Insect Extinction:
What will we eat when the Bugs are Gone?

March 30th, 2022, by Steve Hall
Soil for Regenerative Agriculture


Insect Extinction:
What will we eat when the Bugs are Gone?


March 30th, 2022, by Steve Hall

 

What will we eat when the Bugs are gone?

Part 1

Insects and People

Are insects in decline? I am 74 years old and have lived up here in the High Peaks for the last 20 years, after spending a good chunk of every Summer up here as a kid. Starting in the fifties, when our dad drove us up to the Adirondacks, one of the rituals while stopping for gas, was cleaning the smashed bugs off the windshield. Today… not so much. If you are less than 40 or 50 years old, you may find this confusing, as you tend to compare the present to a much shorter past.

Speaking of subjective observations, I believe there are far fewer skeeters and black fly today than when I was a kid. Granted, the BTI program to go after black fly larva dates back only about 35 years, but still, it seems to me that when you are out there fishing, hunting, or hiking, there are fewer bugs in the Adirondacks than there used to be.

There are also personal factors at play, starting with the fact that skeeters and no-see-ums are initially attracted to the carbon dioxide exhalation of mammals, the relative strength of the odor of lactic acid emitted by your skin pores, your blood type (mosquitoes are more likely to target the odor of type O blood than type A), what colors you wear (avoid darker colors) and how you personally smell to these critters.  I’ve been hiking with my late wife Wendy and observed that she was much more heavily targeted by skeeters and black fly than I was, a frustrating situation for which she would provide less scientific explanations, often related to speculation as to how long ago my ancestors came down from the trees.

Another factor in drawing mosquitoes are the fragrances we like to slap on, perfume, cologne, fragrant body wash, deodorants, and any other odor which might attract female mosquitoes, which are the gender that needs your blood as a key component of their reproductive process, namely their ability to lay eggs. Male skeeters are lucky to live a week, and do not draw blood from mammals, while the female skeeter can last up to two months, depending on which of the 3,500 species of mosquito we are talking about.

Mosquitoes have been around over 200 million years (as opposed to homo sapiens 200,000 years), so they obviously did not evolve just to target us, though I’m sure they’re grateful for the billions of walking blood banks. They are also a critical part of the food chain, as practically every flying creature eats them. Little brown bats, in decline in the Adirondacks since the advent of white nose syndrome, and just starting to recover, can eat their weight in mosquitoes every night. Some mosquitoes are excellent pollinators, as they sip nectar and pollinate goldenrod and orchids to give two examples. Cocoa trees, from which we get chocolate, are pollinated by a type of midge, one of the most annoying biting no-see-ums anywhere, principally in Africa, and other tropical regions.

All this matters, because more citizen-oriented cultures, such as modern-day Germany, as opposed to our more business-oriented culture, believe that insect decline should be measured and understood in a wider context, in how it affects human beings. Why do we need insects anyway?

Food Chains and the Balance of Nature

Carbon and water are the basis of life on earth. You are about 18% carbon, and 60% water if you are a male, and 55% water if you are a woman. The base of all food chains, the first trophic level, are autotrophs, such as plants and single cell organisms, which start with sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to create themselves, the food everything else in the food chain depends on. Plants, phytoplankton, and algae are examples of autotrophs, and their primary consumers are herbivorous invertebrates, mostly insects, who in turn are consumed by members of the next trophic level, the predators. Like it or not, there would be no food chain without bugs.

Insects are like mammals in the sense that prey greatly outnumber predators. Red foxes, for example, are greatly outnumbered by their prey such as birds, rodents, and other small mammals. When a fox dies its remains are recycled with the assistance of detritivores such as vultures and decomposers, such as several species of beetle. In the circle of nature, solutions develop and evolve for every step of the process, for example, dung beetles recycle excrement.

When Australia introduced cattle, they discovered that native dung beetles were effective at recycling the dung of marsupials, but not our cattle. They imported several species of dung beetles which were effective in working with the cattle, which prevented Australian pastures from being covered in cattle dung which did not easily break down. On the other hand, when they imported cane toads to control cane beetles, the toads proved poisonous to their predators, including dogs and cats, and were not as effective as hoped in the cane plantations.

