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tv   Sophie Co. Visionaries  RT  July 30, 2021 3:30pm-4:00pm EDT

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except the insects go, they will go. but insects also do lots of other things that are really important, like they control crop pests. they, they're really important in recycling. they recycle dead bodies. dead trees leaves all sorts of organ material. they break dire, and they keep the soil healthy, they distribute seeds. and of course, the thing that is perhaps most familiar, they polonaise. so the large majority of all the plants in the world need pollinating by insects. they wouldn't set any seed with them, would disappear. and a, approximately 3 quarters of all the crops that we humans grow depend upon, in fact pollinators. everything from strawberries and raspberries and apples to pumpkins and blueberries, and tomatoes, and chili peppers and even coffee and chocolate depend upon insect pollinators. so
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their life would be pretty di, revise without all the foods and, and be honest, truth is we couldn't feed everybody with insects. so whether you love them all loads them. we really do need, in fact, according to the european parliament data, about a 3rd of bees and batter fly. populations are declining and 10 percent of these and butterfly pieces are actually dangers. massive amounts of insects have disappeared in the past few decades alone. so what kind of an environmental effect are we looking at all ready? well, if, if we don't do something about it pretty urgently, when we're looking at the kind of the collapse of the functioning of ecosystems elementary grind to a halt. if we continue to lose insects, not just extinction, but it's the luck. it's the, the falls in abundance of species that are probably really most crucial has been some really dramatic evidence. for example, from germany, where
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a long study finds that the, the biomass of fly insects, the way to flying insects fell by 76 percent in the last 26 years. so in such a, just becoming much, much less common, which means all the jobs that they do are not being done anymore. and that is the real danger. and that's what's going to, going to impact on us to actually know of the insect species that have already gone extinct. and they're never coming back because of us. yeah, there are some, probably a great number of them that we don't know about. it's really interesting actually that we, we think that there may be another 4000000 or more species of insect, but we haven't even named yet. and it's really quite side. but there's no dice at all what species are going extinct before we discovered them. but they're all insects that we do know of gone extinct. so for example,
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there was the world's biggest a week, which probably doesn't appeal to many people, but it lived on the island to send laner in the, in the atlantic. and it's gone forever. there's a bumblebee franklin's bumble bee which used to live in california and oregon and it's extinct. that's it. for franklin's bumblebee. so some of gone but most haven't and it's, and it's not too late for those. you know we, we could bring them back. but how do you actually know that there definitely extend because we've heard this before that these are that species, not only sex in general are and thing, and then 102030 years on we see them come back. yeah, it's a good question and of course it's almost impossible to prove beyond any dyers, but something has gone extinct, particularly when it's small, you know,
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where we're pretty sure the dinosaurs are extinct because it would be hard to miss one. but if it's a be already away, go little wall or something, then then it's, it is difficult to be certain. there isn't one hiding somewhere, which is why most insects is why not that many insects have yet been declared formally extinct. because while di remains, they all declare extinct. but so for example, franklin's bumblebee, there hasn't been c 9 for 15 years. and every year people have gone to all places where, where it used to be fined and searched for it, and nobody can find it. it is possible i'd have to admit that that might be some hiding somewhere in the rocky mountains of north america where they haven't yet been rediscovered. so yeah, if we're really lucky, there might be a few left but but as i said, i think the really critical issue is not whether or not individual species have
