Big Books & Bold Ideas with Kerri Miller

Environmental journalist Oliver Milman on why you should care about 'The Insect Crisis'

Man and book cover
Environmental journalist Oliver Milman says habitat loss, pesticides and climate change are killing off insects worldwide. He charts the troubling decline of insects in his book, “The Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires That Run the World.”
Book cover: W. W. Norton & Company

April is Animal Month on Big Books and Bold Ideas. But this time, we’re not talking about dogs, monkeys or bats — but bees, beetles and butterflies.

It might not seem like it on a summer night in Minnesota — when mosquitos are swarming your campfire — but Earth’s kingdom of insects is diminishing so rapidly, scientists have declared it a crisis.

In 2019, a report in published in Biological Conservation found that 40 percent of all insect species are declining globally and a third of them are endangered.

The reasons why are myriad. And while it might be tempting to hope for a planet without wasps that sting and roaches in the kitchen, journalist Oliver Milman says human beings would be in big trouble without insects.

Bugs play critical roles in pollinating plants, breaking down waste and laying the base of a food chain that other animals rely on — including us.

This week, on Big Books and Bold Ideas, host Kerri Miller talked with Milman about his new book, “The Insect Crisis.” They explored what’s causing the decline and what can be done about it — and discuss some fun facts about insects, too.


To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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