When we disrupt a natural process in favor of more short-term goals, we set ourselves up for a more challenging future. As Aldo Leopold said, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise…. If the land mechanism as a whole is good then every part is good, whether we understand it or not…To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” 

Insects are responsible for pollinating about three quarters of what is on your dinner plate, and as we have seen, they also take us through the whole cycle of life, as food for everything from songbirds to mammals such as bears and other omnivores, to other insects, and as the recycling crew for every organism which dies. Over 150 plants rely on seed dispersal by insects, often involving ants. It is estimated that the insect services to Americans is worth 57 billion dollars annually, and that does not include pollination. Overuse of bee killing pesticides, and/ or the cost of using traveling beehives in some Chinese provinces, such as Sichuan Province, has resulted in many fruit trees having to be pollinated by hand, at enormous expense.

Some insects are harmful to our crops. Termites will do a number on the framework of your house, while other insects, such as mosquitoes can spread disease. Be that as it may, the fact is, we cannot live without insects.

There are probably a billion and a half insects for each person on earth, but now for the scary part:  the German studies indicate that insect decline in Germany ranges from half to three quarters of insects over just the last fifty years.  

What has led to the decline in insects? Half of it is due to heavy overuse of insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, which poison the soil with toxins which don’t break down easily and affect animal species far beyond what manufacturers claim will be affected. Think of the $9.6 billion dollars in lawsuit settlements involving Monsanto’s Round Up, whose main ingredient, glyphosate, causes cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia. Other factors include introduced species and pathogens, along with urbanization and deforestation, elimination and alteration of wetlands, and climate change.

The war against invasive species is hampered by the fact that we live in a global economy in which importing and exporting foods, timber, and other organic products, carries with those processes the supporting cast of soon-to-become invasives which live off those products directly and indirectly. Even the transportation itself results in organisms foreign to a given ecosystem brought into a world in which their natural enemies are absent, while local species of plants and animals face predators and competitors for which they have not evolved to defend against.

The simple process in which cargo ships pick up sea water as ballast in European or South American ports, and then discharge that water in American ports, means the introduction of tiny exotic invasives, just as when you go to the nursery to purchase plants for your garden, many of these are Asian exotics which proceed to compete with the local plant base, having the advantage that their consumers are not present, and it can take years for local plant eaters to start eating the invasives.

What is strange about human culture is that we live in a world with exploding population, but instead of trying to plan how to raise crops sustainably and without devastating the ecosystems we depend on, we tend to implement the quick fix, what’s good for you and the market this week, without planning and regard for our grandkid’s future.

A good example of how self-defeating this can be is how some insect pests develop immunity to our pesticides, leading us into a destructive cycle in which we keep adding more and more toxic chemicals, collaterally damaging soil and water systems, while many of us end up slowly poisoning our bodies through bioaccumulation, the increasing concentration of toxins in animals and people, which cannot be excreted, the higher up the food chain you look.

Bioaccumulation in turn leads to biomagnification in which these toxins pass up the food chain. The most common example of biomagnification is when runoff of agricultural toxins such as DDT, turned up in the base of the lake and river food chains, in animal and plant plankton, which were taken in by mollusks, crustaceans and fish, which in turn are eaten by larger predators, while still larger fish are taken by osprey and eagles, which leads to elevated levels of mercury poisoning in those raptors. We have rehabbed eagles with mercury poisoning, and it is a sad process with a low level of success, as the toxins affect the nervous and reproductive systems.

Another example affecting our national symbol, the bald eagle, is that while their numbers have almost fully recovered, half of eagles show elevated levels of lead. This is because eagles are major scavengers, who ingest the lead from gut piles left by hunters using lead ammunition. We could fix this simple issue by banning lead ammunition, which the NRA naturally tells their followers is an attempt to take their weapons, even though several states have banned or are on the verge of banning lead ammunition, and their hunters have switched to copper ammo, and are still getting their deer.

Feeding People as opposed to Profits

What is most disturbing is that we are seeing an exploding world population of eight billion people today, which could go from 10 to 15 billion by the end of this century, with most growth in urban centers, where it is challenging to grow your own food. Just as we have an expanding gulf in income between the rich and poor in the U.S., so we’re seeing similar trends in third world nations. The bottom line is a quickly expanding population, the growth of middle classes in these countries, and the increasing consumption of fast foods, which encourages the rise in obesity because of the increasing sugar levels, not to mention the lack of vitamins and minerals in most fast food.

A Big Mac today has three times the sugar it had thirty years ago, and that includes the increase in sugar in the bun. Most fast food has followed a similar path to getting us addicted to sugar and flour, making us crave and purchase more fast food. Isn’t it curious that we don’t want our young people to understand history, but we have no problem allowing the corporate food producers to get them more and more addicted to sugar.

