I remember last spring, which feels like last week, when a million red admirals and sulphurs descended on my blooming ninebarks. Then the two weeks of spring we had ended abruptly when it was 90-105 every day for a good two months, with 0.7" of rain since mid June. I haven't spent much time in the garden this summer because I'm a fairly heat-sensitive guy. But I've seen very very very few butterflies this year and perhaps 50% of the normal amount of insects. Right now certain species of joe pye weed are blooming and are always covered in soldier beetles--but this year I've seen perhaps a dozen or two.
We usually raise anywhere from 100 to 200 monarch butterflies from May to September. This year I found a few eggs in June, raised and released. Then three weeks ago I found 16.
That's it. For the whole summer. Apparently butterflies overshot this year into Canada, but you can't deny the effect of drought, coupled with the ongoing threat from spreading agriculture into Conservation Reserve Program lands now expiring (the price of corn is just too tempting not to plant on hillsides, drained marshes, marginal land), and willy nilly chemical applications by farmers and suburbanites.
I believe that no issue our government faces is more critical than that of how we influence our planet. You can't argue healthcare, welfare, and equality if you're starving, have no electricity, no clean water, and the economy tanks because we rely on oil. I believe the one issue no one risks their political fortunes on is the one issue that can solve, in large part, all of the above issues and more. I'm naive, perhaps. But when it rains this fall and we forget about the drought, when we forget about the BP oil spill (we already have even as Issac washed up sunken tarballs on to shore), the climate will still be changing at warp speed in geologic time.
I am terrified when I hear that governments are already clamoring for drilling rights in the arctic as sea ice hits record lows, because I hear no concern at all for the methane bubble in the cold water that will be released once the pressure of ice is gone, nothing about CO2 sequestered in frozen permafrost set to wreak havoc on global temperatures, nothing about the end of arctic animal species, nothing about being farsighted or caring not just for the planet but each other. If I have a child I'm terrified for them. What we do to the planet we do to ourselves one hundred fold. If we're so self centered why don't we care for our own species? A recent poll showed that the majority of Americans believe human pollution is significantly hurting the planet, but a much smaller number believe in climate change.
In 10 days I'll release my only large batch of monarchs of the year into an uncertain future that most will not survive--and then climate change will, in the next few decades, destroy their winter grounds in Mexico even as we prevent logging now. There's always maybe. There's always the human ability for immense compassion, faith, and hope manifested in inspiring action in unexpected moments. There's always that I suppose.