“We have already lent all our costumes”, Arthus denounces the luxury brands who allegedly snubbed his team for Cannes

“We have already lent all our costumes”, Arthus denounces the luxury brands who allegedly snubbed his team for Cannes
“We have already lent all our costumes”, Arthus denounces the luxury brands who allegedly snubbed his team for Cannes

AFP

The Biologist and the Butterfly: A Story of American Parks and Climate

It was a “pretty blue” butterfly, “very delicate and graceful,” recalls American biologist Laura Brennan. Indiana Dunes National Park, where she has worked for twenty years in the northern United States, Unis, was home to one of the largest populations of these butterflies in 1992, when they were declared threatened. Then, before her eyes, they disappeared from the park, victims among other things of rising temperatures. Like her, The thousands of employees of the National Park Service (NPS), the federal agency in charge of these nature reserves, are faced with a new challenge: the fight against the consequences of the climate crisis. Replant, inventory, move… This battle is reflected in a very concrete way in their daily lives and is taking up more and more space. “Today, almost everything we do is linked to climate change,” biologist Dawn LaFleur, who tells AFP. she struggles in Glacier National Park, in Montana, to save a species of pine trees. Some battles, like hers, seem like they can be won. Others are already lost. In Indiana, the Plebejus samuelis, closely related to the Melissa Blue butterfly, is the first known endangered species to have disappeared from a US national park due to global warming. Their loss here, even if they remain present elsewhere, “breaks the heart” of Laura Brennan. “It’s terrifying to see how fragile these ecosystems are, how everything is connected and how little control we have,” she told AFP. – Act “faster” – Unlike more threats classics – human constructions, parasites or even over-tourism – the park guardians here have no control over the cause of the problem, of which they became aware at the beginning of the 1990s: greenhouse gas emissions. And they sometimes suffer from a feeling of helplessness. “Seeing the consequences of climate change moves many park employees”, who sometimes work there for the “third or fourth generation” and are very “connected to their resources “, emphasizes John Gross, of the NPS climate change response program. “For many, it’s not a job, it’s a way of life.” Laura Brennan grew up just a few hours from where she lives of work. In 2012, its butterflies, already in difficulty, fell victim to what scientists call a “phenological shift”.In spring that year, it was abnormally warm. The butterfly larvae emerge. But the plant on which they feed, the lupine, has not yet grown. “Plants depend more on soil temperatures and insects on air temperatures,” explains the biologist. As a result, “the larvae had nothing to eat. It was the beginning of the end.” Yet strenuous efforts had been made to restore their habitat. As the lupine needs a lot of light to grow, major clearing operations were underway. In vain. Faced with increasing threats, “we need to be able to remove these stressors more quickly,” says Laura Brennan in her soft voice. – Genetic selection – In Montana, it is the whitebark pines, recently declared threatened, which stake their survival. They only grow in the west of the United States and in Canada, at high altitude, particularly sensitive to warming.Already attacked by a fungus (Cronartium ribicola), their habitat is today threatened by lack of water. The snow melts earlier in spring, causing a state of early drought. With rising temperatures, small insect pests (Dendroctonus ponderosae) also threaten to spread higher up. But saving these pines is essential: the seeds contained in their cones feed many species, such as grizzly bears or the American nutcracker. Approximately 1,000 whitebark pines have been replanted every year for more than 20 years in Glacier National Park – a colossal task on difficult to access land . The seeds are first genetically tested to select specimens resistant to the fungus. But also, in recent years, drought, explains Dawn LaFleur. She, who has worked here for more than 30 years, says she sometimes feels “overwhelmed”. “The more time we spend in these environments, the more we realize how fragile they are in the face of climate change,” she says. She is, however, “hopeful” that we can save these pines. “We can’t change when the snow will melt. Or how hot and dry it is in summer today,” she says philosophically. “So we are developing solutions to adapt and direct our resources towards what we have control over. That’s how we improve things.” la/dp

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