As with other mammals the taste bud receptors in the tongue send “sweet” messages to the pleasure receptors in the cerebellum which release dopamine, the reward we also experience when we have sex or take mind altering drugs. Similarly, your digestive system also sends signals, which gets around the message that you are full and satiated, instead encouraging the brain to crave more sugar.

Nature and evolution work hand in hand. Just as pollinators and seed dispersers may be attracted to bright colors of flowers and fruit which signal food, so we return to our sources of pleasure, which is why it is so hard to quit smoking or taking drugs. Plants may not speak English and they not only attract pollinators and seed dispersers, but trees can release chemicals internally which discourage eating by making leaves taste more bitter, and externally, to alert other trees that that an herbivore is feeding among them.

No one is going to lose weight and stay healthy eating hamburgers and fries daily, but the odds are good they will develop diabetes and other conditions which may weaken their immune systems and leave them more vulnerable to disease, which has a dramatic impact on morbidity. In the language of COVID, people are dying not only because they are unvaccinated, but because they have serious often self-inflicted comorbidities working against recovering from COVID. In our politically correct culture, just as we see alcoholism and obesity as diseases, and while they can have a physiological basis, we are very reluctant to say that they can also be the result of a long series of poor choices.

Part of the problem is that many of us eat much more meat than is healthy for us, while the logistics of raising cattle indicate that they require too much land and water to serve as a solution for feeding the worlds hungry.  Raising livestock, principally beef and secondarily mutton, uses 80% of global land allocated for agribusiness, yet produces only about 20% of the calories consumed by people. Fruit and vegies produce far more calories per acre than meat does, but to complicate matters, it does not follow that all land used for pasture could be converted for growing vegies and fruit in a multicultural system.

To further complicate matters, 40% of all corn and 60% of all soybeans raised in the U.S. are fed to livestock, increasing the impact of raising cattle on land. Growing monocultures like soybeans, corn, rice, and wheat, not to mention your lawn, with their attendant fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides, poisons and degenerates soil and discourages diversity. All corn is sprayed with glyphosate, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer, calls a probable carcinogen, but corn is now found in everything in America from soda to potato chips to hamburgers and fries, so the EPA says its safe if used properly, while countries like Mexico and several in the European Union and South America have banned its use.  Glyphosate is the principal component in Roundup, which not only kills microbes in the soil, but also kills microbes in your gut microbiome, and is now showing up in your drinking water..

If you believe in evolution, note that Cattle and their bovine ancestors, aurochs, had not naturally evolved or entered North America through Beringia before Europeans introduced them. Was Mother Nature trying to tell us something about ecosystems, and what works where and what does not?

There are also regional factors which impact how beef is produced, for example, the sweetheart deal between our heavily lobbied Congress and the cattle ranchers, which allows ranchers to lease public owned lands at about 15% of the cost they’d incur if they were leasing land for grazing livestock from private landowners, which results in a giant rip off of the American taxpayer. This goes on no matter who is in the White House, and who controls Congress. I own two small businesses. Can you imagine the peals of derisive laughter if I asked Congress to subsidize those businesses? Lobbying for beef ranching attempts to eliminate what the rest of us call “the cost of doing business.”

Should we all become hunters?

Unlike bison, deer and elk, whose meat is leaner, lower in carbs, higher in protein, lower in cholesterol and saturated fats, cattle, because of the way they are raised, have devastating impacts on land particularly in terms of erosion and runoff, as well as the fact that 100 million dollars of your federal taxes fund shady government services such as USDA’s “Wildlife Services”, which eliminate natural predators such as bears, cougars wolves and coyotes on publicly owned lands, while compensating ranchers for livestock killed by predators, another sweetheart deal between ranchers and Congress.

One way to look at the problem is to determine how much available habitable land would have to be allocated to raising beef, such that folks in developing countries could eat as much beef as we do. Argentina leads the world in per capita beef consumption, followed by Australia, the U.S., Brazil, Mongolia, Canada, Scandinavia, and France. If everyone in the world wanted to eat as much per capita beef as the citizens of these countries, there would not be enough land for pasture or grazable land to raise cattle, even if we eliminated all towns and cities and turned all space suitable for pasture for raising cattle. This means that providing enough beef for poorer nations would require that wealthier nations change their diets and eat less beef, as has happened in the U.S. with beef consumption peaking in 1971, with average beef consumption of 135 lbs. per person, and steadily declining ever since, with the average American eating about 105 lbs. of beef in 2019.

