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California’s Monarch Butterfly Population Hits Record Low (nytimes.com)
397 points by cs702 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 159 comments



> Gardeners, for one, can plant milkweed to support the surviving monarchs. And towns could help local habitats thrive by planting new trees now so that in 20 years, generations of monarchs have new places to winter.

Highlighting this for anyone that didn't catch it in the article.

Edit: Link to artursapek's comment on a seed supplier (in this thread but buried under a low voted parent) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18912699


Sure we should all do our part. But farmers could reduce their use of herbicides SLIGHTLY so that milk weed could go on the fringes of farmland like it used to and the problem would go away in very quickly.

I raised this with the Sierra Club of Illinois and they said that Archer Daniels was too powerful and there was no point. But the herbicides are a huge contributor to the problem. We are a democracy, no?


Since a few years ago, I stopped using pesticides and herbicides altogether and just let my weeds grow where they like. I live in the Bay Area and once spring comes along my lawn and the sides along my footpaths bloom with clover flowers, dandelions, and other flowers that I don't know. Bees love them and it honestly looks great. I did notice some nightshade plants come up around my back yard, but my pets seem to know instinctively to avoid them, so I'm not taking them down. I recommend it to anyone who is not forced by their neighborhood association or landlord to kill them.


I started doing the same thing with my front lawn in Oakland, California due mainly to the last drought. It is now socially more acceptable to have a dry, dead lawn in the summer than a green one, so not watering it doesn't make you look like a poor person or a weirdo. Greens up with the first rains and has a lot of different grasses and flowering plants in it from natural seeding. I like it.

The main problem is getting rid of the tall dry fire-hazard stalks when it completely drys out, a few months after the last rain of the season. Mowing leaves lots of straw to track into the house for months. Burning is out of the question in an urban area plus it kills the insect population. Can't keep a goat year round. If I could rent one goat for a weekend, that would be great.



Any pics you can share?


Cautionary note for seed selection:

>Tropical milkweed available at many retail nurseries is not native to the U.S. However it has naturalized in the Southeastern U.S. Science is discovering that its long bloom time may have some detrimental effects on monarch migration and possibly be a source to spread disease within monarch populations.

https://www.nwf.org/Garden-For-Wildlife/About/Native-Plants/...


I keep planting milkweed at my house but apparently the bunnies and deer in my neighborhood love the stuff... and I've had three years of dead milkweed at the end of the season.

Will try again this year, with a higher chicken wire fence around the plant area. Many local organizations provide free milkweed seeds and/or plants to get you started (we have the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis which provides seeds every year).


TL;DR Do your part and plant some plants, people.


Hope to one day buy a bunch of land in the middle of nowhere Texas and blanket it in milkweed and other supporting plants.


I bought a few packets of seeds as salad greens this year, with a pack of sunflowers (nice to eat as young shoots apparently), chervil (not a fan) and something else; I've now got about 30-40 big sunflowers in my little garden plot, the honey bees and bumble bees are having a field day with them (and I assume the birds will with the seeds afterwards). Little crickets (relaxing songs at night), ladybugs etc have all moved in, and they look great.

Onto milkweeds next I guess, and something for the native Aussie bees too.


I'm surprised there aren't collective coordination apps for things like this.


I'm finding that libraries in Colorado and upstate NY are receptive to playing an expanded role.

It turns out that providing seeds one may 'check out' for a season, and maintaining gardens of native plants as a teaching platform is generally compatible with their traditional role as stewards of knowledge.


Meetup.com probably has groups for those sort of things.


I thought Meetup is more so for physical meetings.


FYI: Scientist Brad Lister returned to Puerto Rican rainforest after 35 years to find 98% of ground insects had vanished https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/15/insect-c...



“The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit group that conducts a yearly census of the western monarch, said the population reached historic lows in 2018, an estimated 86 percent decline from the previous year.

That in itself would be troubling news. But, combined with a 97 percent decline in the total population since the 1980s, this year’s count is ‘potentially catastrophic,’ according to the biologist Emma Pelton.”

That’s the hard bit for me.

What are we doing to this planet? What will it become? The monarchs are a blessing of a creature. Will we just watch them wither away? Can we escape our petty dramatized politics and think of what we are passing on to future generations? Not just high tech benefits, but mountains of plastics for packaging, toys, and many “novelties” that are useless except for cheap thrills.

So while many will say our system has brought great wealth for humans, it’s important to think about which humans have seen wealth and which have seen further destruction. And what species and vistas all of humanity lost to gain our treasures. Those too have a cost, but not much that any of us will have to bear. The cost is paid by someone else we’ve never met or who may never be born yet. But sometimes, stories like this remind us of the great damage we are doing to this Earth.


And yet:

"Monarchs in the western part of the United States migrate for the winter to California, where they gather mostly among fragrant eucalyptus trees, which provide hospitable living conditions."

These eucalyptus trees, many planted in the 1800's and are now quite large and beautiful, are under attack by many environmental groups for being non-native and others for being a fire hazard. Maybe they did not even winter in California until those invasive trees were planted?

Life is complicated, but in general humans have been becoming much more respectful of the environment as we become more wealthy. The key to preserving the wonderfully complicated ecosystems on Earth is probably to continue as rapidly as possible with our tech improvements (and get back on pace from where we stopped in the 1970's) and to eventually turn all of Earth into a park, a la Bezo's plan. Don't work to shut down nuclear power tech (we have plenty of coal to burn and that is much worse) but help it improve. Support a safe waste storage solution instead of using that problem to shut down future construction.

The other alternative really boils down to a belief that it would be best if humans weren't around. Most humans rightly oppose this view and evolution will tend to support an increase in people with that view in the long run. A religion that has "don't have children" as a belief won't last long.


> Life is complicated, but in general humans have been becoming much more respectful of the environment as we become more wealthy. [...]

You can't be serious... https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/2000/1*IOUIWy_MZuECIpZRK... ("The Great Acceleration")

Also read The Anthropocene Review whenever you feel too optimistic about the future.

In fact now that I read your comment again, there's virtually not a single statement I can agree with.

Our current way of "householding" ("economy (from Greek οίκος – "household" and νέμoμαι – "manage")") with this planet is thrashing ecosystems left and right. This is because mankind's economy has long taken on a life of its own, serving itself, without anyone pricing in "negative externalities" (another way of saying we're turning Earth into a Wall-E-esque dystopia, except we're not going to have a big space station to live on).


