What’s Happening to the Bees and Butterflies?

Emmet Gowin: <i>Mariposas Nocturnas Index #44, Bolivia, 2011</i>; from ‘Hidden Likeness: Photographer Emmet Gowin at the Morgan,’ a recent exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum. Gowin’s new book, <i>Mariposas Nocturnas: A Study of Diversity an

From The New York Review of Books:

“As species crash and vanish, the world loses diversity, something it’s been doing for centuries. But the loss of abundance is even more startling. Nature is simply not as full as it once was. Consider the creatures in my own fields. Bobolinks have declined in the US by 74 percent since 1966. Chimney swifts have declined by 72 percent in the same period. As for the solitary monarch butterfly I saw making its way over the goldenrod a couple of weeks ago, that species is declining as well, especially its western population. Something similar has happened to many species: they continue to exist but in greatly diminished numbers, which means that the species itself has a far more tenuous hold on existence. But it also means that the numerical robustness, the plenitude within nature, has dwindled. It’s like looking into the sky and discovering that thunderheads are no longer dark and towering but only faint wisps of themselves.”

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