Cattle are slaughtered for their meat when they are between one and two years old, and generally spend about half their lives in feed lots, where they are stuffed with grains to encourage dramatic weight gain. It used to be common practice to put antibiotics in their grain and water, which also encourages weight gain and fights against the unhealthy conditions set up when cattle, who should be eating grass and living in large open ranges, spend much of their lives in feed lots, overcrowded and wallowing in their own dung. In other words, if we eliminated feed lots, while increasing the number of cattle raised, the cattle would be healthier, smaller, and happier, but expanded consumption of beef would not be sustainable, if everyone in the world wanted to eat hamburgers.

Politics and Climate Change

Politics always plays a role in prejudicing us against opposing philosophies, so anti meat partisans complain that the methane belched by cattle amounts to a larger impact on climate change than the CO2 emitted by fossil fuel engines. Ungulates have multi chambered stomachs, and the process of fermenting what has already been swallowed, regurgitating it and “chewing the cud”, results in methane release. Partisans, including me in past writings, ignore the fact that all grazing and browsing ungulates, including deer, elk, moose, and hundreds of other other wild species, also belch methane.

Other sources of methane are climate change warming the arctic through snow and ice cover loss, reducing sun light reflection, which raises temperatures, causing tundra to soften, releasing methane (while causing houses and other structures built on tundra to sink), and sea warming in the north, which releases methane from the sea floor. It is estimated that sixty per cent of methane emissions are anthropogenic in nature, and methane has thirty times the impact on our atmosphere as CO2 has. At the same time, methane accounts for about ten percent of green house gas emissions, and only lasts about ten years in the atmosphere, while CO2 lasts a couple of hundred years. “According to a recent U.S. EPA study, the largest methane emissions in the U.S. come from transportation (28.5%), energy (28.4%) and industry (21.6%).  Total livestock emissions account for 3.9%, with beef’s portion about half of that (2%).”

Cattle are also commonly believed to use too much water, but again, when opponents measure how much water is wasted, it is often based on how much rain falls. Rain is called “green water” as it moistens the soil, enabling it to support life, and its runoff provides the water in streams, rivers, and aquifers, which allows natural and essential human uses. The point is that precipitation falls whether cattle are present or not, so it doesn’ seem fair to call rain falling in pastures or anywhere else to be wasted water when the rain would fall whether cattle were grazing or not.

“Blue water” is the water used to irrigate crops, and we still employ methods of irrigation which waste most of the water. Healthy soil is soil containing moisture, and a single handful of healthy soil supports more microorganisms than there are people on earth. Dry soil is caused by drought and poor irrigation processes, and becomes dirt, which not only releases sequestered carbon, but washes away or blows away causing dust bowl like effects.

I stopped eating almonds and drinking almond milk because the growth of each almond requires over a gallon of water. We also need more efficient ways to reuse “gray water”. The real problem is that cattle are not continuously moved from pasture to pasture, causing overgrazing and the erosion which destroys streams and rivers.

Cattle would have far less impact on climate change if ranchers and farmers practiced regenerative agriculture, which focuses on soil regeneration, a critical process hampered by growing monoculture crops like corn, wheat and soy, which is more profitable in the short term for the farmer, but the over fertilizing, and heavy application of herbicide, insecticide and bactericide lessen plant and animal biodiversity and biosequestration.

Soil holds four times as much carbon as does trees and three times as much as the atmosphere, and plowing the soil causes much more carbon release than burning Amazon forests to clear land for cattle. Carbon sequestration in the soil will have the largest impact in the battle against anthropogenic climate change. As physicist, environmental activist and author, Dr Vandana Shiva said, “Soil, not Oil, Holds the Future for Humanity”.

The value of multiculture, the growing of multiple crops through the growing seasons leads to an increase in nutrients for the crops grown there, and a wider range of insects to pollinate and control those destructive insects which may become concentrated in monoculture, and lead to crop failure, as happened with corn back in 1971. Moving cattle around, before a pasture is completely denuded of grazing vegetation, say from pasture to harvested corn fields and so on, and growing cover crops to deliver more nutrition to the soil, will produce a fuller range of agricultural benefits, or as Robb and Rogers put it in “Sacred Cow”, “It’s not the Cow, but the How”.


