A Vancouver Island University teacher is preaching about the dangers of language used by news outlets in relation to the insect population.
Jasmine Janes, a VIU biology professor, along with colleagues from University of New England in Australia, recently wrote a scientific paper entitled Moving On from the Insect Apocalypse Narrative: Engaging with Evidence-Based Insect Conservation, which was published in Bioscience, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
The paper examines news reporting on insect declines based on a minute number of studies that deal only with regional insect populations and the harm it can do as well as actions needed to move forward to better understand the issue, according to a press release. Janes said there is evidence that populations are declining in some parts of the world, but may be increasing in others.
“We’ve known for quite a while that the way you message things greatly impacts the audience,” Janes said in the press release. “There’s real concern that sensationalist language such as ‘instectaggedon’ desensitizes people and contributes to a sense of hopelessness with respect to conservation issues. We need to make people aware of the issue but we also need to make them understand that there is still hope and we can still make changes.”
Janes said that some studies contradicting the insect apocalypse narrative are not being reported on and such studies “illuminate the fact that scientists don’t know exactly how many species of insects there are worldwide.” More taxonomists (biologists who name, identify and classify species) are needed, she said in the press release.
More research is needed to better understand the behaviours of insects, intricacies of their population and boom and bust cycles, Janes said in the press release. When scientists have a better understanding of global insect biodiversity and decline levels it will help inform conservation methods and influence policy, she said.