I recommend Stephen Pinker's Enlightenment Now for a data/evidence-driven case for optimism on the environmental front. Still plenty of cause for pessimism/alarm, but reason for hope as well. As societies progress beyond poverty they expand their circle of concern beyond immediate survival to their surrounding environment. In fact this entire discussion is part of that expansion.



None of those charts are normalized per capita, so they're essentially just plotting population growth.

I agree with you that greenhouse gas emissions are disproportionately from high-income countries, along with meat consumption, food waste, air travel, and lot of other measures. But those charts aren't a great way to make that point.


> Great acceleration chart

OP's point is a bit more complex. Per capita, humans became a less respectful on initial industrialization (and initially wealthier), but become more so as they become wealthier. Probably the worse is at a middle-income point (maybe $5k/capita)

This is why forested acres have gone up significantly in the US and Europe: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/12/04...


It's fair to say the wealthier society has become, the more respectful it has become of the environment. It's just that with greater capability comes greater capacity to do harm. Prehistoric humans probably had a limited concept of environmental protection, but it didn't matter--there wasn't much they could do to it.

Given the unpredictability around both environmental respect and capacity for destruction, together with incentives from person to person to act or resist, it's difficult to predict much with certainty.


"there wasn't much they could do to it"

This is not really true. Humans have been radically changing the environment from before they were even "Homo Sapiens".

For just one example, prehistoric human hunting had devastating effects on animal populations with most large mammals killed off by humans every time we moved into their habitat. We even have a couple of data points when this happened very quickly. In Australia around 50k before present (BP) and in the Americas around 10-15k BP. From this[1] Atlantic article).

"By looking at how mammals have changed in size over time, Smith and her colleagues have shown that whenever humans are around, the mammals that disappear tend to be 100 to 1000 times bigger than those that survive. This isn’t entirely new: Many scientists, Smith included, have found the same trends in Australia and the Americas. But the new analysis shows that this pattern occurred in every continent except Antarctica, and throughout at least the last 125,000 years."

And the abstract of the paper this article is writing about [2]

"Since the late Pleistocene, large-bodied mammals have been extirpated from much of Earth. Although all habitable continents once harbored giant mammals, the few remaining species are largely confined to Africa. This decline is coincident with the global expansion of hominins over the late Quaternary. Here, we quantify mammalian extinction selectivity, continental body size distributions, and taxonomic diversity over five time periods spanning the past 125,000 years and stretching approximately 200 years into the future. We demonstrate that size-selective extinction was already under way in the oldest interval and occurred on all continents, within all trophic modes, and across all time intervals. Moreover, the degree of selectivity was unprecedented in 65 million years of mammalian evolution. The distinctive selectivity signature implicates hominin activity as a primary driver of taxonomic losses and ecosystem homogenization. Because megafauna have a disproportionate influence on ecosystem structure and function, past and present body size downgrading is reshaping Earth’s biosphere."

Human started wild fires would be another.

Humans changing life on Earth is as old as humanity but the last few hundred years is the first time we have started to care at a societal/global level. National Parks were being form in the US starting in the early 1900's. Half of Alaska was preserved in the 1970's, many countries in Africa are doing the same. If those African countries can get rich enough, fast enough some of the great savanna ecosystem could be kept from extinction. As usual, a balance of going forward and preserving what we have will be the best bet for a good outcome. It does not seem that having radical groups of people holding opposing views works well to maintain this balance. Maybe each individual needs to see the value in change and stability for good things to happen more than bad. Moloch[1] is always with us but its power can be reduced from time to time.

[1]https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/

[1]https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/04/in-a-few...

[2]http://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6386/310


"Life is complicated, but in general humans have been becoming much more respectful of the environment as we become more wealthy." - This is highly reductive and untrue. Increases in wealth directly correlate to higher rates of consumerism and more resource intensive diets. Just because wealthy countries are talking more about environmental degradation, doesn't mean they are making significant strides to reduce impact. Take the much talked about environmental agreements that pop up every other decade for example. Both the Kyoto protocol and now the Paris Agreement have done little more than pay lip service to the fact the environmental destruction is an existential threat to humanity. Both international agreements were non-binding in their terms and had exceedingly unambitious goals to reduce pollution and waste (as relates to avoiding detrimental increases in temperature and collapsing ecosystems.'

"The other alternative really boils down to a belief that it would be best if humans weren't around." - This too is overly reductive and amounts to nothing more than a straw man's argument. Are you to suggest that the only way to reduce pollution and environmental impact is to get rid of people entirely? How about tightening emissions standards, banning/taxing destructive materials like plastic, putting immense taxes on dirty energy? All of these measures are oft talked about, half-heartedly implemented for the most part, and could do much to reduce our impact all without addressing the population (not that that isn't an issue in and of itself.

The problem with the argument that we should just plow ahead full steam, hope that we can technologically solve our way out of the problem, and then clean up the mess afterwards is that we don't actually know if the problems will be solvable in a couple of decades when the time arrives. We simply don't know if this will work and the further destruction that happens in the meantime will make the challenge all the greater. For example the risk of armed conflict due to resource scarcity or famine (look at Syria right now) or the unforeseen consequences of fully collapsed fisheries and desertification of farmland is a very real one, and should be viewed as a direct danger of climate destruction. We do know, however, that taking extreme measures to reduce emissions and our environmental impact in the present will make this problem easier to solve. I simply don't understand how some find it valid to respond to such an impending risk with nonchalant suggestions that we'll simply solve this one later.


Complex problems can't be well discussed in such a short form. I don't really have time to create a full steelman argument.

I think that the "we should just plow ahead full steam" part of humanity started loosing power in around 1970 (I agree we were probably getting a bit too powerful too quickly and a slowdown was a good idea). The "safety first" part of humanity began ascending and has taken over most of the powerful institutions. Some swing back the other way is needed. Seems like life must go in these destructive/rejuvenating cycles and that a steady state of goodness is not really possible.


I disagree quite strongly with what I take to be both of your main points. I am genuinely under the impression wealthy humans are responsible for a disproportionate amount of environmental destruction. We consume more of everything that contributes to deforestation, pollution, and plastic waste.

I also do not believe the alternative that it would be best if humans weren’t around. I agree with the other commenter that that is a strawman. I believe humans can and should look forward to a better world where we use technology to meet our needs more efficiently. I absolutely do not suggest we “slow down” technological advancement. At the same time I instead insist that we must be conscious of the effect we have on the world. Technology will not automatically solve our problems. It will be our choice not to buy single use plastics, not to consume meat, and not to purchase novelty goods that would soon end up in a landfill.