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gone extinct, but it's this broad collapse in numbers of infects that's, that's really critical. so what we talk about pollinators of love of plants such as different types of bees like you mentioned and especially are endangered at the moment. why them, what is happening are having less flowers. the muslim world doesn't have many flowers, particularly the way farming has changed with bigger and bigger fields. heavy mechanization, large monoculture of crops growing with lots of herbicides used to mean there are. so there aren't any weeds, means there are very few flowers in the landscape. and when they're all flowers, they're often contamination within decides with pesticides designed to, to be poisonous to insects. so it's probably haven't taught last to intensive farming is the biggest driver of b declines. but also climate change is starting to, to kick in,
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and particularly with bumble bees, which are my kind of speciality the big ferry beads that are common in the northern hemisphere. they're really well adapted to living in cool places like great britain and lots of russia, and they don't like warm weather, so they're really beginning to be pushed northwards by the effects of climate change. why are farmers so keen on using pesticides then if it actually hurts pollinators and therefore their livelihoods. yeah, it's a difficult one and i, i have a lot of sympathy for fun. so yeah, we shouldn't forget that. we absolutely need farmers because we'd all starve to death for them. and we need to somehow find a way of growing food and feeding everybody which is sustainable, which isn't doing ever increasing damage to the environment of us. i think one of the biggest challenges that humanity faces is working out how to do that. so far
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farmers use pesticides because they're worried that the lose the croppers, they don't, and often that they're working on very small margins that they struggle to make a living. and they can't afford that crop to, to be damaged by in fact pass. so in the short term, they use them because they feel a half day. but the danger is that in the long term, were undermining the very kind of basis that the environmental health, which crop production depends upon. so in the long term, those farmers will suffer because they crops wont be pollinated, but they're more worried about getting this year's harvest in, understandably because they need to make a living. so we need to help them basically quite, i mean, all of us can actually stop using past the sides in our own gardens, right. but will individual effort like yours and my even make any difference. it's fast and sides, and chemicals are still being used on an industrial level. you know, how is it possible to give up this gigantic nature of our food production?
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i mean, specially in the context of cost and population growth. well, so those $2.00 to $2.00 interesting things that the 1st is i do think it would make a difference if, if individual homeowners, gardner stopped using pesticides you know, i don't know the figures the russia, but in the u. k. there are about $22000000.00 private gardens that cover an area of a bio, if $400.00 fives and hector as of land, which is actually a bigger area than all the natures as in the united kingdom. so, you know, just imagine the always gardens were pesticide free and were full of b friendly. flowers about actually make a really substantial difference. but it probably wouldn't overcome all the problems because a much bigger area of land is farmed than is god. and so we do need to come back to this question of, you know, how do we feed the world in a way that's truly sustainable?
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and i do think that is it's, it's not impossible. you know where we're clever creatures, if we put our mind to it, we can do this. and i actually, i think part of the answer is to invest more in research and development in 2 alternatives to pesticides. yeah, there's a lot of money poured into developing new pesticides, millions of pines dollars a year, go into research to to find new pesticides. hardly any goes into research into, into ways to minimize pesticide use because the big companies make that money from selling the pesticides. not from not using pesticides, but that's where it gives me and needs to step in, i think, and, and, and fund research into more sustainable fami methods. we're going to take a short break right now and when we come back, we'll continue talking to dave, golf, and professor of biology at the university of sussex. other of silent ers, averting the in the apocalypse, talking about what extinction of insects mean for human kind. stay with
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the ah ah, when our show the wrong, when all just don't the rules. yes to see out the same because the after an engagement equals the trail. when so many find themselves world far as we choose to look for common ground. the pop quiz per session is 0 time in length. what do you call that?
