Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Warning from the Butterflies

Welcome to the world we have created. First came the bees gone missing and now comes the warning from the butterflies. It may seem something trivial but it is a horrible portent of the things to come.
Britain's astounding April, the warmest on record, has produced an astounding effect in the natural world, with at least 11 species of butterfly making their earliest recorded appearances this spring in what will be seen as the most remarkable demonstration yet of the effects of climate change on Britain's wildlife.

For several years biologists have been watching warming temperatures affect living organisms, with leaves opening, birds nesting and insects emerging earlier. But what has happened in 2007 with butterflies has been quite exceptional.

Of our 59 resident and regular migrant species, 37 have now appeared, and of these, all except one (the orange tip) have emerged earlier than they would have done a decade ago, according to the wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation.

More remarkably still, 11 of them have broken all records for early emergence, some by scarcely-believable margins.
This is not a good thing.

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