Where Have All the Monarch’s Gone?
It’s sad, but true. Monarch butterlies have been on a decade-long decline and scientists fear they will soon be extinct. In fact, since the 1990s biologists have measured a 90% decrease in the number of Monarch’s compared to their previous 20-year average. To put that into perspective, imagine that over the past 20 years in the United States that we lost all humans in the country except for those living in Florida and Ohio. WHAT?!!??
While the rapid species decline of the Monarch’s is due partially to changing weather patterns (arguably caused by humans), tragically most of the credit actually goes to Monsanto and their mainstay herbicide, Roundup©…
Roundup© is supposed to protect our crops. It kills the weeds that leach nutrients from farmland soils and that’s good, right? Well… kinda; here’s the problem though: diversity. HUH??!!?? I’ll say it again, DIVERSITY! I don’t want to go too deeply into modern economic theories or an argument about the delicate balance of our biosphere, however what I will say is that in the course of optimizing our economic system we have forgotten a very simple truth and have allowed our need for growth and accumulating wealth blind us in our pursuit of an ideal system. That truth is that economics and the generation of wealth, or “progress” as we call it today, has overlooked the value that Nature provides to humanity. And Nature is nothing if not diverse, diversity has determined species propagation, coexistence, pred-prey relationships, evolution and much more for BILLIONS of years. The fact remains though that we lose some of the diversity and thereby resiliency of the biosphere each and every day due to human activity. Today natural resources barely enter the economic equations aside from the costs that are incurred when we extract them from the Earth.
What does this have to do with butterflies though?
The tangent was necessary to give an adequate back-story. Roundup© kills every plant/organism except those that are genetically engineered to withstand it’s toxicity. . In fact the only things we do know are the things we can observe such as Roundup© kills Milkweed. Now, I know what you’re thinking, Roundup© killing Milkweed is a good thing, right? It is a weed after all, no? It would be great if that were true, however the problem is that Milkweed is actually very beneficial for humans, for monarch butterflies and for our farms/gardens. In fact for hundreds of years it has grown in between rows of corn and soybeans and in turn Monarch butterflies have helped to pollinate our crops. Monarch’s are also arguably the favorite insect in all of North America; we all played with them when we were kids.
Have you ever heard that saying, “when a butterfly flaps his wings, on the other side of the world there is a hurricane…”?
We’re not promoting hurricanes or even drawing a comparison between butterflies and hurricanes, but rather we are stating a fact. Namely that everything is connected in our biosphere and when an entire species that has existed as part of the ecosystem for tens of thousands of years is suddenly lost, there are repercussions.
DDT was used back in the 1940s-1972 as an insecticide/pesticide. Use and production of DDT was halted when the EPA issued an order siting that the “environmental repercussions were far too vast and easily outweighed the benefits”. Imagine a world where the word “organic” no longer has any meaning because it is simply the way things are done.