Sunday, February 28, 2016

Monarch Recovery?

In the past I have blogged about my experiences with Monarch butterflies along the north shore of Lake Ontario, and the wonder of seeing thousands of them roosting in trees near the water's edge, their wings like exquisite, living, stained glass windows.

I have also reflected about Barbara Kingsolver's novel, Flight Behaviour, which is a well-written lament about the loss of habitat for Monarchs which has led to a precipitous decline in the numbers of these migratory creatures. The evangelical congregation of the central figure is significant in the story, and doesn't come off all that badly in the telling. Sadly, conservative Christians are often so concerned about salvation as a future promise that they have little regard for our earthly home and the creatures of it.

It is encouraging to see a report out of Mexico that the wintering ground for the Monarchs essentially tripled in size from last year and there were many more butterflies.

Alejandro del Mazo, chairman of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, said that, based on the span of forest the butterflies covered this winter, the monarch population in Mexico might have risen to about 140 million, a substantial increase from an estimated 35 million at their nadir two years ago.

While this is encouraging, the increase is to 10 acres, compared to 45 acres only twenty years ago. No one can say why the numbers have increased but the crackdown on illegal logging in the wintering area, along with efforts in Canada and the United States to increase the amount of milkweed for feeding and breeding may be making a difference.

This is obviously a scientific concern, but it is also a spiritual concern. If we want to "live with respect in Creation" as one of our United Church faith statements offers, there will be practical implications. We can act individually, as faith communities, all of us encouraging governments to implement policies and procedures which protect species at risk.

Are you encouraged by the news about the possible Monarch rebound? Have you been on the lookout for them in recent years? Planted milkweed? Is this a concern Christians should take to heart?


roger said...

That is some encouraging news to read on a Monday morning. I did plant milkweed a couple of years ago in response to the problems that these creatures were experiencing.

In fact, I am on "high alert" for planting anything that will help birds, bees or almost anything else. I am an avid reader of expert gardener, Mark Cullen, and you could almost say my backyard is "garden by Mark". His books and articles provide recommendations on which native plants to include and why.

Keeping with the subject of animal/creature welfare, I recently read a book entitled "Planet Animal Farm". The author, a woman in her 20's, spent a year visiting factory farms around the world. What she saw was staggering and very discouraging. I think most of us are aware of the brutal and inhumane conditions billions of animals are experiencing in "farms" this very second, but we choose to continue to give our business to factory farms.

Not to sound righteous, be my wife and I have put our foot down. I rarely eat meat, and if I do, I will have visited the farm first and ensured the animals were not caged, had plenty of access to outdoors and were not fed corn or other inappropriate food. I will not buy meat from any grocery stores.

Well, that was my Monday morning rant. Sorry to take the blog off topic, David!

David Mundy said...

I don't think you're off topic Roger. What you are talking about is living mindful lives, which respects creation, and therefore creation. We can all endeavour to do so, and we will be called to make more and more challenging choices in the days ahead.