Insects are the most varied and abundant animals outweighing humanity by 17 times, yet they are in decline in many parts of the world. Insects have been called the ‘glue’ in nature and are essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems as pollinators, food for other animals, and recyclers of nutrients. This month the United Nations IPBES report said insect abundance has declined very rapidly in some places, and the available evidence supports a “tentative” estimate that 10% of the 5.5m species of insect thought to exist are threatened with extinction.
Leading entomologists tell Tom Heap that insects have an image problem when it comes to conservation and the first step is getting people to care about these little creatures. We hear about the weird and wonderful world of some insect species that are declining in the UK, including mayflies and dung beetles and discover just how they contribute to the systems we humans rely on. The conversion of natural environments to create farmland is one of the main causes of the decline, with the use of pesticides, urbanisation and climate change also major factors. Tom asks global pesticide manufacturer Bayer about what they’re doing to help reverse insect decline and considers how we can practically make more space for insects.
Producer: Sophie Anton
Photo credit: Dr Beynon's Bug Farm
As India votes Navin Singh Khadka travels the sub-continent to find out if environmental issues are rising up the agenda.
Amongst nations India is the third highest emitter of carbon dioxide. Its rapid pace of development is pushing emissions higher and worsening air quality. The BBC World Service Environment Correspondent visits the energy capital of India to find out if that link between development and environmental damage can be broken.
Producer: Alasdair Cross
Is the future of the planet making you depressed? Do you feel paralysed, unable to imagine the happiness of future generations? As global governments fail to respond to the existential crisis of climate change it’s understandable that some people seem unable to conjure up a sense of hope, understandable that dozens of young British women have joined the Birthstrike movement, refusing to bring more children into the world. Verity Sharp meets the eco-anxious and asks if they are ill or simply more perceptive than the rest of us.
Producer : Ellie Richold
The State of Nature
A detailed snapshot of Earth's natural life is published this week. How sick is the planet and what can we do to reverse the damage? Tom Heap hosts a debate on the vital findings of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
Tom is joined by Sir Robert Watson, Chair of the IBPES, by the writer and broadcaster Gaia Vince and by Erica McAlister, insect specialist at the Natural History Museum.
Producer: Alasdair Cross
The Youth Are Revolting
Greta Thunberg and the global youth strikes for the climate have directed the worlds attention to the potential future they face on a warming planet. The words and actions of these young people have been noted by global leaders and promises of change have been made but for their efforts to have a lasting impact the promises need to become policy. Tom Heap asks one of the young organisers Tom Bedford if young people are really changing the narrative on climate change.
The strikers' demands that the UK government recognises that we are living through a climate emergency has been taken up by some local councils whilst in the US proposals for a 'Green New Deal' are being taken seriously and Greta Thunberg has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. It seems young people's hope and energy is having an impact but to really change the planet's trajectory they need to bring more of their generation with them and convince the rest of society that their future demands sacrifice today.
Producer Helen Lennard