Nature and Us as Nature Stewards
By: Jo Dumbia
As the danger of the climate crisis grows, our natural spaces are shrinking. For instance, in December 2022, in the Mexican Oyamel fir forest where the monarch butterflies hibernate for the winter, they occupied 2.21 hectares, compared to 2.84 hectares at the same time in 2021, or a 22 percent decrease. The average for the past decade is 2.75 hectares, and the population has been declining since they began measuring it.
The March 2023 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has an urgent call to action; as the conditions predicted by climate models will be bad for monarchs, but they’ll also be bad for us and most other organisms on earth.
The best way to support monarchs is to raise the ceiling by creating more habitat. That means an all-hands-on-deck approach: restoring habitat in our yards, places of work, schools, and houses of faith; along roadsides, utility rights-of-ways, and railroads; and in areas currently used for crops that aren’t very productive. This work supports monarchs and thousands of other species in the same habitats.
Furthermore, thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world have documented increases in temperature at Earth’s surface, as well as in the atmosphere and oceans. Many other aspects of the global climate are changing as well. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the largest contributor to human-caused warming, has increased by about 40% over the industrial era. This change has intensified the atmosphere’s natural greenhouse effect, driving an increase in global surface temperatures and other widespread changes in Earth’s climate that are unprecedented in the history of modern civilization.
Common within many faith traditions is a call to care for creation, which includes caring for both ecological and human health, and it is about protecting the quality of air, water, and soil that is needed for human survival and flourishing.
As we are centered and inspired by our faiths and revere the sacredness of Earth and all people, we collaborate with persons richly diverse in culture and backgrounds, act out of love and a deep will to end the suffering of people and the planet, we are in a clear position to help preserve and rebuild native ecosystems, educating communities, and putting our hands directly into the dirt.
On looking for examples of the many how-tos, rather that elaborating, I decided to share a short compilation of illustrations and links that I take many of you may have also already seeing. And notice, that according to Doug Tallamy, the well-known U of Delaware entomologist, it takes more than 6,000 caterpillars for a chickadee to feed a brood in the spring, and as per the Garden Club of America, a Baltimore oriole can consume 17 hairy caterpillars in a minute, a house wren feeds 500 insects to its young every summer afternoon, and a pair of flickers consider 5,000 ants a mere snack.