Consumers share responsibility for climate crisis

Date: Monday 25th February 2019

ON 11th February it was left to the last item on the BBC News to report that globally, insect populations are declining so fast that at present rates they could disappear within a century.

While we might be tempted to feel grateful for the absence of species like midges and mosquitoes, the situation is too serious for flippancy. As one of the researchers pointed out “love them or loathe them, humans can’t survive without insects”.

The message really is that stark, this is an apocalyptic scenario. Insects pollinate the large majority of plants and are at the heart of every food web, so losing them would wipe out both plants and the animals at higher levels in the chain. The collapse of ecosystems is a real prospect unless we change our ways. Yes, it is our responsibility. This is not a natural process.

So what are the causes we need to address? Well of course global warming and the growing climate crisis are having a direct impact, so urgent attention to that is vital. But the research evidence is clear; insects are also being devastated by intensive agriculture and the use of pesticides.

As the food supply industry competes for our business it drives down prices, which means that farms, not just in the UK but across the world, are pushed to produce ever higher yields at the expense of damage to biodiversity and soils.

We cannot pass the buck for these problems and simply blame farmers. We, as consumers, are all responsible if we don’t demand better standards of production. And government is responsible, if it is not prepared to outlaw destructive practices.

The results of our collective failings are the poisoning our environment with pesticides, depletion of soil from over production, and destruction of the habitats that insects depend on.

It would be wrong to suggest that these issues are not recognised but, as with the climate crisis, there is a shying away from the facts that is inexcusable.

There is, however, some good news. Numerous councils across the UK and in other parts of the world are passing climate crisis motions that set demanding targets to reduce carbon emissions. Our local authorities from parish to county level should be following suit.

And, given that agriculture is central to our economy, our local government must do what it can directly, and pressure national government and international bodies to confront the ecological crisis that is being caused by intensive agriculture.

This week we should also take note of, and be inspired by, the young people who have chosen to protest about the lack of attention to the climate crisis and degradation of our environment.

Although this letter comes from Penrith and Eden Green Party, we believe that the issues we are raising are beyond party politics and should be embraced by all parties in order to protect the future of our children and grandchildren.

ALAN BARR, ALI ROSS, DICK O’BRIEN, DOUG LAWSON and PAMELA BARR

(Penrith and Eden Green Party)

By email