(NEXSTAR) – The insects of the earth are doing badly.
This emerges from a new special edition from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, which was released on Tuesday.
According to the report, the earth is likely losing one to two percent of its insect population every year due to a number of interlocking causes such as climate change, light pollution, agriculture, invasive species, and deforestation.
“Nature is under siege,” write the authors of the study.
“When the tapestry of life is torn apart, we need to understand if this is a global phenomenon and how quickly it is happening and why,” said the study’s lead author, David Wagner, professor at the University of Connecticut.
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The loss of insects can have drastic consequences for the planet. We rely on them to pollinate food, control weeds and pests, and create fertile soil.
And while one to two percent doesn’t sound like much, the numbers add up year after year.
“You can’t divert that much insect life from an earthly community on the planet because insects hold everything together,” said Wagner. “You are the food web. The cascading effects will be enormous. ”
Monitoring insect populations is a difficult task. There are more than a million described insect species – around 4.5 to 7 million remain unnamed – and the data remains limited, especially when compared to vertebrates.
Even so, support for insect research is growing thanks to increased public awareness and legislation like the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.
And yet, as the study finds, “changes in national leadership can easily reverse environmental initiatives.” The study explicitly highlights Donald Trump’s administration as introducing federal policy changes that “run counter to the conservation of biodiversity.”
This can have serious consequences, especially for the most vulnerable populations.
“Time is not on our side,” write the study’s authors, “and urgent action is needed on behalf of nature.”
There are a few things the average person can do. Wagner recommends withdrawing the use of pesticides on your lawn, creating more insect-friendly habitats and actively voting for nature-friendly legislation.
“Efforts to change national politics are hugely important and probably the biggest bang for your buck,” he said.