Walking around my family’s property in upstate New York last summer, I noticed something I hadn’t seen in years: scores of monarch butterflies flying around the milkweed that rings the perimeter of the yard.
Six months later, at the end of January, biologists attending the Trinational Monarch Science Meeting, in Mexico City, confirmed what I and many others had been seeing throughout the summer and fall: the eastern monarch population was a hundred and forty-four per cent larger than it had been a year earlier. The announcement offered a modicum of hope amid dire warnings of mass extinctions and ecological catastrophe.
These are tough times for soybean farmers. As President Trump’s trade war with China drags on, retaliatory tariffs are clobbering soybean prices—and some farmers are selling their crops at a loss.
The federal government has stepped up to help: At the urging of Midwestern senators, the USDA is compensating farmers for some of their losses, shelling out $3.6 billion to soybean farmers so far. While the subsidy is appreciated, many soy farmers I’ve talked to see it as a politically motivated handout that won’t help them in the long run. They would rather work toward lasting solutions than accept a quick fix.
For the first time in North American history, the numbers of bees, bats, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators have fallen so low that there is scientific concern and public fear of a “pollinator collapse.”
Such a “food chain collapse” might not only affect the health of wild species in our parks and refuges, but also our food security derived from agricultural landscapes.
As Mexico emerges from the most violent election campaign within living memory and embarks on the presidency of Andres López Obrador, one prominent citizen watches at a diagonal: a veteran of Mexico’s other war – not that over narco-traffic and its clients in politics, but that against nature.
In a recent interview with the daily El Universal, Homero Aridjis – award-winning poet and former ambassador – described all the candidates at last June’s election as “environmental illiterates” – referring to the battle he has fought for decades now, and which he sees reaching its final stages – for Mexico’s natural and cultural heritage.
Off the southern coast of California, just across the border from Tijuana, Mexico, dolphins swim around the fence that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. “They don’t really care,” said Jeff Crooks, a University of San Diego scientist who has been doing research along the U.S.-Mexico border for the past 16 years.
The border fence here was built long before President Trump’s campaign promises to “build a wall.”
The Sweet Briar community was saddened to learn of the death of Lincoln Brower, a world-renowned entomologist and research professor at the College. Brower died peacefully at his home in Nelson County on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, after an extended illness.
Brower came to Sweet Briar in 1997 after retiring from the University of Florida as Distinguished Service Professor of Zoology, Emeritus, joining his wife and research collaborator,
Monarch butterflies, which pollinate many different kinds of wildflowers, are among nature’s great wonders. Their annual migration is one of the most awe-inspiring on Earth: Each fall, millions of these striking black-and-orange butterflies take flight on a 3,000-mile journey across the U.S. and Canada to wintering grounds in Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains.
The monarch population, which is determined by measuring the number of hectares the butterflies occupy in their Mexico habitat, has declined to 2.48 hectares—almost 30 percent less than last year’s population.
The house, on an island in Maine, perches on a rock at the edge of the sea like the aerie of an eagle. Below the white-railed back porch, the sea-slick rock slopes down to a lumpy low tideland of eelgrass and bladder wrack, as slippery as a knot of snakes.
Periwinkles cling to rocks; mussels pinch themselves together like purses. A gull lands on a shaggy-weeded rock, fluffs itself, and settles into a crouch, bracing against a fierce wind rushing across the water, while, up on the cliff, lichen-covered trees—spruce and fir and birch—sigh and creak like old men on a damp morning.