Will fireflies become extinct?


This 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

Each year in late spring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts a special light show, thanks to a species of beetle native to the region. These are the synchronous fireflies, known for coordinating their flashes into bursts that ripple through a group of the insects. As with other fireflies, their yellowish glow helps potential mates find one another.

From Tufts University in the USA:

Lights out? Fireflies face extinction threats of habitat loss, light pollution, pesticides

February 4, 2020

Habitat loss, pesticide use and, surprisingly, artificial light are the three most serious threats endangering fireflies across the globe, raising the spectre of extinction for certain species and related impacts on biodiversity and ecotourism, according to a Tufts University-led team of biologists associated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Fireflies belong to a widespread and economically important insect group, with more than 2,000 different species spread out across the globe. To better understand what threats are faced by fireflies, the team led by Sara Lewis, professor of biology at Tufts University, surveyed firefly experts around the world to size up the most prominent threats to survival for their local species.

Their perspective piece, published today in Bioscience, sounds a warning bell about the insects’ future, highlighting specific threats and the vulnerability of different species across geographical regions.

According to survey respondents, habitat loss is the most critical threat to firefly survival in most geographic regions, followed by light pollution and pesticide use.

“Lots of wildlife species are declining because their habitat is shrinking,” said Lewis “so it wasn’t a huge surprise that habitat loss was considered the biggest threat. Some fireflies get hit especially hard when their habitat disappears because they need special conditions to complete their life cycle. For instance, one Malaysian firefly [Pteroptyx tener], famous for its synchronized flash displays, is a mangrove specialist.” As reported in the article, previous work has revealed drastic declines in this species following conversion of their mangrove habitat to palm oil plantations and aquaculture farms.

One surprising result that emerged from the survey was that, globally, light pollution was regarded as the second most serious threat to fireflies.

Artificial light at night has grown exponentially during the last century. “In addition to disrupting natural biorhythms — including our own — light pollution really messes up firefly mating rituals,” explained Avalon Owens, Ph.D. candidate in biology at Tufts and a co-author on the study. Many fireflies rely on bioluminescence to find and attract their mates, and previous work has shown that too much artificial light can interfere with these courtship exchanges. Switching to energy-efficient, overly bright LEDs is not helping. “Brighter isn’t necessarily better,” says Owens.

Firefly experts viewed the widespread agricultural use of pesticides as another key threat to firefly survival.

Most insecticide exposure occurs during larval stages, because juvenile fireflies spend up to two years living below ground or underwater. Insecticides such as organophosphates and neonicotinoids are designed to kill pests, yet they also have off-target effects on beneficial insects. While more research is needed, the evidence shows that many commonly used insecticides are harmful to fireflies.

A few studies have quantified firefly population declines, such as those seen in the tourist-attracting synchronous fireflies of Malaysia, and the glowworm Lampyris noctiluca in England. And numerous anecdotal reports suggest that many other firefly species across a wide range of habitats have also suffered recent declines. “However,” Lewis points out, “we really need better long-term data about firefly population trends — this is a place where citizen science efforts like Massachusetts Audubon’s Firefly Watch project can really help.”

The researchers also highlight risk factors that allow them to predict which species will be most vulnerable when faced with threats like habitat loss or light pollution. For instance, females of the Appalachian blue ghost firefly [Phausis reticulata] are flightless. “So when their habitat disappears, they can’t just pick up and move somewhere else,” explains co-author J. Michael Reed, professor of biology at Tufts. Yet the researchers remain optimistic about fireflies’ future. “Here in the U.S., we’re fortunate to have some robust species like the Big Dipper fireflies [Photinus pyralis],” notes Lewis. “Those guys can survive pretty much anywhere- and they’re beautiful, too.”

By illuminating these threats and evaluating the conservation status of firefly species around the world, researchers aim to preserve the magical lights of fireflies for future generations to enjoy. “Our goal is to make this knowledge available for land managers, policy makers, and firefly fans everywhere,” says co-author Sonny Wong of the Malaysian Nature Society. “We want to keep fireflies lighting up our nights for a long, long time.”

Corporate US Democratic party establishment attacks Sanders


This 10 February 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Bernie Sanders has James Carville in a panic. Ana Kasparian, Francesca Fiorentini, and Dan Evans, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“Longtime Democratic strategist James Carville sounded the alarm bells on Tuesday night over what he described as the Democratic Party turning into an “ideological cult”, specifically singling out would-be presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

In the wake of Monday night’s chaotic Iowa Democratic caucus that featured delayed vote results due to a faulty app, Carville appeared on MSNBC to warn that regardless of the final tallies, the Dems appear to be in big trouble.”

