In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Have Two Wet Summers Rendered the Butterfly Extinct?

Posted by seumasach on April 8, 2009

Cailean Bochanan

8th April, 2009

If any of you thought that the Great British sense of humour might be going the way of its economy(and its butterflies) here is some reassurance. The Independent, no less, has launched a “Great British Butterfly Hunt”, a heartwarming initiative to divert us from our economic travails, by hunting for butterflies, “inviting you, the readers, to join us, and to see how many you can observe for yourselves. As the different species emerge at different moments of the spring and summer, we will be offering extensive guidance on identification and on how to find them. Some may well be in your back garden or local park. Others, especially the rarities, may involve a journey – albeit to the most beautiful parts of Britain.”

Whoever records the most species “will win a special safari in late August, conducted by The Independent in conjunction with the charity Butterfly Conservation, to find the last butterfly of the summer – the most elusive of all the British species: the brown hairstreak.” In my experience the common or garden white cabbage butterfly is itself quite a rarity and so this “prize” really does look like a forlorn exercise. Is this the Dunkirk spirit, that never say die attitude brought to bear on an everyday tale of species extinction?

To be fair, the Independent recognises there is a problem. Hence, “we are not launching the Great British Butterfly Hunt solely for public enjoyment, although that is a key reason. We want to raise awareness, for British butterflies are in crisis, with numbers falling to their lowest point ever in one of the worst wildlife declines Britain has seen.”

To what does the Independent attribute this parlous state of affairs? A bit of heavy rain apparently.

“About 70 per cent of all our species have been steadily declining for years, but the unusually wet summer of 2007 – the wettest on record – followed by 2008, another washout and “the summer of no butterflies”, accelerated these declines sharply. Heavy rain makes it difficult for butterflies to survive – they are unable to fly in the rain which means they cannot reach the nectar they feed on. Rain also reduces breeding success by washing eggs and caterpillars off food plants.”

My initial specticism regarding this thesis was only reinforced after a quick survey of previous Independent articles on the subject.  The Independent had already reported in 2005 , regarding butterflies, that

“They have gone from gardens and they have gone from parks. They have gone from allotments. They have gone from railway embankments and they have gone from roadside verges. Small woods and great forests as well as moorland, heathland and downland are also mourning their loss.”

and that “that more that 70 per cent of British species are declining”

In fact, it looked even worse when they reported in 2004 that “71 per cent of all butterfly species have declined in the last 20 years” and suggested “that this provides the first objective support for any group of insects for the hypothesis that the world is experiencing the sixth major extinction event in the history of life.”

The same article informs us that

“In 1999, Lord May of Oxford, the president of the Royal Society and the Prime Minister’s former chief scientific adviser, estimated that the current extinction rate could be up to 10,000 times higher than it should be under normal circumstances.”

It’s not clear to me that extinction is a “normal circumstance”, but the extinction rate doesn’t sound like the “gradual decline” refered to in today’s article.

The two wet summers theory is looking distinctly threadbare I would say and, indeed,  common sense wouldn’t lead us to expect slight climatic variations to lead to species extinction. After all, these species have been subject to much more drastic changes over their multi-million year history.

The reality looks to me something like this: over the last decade or two butterflies, as well as birds, bees, moths, beetles etc. have been declining and now they are no longer readily seen. But the press has decided not to present these dramatic and human species threatening events as a whole but rather in a fragmentary manner, so as not to disturb the public too much. With  regard to causality, it has become fashionable to attribute this to a variety of factors, none of which is, in itself, decisive. This is like blaming the death of over a million Iraqis on air strikes, car bombs, radioactive poisoning from DU shells, death squads, cholera, rifle fire, beating, burning etc. in order to conceal the prime cause, the anglo-american invasion. To be fair, if pushed, our conscientious reporter will venture to blame “global warming”, now more wisely, more prudently refered to as “climate change”, but this brings us the full circle back back to the two wet summers.

Obviously, there is something more to this and we at ITNT have put forward the hypothesis of EM radiation as the central causal factor and have sought to raise awareness about this by presenting some of the considerable, accumulated scientific evidence to back this up. This consideration is not allowed in the media except for purposes of mockery. Instead we are treated to an absurd and contradictory mishmash of nonsense where simply anything is permitted except EM. Presumably, the launching of a butterfly scare is  also timely at a moment when there is no coherent reporting at all about the much more significant issue of honey bee losses.

One Response to “Have Two Wet Summers Rendered the Butterfly Extinct?”

  1. Welliam Cung said

    Could you give me more news contain “how butterfly extinct? (especially that caused by human error)”

    I need it to write an article about environment.
    Thank you very much..

    Warmth regard,


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