What is the sixth mass extinction?
Many scientists believe that the worldwide destruction of wildlife is the beginning of a massive extinction of species on Earth. This has happened five times in the last 4 billion years, as a result of meteor impacts, long ice ages and large volcanic eruptions. But this is not the result of natural causes, but of human action.
How bad is it?
Extremely. The biodiversity crisis is even lower than that of climate change through some measures. Since the beginning of civilization humanity has lost 83% of all wild mammals. In the last 50 years alone, the population of all mammals, birds, reptiles and fish has fallen by an average of 60%.
How about insects?
The new global report says it is even worse for mistakes, with twice as many species of insects as vertebrates. The decline in insects is at least a century old, but seems to have accelerated in recent decades.
Does it matter?
Yes. There are more than a million species of insects compared to just 5,400 mammals, and they are the cornerstone of all terrestrial ecosystems. Without them, there is what scientists call a "bottom-up tropical cascade," in which the impact of insect collapse on the food chain rises and extinguishes higher animals. And without healthy ecosystems, there is no clean air and no water.
Why do we really only notice the collapse of the insects?
The lack of errors on windscreens for cars after a land trip compared to a few decades ago is real. However, hard scientific data requires careful and long-term research, and relatively little has been done. Insects are small and often difficult to identify, and they are certainly less charismatic than elephants or eagles. Worse, just when we need more information, researchers say that entomology courses are being cut.
What can you do?
Ultimately, the size of the human population and the amount of land they consume for food, energy, and other goods determine how much wildlife is lost. Protecting wild areas is as important as reducing the impact of chemical-based industrial agriculture. The fight against climate change is also crucial for the many insect species in the tropics. So they demand political action, eat less intensively bred meat and dairy products and fly less.