I advocate for a future where technology is developed by groups of people who want to thrive together while also reducing our impact on the world. We cannot allow ourselves to believe that technology alone is enough, we must change our culture to be less wasteful.


>I disagree quite strongly with what I take to be both of your main points. I am genuinely under the impression wealthy humans are responsible for a disproportionate amount of environmental destruction. We consume more of everything that contributes to deforestation, pollution, and plastic waste.

Just look to the company hosting this site...

I've flown once since Y Combinator came into existence, Y Combinator requires at least 1 founder of every team that gets an in-person interview to fly to the Bay Area.

CO2 emissions from aviation fuel are 3.15 grams per gram of fuel.

>a round-trip flight from New York to San Francisco emits about 0.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide per person

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/27/climate/airplane-pollutio...

YC has funded 1500 something companies funded, let's assume they've interviewed twice that many in person.

So let's say 0.7 metric tons x 3000 companies x 1.5 cofounders, that's 3150 metric tons for in-person interviews.

Now, let's look at data transfer for skype. Saving and storing 100 gigabytes of data in the cloud per year would result in a carbon footprint of about 0.2 tons of >Saving and storing 100 gigabytes of data in the cloud per year would result in a carbon footprint of about 0.2 tons of CO2, based on the usual U.S. electric mix

https://medium.com/stanford-magazine/carbon-and-the-cloud-d6...

Skype, with HD, could use

>Recommended Video Call HD 10.98 MB/min

https://www.orduh.com/data-usage-on-skype-video-call/

Assume 15 minute average interview.

165 megabytes x 3000 companies = about a ton of carbon IF the data is stored for a year so in reality a fraction of a ton.

So an investment company, looking to invest in businesses that ideally will hit a billion plus valuations, could have easily used 3150x more carbon because they can afford to reimburse flights and would prefer to do interviews in person where video chat would have not only cost orders of magnitude less but generated thousands of times less carbon.

Now consider the more money you have, the more likely you are to travel regularly for recreation and here is a clear case where more $$$ can easily result in a considerably larger carbon footprint.


In full agreement.


People care more about conservation as their wealth rises, so yes, in some senses advancing the economic wellbeing of the world could be a strong lever for the future. But we do need to avoid making the place a wasteland in the meantime, or there will be nothing left to save.


>> humans have been becoming much more respectful of the environment as we become more wealthy.

The wealthy generate the most pollution[1]. Also, Native Americans, the most environmentally respectful humans I can think of, were not wealthy.

[1] https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachm...


Super sad, it's not even something that requires measuring to see. I visited the Monarch sanctuary in Santa Cruz in 2017 and there were thousands of butterflies easily visible. In 2018 it was so hard to spot even groups of tens.


>> What are we doing to this planet? What will it become?

The tragedy of the commons: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons

Technically, the planet is doomed. Practically and pragmatically, everyone who is living here today, has a good chance to enjoy his days, no matter what will happen next.

I'm not advocating the way we destroy our planet, just trying to accept facts without emotional barrier. Could be wrong here.


Tragedy of the commons is from a story that was made up. There is zero evidence that shared ownership causes such a tragedy. In fact, the opposite is shown, that no shared ownership causes tragedy. The problem with overfishing, for example, is not that the ocean is a commons, it's that it is specifically NOT a commons. Everyone owning something is not the same as nobody owning something because commons usually means cooperation vs competition.


Commons relates to access, not ownership. Ownership relates to property and the sine qua non of property is ability to exclude. Everybody owning something is a non-sense statement in the context of public policy. As both a legal and practical matter public property is owned by specific governmental institutions so that access can be efficiently controlled.

Tragedy of the Commons describes the exact situation where people have unfettered access to exploit a resource, capable of deriving a personal benefit to the detriment of everybody else; and specifically such that exploitation of the resource produces significantly less social benefit than if access were limited. It doesn't matter if 99% of people are conscientious and abstain from unfairly exploiting the resource because of a cultural sense of transitive "ownership" as a citizen or human. The laws aren't for the 99%, they're for the subgroup of people willing to subvert the norm for personal gain (and to be fair everybody has been and regularly is a member of that subgroup at some point).


Commons is about ownership AND access. It is owned in common. The "tragedy of the commons" is a fictional story not based on any evidence. It was made up like a fairy tale.

Things held in common certainly have rules which are either explicit or implicit.

The only times something like the "tragedy of the commons" occurs is when private enterprise gets involved and the perverse incentives demand exploitation. And of course the resources exploited are explicitly NOT commons because it's lawless.


Humanity on Earth is doomed, the planet will be fine.


Firstly, I think this distinction is pedantic and unhelpful. It's like saying your car wasn't destroyed in a high speed collision, it just got mashed into a form that is no longer useful for human transportation. Yes, the giant mass of mostly rock called Earth is not going to literally be destroyed and cease to exist due to human activity. That's not what people are claiming, and I think that is clear.

Secondly, we're making the planet a lot worse for more organisms than humans.


God I'm tired of hearing this platitude. Define "Fine" when 90% of the animals on earth are extinct? What is "fine" to you about that, exactly?


> Define "Fine" when 90% of the animals on earth are extinct?

If humans go extinct, human timescales cease to be relevant. Since we're talking about the Earth, reverting to geologic timescales makes sense. Earth 10 or 100 million years after humans may not be that different with or without humans.

(I agree, however, that the platitude is unhelpful. We're human. We care about the Earth on a human timescale.)


Humanity along with 90% of the plant and animal species evolved in the last 66 million years.


Actually it depends on how far it all gets


What do you mean? If if there was a nuclear war to end all nuclear wars and all humans died and the surface of the earth was irradiated so that most animals died, there would still be life. Slowly the surface would be replaced though tectonic action. New life would flourish and grow without human intervention. In a billion years or so you probably wouldn't even know humans had ever been here. The planet would be just fine.


In about 600 million years photosynthesis will stop working killing off all plants and we'll lose oxygen from the atmosphere. In a billion years the oceans will start boiling away and plate tectonics will stop.

The next few hundred million years is all the Earth will get before it loses it's amazing uniqueness and turns into another boring rock.


> In about 600 million years photosynthesis will stop working killing off all plants and we'll lose oxygen from the atmosphere. In a billion years the oceans will start boiling away and plate tectonics will stop.