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what is that word? it's called communism, right? only in communism with our state run countries, they have no recession, but they also have no way for anybody to have a life rather than being a slave. so ok, that's where america that is i believe it doesn't look like this is off the field. what you actually puzzle, so can you through that actually use them shape which is a little bit me up with your sequel, but i will continue to tell you
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with a dinner each and cookie famous from a credit card issued by both of us to choose the the back when they've gotten professor of biology at the university of sussex and other of silent earth averting the insects apocalypse. dave in china. i've heard farmers have sorry to pollinate their orchards by hand. can this be the future of recall? true. i mean, everywhere in the world they've, china can do it. well. yeah,
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no it's, i mean it's pretty terrifying. actually. you're right in in 5, west china. they're a big areas of apple and pair orchard which and i will hand pollinated. but in china, labor is very cheap, i compared to most of the rest of the world. and it's a relatively high value crop. it's really hard to see farmers in, in the developed world. so being able to afford to pay people to, to walk around the fields, hand pollinating every flower and it would certainly be incredibly expensive. and that would mean massive increases in the price of food. and it seems kind of nuts to spend all that money on employing people to do what b 's do really well for free. it would be much cheaper, i think, to look after the bees than to try and do their job for them. you know, there is a famous episode of black marrow. i don't know if you've seen a, where everybody bees are being to use in the u. k. because of the real bees
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actually died. i mean, it's kind of sy fi ok, but companies are already looking into that possibility. do you think that will be our last resort? i really hope not. and you're absolutely right. yeah. the rest robotics engineers around the world, i know of at least full labs for the building robot base right now. but it seems kind of nuts because that's gonna, it's going to be expensive. it's going to require lots of resources. metal plastics, energy they're going to need repairing and replacing. they're going to break down and lift the countryside. and that's the worst case scenario. terrorists break into the, to the be bought control system and turn them against something. when you know real bays, they're biodegradable less self replicating that carbon neutral being poly 900 flowers for more than 100000000 years. and they're really good at it. it seems to me that
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but looking after the real thing would be much cheaper than, than building their replacements. so climate change has a precarious hole in flor phone everywhere on planet. we know, for instance, how it causes ice to melt right and prolongs arctic summer and sun curl bears storm ation. what impact does climate change have on insects? it depends on the insect. and actually, i mean broadly, many insects like warmth, the firm affiliate the basque to warm themselves up. so you'd think on the face of it that actually it might be quite good for many insects to have warmer weather. but the reality is that it doesn't seem to be the case that the most insects that have been studied in this respect, even ones that like warm weather like butterflies, are actually declining as a result of climate change. and it's, it's partly because we think the habitats that they live in
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a ny very fragmented so lots of creatures live on little natures as a little islands of habitat surrounded, i see intensive farmland, all cities, roads, all sorts of mind made things where they places where they can live so historically, when the climate changed gradually, as i say, just came and went, insects ranges shifted towards the poles and they could do that because they could move for, there was a continuous habitat for them to move slowly northwards. but now if they've got to move northridge, they may have to jump hundreds of kilometers to find the next bit, a suitable habitat and many insects just on capable of doing that. so the stranded on the little island, which is becoming too hot for them and they can't get to the next place where they could theoretically live. so all the evidence we have is that basically climate change is adding to poor insect woes. is that i hope actually that
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bees bumblebees in sacks, in particular, bumblebees will adapt to mounting changes. i'm talking about resisting pesticides, heat waves, for instance. yeah, the, i mean, sunny insects camera evolve resistance to pesticides, but it takes time. and i think the problem the insects have is we kind of bombarding them with lots of different problems all at the same time. they might be able to cope with one pesticide if we kept using the same pesticide, eventually they'd probably become resistant to it. but actually, you know, in the european union, for example, we currently use about 500 different pesticides and they change all the time. so there's little chance of the bees having time to, to evolve resistance to them before that switch for something else. and it's not just the pesticides they're also having to cope with the climate changing. but loss
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of that habitat with invasive species moving in all sorts of other issues, which makes it really hard for them to keep up. so sure things can adopt over time, but it takes sizes of years and we're not giving them anything like that. you know, well, pollinators are endangered, climate change is causing some insects of normal activity. i have growing temperatures increased past metabolism and you know, they're more hungry. there are options and crops become more ravaging. climate change cannot be turned around. that's for sure. but is there anything that can be done about this particular problem? i think this, the simple answer is we have to try and minimize all of these other pressures that we're putting on insects. you're absolutely right. we're not going to stop climate change from happening. we can mean we can reduce the severity of a by acting soon and decisively. and that's really, really important, not just of course, for insects,
