“Kingsolver (author of “Flight Behavior”) is clearly trying to awaken us to humanity’s growing disruption of the world’s biological functions—and to do it in a way that connects emotionally and viscerally with her readers,” Ashe (director of US Fish & Wildlife service) said. “And we really need this awakening!”
Awakening to the Decline of the Monarchs
Barbara Kingsolver’s novel, “Flight Behavior”, which helps to draw attention to the Decline of the Monarchs, follows in the tradition of other works of fiction and nonfiction that can have powerful influence on how we view the environment. Classics in this tradition include Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” & Aldo Leopolds’s “A Sand County Almanac”. More recently, the fictional film, “Soylent Green” warned us about resource depletion.
Lincoln Brower, who co-submitted a petition to the government asking that the monarch be listed as endangered.. is convinced that Kingsolver’s novel has “influenced & educated many folks.” While dealing with the petition, he was impressed by “the widespread awareness of the problems facing the butterfly.”
There are many committed groups who are concerned with the decline of the monarch, and are making efforts to save the monarchs. The Obama Administration did commit 3.2 million to save the monarch. Monsanto did recently contribute 4 million dollars to save the monarch in a “greenwashing” attempt. Most of this is to go to The National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.
There have been many problems for monarchs, such as habitat destruction, including their migratory destination, and severe weather. There is no question, however, that the main reason for the decline of the monarchs is the loss of it’s main larval food, milkweed. Not long ago, it still existed on the edges of agricultural fields, but has now been destroyed by Monsanto’s massive & excessive sprayings of Roundup.
Last week, the agrochemical giant Monsanto pledged four million dollars to monarch-saving efforts, most of it going to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. In addition to habitat destruction and severe weather, the monarch butterfly is struggling with the loss of its primary larval food, the milkweed plant, which has been wiped out by the excessive spraying of herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup. The Center for Food Safety, one of the co-submitters of Brower’s petition, called the pledge “greenwashing.” “Monsanto,” Kingsolver told me, “could do an honest good turn for the monarchs—and the planet—by taking a four-million-dollar loss as it cuts back and eventually stops manufacturing Roundup.” (“While weed management has been a factor in the decline of milkweed habitat,” the president of Monsanto, Brett Begemann, said in a statement, “the agricultural sector can absolutely be part of the solution in restoring it.”)
What I wanted to do,” Kingsolver said in an address to the students of Sweet Briar, “is write a novel about how people think about climate change or why they don’t. “I always hope for the best, in the department of life imitating obama read art,” Kingsolver recently explained over e-mail. “And to help things along, I sent a copy of ‘Flight Behavior’ to Michelle Obama.” —– No one knows whether either Obama did read “Flight Behavior“.—– Obama’s administration did commit 3.2 million to saving the monarch.
The novel ends dramatically and with question. Which brings us back to the question: Will our efforts to save the monarch be enough & be in time to save the monarchs?
— The COSTS of the massive sprayings, and the whole agricultural system in the US, as it has been redefined by Monsanto, are only just starting to become obvious, with the loss of the Monarch. For more information on this & other costs to our environment & our health, & what can be done, join Andrew Kimbrell, Vandan Shiva, PhD, Jeffrey Smith, Paul McCartney, & many others for the Food Revolution Summit HERE!
“Flight Behavior” is a brilliant & suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe & denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably encounter in life lead us to believe in our particular chosen truths. Kingsolver’s riveting story concerns a young wife & mother on a failing farm in rural Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain, & how her discovery energizes various competing factions—religious leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists, politicians—trapping her in the center of the conflict & ultimately opening up her world. Flight Behavior is arguably Kingsolver’s must thrilling & accessible novel to date, & like so many other of her acclaimed works, represents contemporary American fiction at its finest.
In “The Amazing Monarch“, author/photographer Windle Turley chronicles the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. Page after page of full-color photographs, the book shows the monarch’s rarely captured destination wintering grounds. The contrast of the orange & black pops off the page as the reader goes on a visual tour in the high mountains of Mexico. The multifaceted work also contains poems & quotations focusing on the beauty of these tiny animals that weigh only.02 of an ounce.With carefully researched text & consultation with leading entomologists, The Amazing Monarch tracks the monarch’s migration & interesting life spans. Amazingly, this migration only takes place every three to five generations, but somehow, by the last week of October, they arrive at the same small groups of oyamel fir trees their ancestors populated the year before. The handful of roosting sites, located at about 10,000 feet altitude, each may contain 20 to 30 million monarchs in a single site only a few acres in size.After their stay in Mexico, it is crucial to head north to get back to Texas & Louisiana & specific types of milkweeds to lay their eggs during a critical three-week period. If the monarchs reach their destination too early, frost on the milkweed could kill the eggs. A late arrival may mean the milkweed is no longer succulent.Returning from Mexico, the fourth or fifth generations will now have lived nine months, & before dying, will lay eggs during the last two weeks of March. A female will lay 400 to 500 eggs during her lifetime, & primarily on only one type of milkweed plant, but only a small percentage of eggs will actually survive to become adult butterflies. The offspring of the first generation travel on to Kansas and Tennessee during April where the female will again lay her eggs and die, after having lived only 45 to 60 days. The process continues to South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin in May & the Great Lakes & Canada region in June. But the fourth or fifth generation will not breed, lay eggs, or die; instead, they head south in the late summer. Granted almost unprecedented access by Mexican wildlife officials, Turley photographed the insects in their natural habitats at their sanctuaries in Los Saucos near Valle de Bravo, State of Mexico and at the Sierra Chincua Sanctuary near Mineral de Anganguo, State of Michoacan—areas unknown to outsiders until 1975.