Do you have a source for this? I assumed that the changes to earth was still billions of years away, when the sun finally goes supernova.


Here under Climate Impact and Loss of Oceans sections https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_of_Earth


Ah, I imagine life will adapt at least to the photosynthesis issue. The water I got no idea though.


Probably, but you can't really know for sure. Humans is something which never happened to this planet before. I wouldn't bet 10$ on life surviving here in the case things continue to go the way they are going today.


Life has been found far far underground, under the greenland and antarctic ice sheets, and in other even more inhospitable places. There is no way humans could eradicate all life before we managed to off ourselves. Only the destruction of the entire planet so that all that is left in the earth's orbit around the sun is a dust cloud could maybe kill all life (and even then I wouldn't bet against it).


I suspect the Fires, The Urban Development have greatly affected the pop over the last 2 decades.


What are we doing to this planet? What will it become? The monarchs are a blessing of a creature. Will we just watch them wither away? Can we escape our petty dramatized politics and think of what we are passing on to future generations? Not just high tech benefits, but mountains of plastics for packaging, toys, and many “novelties” that are useless except for cheap thrills.

But have you seen the latest VR tech? You can just put on a headset and swear your were back at that state park with mom and dad, in front of that old eucalyptus positively twitching with Monarchs.


this is the age of humans. nature will have to sacrifice to support us


Tomorrowland is the Disney movie I have enjoyed most in my life.


I'd really like to know how fireflies/lightning bugs have been impacted. It's anecdotal, but it seems to me there has been a precipitous fall in their populations as well here in the midwest.

I remember childhood evenings filled with them, they were everywhere, our grass was constantly crawling with them during the day. Now, I rarely ever see any during the day and at night I can count all the flashes.

It's not all my imagination. My cousin lives next to a farm. They have a couple acres they turned into a natural prairie. You can see the difference, the prairie lights up with activity at night, the farm is dead. A flash here or there is all you can see. Absolute stark contrast to the farm fields and well manicured laws of their neighbors.

EDIT: I found a link: https://www.firefly.org/why-are-fireflies-disappearing.html


We used to have them every few feet when I was a kid (enough that any given night we could catch a few in a jar, observe, then release), but some nights I see maybe one or two in an entire night. My kids don't know the joy of playing with lightning bugs that I knew :(


My brother’s yard and mine positively swarm with fireflies. More than I remember as a child. It’s because we don’t mow our yards much, and we allow large patches of wild local prairie like plants. Our neighboring yards have almost no insect life at all. So yes, our obsession with trim, grass lawns is a big problem.


The weird thing is I grew up in a neighborhood with obsessively trimmed grass. There was still no shortage of fireflies 30 years ago.

While our monoculture lawns are certainly part of the problem, it seems there's more to it than that. They are losing on multiple fronts including our chemical warfare on the local environment and various climate change related issues.


I visited the Pacific Grove butterfly sanctuary each of the past couple of years. It's really amazing. This year (2018), the count was way down, but they were saying (hoping) it was a bit too early in the season yet. I guess not :-/


IMHO, there's no point in individual action, we need collective political action in the form of massive government intervention, pretty much like in a total war economy. The free market clearly has failed here:

- Carbon tax.

- Carbon tariffs.

- Expropriation of all oil fields, the oil has to stay in the ground.

- Criminal prosecution of executives and shareholders of Oil companies much like what should have happened to the Tobacco industry.

- Job program (right to employment) to re-train the workforce in green technologies, specially in areas that will be affected by the aforementioned measures.


Sorry, but that will never work and isn't feasible to implement.

The real problem is that billions of people want to drive and buy products that require burning oil to produce. Oil companies are just giving people what they want.

Shutting down oil companies before dealing with the massive demand is a recipe for failure.


Or maybe shutting down oil companies will create the demand for an alternative.


A variation of that is what controlling carbon emissions is about. But no country wants to commit to it, because no other competing country wants to commit to it.

Basically any body who will do it, gives away the economic edge to a competing country. On a longer run these things will add up and then you end up handing over the thrown of geo political control to that country. Basically the existing super power(s) can't and won't do it because, doing so will create new super powers, and loss of their own standing in the world. And the aspiring super powers won't do it because, obviously it's hypocritical to ask others to cut down on emissions, when you won't do it personally yourself.

There is no reason for any developing economy to believe why the existing super powers should have the sole right to run an industrialized developed economy with first world benefits, while developing economies should be even prevented from giving their people a good life.


Brilliant - combine this with Russia economically benefiting from climate change - emerging artic shipping routes / oil drilling opportunities from ice melting[0] - and people wonder why climate change cynicism is on the rise.

[0] https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/russia-to-reap-benefits-...


So you're going to just remove all capacity for electricity generation, plastics, chemical feedstocks, etc etc overnight?


Criminal prosecution of shareholders of oil companies? You do realize this basically includes every human with pension, mutual fund or ETF holdings right? The notion is unfounded. Shareholders are not breaking any laws.

It is up to the government to set the rules and allow the market to play within them. Expropriation of oilfields would imply the government pick winners and losers and would be a devastating blow to property rights. If you advocate change, you should focus on advocating (fair) change in the regulatory framework.

Why not simply let the market decide which carbon emissions are of the most marginal value to society. You do this through cap and trade or carbon taxes, not from picking winners and losers.


I do believe that if there are internal company reports that their activities are causing global warming and the board decides to go with business as usual, it's a criminal activity [1].

It's indeed a blow against property rights, that's why I'm saying it's a measure of a total war economy, which is something reserved for the most dire circumstances. The reason for expropriation is that it's not enough to have a single or a couple measures against global warming, we need all of them. We need as much carbon to stay in the ground as possible [2].

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/28/shell-kn... [2] https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30709211


There is no law against "causing global warming", and it's not caused by one oil company.

Carbon tax doesn't address energy sustainability, or force people to stop polluting. They just have to pay to pollute, or switch to non-Co2 pollution. Co2 isn't the only form of pollution. Pumping it into the ground like we do with nuclear waste isn't a sustainable solution either.

Seizing oil fields and carbon tariffs would wreck havoc on innocent people, since getting food and being able to survive is entirely dependent on the global economy in all developed nations.

We could power all of the US with solar with 0.5% of the land we have. Solar is already feasible with the will, and improving.


There's a difference between "the board" (which is supposed to provide oversight) and "shareholders" (who may not even know they're shareholders).