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but for many other reasons too. but in the meantime, if we provide be, for example, with somewhere to live, i'm with lots of flowers and we stop poisoning them. they might be able to cope with climate change if they've got lots to eat. and everything else is looking rosy . they're not going to be able to cope with climate change if we keep poisoning them and destroying that homes. just wondering, is it possible to exterminate, i don't know, like a selected insect species without actually harming others. yeah, well, a might be one day. it isn't at the moment, but that has been researched on 2 things called gene drives, which i another geneticist. and i, i can't explain the mechanism exactly. but essentially you insert a gene that makes an insect steroidal, which spreads through the population. and theoretically,
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you can release some of your genetically engineered insects into the wild and wipe site their entire species. and in lab experiments, this has been done with one species of mosquito successfully. and so it does offer the offer the potential in the future. we might be able to say, you know, here's a species we've decided we don't want it anymore. we're going to wipe it eyes. but that i must admit, terrifies me because that is a kind of power. but you know, we're playing god on a global scale. it would be really hard to police for anything else because, you know, if one country, one bar tree releases these genetically engineered creatures, they're not going to stop the national boundaries. they'll spread everywhere. and so where would we stop which species would we decide? we didn't want and who would decide which species were is a pretty scary world. the habitat for bees are disappearing. not only because of
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past aside views, but also because are going population needs new places to lee, right. well, we can try to help the situation. we can't really just stop encroaching the fields and ms. meadows, can we? no, we can't. we just need places to live, but we couldn't. we can live alongside these and other insects. we can, they can live in there in the garden. as we discussed earlier, my garden is full of life. i'm looking, i've got quite a big garden, but i'm looking at the window behind my laptop right now. and the red butterflies flying around and bumblebees. if everyone's gotten was like that, then it wouldn't really be a problem if urban air is expanded because wildlife would be living with us. so i think that is part of the solution is persuading people to, to invite life in a way that we're where we are very many people because they don't really like in
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thanks. they don't want them in their gardens. but if we could, if we could just win them over, persuade them to love it, and fax, which is kind of my mission in life. then maybe that be realize hi, beautiful and interesting. these creatures are and they would welcome into their gardens. but i mean, i mean, something i don't like insects. it's just that there's some insects that i would want in thing that malaria mosquitos and such will need some poor. i definitely won't cry, they disappear with unfortunately, the insects we don't like tend to be ones that would be extremely difficult to, to get rid of even if we wanted to. and that, and there was that a thriving in the modern world. things like some species of things like high flies mosquitoes, cockroaches they're really tough and adaptable. so there's a kind of irony that the insects we would really like to do with eyes i doing just fine. the ones we really need and that we value as being beautiful or important
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pollinators are the ones that are disappearing, which is yeah, unfortunate. oh, you know, that's how good and evil works in the world. there's 95 percent of good, but the 5 percent of evil is just so well organized. you know? yeah, something like that. so growing more in sex attractions in gardens is one thing you advocate very strongly can personal garden tending really becoming a trend so powerful. they actually overturned the current insect extermination process. it would really help. it would certainly some insects could survive just in gardens and, and actually i, i, i've no idea what it's like in russia, but in the u. k, there is a real movement to do this. there are lots of people filling their gardens with be friendly flowers, right? nire, if you look on social media, everyone's talking about it posting pictures of a garden full of flowers and b, the long grass and so on. so there is, is
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a social movement taken off and i've seen signs of it in other countries too. so that would briefly help, but as i say, the impacts of farming are bigger on a global scale. and there are lots of insects that won't be able to survive just in gardens alone. so we do need to tackle the issue of global food production. but as i said earlier, i don't think that's impossible. and actually the current intensive farming system is really inefficient. we produce very crudely 3 times as much food as we need to feed everybody on the planet, right? but then we waste roughly a 3rd of that food and we feed another 3rd of it to livestock, which is just a really inefficient way of feeding people. so if we could be more efficient, reduce food waste and persuade everyone to eat less meat than actually we could greatly reduce the amount of farmland and we could set aside much more land for,
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for wildlife. they've, thanks a lot for this wonderful. inside the world of insects, thank you so much. it's been such a pleasure and very interesting talking to you. i'm inspire to the gardening of this interview. so i hope this top for anyone else who sees and hears that i have say, thank you. thank you. bye bye. the the . ah. join me every 1st day on the alex simon show. and i'll be speaking to guess in the world, the politics sport. business. i'm show business. i'll see you then me
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