Insects disappear with an unknown rate so far. This is stated in a new international research report, which compiled 73 studies on the subject. Continuing development, insects can be destroyed after a hundred years.
Does that sound extremely serious?
– Yes. If all the concerns raised by the researchers in the report come true, the nature that we think will end, says Thomas Roslin, professor of insect ecology at the Swedish Agricultural University of Uppsala.
How will the earth be insectless?
– Insects cause nature to walk around. They are a big part of all the food that birds eat, smashing dead animals and organisms, and without pollination many of our flowers and trees will no longer exist. We, the people, would be very hungry; 75% of the plants we grow as food are insect pollinators. And take breakfast – if you remove insect-dependent foods, it would be basically bacon.
Is the report too panicky?
"It may be, but we do not know. The report summarizes the available research and most often shows the same thing. However, the number of studies is not large enough to allow cross-proofing of the future. It is also important to note that authors specifically look for studies that show insect reduction.
What do you think then?
"If I have to guess, I think the researchers behind the report are right, they sum up what is known. However, I believe that all insects will disappear within one or several centuries because there are so many insects. But it is very worrying that many insects look very bad while we have so little control over the changes. There are too few data on insect fauna and many insect species that are completely unknown to science.
Why do you have such a bad check?
"It's hard to watch tens of thousands of insects. Anyone can learn all Swedish birds, but there is probably not anyone to learn all Swedish insects. There is no tradition of tracking insect fauna and reporting changes in the way it is done, for example, with the bird.
What is the strong reduction?
– The report lists three things. First, habitat changes, mainly larger-scale farming, which causes the disappearance of the natural environment of insects. Second, chemicals that kill insects, not least pesticides in agriculture and forestry. And thirdly, climate change, which according to the report has the greatest impact on tropical insects.
Can insects adapt to the changes?
"Probably to some extent. But if they were able to adapt at the necessary pace, we would not see the changes that are now being reported.
How is the situation in Sweden?
"As far as we have, here is the same development. It is enough to look at the list of all types listed in red; There are many endangered insect species and, besides many types of insects, we have no idea how they feel or even know.
What is needed to reverse the trend?
– We need to produce food in a way that gives space to insects, making farming surfaces smaller and stopping to pour pesticides. Even in forestry, different species must be taken into account. It is not hopeless, it has great ecological awareness and good intentions. And as far as climate change is concerned, everyone understands that we need to change our way of life.
What can you do yourself to protect insects?
– If you own a garden or small land, you can plant beautiful flowers like insects, there are mixtures of seeds that are sold as insect-friendly. Do not like your lawn as a golf course. Buy organic food, preferably Swedish. Eating more vegetarians is also important because if we want to use farmland more efficiently, we definitely need to eat the plants themselves rather than feed the cows with them.
Will we be able to reverse the trend?
– I'm a bit pessimistic and I do not think we can reverse the development, but we can soften it. What scientists should do right now is to get a better idea of insects and changes. Over the last two years, we have developed new DNA methods that make it easier to get a complete picture.