What will we eat when the Bugs are gone?

Part 2

Why do we eat what we eat?

What you eat and drink is often no less a matter of fashion and tradition than what you wear, with the important qualifier that what you eat has generally much more impact on your health than what you wear, assuming that what you wear at least correlates with the seasons of weather and climate conditions and doesn’t offend people to such an extant that it invites abuse from others. Our Cro Magnon ancestors, who left Africa about 80,000 years ago, were hunter-gatherers who hunted mammals, fished, and routinely ate insects, all of which are good protein sources. They foraged plants which provided nuts, seeds, berries, fruit and roots. Proponents of the paleo diet claim that the fact that we subsisted for 200,000 years on such a diet, and evolved to accommodate such a diet, points to its efficacy.

What if you want to cut back on your meat consumption, whether for health or environmental reasons, but you lack the imagination to eliminate red meat from your diet altogether? I try to avoid beef whenever possible, and if I am cooking at home, substitute bison, which browse free range, and are much tastier and healthier for you anyway. Bison have lighter impact on the land, being like deer more browser than grazer (grass eater). The word “moose” is derived from “moswa”, a Native American word meaning “twig eater”. Elk are more grazer than browser, but unlike cattle move around to fresh graze, thus allowing grazed lands to recover.

You can now purchase bison in any large market (PriceChopper and Hannaford in Lake Placid), and while it’s always more expensive than beef, I find that it’s tastier, more satisfying than beef, and I eat less of it. You can buy frozen elk online. Most of the food in the supermarket, in what is often referred to as “center aisle” is processed and should be avoided, except for the nuts, grains, beans and frozen vegies. Buy your meat from sources that guarantee free range, along with no drugs, preservatives, or additives. In many areas, you can chip in with friends, and buy a whole cow from local farms and cattle ranchers. What if you are a vegan but wish to add more protein to your diet? You could practice entomophagy.

Insects such as crickets, grasshoppers and mealworms are more nutritional and contain a higher percentage of protein than any meat that you eat today. More importantly, if the volume of calories and protein produced per acre is the key to solving world hunger issues, insects are the solution. While most of us cringe at the very thought of eating insects, the fact is that more than 2,000 types of insects are eaten by over three thousand ethnic groups in over 130 countries. Do they know something we residents of hamburger land do not know?

I’ve eaten cricket casserole for dinner, and chocolate covered crickets for dessert, and both experiences were enjoyable. Most Americans already eat invertebrates such as crustaceans, shrimp, and lobster, which are from the same Arthropod phylum as insects. It is the thought of eating insects which grosses us out, though there is no food category which is better for you than bugs.

Entomophagy

Given all this, what are the main challenges for feeding the world’s rapidly expanding population, and what can each of us do individually to help? There are many innovative ideas. While billionaires Bill Gates and Richard Branson are betting on lab grown meat, having it available at affordable prices, assuming the meat “tastes” the way we want it to taste, may be ten to twenty years from now, and even then, will have to overcome our “where’s the beef” bias, and the fact that the lab uses an energy intensive process which does nothing to help us regenerate soil. Similarly, the huge energy costs of vertical farming in high rises limits the types of vegies they can grow, while only appealing to a wealthy customer base which can afford to pay for those vegies.

What is clear is that we will need to develop less land intensive methods of creating meat and vegetables, and more efficient and humane ways of fish farming, in a market where a third of all fish eaten today have been raised in fish farms, which pollute the waters they’re located in, and transfer diseases from farm bred fish to wild fish.

In short, how to increase the food supply using fewer resources, most importantly land, while recognizing that we must reverse the trend towards insect declines, since the entire food chain depends on insects. None of this will be possible unless we seriously cut back on fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides, which not only kill pests and weeds, but insects that are beneficial to the agriprocess, along with degrading the soil itself with nonorganic chemicals which deplete the soils nutrients and don’t break down.

Because expansion of beef and mutton will not be sustainable using current methods, which aren’t very humane to begin with, we will need other food sources, and this is happening at a time when Insects, which are much healthier for you to eat anyway, are in decline. What we will need is a gradual change in attitude towards eating insects, which tend to be high in protein and low in sodium. Our grandchildren will be the key to making insect eating more of a force in feeding the world.