If causing global warming is a crime, then wouldn’t causing global cooling also have to be a crime? There is a logical quagmire in this thought process.


> IMHO, there's no point in individual action

Very much disagree. You can both take individual action and push for systemic change, for two reasons.

Individual action can make a meaningful difference, maybe not in curbing climate change, but at least in supporting biodiversity in your little corner of the world, if ever so small. In the case of the monarchs, you can help by preserving their habitat by planting milkweed. There's a lot of examples of other small scale conservation efforts that make a real difference.

If you have some time to spare, Jonathan Franzen wrote an article about your defeatist attitude https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/04/06/carbon-capture, contrasting it to the meaningful work that can be done, and should be done by people of all means. It's well written, if not his message, you may enjoy his prose.

Second, taking individual action, however small, is the right thing to do. Eventually, somebody needs to be the first to step up. Some people already do, by making choices that reduce their carbon footprint, lowering their daily driving needs, travelling less by airplane, living smaller, whatever it may be.. Be that first person. When you lead by example, advocating for systemic change might actually work, as more and more people may follow in your footsteps.


First:

This bill https://energyinnovationact.org/ (also [1]) is in the US Congress right now. It includes a carbon fee-and-dividend (both a tax and tariffs, the proceeds of which are distributed among all residents of the nation).

Please call your representative and tell them supporting this policy is the most important thing they'll ever do. Also get everyone you know to do the same.

Second:

Criminal prosecution of executives and shareholders of Oil companies,

- Will never be politically tractable

- Is equivalent to prosecution of someone for loading a gun, rather than the person who pulled the trigger

- Does divesting from a company even hurt that company? I mean if the company is not trying to raise cash by selling shares? If they aren't trying to sell stock, why do they care about the share price?

[1] https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/7173


That may seem like a feasible way forward but you can look at what happened when France took a step in this direction. Theyve since stepped all the way back and the protests are still ongoing.

And rightly so. The reason it's unfair is because the general population shouldn't be the ones to pay for the disaster that is our environment. They bought the cars because they needed them to survive in this economy. The people who should be punished are the big players that pushed the economy in this direction in the first place. They should be the ones to carry this load for everyone, and nobody else.


> That may seem like a feasible way forward but you can look at what happened when France took a step in this direction. They've since stepped all the way back and the protests are still ongoing.

Except that in the case of France, the proposed tax really was an austerity measure masqueraded under the idealogical tazer of Save_The_Environment (a classic, these days): in fact, only 15% of the tax was actually going to the budget of the ministry of ecology.

That said, I largely agree with you with regards to who should bear the costs of these things, but in this case, the social consequences are such an unexpected gift that I would urge Washington politicians to attempt such a move :)


I have a feeling that people who perform individual actions are more likely to vote for collective ones. And the campaigns to promote individual actions can be a much easier sell.

I once read that the way to get people to donate to the red cross is first ask them if they would like to wear a free red cross ribbon. Then a week later ask them if they would like to donate. I suspect environmentalism could work the same way.


I second this. I'm 41 and have seen how privatization has mainly only led to decline in the areas I care about like the environment and workers' rights. Sure we have a good economy currently, but I feel that's in spite of rampant capitalism, not because of it.

As a kid here in Idaho, I remember seeing lots of Monarch butterflies and the others that imitate them. Today I see only moths and smaller white butterflies (we still have some large wood moths in the forests thankfully).

I think the problem is that young people today think that this is how things are supposed to be. They aren't old enough to remember pre-Reagan, or the fellowships, mens/womens groups and even religious volunteer groups of my grandparents' generation - which remembered the dangers of the Great Depression when there was no social safety net, and fascism in WWII.

Just for a poll, does anyone here believe that the free market can provide solutions to the externalities listed in this thread? Please include your age and why.


It's not the corporations fault, it's our fault. Going after oil companies is the liberal version of supply side economics.


I'd add building a ton of zero-carbon housing and neighborhoods and more or less giving it away.


"oil has to stay in the ground"

Or at least stop burning it. A decent CO2 tax would do that.


Probably true, but individual action is a way of stating, "I will do this much without the government, so obviously I support collective action". Also if, say, the government is engaged in genocide, a change in government policy is certainly called for, but you should still shelter/hide individuals that come your way, as best you can.

Not usually comfortable with bringing genocide into a discussion about political theory, since it rarely adds understanding to the discussion, but in this case it seems literally to be the most apt analogy.


Agreed. To rephrase, I just think that people spend too much time arguing what they can do on an individual/moral level (i.e. veganism, etc) and too little time discussing political solutions, and I believe this is mostly a political issue.

I do feel guilty about my carbon footprint and have been trying to decrease it. For instance, I would love to not drive to work but there's simply not good public transportation where I live, what can I personally do about that?

If, for instance, a corporation dumps toxic waste on a river because it's cheaper than the fines, what can I do about that besides political action?


Can you work from home once in a while? If you do it one day every 2 weeks you saved 1/10 of commute energy just like that.


I grew up in the East Bay, directly across from a regional park - Ardenwood Historic Farm.

Used to see giant eucalyptus positively twitching alive with Monarchs.

Haven't seen a single one this year since I've been visiting my mother who still lives in the neighborhood.


Is this one of those things where, in 50 years time, people will say: "how did they not know" or "why didn't they do anything!"


Yes, of course. We've spiked CO2 levels like crazy. We've slathered our farms, our lawns, our houses with organophosphates and neonicotinoids. And still we think that these things are small problems requiring maybe some little incremental tweak here and there to fix. Bug populations have cratered across the US in the last 20-30 years and this has received only the slightest bit of attention and almost no press coverage. That has a wide ranging impact on the entire ecosystem and is just one tiny aspect of how we're changing the world.

We are basically just children refusing to accept even the most basic levels of responsibility and stewardship for the world we live in.


It's likely that all matters of unsustainable behavior will eventually be looked upon that way by a more enlightened future. Unless we continue to dumb ourselves down with misinformation, willful ignorance, and the banishment of uncomfortable/unpopular ideas, of course.


That's assuming there's much of a future, enlightened or otherwise.


True. And I think there's a strong argument to be made that humans will destroy themselves before getting there.


I heard an interview where the scientist said that we need to stop mowing our lawns. This will help the butterfly and bee population to thrive. We need to change our township laws so that we can do that. That is a tough challenge but something we can achieve if we work together.


I don't think grasses, even tall ones, are particularly useful for butterflies and bees.

