The effects of human-caused pollution are expected to result in an increase of agricultural pests, scientists report. That means that several items at the grocery store may see a dramatic rise in prices.
What is happening?
The populations of three insect species — the codling moth, peach twig borer, and oriental fruit moth — are expected to increase due to rising global temperatures.
“These three pests are notorious for infesting most of the walnut, almond and peach orchards of California, causing extensive damages by reducing quality of fruits and nuts,” said Jhalendra Rijal, one of the co-authors of a study on the pests published in the scientific journal Science of the Total Environment.
Why is this concerning?
“Additional generations of these pests within the same growing season will likely increase crop damage,” Rijal said. “It certainly increases the number of sprays needed to control these pests, increasing the production cost for growers. Plus, more use of insecticides has consequences for beneficial insects and the environment.”
That means that as a result of the pollution (mainly from dirty energy sources such as gas and oil) driving the overheating of our planet, fruit and nuts grown in California may get pricier and decline in quality.
In addition, the increased use of insecticides that Rijal refers to could have further consequences. Just as these substances are toxic to insects, they can also have harmful effects on humans as they find their way into the soil and waterways.
According to one study: “Pesticides can contaminate soil, water, turf, and other vegetation. In addition to killing insects or weeds, pesticides can be toxic to a host of other organisms including birds, fish, beneficial insects, and non-target plants. Insecticides are generally the most acutely toxic class of pesticides.”
What is being done about it?
The study’s authors recommend that farmers in California alter their growing and pest management practices to adapt to the increase in insects. But beyond that, if temperatures keep rising, the insect populations will continue to change as well.
The best way to combat issues like this is to address the overheating of our planet by switching from dirty energy sources like gas and oil to clean energy sources like wind and solar.
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