Culture

Scientists Want To Save The Monarch Butterfly From Extinction By Moving A Forest Because Of Climate Change

Every winter countless tourists head on over to Piedra Herrada Sanctuary in Mexico to witness a breathtaking experience that doesn’t happen anywhere else. They are there to see the migration of the monarch butterfly that is a remarkable part of life itself. Seeing these little creatures fly around Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and soon it could be gone forever.

Environmentalists fear that because of climate change and other factors, the monarch butterfly could become extinct.

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Instagram/@mucun0332

The butterflies’ 3,000-mile migration begins in November in Mexico. The butterflies make their way north through the U.S. and then to Canada in mid-March. Between the fall and winter season is when they return to Mexico once again for their yearly trip bringing with them a spectacular scene.

“In the early days, we didn’t know where they came from,” 75-year-old Francisco Ramirez Cruz told the Los Angeles Times. Cruz has lived near the reserve and has experienced the migration since he was a little boy. “But we have always been so happy to see them.”

He said there’s a variety of reasons why the monarch butterfly migration may soon come to an end. According to the Los Angeles Times, he said the monarch population is dwindling quickly due to “logging, herbicides and other human activities destroying natural habitats.” However, the most significant factor is climate change. The butterflies make their way to this particular forest, but if climate change brings drought, warm weather, and severe storms, the woods may lose its oyamel fir trees.

Scientists and researchers are trying to move the entire forest to a higher elevation to save the trees and have a place for the butterflies to come home to.

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Instagram/@jderse

According to Scientific American, moving a natural habitat is one they rarely consider because it can be extremely damaging, but they say in the case of oyamel fir trees they are considering it because they have nothing left to lose.

This drastic measure would mean not just moving trees to a higher elevation —  1,000 feet up a mountain — but also plant new trees.

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Instagram/@arandomwalkatw

“Researchers were able to shift more than 750 seedlings up a mountainside by up to 400 meters, as long as they planted the young trees under the shade of neighboring bushes,” the Scientific American explains. “This protected the seedlings from sunlight and extreme temperatures.”

Chip Taylor, a retired ecology professor in Kansas and the director of Monarch Watch, told the Los Angeles Times that by planting new trees and relocating the forest, this could give researchers time to figure out their next move.

“What these measures do is give us time to address climate change,” Taylor told the publication. “If we don’t do something eventually about CO2s, eventually the new trees will be pushed off the mountain too.”

READ: AOC Is Pushing Back Against The GOP’s Ignorance On Climate Change And The Dangers It Poses

A Geographer Just Created A Digital Map Of Mexico Highlighting Taco Shops And It’s A Thing Of Beauty

Culture

A Geographer Just Created A Digital Map Of Mexico Highlighting Taco Shops And It’s A Thing Of Beauty

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One of the biggest changes that the so called digital revolution has brought to our lives is the capacity that today’s computer systems have to process huge amounts of data. Processors today are able to run algorithms that bring together millions of data entries to find trends, cluster groups of similar objects and generate visualizations that can help us understand even the most complex aspects of science and culture. This is known popularly as “big data” and has changed the ways in which governments and companies understand reality and make decisions. For example, before high speed processing mathematicians took literally years to make sense of census data and find correlations between factors such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age and literacy levels.

Guess what? This can be done today with a few clicks as computers bring together millions upon millions of data entries and make sense of it all. It all sounds very geeky, but big data is defining how we live our lives, from how traffic lights coordinate to how much tax you gotta pay each year.

So all this geeky, nerdy stuff should be put to good use, o no?

Enter Mexican geographer Baruch Sangines, a true wizard when it comes to generating great data visualizations.

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Credit: @datavizero / Twitter

This young scientist is the Chief Data Scientist at a company called Jetty, and he does some pretty groundbreaking research on pressing social issues such as housing and poverty.

His LinkedIn profile is pretty impressive: “Experience in public and private sector with skills to analyze and visualize data related to: commuting, transit, housing, tourism, migration, security, and urban environment. Expert in territorial analysis and passionate about the cartography and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to visualize small and big data”. Wow. hold your horses, Einstein! He is a proud graduate of Mexico’s National University and has Master’s Degree on Demographics and Statistics. 

So why did he go viral on Mexican social media in the past few days? We mean, science is sexy but not viral sexy (sadly!). All because of this map:

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Credit: @datavizero / Twitter

No, it is not a visualization of WiFi points in Mexico. No, it is not a rendition of cartel activity. No, it is not a highlight of the areas in which development runs at a faster pace. It is about something much, much more relevant to everyday life in Mexico lindo y querido. Any guesses?

Nothing is more important than a delicious taco when you most need it! 

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Credit: The Splendid Table

Just look at that tortilla, a bit crispy, a bit soft… and that perfectly marinated meat… 

Well, Baruch created a visualization of taco stands in Mexico and nos ponemos de pie ante tal maravilla! 

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Baruch called this visualization Taco Universe, and it showcases all the registered taco stands and shops in the country. We can clearly see that there is a high concentration of taco shrines in the capital Mexico City, and that hotspots like Cancun and Cabo are also highlighted, perhaps thanks to gringo tourism craving fish tacos. The scientists used the database Directorio Estadístico Nacional de Unidades Económicas (Denue) (Statistical National Directory of Economic Units) from the federal census agency INEGI. The map highlights how taco culture is primarily based in the center of the country, with local varieties such as Puebla’s tacos arabes (a shawarma like type) increasing the traffic in that area. 

But it is important to note that many taco stands are not accounted for (and that is not this scientist’s fault).

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Thousands of Mexicans subsist in an informal economy with businesses that are not registered and pay no taxes. Among these businesses, mobile taco stands reign supreme. There are hundreds of taco stands all around the country that are set up informally. Sometimes you can find the most delicious tacos there! You can also find informal vendors selling tacos de canasta, a variety that is literally carried in a basket. This map does not take these informal enterprises into account, even though they are key to Mexico’s taco culinary tradition. 

So you are curious about tacos de canasta now, aren’t you? 

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Well, just look at these crispy, sweaty, fat-rich babes. Tacos de canasta are filled with guisados or stews, or with refried beans. We are almost sure that Baruch did not include them in his map, but we can forgive him for making us crave unos taquitos (we bet you are calling your comadres or compas right now to hit the taco stand) and showing us how Mexico is a country that despite its many challenges still finds time to live up to the old adage: barriga llena, corazon contento. 

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