Global Climate Strike

Who, what, when, where.

How to be an adult ally.

Art by David Solnit.

Cats!

When a body meets a body coming through the…
Apiaceae.
Black Swallowtail caterpillar fit to pupate.
The Asteroid, AKA Goldenrod Hooded Owlet.
A reprise of the Common Buckeye caterpillar.
Five were seen in the same small patch.
The blue spines!
Our old friend the Monarch. On the same day, two days ago, a female was laying eggs nearby. This has not been a great year for Monarch caterpillars in Green-Wood.
An addendum to last Friday’s post on Tiger Swallowtails.
This is a brand new chrysalis.

***
This is hard to read, but the unspeakable has become our reality.

Raptor Wednesday

Summer is quiet when it comes to raptors, unless you have American Kestrels breeding down the street.But now fall is in the air. This Red-tailed hawk perched on a #BrooklynKestrel landmark recently. One of the local falcons, now days generally heard more than seen, was not happy about it. The kestrel’s alarms calls got me to look outside.
Coast Guard ship in the harbor beyond.
Another day, another RT or the same one? This building is just to the left of the one with the chimney pot. Someone’s observation on iNaturalist pictured one just down the street from here yesterday.
This one dropped down to the roof here three times from various perches around. Came up with nothing. What was the attraction?
Balancing on one leg is not unusual, but usually the bird will bring the other leg up into the breast. Here it just hangs down. It’s raptor contrapposto!

***

Something I wrote on the origins of the general strike.

Hairy Nature

Close up, nature starts looking really, really hairy. Take a look at the green shoots of plants, the exoskeletons of insects. Hairs and spines are everywhere.Common Buckeye larva.Bumblebees, it goes without saying.Other bees, too. Look at these bristly thighs, Writes Dennis Paulson in his natural history of Dragonflies & Damselflies: “Because a chitinous exoskeleton does not have a sense of touch like the skin of a vertebrate animal such as ourselves, they have sensory hairs or setae covering much of their body, everywhere except the surface of the eyes.” Such massing of “sensilla” work as tactile organs that “can be specialized for the reception of chemical (smell), mechanical (touch), or thermal (termperature) stimuli.”The spines on the legs also help secure prey.
***
Let’s make Friday’s Global Climate Strike the biggest ever.

Climate Strike Prep

This Friday is the beginning of a week of the Global Climate Strike. Some resources:

Fridays for Future youth activism training program.

NYC student organizing guide.

Climate Strike educator toolkit.

Climate Strike Arts Kit, from whence this David Solnit fire-extinguisher logo comes.

People’s Climate Movement NYC.

Petition for teachers, educators, & faculty.

Here’s some history about general strikes, which are not completely alien to the U.S.

On the necessity of striking.

On the model of Extinction Rebellion: activism as an antidote to despair, and as something better than “hope”.

Wilding

Some good news! Isabella Tree’s Wilding: Returning Nature To Our Farm has been published. This is a revelatory story of a family’s abandonment to natural processes of their losing-proposition farm in the clay-laden Weald, some 44 miles southeast of London.

Tree is a very fine writer. It’s worth reading this just for the great way she tells it, mixing history, memoir, and natural history, along with strong opinions. She’s the latest in a line of writers who have revealed that England’s lyrical “green & pleasant land” trademark is a charade, a hoax, a mask covering over an astonishing diminishment of natural heritage, habitat, and biodiversity. Since the Second World War, the UK has become one of the “most nature-depleted countries in the world.” (See also Michael McCarthy, The Moth Snowstorm.) Hedgerows vanquished, chemicals poured, sheep fetishized, a necrophilic orderliness established hither and yon — all have led to the stripping away of the very nature that spoke through Shakespeare, Clare, Keats — hell, even people’s grandparents — as the quintessence of Britishness.

Turning their marginal agricultural land into an experiment on re-wilding, Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell have seen an explosion of life-forms, including rare birds, bats, and butterflies, as well as dung beetles, fungi, orchids, and a host of others creatures. Knepp Castle estate is now on all the twitchers’ lists — but of course it’s only an island in the wastelands.

