Bacon's Rebellion

One Environmental Calamity I’m Not Mourning

Whatever happened to bug splats on windshields? I was actually asking myself that question a couple of months ago. Now comes a Washington Post article suggesting that other people are asking the same question — and worrying about the implications.

I remember taking road trips in the family station wagon — this would have been 50 years ago — and marveling at the bug goo that smeared the windshield like a bad Jackson Pollack painting. After a couple hundred miles, the windshield looked like a flock of starlings had unloaded on the car. Every time my dad filled up with gasoline, he’d dip a squeegee-like scraper into a bucket of soap, which every gas station kept by the gas pumps, and swiped the windshield clean.

Nobody does that anymore. I can’t remember the last time I saw a bug splat on my car. I can’t remember the last time I felt moved to squeegee the windshield.

According to the Washington Post, the decline in flying insects appears to be worldwide. Between 1989 and 2016, according to a new report, the biomass of flying insects captured in German nature preserves, all protected areas, decreased by a seasonal average of 76 percent. Other estimates have put rates of global insect biomass loss at 50 percent.

I confess, while I do worry that something dire might be happening to the environment, I don’t miss the bug splats — or the bugs. I vividly remember a movie from my youth, “The Hellstrom Chronicle.” As I recall, the moral of the movie was that insects would inherit the planet after mankind finished pillaging it. (This was before anyone worried about global warming!) Well, it turns out, the insects apparently are not taking over, not yet, and I’m OK with that.

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