WHEN?

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By Anne T. Sulton, Ph.D., J.D.

JA Senior International Correspondent

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), one of the markers of climate change is a warm-ing of the planet. Many nations are experiencing hotter weather, including those in Africa, the Near East, and Southwest Asia. 

“Studies have linked a hotter climate to more damaging locust swarms, leaving Africa disproportionately affected – 20 of the fastest warming countries globally are in Africa,” UNEP warns.  

These locust swarms contain billions of the hungry bugs capable of traveling more than 100 kilometers each day. According to Keith Cressman, northern Kenya experienced one swarm that reportedly was “25 miles long by 37 miles wide – it would blanket the city of Paris 24 times over.”

UNEP explains that these locust swarms “are ravaging crops in the field before har-vesting, wiping out livestock and wildlife feed, and with them savings, assets, and livelihoods.” 

Among the recommendations to fight the locust swarms are spraying the bugs with pesticides. Although the pesticides help kill the bugs, these chemicals also have negative consequences on human health and biodiversity.

Several researchers in China suggest implementing a unique approach. They recommend dispatching hundreds of thou-sands of ducks to eat the bugs. A single duck can consume daily more than 200 locusts. 

Chickens, too, eat these bugs. However, they are less effective than ducks because chickens can eat only about 70 locusts each day. 

According to Lu Lizhi of the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, ducks also are preferred because “they like to stay in a group so they are easier to man-age than chickens.”

Although a large army of ducks can eat as many as 20 million bugs in a day, locust swarms often contain 80 million or more bugs. Because most of the bugs would not be eaten, the damage to crops would still be catastrophic.

Furthermore, employing ducks to eat the bugs may not be suitable for areas that are extremely dry. Ducks need water.  

Despite the limitations of dispatching ducks to eradicate locust swarms, the idea of using natural resources rather than man-made chemicals to address the adverse ef-fects of climate change is a refreshing and hopeful sign.  After all, when the ducks’ work is done, humans can eat the ducks.

WHEN – by what date certain – will we take those steps necessary to identify and employ readily available natural resources to address climate change?