Potassium rich crickets and grasshoppers will help lower blood pressure. Both are in decline. Soldier fly larvae strengthens bones and reduces fatigue. Even house flies and cockroaches are much more nutritious than beef. Disgusting as it may sound, cockroaches yield much more concentrated levels of iron, zinc, magnesium, and protein than any meat you eat. Stir fry ‘em and mix them with rice and vegies.

What can We do?

It all starts with education. Hunters and fishermen know where their food comes from. If you are a hunter, do not kill predators, as they are the key in maintaining the balance of nature. We are overrun with deer because we depleted their main sources of control, what you might call God’s solution, wolves, and cougars, even eliminating them in the greater part of their ranges.

The rest of us tend to take food for granted and have no interest in its origin beyond the supermarket. All schools should connect with local farms, so that students can become familiar with where food is produced to how it ends up on the dinner table. Helpful farms and ranches should be given tax credits for taking time to explain to students how their operation fits into the overall scheme of providing sustenance, just as students should be given credit for volunteering on farms and in veterinary clinics.

All schools should offer basic nature classes and provide time for classes to visit local parks, Refuges and green areas to experience nature firsthand, and see how everything in nature is connected. If the school does not have budget to pay for buses, have parents join the class for the day, while providing transportation and picnic lunches. For extra credit, assign species and plant identification to different students or groups, so they can report on how which birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians, mammals they saw, what types of trees and vegetation, etc.

Students do not have to be experts in identifying what they’re seeing. Provide them with those small, pocket friendly identification charts for birds, trees, etc. Local naturalists would gladly volunteer some time to help students and teachers understand the significance of what they are observing, and how everything is connected.  

The overlap of different observations can bring broadening understanding to all. Bring the students to the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge to learn all about bees and butterflies from Kevin and Jackie. The only way to protect nature and its critical components is to instill in our young people just how important nature is. The only planet we must live on is in trouble, and if the next generation doesn’t understand why, and what can be done about it, it really won’t matter who their favorite celebrity or sports hero is.  

What can individual home and landowners do? Provide food, shelter, water, and space for wildlife to raise their young. That lawn that you slave over every Spring and Summer is a monoculture that may please you and your neighbors but doesn’t provide much diversity in habitat and therefore discourages local wildlife and insects.

Consider converting most of it to wildflower meadows you only need to mow once at the end of the season, and plant native flowers that blossom at different times of year, so you’ll have a colorful meadow to look at for much of the year. Plant wildflowers rich in nectar and pollen to attract bees and other pollinators. Close the circle by setting up a beehive, which will create honey for you and your friends. Plant milkweed to attract monarch butterflies.

Don’t bring clippings and brush to the landfill. Build a compost heap which can create your own mulch for next years garden soil. Turn the compost over frequently, and let the worms do their work, converting decaying organics to soil. Don’t burn the brush. Create brush piles, which can provide shelter and food for wildlife.

Never use rodent and insect poison. Birds of prey, as well as small predators like fox, weasel, etc., will go after rodents who appear slow and vulnerable, and even scavenge dead rodents, and end up poisoning themselves.

If you have a multiacre property, consider leaving one or two acres to nature. Don’t do anything to it. Leave it as a haven for wildlife. Next time you replace a fence, consider whether to replace it with a hedge, which won’t rust or fade and dry out, and will also provide food and shelter for wildlife.

In fact, wildlife species are being continually isolated by the closing up of the American landscape, by our often using all available lands, causing the inability of wildlife to move safely from habitat to habitat. We need corridors which allow wildlife to cross our roads and properties. Elk, moose, wolves and bears have to be able to get through the Rockies from Rocky Mountain National Park to Yellowstone to Glacier to Banf and Jasper, Canadian Parks further north, just as critters in the Catskills need to be able to get to the Adirondacks, and up through Algonquin Park, to allow interbreeding among regions, which in turn will promote healthier species.

Professor Douglas Tallamy, an entomologist, ecologist, and conservationist at the University of Delaware suggest that we Americans create a new virtual National Park in each of our backyards, by setting aside habitat that promotes wildlife diversity and encourages the ability for wildlife to move around. As Prof Tallamy says. “In the past, we have asked one thing of our gardens: that they be pretty. Now they have to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators and manage water…. Planting native is environmental activism.”

 

Suggested reading and Viewing: “Silent Earth” by Dave Goulson; “Nature’s Best Hope” by Douglas W.Tallamy; “Sacred Cow” by Diana Rogers and Robb Wolf; on Netflix, “Kiss the Ground” with Woody Harrelson.


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