So just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior, a shimmering book like her others, great dialogue, characters, landscape you can bite into, the lead character not even really Dellarobia Turnbow, the smart woman left with an uneducated husband and unchallenging life, but actually the monarch butterfly species itself and its possible dying out due to man-made causes. Deep sigh. Makes you fearful not only for the world of butterflies.
Good as she is, Kingsolver, a biologist by training, got the science wrong, though. In this, her semi-historical fiction, the butterflies are dying off due to too-hot mountains in Mexico, then the population moving to in this case, Appalachia, where they find no FOOD when they wake up after wintering over. Kingsolver said the butterflies landed mysteriously on Turnbow’s mountain because it was on a trajectory from the mountain range in Mexico they usually habitat, now too warm. And that when the monarchs find a new home further North, there is no milkweed, which they need to survive.
An NPR report (I can’t find!) said money-hungry land owners in Mexico clear cut forests, destroying nesting areas, while Monsanto’s Roundup didn’t directly KILL the butterflies, it just killed all the weeds they eat! Milkweed traditionally lives between soy and wheat and other cash crops, butterflies flitting around pollinating whatever they touch. The butterflies have to have what Monsanto kills. OUCH. There’s reference to the science at http://naturalsociety.com/monsantos-gmo-crops-ravage-us-usda-ignores-dangers/ And found a site dedicated to restoring monarchs: http://www.hiltonpond.org/researchmonarchhelpmain.html
And just saw (a small segment of 10/5/13 Bill Moyers and Company,) that this last year in the USA, ONE THIRD OF THE BEES DIED OFF, greatest suspect pesticides. Crazymaking! How will I get my almond butter next year? We need those bees!
Also heard Wendell Berry read a poem of his where he poses that some huge company, maybe Monsanto, will come up with a ROBOT BEE to pollinate our crops – Harvard did that this week! Yes. CBS News said that “According to the researchers, the robot half the size of a paperclip and weighing less than a tenth of gram, was able to hover for a few moments and then flew on a “preset route through the air.” Wrong direction, Superman! Can’t we just take care of each other? Fascinating that Berry guessed Monsanto would do this, though. See his wonderful interview on this week’s Bill Moyers. I’ll write about that now.
Care about the Fate of the Earth? Reading Flight Behavior is a good step – that and do something useful, I mean if you want to live in a world you want to live in? Lots and lots to do outside your own home – send money – or get engaged in saving the planet. Seriously. You’ll respect yourself in the morning. Don’t want to be an ecoscold, just an econudge – big nudge to get more done along the CPR lines while we can (David Brower, founder Sierra Club and way more, used to call for CPR – conservation, preservation, restoration.)
Me? Looking into planting milkweed and to see if I can buy some monarchs to come eat them. Bees? There’s a guy near here who puts beehives on people’s land and services them. Good; I like that and considering.
Meanwhile? Going to California State Grange Convention THIS WED. 10/9-Sun 10/13 at the Sebastopol Grange Hall, 6000 Sebastopol Road (Hwy 12) to engage with people who love local farms and taking care of the earth. Good crowd to be in the middle of! A lot of that is open to the public so check details at http://www.californiagrange.org/#and hope to see you there!