An award-winning entomologist and conservationist examines the importance of insects to our ongoing survival.
Goulson, a professor of biology at the University of Sussex who has written about bees and other insects in A Sting in the Tale and other books, begins by exploring the history of these fascinating creatures, reflecting on periods in his life when butterflies and bees were more abundant than they are today. He also laments that future generations will likely see even fewer. Unfortunately, most people view insects as pests. However, the reality is that “as insects become more scarce, our world will slowly grind to a halt, for it cannot function without them.” Goulson offers a devastating vision of the future—marked by starvation, disease, and lawlessness—that will come to pass unless meaningful action to protect insects is undertaken immediately. Among the many reasons for their decline are pesticides, light pollution, temperature changes, and the introduction of foreign plants and insects into local communities. Even though the author has dedicated years of his life to his research, he also acknowledges that ecologists and entomologists have “done a poor job of explaining the vital importance of insects to the general public.” Striving to educate, he shows that while countless species are rapidly going extinct, there are glimmers of hope. “It is not yet too late,” he writes. “Only a small proportion of insects…has gone extinct so far.” Through concerted efforts—youth education, demands for political action and sustainable farming systems, and programs to green urban areas—there is still time for us to avert the apocalypse of the subtitle. Although much of the information here will not be new or surprising to avid nature readers, the author’s enthusiasm and conversational tone drive home the need for change and create an inspiring reading experience.
A hopeful, scientifically lucid, and timely call to action.