Death of a Species

The Year the Monarch Didn’t Appear –

This is scary – only 3 million monarch butterflies have shown up to their wintering ground in Mexico.  Last year it was only 60 million, and in times past it was a billion.  These butterflies fly over 2,000 miles from North America to a particular group of fir-covered mountaintops west of Mexico City.

This year they didn’t make it.

The Year the Monarch Didn’t Appear -

Another insect in serious trouble is the wild bee, which has thousands of species. Nicotine-based pesticides called neonicotinoids are implicated in their decline, but even if they were no longer used, experts say, bees, monarchs and many other species of insect would still be in serious trouble.

That’s because of another major factor that has not been widely recognized: the precipitous loss of native vegetation across the United States.

The high price of corn has lead to the plowing and planting of previously “weedy” land which provided food for bugs and birds.  The use of Round-Up ready GMO seeds means that any weeds are killed by the application of pesticides, while the corn continues to grow.  Unfortunately, Monarchs don’t feed on corn.

The loss of bugs is no small matter. Insects help stitch together the web of life with essential services, breaking plants down into organic matter, for example, and dispersing seeds. They are a prime source of food for birds. Critically, some 80 percent of our food crops are pollinated by insects, primarily the 4,000 or so species of the flying dust mops called bees. “All of them are in trouble,” said Marla Spivak, a professor of apiculture at the University of Minnesota.

Another cause is people – we pave over subdivisions, and then plant showy plants that aren’t good for bugs.

Trees and other plants have beneficial chemicals essential to the health of bugs. Some monarchs, when afflicted with parasites, seek out more toxic types of milkweed because they kill the parasites. Bees use medicinal resins from aspen and willow trees that are antifungal, antimicrobial and antiviral, to line their nests and to fight infection and diseases.

Not only are we killing off the bugs, we are inadvertently killing ourselves:

First and foremost, said Dr. Tallamy, a home for bugs is a matter of food security. “If the bees were to truly disappear, we would lose 80 percent of the plants,” he said. “That is not an option. That’s a huge problem for mankind.”

2012 US Migration

Restless America: state-to-state migration in 2012 | vizynary.

Approximately 7.1 million Americans moved to another state in 2012. That’s over 2.2% of the U.S. population.

Where did they come from?  Where did they go?  Take a look!


What about Texas?  We hear there are 500 people a week moving to Austin.  Does this match the data from the census bureau?


500 a Week to Austin is 26,000.  That leaves another 80,000 people who moved someplace else in Texas – Houston, El Paso, Lubbock?  Where are they?  What kind of jobs will they find?  What skills will they need?  How will we pay to educate their children, pave their roads, provide their water?



Norwegian salmon farm offers bounty for escaped fish | Al Jazeera America.

The world’s largest producer of farmed salmon is offering a $90 bounty for every recaptured fish after possibly thousands of farmed Atlantic salmon staged a jailbreak from their 127,000-fish cage in Norway, further endangering the wild salmon population and concerning those who prefer the wild variety for health reasons.

Apparently farmed fish escape on a regular basis, endangering the population of wild fish.  The farmed variety can spread disease to their wild cousins.  The Environmental Defense Fund says salmon farming is a cause of pollution, chemical use, parasites, and disease.

The salmon-farming industry has been blamed for decades for problems with their fish,  Many escape every year.  And these fish often test high in contaminants such as PCBs and other carcinogens.

So why is there so much farming going on?  Because people want to eat it and

wild salmon are growing scarce: Divided among the world’s population, wild salmon could provide only a single serving for each person per year.


Giants Arrows

The Forgotten Giant Arrows that Guide you Across America | Messy Nessy Chic Messy Nessy Chic.

So if you are in an airplane and get lost, just look for these!

Originally poured to guide airmail planes, few are left.

They had a tower with rotating beacon light, a generator shack, and a small hut for the ‘keeper.’

They were placed every 10 miles across the US, but no one knows how many are left.

Here’s a link to one of the giant arrows on Google maps as well as a website listing the original locations of Eastern and Western beacons, siting which ones have been found/ destroyed/ preserved etc.

Happy hunting!

Typhoon Haiyan

BBC News – In pictures: Philippines counts cost of Typhoon Haiyan.

The strongest tropical storm ever recorded, with winds reaching 235 mph, and 45 ft waves, left the southern Philippines devastated.  These pictures from the BBC show some of the damage.

Typhoon Haiyan is due to strike Vietnam on Sunday.

The Power of Polio

Syria’s Polio Outbreak Is a Reminder of the Disease’s Power.

Polio has returned to Syria, which had been free of the potentially paralyzing and at times fatal disease since 1999. “There are ten cases confirmed right now in the Deir Al Zour province” in northeast Syria and 12 more suspected cases, says Oliver Rosenbauer, spokesman for the World Health Organization’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The cases are mostly in young children, but the threat remains for anyone who is unvaccinated.  Because of the civil war, that could potentially be a lot of people.  Polio is endemic in only 3 countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria, and the number of cases worldwide has dropped dramatically since 1988.

But all is not well, as

 this year’s spring outbreaks in previously polio-free Somalia and Kenya reminded us. In addition, the discovery of sewage samples containing poliovirus in Israel has led to a countrywide campaign to offer oral polio vaccines to children between the ages of four months and nine years, as a precaution.

With large numbers of refugees moving around the Middle East, the potential for problems is high.  How will vaccines be provided for all the people who need them?  Who will deliver the medicines?  In the 3 countries where it is endemic there is high distrust of the vaccine.  Many uneducated people think it is a plot to either cause women to be infertile, or give people a disease.  Much needs to be done to complete the task of eradicating polio, like we have done with smallpox.

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