Decline : It all goes together

This is a story of how ecological and economic futures are tied together, and the community ownership and custodianship of what collectively belongs to them has a key role to play.

Do we “own” our places? Do we become the people our places need us to be?

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I fear insect population collapse could be one of the first and most challenging waves of climate. Already in China, where they earlier pioneered pesticide spray via small aeroplanes they are having to pioneer techniques of hand pollination via small children. Similarly there are studies showing that huge collapse in insect pollination is happening across the world, especially in areas with modern agriculture. As a child too, while cycling insects would get in the face or mouth and it doesn’t happen so much anymore.

Insects are widely feared and misunderstood, even within the climate ecosystem people. I see them as the most energy efficient drones that can not only fly from India to Africa without a refuel but also self replicate and sleeper cell themselves for decades, waiting for humidity in ways the most advanced database backups in data centres are still unable to. Having built home automation and IoT things in the past, I am in awe of their batteries, software and hardware.

Insects are extremely sensitive to temperature change and a slight variation can alter their male:female ratios, quickly triggering collapse. The locusts too, reached Rajasthan and parts of MP last year. The coming years could see them come down south.

On a visit to AP natural farming programme, a member of the royal family and a former minister of agriculture and food security mentioned that people are renting bee hives as pollination is becoming an added expense in farming in many areas of the middle east.

It is only the ingenuity of insects that gives me hope. Maybe they have a few cards up their sleeve that we still don’t understand. Maybe they’ll come back after the big mammals go.

But the way buggers bite, stink and creep people out makes me wonder if we’d be able to love them the way we should. Urging more use of insect emojis until then. :bug: :lady_beetle: :cricket: :butterfly:

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There is a general buzz (sorry) about insect declines worldwide, but I don’t think we have much concrete information from India.

However there are some indirect hints of this – for example the State of India’s Birds report finds that insect-eating birds as a group have declined by c.30% from the pre-2000 baseline, the second-greatest decline after carnivorous birds (c.45% decline as a group).

The decline in insectivores could be because of a decline in insects, or accumulation of toxins (pesticides) in tissues, or (most likely) both.

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