric by which Mother Nature and the tree of life are built.”

According to Wagner, many insect populations are dropping about 1-2% per year. As he put it to The Guardian: “You’re losing 10-20% of your animals over a single decade and that is just absolutely frightening. You’re tearing apart the tapestry of life”…

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Aaron Barna, USFWS

Climate change contributing to widespread butterfly decline across western United States

Dr. Tara Cornelisse, an entomologist and senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), said, "These declines are a wake-up call that we need to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases to save these beautiful and beloved butterflies, as well as our very way of life..."

study published today in Science found that climate change is contributing to widespread butterfly decline across the western United States. Using three different long-term datasets from the western U.S., the authors found downward trends in a majority of butterflies, including historically common species like the west coast lady.

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Spotted Butterfly On Flower
iStock

Fewer butterflies seen by community scientists across the warming and drying landscapes of the American West

This new study published in Science looked at three different data sets that cover the last 40 years of butterfly populations across more than 70 locations in the Western U.S..."That so many of our butterflies are declining is very alarming," Dr. Tara Cornelisse, an entomologist and senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD)...

Many recent studies have revealed sweeping declines in insects over the past few decades. Butterflies are no exception. This study used three different datasets, collected by both experts and community scientists, and found that the number of butterflies has declined over the past 40 years. Although the drivers of decline are complex, the authors found that climate change—in particular, warmer months in the autumn—explain a large portion, even as warming summers actually lead to increases. This work shows that climate change impacts may be insidious and unexpected in their effects…

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Butterfly With Spots
Patricia Marroquin/Moment/Getty Images

Western butterflies disappearing due to warmer fall seasons

You can help people understand that wildlife is increasingly at risk because of climate change—and the solutions to change that are within our grasp.

Butterflies across the U.S. West are disappearing, and now researchers say the climate crisis is largely to blame.

A new study published in Science looked at three different data sets that cover the last 40 years of butterfly populations across more than 70 locations in the Western U.S…”That so many of our butterflies are declining is very alarming,” Dr. Tara Cornelisse, an entomologist and senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), said in response to the findings. “These declines are a wake-up call that we need to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases to save these beautiful and beloved butterflies, as well as our very way of life…

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Sandhill Cranes
iStock

Sandhill cranes, a conservation success story, now face climate change threat

If you're looking for ways to weave climate change solutions into your conversations, this is a good example. Notice the conversational tone. You want to avoid jargon (technical terms) as much as possible—and use local examples.

“Birds are being pushed and tested by climate change,” [Nathaniel Miller, director of conservation for Audubon Great Lakes] said. “The climatic range of these birds developed over millennia. It’s all about timing. They’re usually in the right places at the right time. In spring, they’re where insects are hatching. In fall, they’re where they can find nuts and berries.

General warming trends, as well as extreme events like flooding, drought, and intense heat, throw this delicate balance and timing off kilter,” Miller said…

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Barn Swallow
Pixabay

Climate change cues tree swallows to nest earlier in spring

Birds and other animals are increasingly vulnerable to the erratic weather that climate change exacerbates. We are going to need to go beyond habitat protection to help them.

Hatchlings cannot regulate their body temperature, so they are vulnerable to hypothermia. And the insects they eat stop flying in cold weather, potentially leaving the chicks to starve.

“These chicks are growing very, very fast,” Twining says. “They have very high energy demands, so…if they don’t get a lot of that good high-quality food during this pretty specific time…that’s when these cold weather events seem to be most devastating.”

For example, data from Ithaca, New York, shows that a single cold snap in 2016 killed more than 70% of baby tree swallows…

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Whales In The Sea
Getty Images

Biden’s historic action on 30×30

The 30 x 30 initiative is (not surprisingly) strongly supported by land trusts and conservation organizations. Protecting land is what they/we do. The timing is important as there is increasing evidence that many of the lands and waters we are collectively working to conserve are near, or already at, a tipping point.

After a drumbeat of headlines in recent years detailing nature’s decline, there’s very good news from the Biden administration, with the president pledging to put America on the path of protecting at least 30 percent of its land and 30 percent of its ocean areas by 2030 (30×30). This action is necessary to reverse nature’s decline, fight climate change, and secure the natural life support systems we depend on for clean air and water, food, and quality of life. And, if done right, fulfilling a 30×30 goal offers benefits beyond safeguarding and strengthening the natural foundations of our society. It should create more equitable access to nature, bring communities together to conserve our shared natural heritage, honor tribal sovereignty and self-determination, and strengthen our economy.

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