Skip to main content

Tip Sheets

‘Windshield effect’ taken to new extremes in U.N. biodiversity report

Media Contact

Jeff Tyson

Up to 1 million species of plants and animals face extinction due to human activity according to a United Nations report released today.


Scott McArt

Assistant Professor

Scott McArt is a professor of entomology at Cornell University and an expert on the habitat of honey bees and wild bees. He says the decline in insect pollinator populations — part of the “windshield effect” —  is a prime example of how human actions have impacted nature.

McArt says:

“Geologists are calling our current era on earth the Anthropocene — the period when human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. We’re generally having a negative impact on the environment, which is leading to population declines and extinctions of many species including corals, frogs, bees and butterflies.

“Insects pollinators are unfortunately an excellent example of the problems caused by human activities. There’s actually a newly coined phrase for insect declines – the ‘windshield effect’ – owing to the fact that if you drove your car at dusk 30 years ago you would need to clean the windshield frequently, but that’s no longer the case today. 

“Since the stressors causing pollinator declines are a result of human activity, humans also have the capacity to relieve those stressors. We’re starting to make some progress, but we still have a long way to go.”


Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.