Insect Death and Capitalism


As Robert Hunziker points out in a series of disturbing articles, there is now good evidence that insect populations are dropping sharply all over the earth.

Scientists everywhere, from Western Europe to Australia, are noticing this. One recent study concluded that total insect biomass has declined by 75% in the past 27 years. The decline in honey bee populations is well know, with reductions of 40% or more from the mysterious colony collapse disorder, while monarch butterflies numbers have also dropped sharply. But now we have systematic documentation that total insect biomass is in sharp decline and that this reduction is across a vast array of species.

No one knows why this is happening. Some point to the loss of insect food resources. Meadows and grasslands rich with flowers have declined by 97% since the early 20th century as land has been converted to agricultural and urban uses. Others point to the widespread poisoning of ecosystems as farmland is doused with chemicals. Historically, we are the first civilization ever based on pesticide agriculture.

As Robert Hunziker says, “Obviously, something dreadful is suddenly happening throughout the entire biosphere. The insect catastrophe is a relatively new phenomenon that has caught society unaware, blindsided.”

Insects are critical to ecosystems, performing a myriad of functions such as  pollinating blossoms,  aerating the soil, regulating population numbers, and breaking down biomass to help create the soil itself. Without insects, nature dies. Without nature, we die.

This catastrophe, coming now atop all the other assaults on the biosphere, raises the question of whether humanity will survive the 21st century.

The engine that has driven economic expansion for centuries, bringing explosive growth never seen before and transforming the planet and its inhabitants, is capitalism. Capitalism by its deepest logic requires growth and expansion. Capital is invested to create additional capital—otherwise there is no point. Market competition demands, “Grow or die!” Capital must be invested, accumulated, reinvested, and on and on. Infinite growth on a finite planet. Capitalism and survival are radically opposed.

The death of the insects declares this: Capitalism must die!


• Hunziker, Robert. “Hidden Danger of Ecological Collapse.” CounterPunch, December 23, 2017.
• Hunziker, Robert. “Insect Decimation Upstages Global Warming.” CounterPunch, March 27, 2018.

Categories: Capitalism

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