A few years ago, as part of The Outside Story, Joe Rankin, an environmental writer, wrote a column about “the impending insect apocalypse.” He was writing about an article in the journal Conservation Biology by Francisco Sanchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney, Australia and Kris Wyckhuys of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing. Reviewing existing studies, they concluded that 40% of insect species are in decline, a third are endangered, and that the total mass of insects worldwide is declining at a rate of 2.5 % per year. They blamed commercial agriculture – mainly the use of pesticides – urbanization and climate change. They said ecosystems across the planet, and humans themselves, were at risk from the decline.
The rest of the column was devoted to people familiar with ecological studies (especially from the Northeast) talking about the merits of this report and reaffirming the debate about potential causes.