Read more here.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

On eve of New Hampshire primary

Growing attacks on socialism in Democratic presidential race

10 February 2020

With polls showing Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders the likely first-place finisher in tomorrow’s Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire, Sanders’ opponents have focused their attacks on his public identification as a “democratic socialist.”

Friday night’s seven-candidate debate in New Hampshire began with former Vice President Joe Biden claiming that Sanders at the top of the ticket would doom Democratic candidates for other offices on the ballot November 3. “Bernie’s labeled himself … a democratic socialist”, Biden said. “I think that’s the label that the president [Trump]’s going to lay on everyone running with Bernie if he’s a nominee.”

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar joined in the attack, suggesting that Sanders would “out-divide the divider in chief,” i.e., Trump. “I think we need someone to head up this ticket that actually brings people with her, instead of shutting them out,” she said, touting her own appeal to “moderate Republicans” and voters “in the middle”.

At a rally at Dartmouth College Saturday, Klobuchar’s staff handed out copies of newspaper editorials endorsing her, including from the ultra-right Manchester Union-Leader, the largest circulation paper in the state. “I don’t agree with everything that’s said on that debate stage,” Klobuchar told the audience. “When they asked should a socialist lead the ticket, I raised my hand and said ‘no.’”

The issue dominated the appearances by Democratic presidential hopefuls on network and cable television interview programs on Sunday. Sanders himself was interviewed on four programs and was asked about his identification as a democratic socialist on three of them.

It is remarkable that in a country where socialism has been the subject of official vilification and witch-hunting for a century, where anti-communism has been elevated to the status of a state religion, and where genuine socialists are subject to a media blackout, that the “s word” has suddenly become a major subject of media discussion.

It attests to the worsening of social inequality and the growing consciousness among millions of working people and youth that the concentration of wealth under the control of a tiny handful of multimillionaires and billionaires has become both an impassable obstacle to social progress and a deadly threat to democratic rights. Poll after poll has shown deepening popular hostility to capitalism and rising support for socialism, particularly among the younger generation.

This shift to the left in popular consciousness finds only the most distorted expression within the corporate-controlled two-party system. In 2016, it took the form of an explosion of support for the Sanders campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, surprising the senator himself and the entire US political establishment. Sanders attracted mass support, enthusiastic rallies, a huge outpouring of small-dollar donations over the internet, and ultimately 13 million votes.

In the 2020 campaign, after being largely ignored by the corporate media for months, Sanders has surged in the polls, held the largest rallies, and raised far more money than any of his non-billionaire rivals, largely in small donations from working people. His top contributors are teachers as well as the low-paid employees of Amazon, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Target and the US Postal Service.

After his strong showing in Iowa, he leads in polls ahead of the vote Tuesday in New Hampshire, and a virtual panic has broken out in the Democratic Party establishment and its media allies that Sanders is now the frontrunner for the party’s presidential nomination. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, for example, told the Wall Street Journal that declaring Sanders the frontrunner was premature and that the socialist label was “a big pill for a lot of voters to swallow.”

On Sunday, former Vice President Biden appeared on ABC’s “This Week”, where he reiterated his attack on Sanders, telling interviewer George Stephanopoulos, “Now, you’ve been around, George, as much as anybody, you’re going to win with that label, you’re going to help somebody in Florida win with the label democratic socialist? Because it’s going to go all the way down the line. That’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to win in North Carolina? You’re going to win in Pennsylvania? You’re going to win in those states in the Midwest?”

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, the other ostensibly “progressive” candidate along with Sanders, said on Sunday: “I am a capitalist. I believe in markets, but markets need rules.”

There is little doubt that if []Sanders wins the New Hampshire primary, the hysteria in the Democratic Party establishment over his supposed “socialism” will reach new heights.

If the current group of right-wing alternatives—Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar—looks unviable, there is likely to be a shift to support billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who has entered the contest but will not appear on any ballot until the March 3 “Super Tuesday” primaries, when 40 percent of the delegates to the Democratic convention will be selected, including from such large states as California, Texas, Massachusetts and Virginia.

SANDERS WILL SEEK PARTIAL RECANVASS IN IOWA Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign plans to ask for a “partial recanvass” of the results of last week’s botched Iowa caucuses. A recanvass is not a recount, but a check of the vote count. The state party released updated results on Sunday showing Pete Buttigieg leading Sanders by two state delegate equivalents. [HuffPost]