Strength In Numbers
A group of 200 academics is showing just how much they care about preserving the Monarch butterfly. This distinguished group which includes scientists, artists and activists from all over the globe. They are petitioning all three North American governments to make an additional effort to save the butterflies.
Reliable figures stand together in this alliance, co-authoring an open letter sent to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, American President Barack Obama, and Mexican President Enrique Pena-Nieto.
Authors of this letter urging the national leaders to help maintain the Monarch migration. They are environmental activist Robert Kennedy Jr., novelist Paul Aster, minister Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, and writer Ali Smith.
The Reason Behind Their Requests
These intellectuals’ persistence is not without good cause. A global deficit in wild pollinators like butterflies, wasps, and bees. That could mean a shortage in food supply if their decline is not quickly reversed.
A third of all food consumed in the United States and Europe is made possible by these insects and without them, food prices would likely skyrocket because of the high demand and limited supply.
The Rise And Fall Of The Monarch Butterflies
Twenty years ago, the Monarch butterfly migration was at its peak. The butterflies would leave their homes in Canada and the United States. Then fly to Mexico to spend the Winter there.
This species of butterflies cannot survive freezing temperatures so around mid-October they begin a sometimes three thousand mile journey south to Mexico. Sadly less than ten percent of the population of the butterflies that once made this incredible journey remain.
The reasons for the decline in numbers are numerous. Climate change and illegal logging in their Winter homes in Mexico has created a smaller environment for them to live in while there. Overuse of insecticides and pesticides in the United States and Canada have lead to the poisoning of the black and orange winged insects. The disintegration of the only plant the Monarch butterfly females will lay eggs on, the Milkweed.
The Role Of North American Leaders
These problems have been brought to each government’s attention before. And some efforts have been made to save these majestic pollinators, but scientists fear that it is not yet enough.
All three leaders were present at a summit held in Ottawa. Where they were called to make active efforts to ensure the Monarch butterfly migration would continue in the future. In their letter, these two hundred intellectuals are asking for protection over land that produces Milkweed.
They also asked Mexico to take better measures to stop the mining of the land the butterflies inhabit and the cutting down of pine and fir trees on this nature preserve. The practice of logging on these forests where the Monarchs stay is already illegal. But indigenous peoples continue to break the law and use the trees for survival.
In a different meeting held in 2014, similar requests were made by concerned citizens. They all three leaders at that time agreed to promote the preservation of the Monarch butterfly. The butterfly population did experience a small rebound in 2015. An increase of three times as many were seen this past winter.
Even with this progress, the species is still very vulnerable. Terrible weather in 2002 sadly wiped out five hundred million butterflies. A repeat an occurrence at a time like this when the numbers of Monarchs are so much lower. It could be the end of the Monarch butterfly migration.