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How Phrases Like 'Insect Apocalypse' Undermine Actual Scientific Work.

"The insect apocalypse is here," wrote the New York Times on Nov. 27, 2018.

" Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature," wrote The Guardian on Feb. 11, 2019.

However, a new paper co-authored by a university biologist from Vancouver Island says that bugs, people and scientists are being poorly represented in headlines like "insect apocalypse," which actually serves to undermine actual science, as well as the work put behind it.

"They made it sound like it was a global phenomenon. It was presented as factual knowledge that every single insect species in the world is declining and we should all panic," VIU biology professor Jasmine Janes, who co-authored the paper that took aim at media coverage generated by two studies, one in Germany and the other in Puerto Rico, said.

This is because ( insects are usually misunderstood by the public, even though climate change has directly affected them and are forcing them to face numerous environmental threats, despite them being critical drivers of ecosystem function.

"Doom and gloom messaging rarely works to galvanize public support, and strong negative messaging (e.g., apocalypse narratives) can undermine the credibility of science," Janes

pointed out.

"But most of us agree that's not actually the case and not every single insect is declining and it's certainly not happening in every part of the world. T hey will just say: 'What's the point? Why should we bother when they are all going to die anyway?'" Janes elaborated, stating that it's already been documented that people tend to get apathetic when they're faced with news of the same caliber.

"That's not the message we want to give people."

The real message, per Janes, is so much more complex than that. For example, while current situations result to negative effects on the insect population, not all of them respond negatively to climate change. In fact, some, like the mountain pine beetle, are doing really well.

Sadly, the same sort of coordination found in other scientific disciplines is usually nowhere to be found when examining insects at a global level.

"But we haven't had a global effort to see if patterns hold up to the same questions in various parts of the world," Janes added.

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Author:Jan Cortes
Publication:Medical Daily
Date:Jan 28, 2020
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