The real measure of where we are …

The news – at last – is reporting on something far more important than celebrity tittle-tattle, or even the ravings of tiny-hand-Trump. Following on from the ‘ecological Armageddon‘ piece in the Guardian the Today Programme has also deigned to cover this rather vital story. I wrote about the same research back in May – again in the Guardian … but this is a new paper looking at the data … and how terrifying it is …

My summary included the figure of an 80% reduction in insect biomass found in Germany over a 30 year period. The most recent data put the figure at a 76% reduction in 27 years.

Do you see what that means?

We, quite rightly, become agitated at the thought of the loss of biodiversity, the loss of a species locally, regionally, nationally or globally is a disaster. But we seem to worry less about the build up to that final moment – yet we need to, and that means a focussing of our thoughts on the loss of bioabundance. The ‘great thinning’, as the wonderful writer Michael McCarthy described it in his superb book ‘Moth Snowstorm’, is a previously unreported disaster. But it is the calling card of the Anthropocene, the human generated geological epoch.

We could worry that these are the insects that are important for pollination of food plants, that are necessary for keeping other pest species in control – but this anthropocentric thinking is why we are in this parlous state. We need to grow up and shift our perspective. The loss of biomass – and it should be noted that there has not been an increase in loss of biodiversity in the study area … displaying the weakness of relying on that as a measure – is far more important than what impact it might have on us.

It is bigger, too, than the cascade of disaster that will follow – as the intricate network of life that feeds on each other is interrupted.

The real scale of this is in its evidence of how deeply we have damaged the system of life on which we (a global/multi-species ‘we’) completely depend. Every process of life on earth is a subset of the ecosystem. Yet the very processes that are destroying this system – ‘progress’, ‘industrial capitalism’ or what ever name you give it – assumes, with staggering arrogance, a position of superiority.

I do not know the answer – how we get out of this. But I do think we might be getting to a time where the true scale of our annihilation of life on earth is a subject that is considered worthy of news. And that has to be a good start.