For well over 400 million years, insects have played an essential role in the evolution of our ecosystem. While many may take them for granted, their extinction could spell catastrophe for the planet at large. Sadly, this scenario is currently playing out across the globe. The Silent Summer: Why Are Insects Dying? explores our dependence upon the insect population, the factors that are leading to their rapid decline, and what their extinction could mean for the future of our world as we know it.
Insects constitute up to 80% of our planet's species. They pollinate many of our plants, trees and crops, keep our soil well fertilized, and provide a primary source of nourishment for other animals in the food chain. If the population was severely compromised or disappeared altogether, our ecosystem and food chain would collapse. Like a wicked game of dominoes, one food chain after another would perish from malnourishment - from birds to bears to humans. Plant life would die without hope of resurrection. Our ability to grow our own food would become untenable.
There are a number of factors that place our insect populations in peril, including climate change, light pollution, industrialization and the widespread use of harmful pesticides. The film features insights from a variety of subjects who are attempting to weed out the root causes of insect extinction and uncover new solutions to combat it, including experts in farming, agriculture, and entomology.
The filmmakers visit a laboratory where scientists are studying the long-term impact of pesticides. They spend time with conservationists who are busy crafting special habitats - a kind of insect-based Noah's Ark - where insects can find refuge. Farmers illustrate how the waning bee population affects the nutritional value of their crops. At every stop, we're reminded of the stakes involved, and are urged to support bold initiatives that promote increased biodiversity. The experts believe that we are destined to suffer a disastrous fate unless we assume crisis mode right now.
Produced by the DW Documentary series, The Silent Summer: Why Are Insects Dying? is an engaging and informative work that's well worth checking out.