The loss of endangered monarchs could lead to its own disastrous “butterfly effect” in the global food system. To that end, a whirlwind of activists is flapping its wings to provide a useful boost and allow the monarch butterfly population to recover. .
Since 2015, Monarch Joint Venture has worked with mayors across the United States through the Mayors for Monarchs initiative. The program encourages mayors to pledge their support for the monarch and details actions local communities can take to help the butterflies.
By planting milkweed and other native plant species, for example, individuals are improving soil health and water retention, which will increase monarch habitats. After that, ordinary people can work to ensure that these habitats are not threatened again by corporations.
“Consumers can pressure corporations by demanding pollinator-friendly farming techniques, stopping the individual purchase and use of chemical toxins, and demanding that corporate retailers stop selling toxic products that harm pollinators and to other species,” said Jeanne Dodds, director of creative engagement for the Endangered Species Coalition.
Corporate call to arms to save monarch butterflies
A swarm of monarch butterflies is a breathtaking sight, and equally breathtaking are the activists organizing to save the newly endangered species from annihilation. But despite all the reporting about what individuals can do to help save the monarchs, there has been far less coverage of the role of corporations.
Ordinary people didn’t cause monarch butterflies to decline in the first place, and they probably can’t revitalize the monarch population without help. Business must join the conservation crusade.
After all, global corporations, not individuals, are fueling the butterfly genocide in the first place, but most international corporations are nowhere to be found in the monarch discussion.
So far this is a small list of companies working to save pollinators
Some companies have entered the fray to support the American insect. The Monarch joint venture lists eight companies that donate money to the organization, and those aren’t the only companies getting involved.
“Clif Bar, who donates to the Endangered Species Coalition, advocates for monarch and other species conservation by signing advocacy letters to policy makers and consistently funding projects to increase monarch and pollinator habitat. “Dodds said. “Endangered Species Chocolate and Amy’s Kitchen also advocate for monarch conservation.”
An overhaul of economic models is necessary
Beyond advocacy, companies must review and revise business practices that threaten monarch butterflies and their habitats.
“Land use change resulting from corporate monoculture farming is one of the primary causes of pollinator decline,” Dodds explained. “Large-scale agricultural monoculture techniques such as the elimination of milkweed in favor of a single crop and heavy toxic use on plantations must be reduced in order to increase habitat for monarch butterflies and other pollinating species.
The practical consequences of the loss of the monarch butterfly are enormous, but in a more sentimental sense, the extinction of the species would be the extinction of something uniquely wondrous and irreplaceable. The monarch is iconic – it’s America’s bug. Without it, the world loses a pollinator, yes, but it also loses swarms of gorgeous little creatures, never to soar through blue skies again with orange-winged comrades.
“When we lose an individual species, the diversity and richness of the world decreases,” Dodds said. “The loss of iconic species, like the monarch butterfly, is particularly devastating and visible from a human perspective.”
Image credits: Erin Minuskin and Meritt Thomas via Unsplash