Insects and a new Silent Spring

There is a hidden on-going man-made environmental catastrophe taking place today.  It rarely gets mentioned. If does get mentioned the cause is deliberately misrepresented. Mostly though, it is ignored. Swept under the carpet. In the hope that nobody will notice.

This calamity directly leads to the destruction of 1.2 trillion flying insects each year in Germany alone. A calamity that could lead to a massive and potentially irreversible decline in agriculture and wildlife.

The 1.2 trillion lost flying insects is a tiny part of the overall German insect population. But it is most certainly not insignificant. By comparison it equates to about one third of the entire migrating insect population in southern England.

The crucial aspect of these 1.2 trillion insect losses are that they are flying and migrating insects. They are mostly at the adult stage and are going to breed. Predatory losses among insect larvae and young adults are usually well in excess of 90%.  Trivialising the loss of these 1.2 trillion adult insects by comparing their number to the overall insect count (as some do) is foolish.

If you impact the relatively small numbers that actually reach the breeding stage, you will potentially cause a population collapse. Not only in the insects themselves, but later within the insect predators. The main insect predators are birds and other arthropods (mainly spiders) so don't be surprised when they start disappearing too.

This annual loss has been happening over a decadel time-scale. This catastrophe works a little like compound interest in reverse. Initially the effect is small. But the predators continue to eat. Until that is, they themselves are unable to find enough food. So as each year goes by, the effect builds on itself.

Today in some parts of Germany the flying insect population has collapsed by 75%. Where there is one flying insect today, in 2000 there were four.

When you have a situation like this you expect to see a smoking gun.  Some change that has been made within this short timescale. A change that correlates with the decline. Something that already has a track record in causing insect death. Then surely it would be sensible to highlight it as the potential cause.

You only ever miss seeing such a murder weapon if it is being hidden from you. Or alternatively, your cognitive dissonance insists that one of your cherished icons could never cause such wanton destruction.

Both of these options seem to be in play today.

It is true not all of the insect population decline may be caused by this single but lethal mechanism. But there seems little doubt that it makes all other possibilities (aka Climate Change, insecticides, wet weather, traffic) pale by comparison. Here’s a table of possibilities and their calculated impact. Notice the big bar labelled “Unknown”. So big in fact that it has its own scale.

So it looks like our smoking gun is "Unknown". But what has arrived since 1990? Further more what is known to destroy insects en-masse? In fact what is known to destroy insects in such numbers that the insect DNA residue smeared over its surfaces can inhibit its operation? What has grown in number as the insect population has declined?

So before I announce the murderous methodology of this wanton  man-made destruction let me first link you to two peer reviewed scientific papers both published in prominent and respected scientific journals. As well as that I'll first link in a Nature article from 2001. All the graphs/images on this post are taken from the peer reviewed papers.

Why am I doing this first?

Because what I am about to tell you will possibly cause you a great deal distress. I don't want you to discard this this information simply because it seriously challenges your world view. Here they are: (notice the oldest dates back to 2001 – this has been known about for a long time – and covered up)

So, the titles of the papers possibly tipped you off regarding the mechanism that is destroying wildlife on such a grand scale. But if you missed it, the smoking gun appears to be:

The wind turbine.

Or rather the 30,000 wind turbines that scar the face of German countryside. This is what they do:

The murderous effect of wind turbines on insect populations has been known about for at least twenty years. Nothing has been done. In fact the problem has been obfuscated, ignored and otherwise covered up by the wind industry.

I first blogged about it nearly seven years ago HERE . But back then I had no idea how bad the problem was.

But it gets worse.

It appears the greatest danger wind turbines present to insect populations is when the wind is low and the turbines are in effect idling. They will be producing little or nothing except the slaughter of billions of insects a day.

So why are they turning? Why have they not been braked?


The wind turbine lobby love to pretend that wind turbines are producing energy even in low winds. What they do not tell you is that the amount produced in low wind is so pitifully small it might as well not be generated at all. It is most certainly not worth decimating the worlds insect populations on which the whole eco-structure of the world depends.

An immediate imperative to mitigate this evolving insect cataclysm is for wind turbines to be stopped when the wind speed is low. This needs to be done NOW.

Then we really need to take a long hard look at these fashionable yet massively counter-productive and sub-optimal  “green” energy mechanisms.

This insect murdering wind turbine calamity could (and possibly already has) cause irreversible damage to both the larger environment along with agriculture and biodiversity.

Please read the papers (especially the one by Trieb) They may be dry but they are vital if we are going to recover from this calamity

On a personal note I would like to say that I don’t scare easily. I generally view end-of-the-world or cataclysmic viewpoints with disdain.

But I find Trieb's paper alarming. What makes it so alarming is that it is a worthy, peer reviewed and momentous paper. There is no hidden agenda. No half-truths. No obfuscations. In fact I could well imagine that Trieb has taken an enormous amount of flak from vested interests already.

Yet Treib's paper is not only being ignored it is being stonewalled and denied without any form of valid refutation.

To use a phase: We need to listen to the science. Then we need to discard the wishful thinking.

Particularly we urgently need to listen to THIS science and listen to it whether we like it or not. There is no excuse to ignore this.

In low winds these fatuous fashion statements must be stopped from turning.

We must stop this evolving insect catastrophe.

Before it is too late.


Russ Wood said...

In fact, in times of low wind, the turbines are actually CONSUMING grid electricity! It's necessary to keep the turbines rotating slowly, to avoid distortion of the bearings if they are kept immobile for any length of time. (Or, at least, that's the story that the wind 'farm' operators are telling!)

BilloTheWisp said...

Sorry about the delay in replying.

Bearing failure has been (and almost certainly still is) a serious issue for wind turbine operators and designers. Though they like to keep quiet about it. It is one of the principle driving factors for derating turbines (i.e. smaller generator for a given diameter rotor) This also gives the illusion of increased output by fraudulently increasing the capacity factor. In fact it is likely to decrease actual annual output)

If you are interested I did a number of posts posts on bearing/gearbox failure.

The oldest (Elephant in the Turbine - HERE"

I do believe they are forced to stop the turbines to clean them (usually scrape off the dead bugs) and (maybe) when they are constrained. But obviously they don't like doing it.

But whatever. We cannot go on like this. The sheer pointless destruction being meted out by these things is something we are going to regret for many years to come.

Thanks again for the comment.

BilloTheWisp said...

Oh! I missed off the most recent post on the gearbox/bearing problem - which references all the other posts on this subject!

It's Here - More Ghosts in the Gearbox