Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

"The sites that we think are safeguarding our biodiversity are not really working anymore," said the lead researcher of a study published Wednesday. (Photo: Max Pixel/cc)

Scientists Demand 'Paradigm Shift' After Study Shows 'Frightening' Decline of Insects and Spiders

"A decline on that scale over a period of just 10 years came as a complete surprise to us," said one researcher, "but fits the picture presented in a growing number of studies."

Jessica Corbett

Scientists behind a decade-long biodiversity study published Wednesday, which showed "frightening" declines of insects and spiders in German grasslands and forests, are calling for a "paradigm shift" in land-use policy.

"Current initiatives to address insect losses are overly concerned with the cultivation of individual plots of land and operate independently of one another for the most part," lead researcher Sebastian Seibold of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany said in a statement.

"To stop the decline, however, our results indicate that more coordination is needed at the regional and national levels," he said.

For the study, published in the journal Nature, researchers analyzed data on over a million individual arthropods across about 2,700 species at 150 grassland and 140 forest sites in three regions of Germany from 2008 to 2017.

Seibold summarized the team's findings on Nature's podcast Wednesday:

Biomass of insects both in forests and grasslands have been declining over the 10 years of our study. Also, the number of individuals—so the abundance of insects has been declining—and also the number of species has been declining in both of these two habitat types, grasslands and forests.

Specifically, the scientists found that insect biomass fell about 40 percent in the forests dropped to a third of its former level in the grasslands.

"A decline on that scale over a period of just 10 years came as a complete surprise to us—it is frightening, but fits the picture presented in a growing number of studies," said Wolfgang Weisser, professor of Terrestrial Ecology at TUM and a co-initiator of the cooperative project.

As Common Dreams reported, a study published last year in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences detailed a climate crisis-driven 'bugpocalypse' in Puerto Rico's Luquillo rainforest while an "ominous" report released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in May warned that human activity has pushed a million plant and animal species to the brink of extinction.

Past research has documented insect decline in German meadows. "Previous studies, however, either focused exclusively on biomass, i.e. the total weight of all insects, or on individual species or species groups," Seibold explained. "The fact that a large part of all insect groups is actually affected has not been clear so far."

Seibold noted that "before our survey, it was unclear whether and to what extent forests were affected by the insect decline as well." The team found that "hardest-hit" insects in the forests were those that travel greater distances.

"To decide whether it is a matter of the more mobile forest-dwelling species having more contact with agriculture, or whether it has something to do with living conditions in the forests, further study will be needed," explained former TUM researcher Dr. Martin Gossner.

Although more study is needed to understand what is driving declines in forests, Seibold said on Nature's podcast that "we found, at least for grasslands, that the decline was more pronounced, was stronger, on sites" near arable fields, which "points to drivers related to intensive agriculture."

The findings for grassland sites, he explained, suggest nearby farming practices are interfering with conservation efforts.

"You have some sites that are protected areas that are managed mainly for conservation purposes," Seibold said, "but still we observed declines within these protected areas and the drivers seem to be linked to land use in the surrounding region."

In an interview with BBC News, he added, "I think it's alarming to see that such a decline happens not only in intensively-managed areas but also in protected areas—so the sites that we think are safeguarding our biodiversity are not really working anymore."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'It's Not Coming Out': Bernie Sanders Stands Firm on Medicare Expansion

"It's what the American people want and, after waiting over 50 years, what they are going to get."

Julia Conley ·


'When We Organize, We Win': Ocasio-Cortez Joins India Walton at Rally in Buffalo

The two progressives joined striking hospital workers on the picket line at Mercy Hospital after the early voting rally.

Julia Conley ·


Fatal Film Set Shooting Followed Outcry by Union Crew Members Over Safety Protocols

"When union members walk off a set about safety concerns, maybe 'hiring scabs' isn’t the solution you think it is."

Julia Conley ·


New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo