PLANETARY EMERGENCY: TWO OMINOUS WARNINGS

The first was titled “Insect Armageddon,” [i]A recent study in Germany, carried out in nature preserves, found that “. . . . in just 25 years, the total biomass of these insects declined by an astonishing 76 percent.” Likely causes? The use of pesticides and habitat destruction in surrounding farmland.

Furthermore there is alarming new evidence that insect populations worldwide are in rapid decline. As Prof. Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex, a co-author of a new insect study, put it, we are “on course for ecological Armageddon” because “if we lose the insects, then everything is going to collapse.” The German study corroborates others. “This isn’t the first study to indicate that insects are in trouble. The Zoological Society of London warned five years ago that many insect populations worldwide were declining, and a 2014 study published in Science magazine also documented a steep drop in insect and other invertebrate life worldwide, warning that such “declines will cascade onto ecosystem functioning and human well-being.” Insects not only pollinate over half of our food, they are also food for many fish, reptiles, birds and others. We are looking at a cascading ecological collapse easily as important as climate deterioration, toxification, and the growing global water shortage.

The second, published in BioScience, a leading scientific journal, was titled “15,000 Scientists From 184 Countries Warn Humanity of Environmental Catastrophe.”[ii] This one urges global leaders to “. . . global leaders to save the planet from environmental catastrophe. Signers include Jane Goodall, E.O. Wilson, and James Hansen and thousands of others. It was their “second notice.”   The first one, issued in 1992 and signed by “only” 1700 scientists, began: “Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course.” They noted the growing hole in the ozone layer, pollution fresh water depletion, “. . . overfishing, deforestation, plummeting wildlife populations, as well as unsustainable rises in greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures and human population levels.” Other than the Ozone Layer, fixed by international cooperation (The Montreal Protocol), things have gotten much worse, including “ . . .a 28.9 percent reduction of vertebrate wildlife, a 62.1 percent increase in CO2 emissions, a 167.6 percent rise in global average annual temperature change and a 35.5 percent increase in the global population.” They are adamant that time is running out and are urging leaders ““take immediate action as a moral imperative to current and future generations of human and other life.” They warn that “We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats.”

 

It is time for humanity to wake up. As individuals and even corporations there is much we can do but it will not be enough. Only policy enacted at the highest international levels will be sufficient. And that means getting involved in politics, electing people who respect and understand science.

 

[i]   New York Times, Oct. 30, 2017.

 

[ii] Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch, Nov. 15, 2017.

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