I think you may find it more effective to create some some mulched areas for growing wildflowers and perennials like milkweed.

Mowed lawns are silly and ecologically destructive for several reasons, but I think re:insects its more about habitat loss than any properties of the lawn itself.


Wildflowers and perennials and so forth are by far the best- but my small lawn, ringed by native xeriscape, is significantly more "alive" with grasshoppers, insects, and spiders when it's long than when I mow it. Sample size of one.


Sounds nice!

Yeah, I probably should have said pollenating insects don't get so much benefit from long grass.

I've also heard that 'edges' of ecosystems tend to be the most productive (as it gets the interaction between two ecologies). Your xeriscape is probably making your grass ecosystem healthier too.


An unmown, unmanicured lawn, will have a much larger variety of weeds, plants, flowers, etc.

I bet that, after some time, the density of ecologicially-good stuff that sprouts up will be much greater than what you'd get in a manually maintained mulch patch.


It was noted in the interview that tall grass and wild flowers that grow with it help the bees.


I've been suspicious of things like Roundup weed killer for a while. Over the last several years, I've stopped using residential weed killers on my property, and I have noticed a little uptick in monarchs and fireflies recently.

Of course, it's more annoying keeping your yard looking immaculate without those chemicals - you have to pull weeds more, but it's not really that big of a deal.

The "easy" path often has its downsides.


Don't try to make the land around your home "immaculate". Suburban lawns are a terrible idea, especially in the Western US. Diverse plant communities are much more attractive and hospitable to wildlife.


This is so sad to hear. I lived in Pacific Grove as a child about 18 years ago. The monarchs would cover trees and entire yards, turning them bright orange. It was the closest thing that we had to seasons. To be 27 and realizing that this natural wonder could already be a thing of the past is heartbreaking.


I'm curious about how many species that aren't visible to the naked eye are disappearing. Most of the species that we know are in decline are those that we can easily see and therefore easily notice. How about the microworld? Bacteria? Other things that are critical to the life-cycle?


Life requires the bio-mass to perpetuate; if people take up the share of all bio-mass in their bodies life finds a way to unlock and reuse that material. I'm guessing a new microorganism that will take the place of some of these depleting species.

Or how about the bacteria that is able to break down plastic? We (still)have to worry about the various fungus that developed and transitioned the world out of the carboniferous period.


I'm wondering if the fires may have had an impact. We found one during the hazy days that wasn't really moving and nursed it back to health before returning it to the wild after the smoke cleared. I know butterflies have only a limited time in that form but I like to think it made it.


This article says rising CO2 is making milkweed toxic, and as everyone knows we are killing milkweed (as "weed") - with a billion stems needed to fix the problem:

https://relay.nationalgeographic.com/proxy/distribution/publ...


Oh thanks, California. Now I have to rewrite the setting of my time travelling novel because there's no more butterflies.


The butterflies are dying is definitely the start of a disaster / apocalypse movie.


I planted butterfly bushes and milkweed to attract more butterflies in our area. After my city started spraying city-wide for mosquitoes, the butterflies and bees vanished.


At the same time the global oil subsidies was close to a trillion dollars in 2018. If only that was spent else where...


Where did you find this fact? I would like to find it too.


Not that we're not ruining this planet, but these specific monarch statistics might not be showing the full picture:

https://www.reddit.com/r/news/comments/adiku0/monarch_butter...


I've seen articles like this posted elsewhere and I've also seen scientist chime in and be critical of the numbers posted, showing problems with the methodology. I'm surprised I can't find many threads talking about the actual data in this post.


Utterly terrifying.


Maybe numbers are down because it has an image problem? Monarchs haven't been popular for a while now, perhaps try renaming it to Democrat Butterfly?


Drain Lake Lag, reroute water pipelines, stop controlled burns, raise the gas tax, and float a special bond. We’ll save you, butterflies!


The butterflies told a reporter that the "rent is too high in California".


We are so fucked...


I'd like to discuss how this fits into the broader context and ask some stupid questions. In attempt to quell some downvotes, let me state upfront that I'm fully convinced climate change is real, human-caused, should be reversed even if the cost is very great, etc.

That said, articles like this frustrate me because I don't think they provide enough context for why we should care. Literally no one I know is going to give up their creature comforts of smartphones, electric lighting, driving the car they want to drive, eating meat, having kids, A/C, commercial air travel, etc. just to save a species of butterfly.

What's the ultimate consequence if Monarch butterflies no longer exist? Is it just early warning of other bad things? What are those things?

And the big question that I don't see answered much: if we lose a bunch of species to climate change before we get our act together, why does that ultimately matter? Is it just sad? Is it that we don't know what will happen if things start changing really rapidly? What could happen in the worst case scenario?

Wikipedia lists [1] a bunch of North American species that have gone extinct in the past 1500 years. I'm surprised by how short the lists are, and how few there are in the past decade. And no one seems to care about these species...I don't know anyone lamenting the loss of the Eelgrass limpet or the Ash Meadows killifish.

I'm very pessimistic about our ability to get a handle on climate change in the next 50 years. Our civilization is not built for this challenge. I hope I'm wrong though.

But at the same time, I'm very optimistic about the biosphere for the next 1000 years. We'll switch to renewables or fusion, probably do large-scale geoengineering to correct some damage, and we'll adjust as a species.

That doesn't mean hundreds of millions or even billions of people won't suffer and die in the transition. We absolutely should fix it before hand if we can.

But the people claiming that humans will be extinct in 50 years because of climate change are completely out of their minds. It sounds like a religious argument to me, not one based on the science. Humans are cockroaches; we're not going anywhere unless an asteroid hits the earth. And it completely undermines the rational case to be made for why we should address climate change.

On the non-human front, a lot of plants and animals will either go extinct or almost go extinct but then most populations will recover. Our descendants mostly won't care about the species we lost, just like we don't care now about the "missing" species we lost a long time ago. We may even figure out ways to revive extinct species.

But I'm not a biologist or climate scientist, so I may be completely wrong. Don't tell me why I should be alarmed, because I already am. Tell me why people who don't care about butterflies should be terrified about the prospect of them disappearing. And whatever that story is, start telling it more, and connecting the butterfly story to it more, because otherwise it's just noise.


The human extinction argument is more or less a strawman. People are instead arguing that our advanced civilization will collapse. Which is pretty plausible if food shortages lead to famines, war, nuclear exchanges etc.

