Lately we hear politicians and would-be presidential candidates describing climate change as an existential threat, a global crisis that has the potential to end life on earth if we do not alter nearly every aspect of how we live on this planet. While the discussions and the heated arguments proceed ad infinitum I hear no mention of a very real existential threat that is lurking and growing in the wings.
At breakfast a few days ago the BW casually asked, “where are the birds?”
I replied, “out looking for insects.”
“What’s wrong with our insects?” she asked.
“We don’t have any,” I answered.
A simple but unexplained fact is that insect populations are disappearing all over the globe. In this area of the Gulf Coast we used to have swarms of love bugs (Plecia Neartica), so many that you would often have to drive with the windshield washer and wipers running as you passed through a cloud of the little critters. Mosquitoes, unlamented in their passing, are gone as are the fireflies, cicadas and almost every other local species that comes to mind. The fire ants and termites are so far unaffected but bees are numbered among the missing and cleaning dead bugs off the windshield and grill is a thing of the past.
Do a quick search of the web and you will quickly get a sense of the enormity of this phenomena. Insects are among our chief pollinators and many crops are dependent upon them. The insects are the first visible link in a chain that leads all the way to this planet’s current dominant species, you and me. Instead of worrying about carbon dioxide, a problem that could be mitigated by simply planting more trees, it might behoove our politicians and leading scientists to switch focus to the disappearance of the bugs and how they might very well be the canaries in our collective mines.
Many politicos on the right scream that those on the left want to turn the US of A into Venezuela. I don’t want to come across as chicken little but what if ignoring the problem of vanishing insects allows a domino effect that leads to the Earth becoming Mars?
At some point along the way we will be wishing that the mosquitoes were back.