But, but, but… what about food? Tree covers the topic extensively, since a generation in the UK has been taught to value productive farming above all else. Yet the world produces so much grain and pulse (think soy beans in the burning Amazon) that they are pumped into animal feed, ethanol, and ever more tricksy-marketed junk-food instead of directly into people’s mouths as actual food. (Famine and malnutrition are political results.) Also, Knepp’s balance sheet is helped immeasurably by selling pasture-raised beef — meat that’s much better health-wise compared to the sick-cow stuff sold most places. They aren’t out of the food chain completely. But her argument that land that’s marginal for farming is better not farmed is a strong one indeed. It’s even better for the neighboring farms.

Key to Knepp’s transformation has been the introduction of long-horned cattle, deer, Exmore ponies, and pigs, stand-ins, essentially, for the extinct megafauna that once browsed, churned, and fertilized landscapes. The idea that megafauna made and unmade meadows and forests, to a much greater extent than has been traditionally thought, is a controversial one (for some). The UK has a myth of closed canopy forest covering it after recovery from the glaciers. (We share this myth in the U.S., too, with tales of the forest running uninterrupted from the Atlantic to the Mississippi upon the arrival of Europeans.) But animals have been geo-engineering long before there was such a word. Consider the beavers, herds of grazers, large herbivores.

The Knepp couple were inspired by Frans Vera, whose project in Holland, Oostvaardersplassen, has rewilded a portion of some of the most human-intensive land in the world. Vera: “We forget, in a world completely transformed by man, that what we’re looking at is not necessarily the environment wildlife prefer, but the depleted remnant that wildlife is having to cope with: what it has is not necessarily what it wants. Species may be surviving at the very limits of their range, clinging on in conditions that that don’t really suit them. Open up the box, allow natural processes to develop, give species a wider range to express themselves, and you get a very different picture.”

Controversy at the Dutch experiment has been sparked by the “animal rights” activists, who protest against culls and starvation, a natural process of population balance. At Knepp, meanwhile, they aren’t allowed to leave large animal corpses to decay, and foster more life via scavengers, decomposers, etc. Nor can they have large predators — keystone species in habitats, as the reintroduction of wolves to the Yellowstone have shown.

Tree: “Allowing natural processes to happen, and having no predetermined targets to meet, no species or number to dictate the plan, is a challenge to conventional thinking. It particularly unsettles scientists who like to test hypotheses, run computer models, tick boxes and set goals. Rewilding — giving nature the space and opportunity to express itself — is largely a leap of faith. It involves surrendering all preconceptions, and simply sitting back and observing what happens.”

This… is difficult to do. Burrell inherited Knepp. The land was and remains bound up in EU and UK regulations (farmers are some of the most cosseted and straight-jacketed people in the western world). Neighbors were outraged when B & T left farming and let “weeds” and “wasteland” — the horror, the horror — grow, although many seem to have calmed down since. Some “animal lovers” forced them to kill one of their pigs because she tried to protect her young from their off-leash dogs, which of course weren’t supposed to be off-leash to begin with. (Entitled “dog people” are emerging as some of the worst enemies of the wild, in prioritizing their domesticated pets over all else. They’re joining the feral cat-lovers, who are already solidly against nature with their fetish for this deadly invasive species.)

The literal bottom line: you will be fascinated, inspired, and perhaps even empowered by this book.

Nine-Spotted Lady Beetles

Do you remember when the Flatbush Gardener released Nine-spotted Lady Beetle larvae in his native meadow garden? Coccinella novemnotata is the New York State insect, but it is almost non-existent now in the state. In fact, the species is hardly to be found anywhere in the east. Cornell’s Lost Ladybug Project has been working to both document and re-introduce the species, which may be endangered by all the god-damned invasive lady beetles introduced by people thinking they’re doing a good thing.Anyway, no sign of that original release in 2016 were ever seen again. This week, FG tried again, this time with both adults and larvae. (Same plump larva under flash above and natural lighting, below.)
How will they fare? Some neighbors are receiving them too, to spread the wealth up and down the block. This is a unique part of Brooklyn, with substantial houses on suburban-style lots. It’s good and tree-y, but has an awful lot of lawn, which is habitat for very little. Flatbush’s all-native species yard, front and back, really stands out, but there is some creeping diffusion of his model nearby.
There were very robust specimens, packed with aphids. In both senses: the containers — available here — come with food for the little beetles, and they evidently eagerly partake of said food. Yum, aphids!It was very drizzly-misty that evening, rather more than a mizzle at some points. The adult beetles quickly tucked themselves out of the way under leaves.
Good luck, little ones!


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