As for monarchs, this is just a number we can see well because people track it. They're nice in and of themselves, but also a marker of wider changes. For example, insect populations seem to be collapsing even in nature reserves, and with them, birds.

This causes both short run and near run problems. Short run is that our own food systems may not survive a mass extinction well. Crop yields are expected to decline markedly with increasing temperatures, and necessary pollinators may vanish. Likewise, the oceans may stop producing fish for us to eat in the quantities we do now.

It also presages trouble for humans. For example, sugarcane workers in the tropics are now suffering acute kidney failure due to chronic dehydration despite drinking water. The operating temperatures are too hot for outdoor work that used to be possible. With more heat, more areas will pose risks for human habitation.

In the longer run, each species loss is irreplaceable. Imagine we make it through this and in 100 years we are exploring the universe and have sustainable energy sources. But we destroyed as much of our species as past comet and extinctions did.

I think our descendants will be rather mad at us. In those species will be much lost potential for scientific and medical uses. To say nothing of the joy of nature or anything else. Gone forever so that 1-2 generations could live a certain way.

More than half of all human co2 has been emitted in the past 30 years. We're destroying the work of millions of years of evolution for a brief spurt.


Just for the sake of extra data I am in support of the systematic extinction of mosquitoes. There have been studies to show if they were removed entirely it would have minimal impact on the world while at the same time saving countless lives.

And I'm also optimistic about the biosphere for the next few million years. The world will go on until the Sun burns every living away after going into it's red giant stage. But that is several billion years off so we're good for now.

At the same time I think we have the capability to care about other species and hubris to believe we can shape our existence. So I want to change our ecosystem to do less damage to the current biosphere.


At the same time I think we have the capability to care about other species and hubris to believe we can shape our existence. So I want to change our ecosystem to do less damage to the current biosphere.

I completely agree.


Good comment, I agree with most of the spirit of it (though not sure it's realistic to expect people to have a coherent story on this just yet -- part of the reason it is alarming is because no one really knows what will happen).

I thought this was a decent discussion on the types of issues you raise (vs the wailing and gnashing of teeth in most of the other comments here):

https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/KwB9jA9FrsNczWr5F/global-ins...


I guess it's more a feeling of the a poem by a German Lutheran pastor https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came_...

It isn't that the butterflies do anything that would impact your smartphones but that they are a concrete sign of change that should be more understood. If we don't focus on it now the fear is by the time we do something it will be too late.

The butterflies themselves have an incredible complex life cycle. They only live 2 to 5 week during breeding season but they complete a migration of thousands of miles over 4 generations. It just seems amazingly beautiful to me that it worked and sad to think it might end because we failed to change our ways.

This seems like it would be something incredible to witness. https://youtu.be/_zAObMlOIm4?t=362

Would you want to save something beautiful if you thought you might have a chance? And you're wrong about folks not caring about already extinct species. I'd love for the dodo to not have been killed out.

Or the Passenger Pigeon which we (USA) killed every last one of them. Billions of birds in a flock. By the time they tried to start some conservation effort it was too late.

I know I miss the butterflies. Their color and movement always bring a smile to my face. I see less of them every year.


I'm not saying that it doesn't matter or that no one will care. But if you think that the average American is going to stop eating meat and buy an electric car so that we have more butterflies....we know different Americans. I just think we can tell a better story about why people should care, other than "we don't know what will happen" or "butterflies are pretty" or "it took a long time to evolve this". Not saying that's all you're saying, but I see a lot of articles and comments that fail to explain why people should accept a lot of personal inconvenience right now for the sake of the biosphere someday.


"Why" falls into dangerous conversational territory in my opinion. That of feelings. You start asking why life at all? Philosophy! Crazy stuff but it can be fun.

But I don't think there are any "why"s big enough to make people accept a small amount of personal inconvenience. It just isn't in humans to operate on a macro Earth sized scale. The only way to achieve it is create the alternatives and make them more attractive than the current status quo or force the change through government regulations.

You see plenty of people helping out on one cause or another but no one can do all the things all the time. So small changes in culture are what works best. For example the local anti-smoking change which happened only recently was bolstered by the ban on indoor smoking in my city.


> the people claiming that humans will be extinct in 50 years because of climate change are completely out of their minds. It sounds like a religious argument to me, not one based on the science. Humans are cockroaches; we're not going anywhere unless an asteroid hits the earth.

If the clathrate gun goes off, that's an asteroid-level extinction event. It doesn't look super likely at this point, but we simply don't know enough to be sure.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clathrate_gun_hypothesis


I think you might find this interesting in future perspectives. What you're thinking about having real impact or consequence is the extinction of "keystone species". https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/keystone-spe...


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The monarch is simply one of the more noticeable affected species. Before long it may be apparent that (micro)plastics and emissions have royally screwed the organisms and systems underlying everything else.


But water bottles are so convenient eh?


Obviously, butterflies are the only species having a problem and everything's fine.


Because humans are causing the extinction and more importantly have the intellect/ability to prevent it. The problem is more systemic. This happens to be a specific case.


> Why should we care about ... X?

Because we can.


Not just that but mostly because we (humans) are the cause of their disappearance. So we ought to care.


It’s not just the monarch butterfly. Entire ecosystems are collapsing throughout the world as insects disappear followed by the birds that eat them and on and on.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2018/10/15/hyperalarm...


I was just commenting the other day about when I was a kid, you'd drive somewhere in your car and you'd have to scrape the bugs off your windshield. I drove about 700 miles a few weeks and not one bug. Something is wrong.


To support your anecdote, I've seen this comment posted by a number of users the last few months in relation to environmental-destructive posts. And to add my own data point, I too, have noticed the same as you on road trips through various parts of western US, although I always just thought I was just crazy. I can't say as of when exactly, but I really started noticing the last 3-4 years. Even hiking around where insects used to be numerous on warmer days, sometimes annoying in-your-face at every turn, seem to be nearly void of creatures.


Outside of massive global extinction events is there any record of extinction on the same scale as the one brought on by the human species?

Most records show that as soon as humans set foot in an environment the local species were decimated one way or another. And I'm not assigning blame exclusively to modern humans, it's been happening since the dawn of humanity.


Maybe when a collision with a planetoid turned half the planet inside out and in the process created the moon, but other than that, no.

We've created a new geological age. If there's intelligent life on the planet a million years from now they will look back and go what the fuck.


Any invasive species does the same thing to a new environment. Zebra mussels, kudzu vine, etc.


