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Supposing climate change continues at its current "worst case" projected rates, would we see a noticeable reduction in insects down the line? I am wondering if it makes sense to have a character who has noticed a change like this in their lifetime, or if such a change would be unlikely or not drastic enough to attract the average person's attention.

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    $\begingroup$ We are already seeing a massive decline in the number of insects. It is easily noticeable by anybody who was alive 25 years ago. We don't know the cause, but it's most likely not a result of climate change; it may have the same root cause as climate change, but we don't know for sure. $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 27 at 20:02
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    $\begingroup$ Rant: I can confirm what AlexP sais, I live in rural western Europe, the honey bees are either gone or very rare in our surrounds, the variety of insects has gone, the environment here is shifting to accommodate more warm climate species - not to mention plants. Post climate-Apocalypse people - the whole idea is questionable in the sense of "Can people survive it?" /rant $\endgroup$ – Measure of despare. May 27 at 21:40
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    $\begingroup$ Your title says "post-climate apocalypse" but your post asks "would we notice a change?" Was there an apocalypse or not? Keep in mind that if the equator were reduced to a desert, it would have all the insects you'd see in a desert. Climate change is principally dangerous to humans - not the planet. Once humans have finished their apparently gene-encoded master project to wipe humanity off the Earth, the planet will restore itself to a paradise in whatever time it needs. $\endgroup$ – JBH May 27 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH, gotta admit I am using "climate apocalypse" very loosely. Wrote this question when I was very tired - what I had in mind was more along the lines of "steadily approaching climate apocalypse". I'm thinking of a near future where civilisation is still intact, but quickly heading towards collapse. $\endgroup$ – gumbiecat May 28 at 1:57
  • $\begingroup$ @gumbiecat that's cool, and thanks for the clarification. If you would, take a sec to edit your question and clarify both the title and the body text. Cheers! $\endgroup$ – JBH May 28 at 3:22
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Yes and No.

Even today it is easily possible for older people to notice the change. When you for example compare the amount of insects on your car window from 40 years ago to today it is easily noticeable that the insects have decreased.

So why no?

Because this decrease is not caused by climate change (at least for the most part), but due to air pollution, with for insects toxic gases. These do not need to be green house gases.

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    $\begingroup$ Some of the loss is surely due to climate change because many insects rely heavily on specific temperature cues to lay eggs and to have those eggs hatch successfully. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L May 28 at 2:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Ryan_L Yes of course but the overall air pollution is way more impactful. $\endgroup$ – Soan May 28 at 14:41
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Scenarios, which are according to IPCC are based on ultra pessimistic assumptions but technically within bounds of science, would give you global temperature higher by 5 C at the end of century. So within remembered lifetime you may get maybe 3 C.

While sudden temperature shift would cause (speed up) some extinction, insect have short life cycles and are ultra adaptable. Migration of insects from warmer climate zones is also likely. Maybe, if your character is really good, he can see how species changed.

Actually, I think that a scientifically accurate post apocalyptic settings in which temperature is a few Celsius higher and sea level raise haven't reached one meter has a great potential. Those scenarios assume high (but dirty) economic growth. So you may end up with main character who is quite affluent person by contemporary standards and who complains about electricity bill caused by combination of heat wave and excessive use of air conditioning.

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It would depend on how drastic the damage done by climate change was. Also, are you only including climate change in this anthropogenic destruction? Sea acidification and anthropogenic species extinction are both affected by and would affect insect biodiversity too. how far into the destruction are we talking? How far in the future, and how much more damage? I think for a noticeable drop off in insect species there would need to be atmospheric level changes that would also change vegetation, and that would probably throw a few more bones into your future system. So, plausible? Maybe. But it would also probably be an extremely uninhabitable future. Think no insects means no naturally grown/pollinated crops, too, unless you have some system of artificial pollination going on. I would also the question the term "post climate" since any climate is a climate. A true no-climate world would probably be more like the moon since there would be no measurable indicators. But that's just semantics. Cool question.

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    $\begingroup$ "no insects means no naturally grown/pollinated crops, too". As any hayfever sufferer will tell you, many crops grown today are wind pollinated, and will continue to thrive (or at least survive) in the absense of insects. See ucanr.edu/sites/PollenNation/Meet_The_Pollinators/Wind $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime May 27 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ Oops. Yeah that makes sense. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that! $\endgroup$ – mlefman May 29 at 2:13
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Insect population as a whole won't be reduced by climate change. What will, and does, change are the species which you encounter.

We have already problems with asian hornets coming to central europe, and there's the fear that mosquitoes (and with them malaria) will spread, as they will be more and more able to survive the milder winters.

In turn, local species have trouble adapting and fighting the "invaders", so they are reduced; but the total number of insects will probably even increase (disregarding other pollution effects).

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