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For quite some time now, scientists have warned that insect populations are declining rapidly across the globe. Believe it or not, this decline could lead to a doomsday scenario for humanity — and nobody’s talking about it.
A new global review published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation has offered a vision for the future that the review’s authors describe as “shocking.” Among worldwide insect species, a full 40% are experiencing rapid population loss. Approximately one-third of all existing species are endangered. Perhaps scariest of all is that, at the current population loss rates, insects could entirely cease to exist on this planet within a century.
These alarming figures come from an analysis of 73 historical reports of insect declines from across the globe, all of which point to human activity as the source of this problem. The review points to a global “conversion to intensive agriculture” as the root of insect population decline, with further causes including climate change, invasive species, and agricultural and chemical pollutants.
One of the review’s authors, Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, spoke to The Guardian about why these insect population declines could be devastating for life on earth.
“If insect species losses cannot be halted,” he says, “this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind.” In the same Guardian article, University of Sussex professor Dave Goulson says that insects are “at the heart of every food web. They pollinate the large majority of plant species, keep the soil healthy, recycle nutrients, control pests, and much more. Love them or loathe them, we humans cannot survive without insects.”
The review concludes by stating, “A rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices, is urgently needed.” If no solutions are found, humanity could find itself unable to survive within just the next century.