Sure but how many other species managed to invade every single other environment like humans managed? Not too many, which is why our impact is overexpressed.


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Because it looks like we are in the early stages of a mass extinction event caused by us. The extinction rate today is 100 to 1000 times higher than geological norms.

Loss of biodiversity (i.e. individual species dying out) makes the entire system less stable, since remaining species are less adapted to the environment. In the extreme, even if the individuals of a species, e.g. a particular breed of ant are displaced by another species, the system moves closer to a monoculture, which is prone to population shocks and other chaotic behavior.

Ultimately, all of Earth's ecosystems are connected through a vastly complicated food web. Even us. We've been blowing holes in that food web, roasting it, setting it fire, chopping off limbs, eradicating the places where it grows, etc.

This is actually very, very bad.

Asking questions is fine! It's great. It's how we learn. But cavalier comments like the OP are downvoted not because they are asking serious questions, but for stinking of militant ignorance.


Thank you for the reasonable answer.

Still, I find no harm in asking "what is it about this species that makes them stand out?" I was expecting to get factual answers along the lines of "these butterflies are tied to this specific other species and we know that this could snowball into X, Y, Z". I would've liked to hear something like this instead of the other patronizing answers and the accusative tone.

> Asking questions is fine! It's great. It's how we learn. But cavalier comments like the OP are downvoted not because they are asking serious questions, but for stinking of militant ignorance.

I'm getting downvoted just like OP. Am I being cavalier too?

I'm more concerned about our inability to have a discussion without assigning nefarious implicit meaning to questions. I realize that denying human impact on the environment is a reality in US politics. I'm not from the US. I don't understand much of these things.

If you don't mind me asking, what exactly in OP's question made it stink of militant ignorance? Am I displaying the same ignorance as well? Or am I only expected to perpetuate the outrage and never question anything.

For instance can I ask where this comes from "The extinction rate today is 100 to 1000 times higher than geological norms." or will it sound like I'm denying all human impact on the planet?


Re "100 to 1000 times" - this is at the end of the first paragraph of Wikipedia's Holocene extinction page, with multiple citations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction


> Still, I find no harm in asking "what is it about this species that makes them stand out?"

Because it's a symptom of a much larger problem. Namely, collapse of insects in general: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/15/insect-c...

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few years, there've been multiple reported rapid declines across multiple species, not just "this species that for some reason stands out". Some species are naturally more studied than others (because of availability, accessibility, observability etc.), and when they collapse, it's can be immediately observed.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_species

Robert Paine developed the theory when he went to a bunch of tide pools and picked out some of their starfish. What he found was that the ecosystems (isolated tide pools) where he removed all of the starfish rapidly collapsed. It turns out that the starfish were critical to controlling the population of another animal that was preying on herbivores. When the starfish disappeared, its prey grew out of control and ate all the herbivores. This caused seaweed and other plants to grow out of control, exhausting several key resources faster than the ecosystem could naturally replenish them, until the tide pool became a deadzone.


Monarchs have a multi-generation migration. That is beautiful and mysterious.


I don't know that this specifically includes the 100 to 1000 times figure, but it speaks of "biological annihilation".

> This “biological annihilation” underlines the seriousness for humanity of Earth’s ongoing sixth mass extinction event.

https://www.pnas.org/content/114/30/E6089.full?ftag=MSF0951a...


I had to dig for it but this a study that was referenced in articles mentioning the 100 to 1000 times higher statistics. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/344/6187/1246752


We are not in the early stages anymore.


Geologically we are.


The monarch is pretty and many people have a personal connection to it (either through media or personal experience), which makes it an effective species for drawing attention to the broader issue of an ongoing global extinction event in which extinction rates are far higher than would be expected without human activity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction


I'm just guessing here, as one who did not join the downvote brigade, is that everyone else sees the house burning down around them, with the ceiling joists beginning to collapse, while someone walks up and says, "what's the big deal? Fires happen all the time. Sometimes even nature causes the fire!"

The California Monarch is the proverbial (and perhaps almost literal) canary in a coal mine. When the canary dies, sad though that might be, that is not the tragic event. No, the real tragedy is yet to come (when the mine blows, or you all suffocate on methane).

So though your question might be honest, it is likely to cause one to wonder, "where the hell have you been for the last ten years?" and irresponsibly hit the down button.


I wish I had an answer to this question, too. It boils my blood when my uncle says to stop fussing, species that don't adapt go away daily. I tell him they are indicator species for the general health of the ecosystem. I make an intelligent guess that these issues will percolate up the food chain and ultimately affect humans, but I don't have any solid answer.


>>Millions of species are extinct daily. Why does this one matter?

Its one things for a species to go extinct unable to evolve to the ecosystem. Its a totally different thing for a perfectly evolved species well integrated into an ecosystems life cycle to be eliminated by Human intervention.

We don't completely understand the effects of such mass extinctions going due to human actions. Mostly they are going to be bad.

Thing of this you need a range of insect species for pollination. Not just to product food, but even to maintain the existing population of trees. If you can't product food, or if trees don't grow. Eventually it will be our turn to go extinct, or at least suffer huge losses in population.


Dupe?

There's already a discussion on a general insect population decline on the frontpage.

"Insect collapse"

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18909650


No, definitely not a dupe. This is a specific update in the context of a general trend.


They might be two different issues. General insect collapse is likely dude to the overuse of broad spectrum insecticides. Monarch collapse is more likely due to reductions in milkweed population.

Milkweed is often found on the edges of corn/soy fields so there is definitely an add on effect, but its probably not the root cause. The solution is pretty clear though, if you care about monarchs, plant some milkweed.


I have a ziploc bag in my fridge with my first set of milkweed seeds... preparing them for sowing with a month of cold stratification. I am planning to give the seedlings out to neighbors this Spring.

Anyone wishing to do the same can buy some seeds here: https://www.rareseeds.com/milkweed-butterfly-weed/


I'm planning to do the same (so thanks for the link!) in addition to roping off the wild patches of milkweed in our hay fields so they don't get mowed by the farmer we lease our land to.

I'll add on to this, if anybody out there is interested, join the monarch waystation network! I got my waystation certificate in the mail a few weeks ago. https://www.monarchwatch.org/waystations/


It turns out there are many varieties of milkweeds. The one I'm familiar with here in the midwest is this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asclepias_syriaca


The one I linked supposedly does well in CO, where I live.


The monarch story in particular really hits home for me. I’m glad both are up here.




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