I know El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico very well, both from vacationing on the island and from my time in Peace Corps training at Camp Crozier. We had time to explore the island, and one of its treasures is this pristine tropical forest.
El Yunque has suffered a staggering loss of its insect population over the years, attributable to a warming climate. With the loss of insects comes loss of birds, butterflies, and other creatures farther up the food chain.
Does it matter if the world has fewer annoying bugs? Actually, it does.
“Thirty-five percent of the world’s plant crops requires pollination by bees, wasps and other animals. And arthropods are more than just pollinators. They’re the planet’s wee custodians, toiling away in unnoticed or avoided corners. They chew up rotting wood and eat carrion. “And none of us want to have more carcasses around,” Schowalter said. Wild insects provide $57 billion worth of six-legged labor in the United States each year, according to a 2006 estimate.
The loss of insects and arthropods could further rend the rain forest’s food web, Lister warned, causing plant species to go extinct without pollinators. “If the tropical forests go it will be yet another catastrophic failure of the whole Earth system,” he said, “that will feed back on human beings in an almost unimaginable way.”
Lesley Stahl asked Trump about climate change on the 60 Minutes interview, and once again Trump reveals his vast ignorance. He said we’ve had bad storms in previous eras, and that the climate will swing back. I suppose had Stahl asked him if he thought the Arctic glaciers would magically reform, Trump would have changed the subject.
I can only imagine Trump’s befuddlement had Stahl asked him about insects.