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Book Review | Rebugging the Planet by Vicki Hird

From the publisher: Remember when there were bugs on your windshield? Ever wonder where they went? We need to act now if we are to help insects survive. Rebugging the Planet explains how we are headed toward “insectageddon” with a rate of insect extinction eight times faster than that of mammals or birds, and gives us crucial information to help all those essential creepy-crawlies flourish once more.

A lot of people are creeped about by bugs, but they are essential to the health of our planet. For the purposes of this book, author Hird uses a broad biological definition of “bugs.” She is a great defender of bugs and their importance. They pollinate, serve as food, contribute to the global economy, and are fascinating and in some cases beautiful as well. In chapter 2, she writes, “The truth is that bugs are exquisite in their evolutionary design and they should be able to exist for their own sake, not just for the value they give us. But they should be revered for all the vital roles they do play in keeping our only and shared home inhabitable.”

She makes the case that people are profoundly affected by insect life. What happens to insect life is affecting human life as well. “Access to land, or influence over who manages that land, will be a key part of both rewilding and creating land uses that promote invertebrate health. Mismanagement of land, such as mining, deforestation, depletion of soils or toxic contamination, ultimately affects poorer people, including smaller farming communities, most as they are the most vulnerable.” “To help the bugs we clearly need to help ourselves, too,” she writes a few pages later. (Chapter 7)

Hird lives in the United Kingdom, but most of what she says is just as applicable to people living in the United States. She has suggestions for what individuals can do, but she also acknowledges that this is a much bigger issue than can be resolved by individuals. We need to make global economic and political changes. Although this book is alarming in many ways, the author is optimistic that it is not too late to change things for the better, and she offers a vision of what a better future could look, smell, sound, and feel like in chapter 8. She also includes a list of organizations that support rebugging efforts.

Rebugging the Planet can be found in the adult nonfiction section at 595.7 HIR. If you enjoy reading books about food, climate, and the environment, the Galesburg Public Library has a book discussion group called Food for Thought that focuses on these issues. The next meeting is Thursday, August 18, at 11:30 am at Cornucopia Natural Market, when we will be discussing Rebugging the Planet.

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