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American Birds Being Killed By Neonicotinoids – Maybe

I know I’m supposed to believe in this science stuff and generally I do. But I do like to see more than just a little bit of considering alternative causes.

So, this:

Popular pesticides are causing bird species to decline at an alarming rate in the US, adding fuel to a 50-year downward trend in bird biodiversity, a new report has found.

In addition to spray-on pesticides, farmers are widely using chemicals that coat seeds. These pesticides, called neonicotinoids or neonics, deter insects as the seeds sprout and as they grow into plants.

According to a study published in Nature Sustainability, the increased use of neonicotinoids is putting bird species at risk across the US as the chemicals manifest in the stalk, nectar and pollen of plants.

It’s important if it is happening. But there have been more than a few stories about neonicotinoids and bees that raise more than just the occasional eyebrow. Rather a if some out there would like to find something wrong with them.

And there’s a problem – for me, if no one else – in this paper. There’s not even a mention of birdchoppers.

Now, we know that the US has installed massive numbers of windmills. Over this past 20 years or so that neonics have risen in use. We also know that birdchoppers, erm, chop birds. So, we have ready made an alternative hypothesis.

And the thing about science and hypotheses is that if you’ve got an alternative one which explains the facts – which my mere sketching of a possibility of course does not – then you’ve got to actively go out and try to prove that alternative wrong.

That’s county level information. Red is many less birds, white no information. So, all that’s required is a county level database of birdchopper installations to compare. Take a decent data scientists a couple of hours maybe.

I’m all for science. That means I’d like to see actual science being done….

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Chester Draws
Chester Draws
8 months ago

Maybe there are less birds because there are less insects to eat. That’s just as likely even in the culprit is neonicitinoids. If so banning them won’t work, because farmers will reduce insects in other ways.

If there was direct poisoning, then it would appear in the bodies of the birds. No need for a correlation if causation is that direct.

Bloke in Germany
Bloke in Germany
8 months ago

From the small print in the legend, it is clear that the map shows only change in neonecotinoid use, not the change in bird population. Only the 2008 bird population is taken into account, not the 2014 bird population.

So the map titles, and the figure title, are thoroughly misleading.

Bloke in Germany
Bloke in Germany
8 months ago

Looks like what they are doing is saying “Neonicotinoids have magnitude X linear effect on bird populations. Neonicotinoid use has gone up/down by this much in these counties, and the calculated effect of that on bird populations would be Y”. There is no actual data on change in bird populations being looked at. So this is, if I’ve understood correctly, worse than the many misleading univariate analyses on which basis we are expected to upend society. It isn’t even a univariate analysis (vary X, measure effect on Y, ignore all confounding factors). They’re just declaring that varying X has the… Read more »

Spike
Spike
8 months ago

If you want to see actual science stuff being done, you should look for it somewhere else than an “alarming” study published in a journal of alarming studies essentially titled Nature Leftism.

Spike
Spike
8 months ago
Reply to  Spike

Neonicotinoids were previously accused of harming honeybees. It seems their chief peril, like DDT, trans-fats, and nuclear power, is to enrich technologists to the exclusion of gadflies.

https://townhall.com/columnists/pauldriessen/2020/07/11/ban-neonics–hurt-farmers-and-bees-n2572298

Phoenix44
Phoenix44
8 months ago

It’s very unlikely because of they way they work in killing insects. That and the fact concentrations are very low because insects are very small.

There are lots of reasons bird populations might be falling, an insecticide used for decades and with a specific action against insects is very unlikely to be the cause.

Michael van der Riet
Michael van der Riet
8 months ago
Reply to  Phoenix44

The shikimic acid pathway does not, AFAIA, exist in mammals, but it may in birds? Not covered in this overview https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/glyphosate

Pcar
Pcar
8 months ago

More cleanliness outside: sealed bins, no dog poo etc = fewer maggots & flies

Fly numbers massively down. Spider numbers massively down in gardens here, bird numbers too – except corvids & seagulls/landgulls

Flies: windows open every day and four flies this year, zero bluebottles

Michael van der Riet
Michael van der Riet
8 months ago
Reply to  Pcar

I lived for a couple of years in the Fly Capital of the World, namely the Top End of Australia. Ten million miles from the nearest dustbin or even the nearest dog, the flies are so thick that you breathe them in. I don’t think there’s a correlation.

Pcar
Pcar
8 months ago

What are the flies & maggots eating? No food, no flies

Ah. You lived there, but no dustbins

Boganboy
Boganboy
8 months ago
Reply to  Pcar

To the best of my knowledge, the flies flourish on the poo of introduced animals. Some dung beetle varieties were introduced years ago to take care of part of this, but they can’t handle the lot.

Anon
Anon
8 months ago
wat dabney
wat dabney
8 months ago

Let’s not forget the earlier fake environmental science concerning chemicals and bird numbers – the infamous book Silent Spring – that cost millions of poor Africans their lives and condemned hundreds of millions more to grinding poverty as DDT was effectively banned.

White Western Environmentalists – is there a more ignorant or disgustingly immoral species?

Spike
Spike
8 months ago
Reply to  wat dabney

Yes, we identify an unarguable menace, reduce its incidence to zero despite diminishing returns, and ignore, minimize, or lie about the side-effects. As we are now doing with Covid-19. This is “activism.”

JC cOLLINS
JC cOLLINS
8 months ago

Well, nicotine is bad, right? Birds are dying of lung cancer or something.

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