While greed and stupidity rule the planet — you can eat rice, instead of smelt

© 2019 Peter Free


04 November 2019



Forgive my blurb's obscure title


It alludes to Marie Antoinette's — very probably falsely attributed statement — "Let them eat cake!"



Would you rather have more low protein rice, or enough nutritious smelt on you plate?


From Science:



Neonicotinoid pesticide use may have caused the abrupt collapse of two commercial fisheries on Lake Shinji, Japan, in 1993, according to a new study.


While the negative impacts of the world's most widely used insecticide on pollinator species are well known, these results highlight new and potential indirect effects on other organisms, including vertebrates.


Using more than two decades of data on lake chemistry, biology and fishery yields, Masumi Yamamuro and colleagues tracked the impacts of neonicotinoids through the aquatic food chain of Lake Shinji - from zooplankton to the commercially harvested species of smelt and eel.


Yamamuro et al.'s analysis revealed that the very first application of neonicotinoid pesticides in 1993 coincided with an 83% decrease in average springtime zooplankton biomass, which was shortly followed by a complete collapse of the fisheries of the species that feed on them.


The smelt harvest alone collapsed from 240 tons per year to 22 tons in a single year after the first use of neonicotinoids.


According to the authors, neonicotinoid pesticides indirectly reduced Lake Shinji's fishery yields by decreasing the abundance of invertebrates that serve as food for smelt and eels.


What's more, the results show that the precipitous decline in zooplankton could not be explained by other confounding factors, such as nutrient depletion or changes in salinity or oxygen concentration.


Yamamuro et al. argue that nationwide decreases in fishery yields in other lakes of Japan during this time were likely also due to food web disruption from pesticide use.


Since neonicotinoids are the most widely used pesticide, similar dynamics are likely playing out in bodies of water around the world, the authors say.


© 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science, Fishery in Lake Shinji, Japan, collapsed 1 year after neonicotinoid use, EurekAlert! (31 October 2019) (excerpts)



If you are familiar with how ecological systems operate


You will recognize that a virtually instantaneous collapse (of this magnitude) is shocking.


If the neonicotinoid-smelt disappearance correlation equates to causation — which it almost certainly does, given the known mechanisms and webs in play — major ecological trouble looms.



The original study was reported in the journal, Science


Masumi Yamamuro, Takashi Komuro, Hiroshi Kamiya, Toshikuni Kato, Hitomi Hasegawa, and Yutaka Kameda, Neonicotinoids disrupt aquatic food webs and decrease fishery yields, Science Vol. 366, Issue 6465, pages 620-623, DOI: 10.1126/science.aax3442 (01 November 2019)



The moral? — Capitalism encourages one group to profit at another's expense . . .


. . . and anything capitalistic usually also trashes the Commons.


Most of us depend on shared, generally unprotected resources.


You can anticipate how this will turn out.