Photos of urban monarch overwintering sites in California

David Webster david.h.webster at
Sun Jan 14 12:34:48 EST 2001

> I am only keeping an open mind, and merely questioning whether this is
> really solid evidence that the Monarch's future survival is insured and
> that we have nothing to worry about.
Hi Stan,        Jan 14, 2001
    True enough, large aggregations of organisms do not prove that all is well at
the site of aggregation. As Ralph Linton observed (Tree of Culture, 1961, p. 121)
with respect to humans, "City populations do not and never have reproduced
themselves." Nevertheless, negative growth of human populations is not a problem.
    If I understand correctly, these monarch roosts have been occupied for a
number of years. This suggests to me 1) that the environment at these roosts is
favourable and 2) that the environment at sites of reproduction and larval
development is also favourable. In my fairly humble opinion, the presence of
large numbers of individuals shifts the onus of proof onto those who propose that
conditions may really be unfavourable even though they appear to be favourable.
    This opinion arises from the consideration that it is counterproductive to
insist on total certainty, with respect to one question, when the status of
related questions ranges from less certain to entirely uncertain. These related
questions include how to modify land use, community design, waste disposal etc.
so as to generate and maintain urban and rural environments which are favourable
to a wide range of both weedy and non-weedy organisms.
    Modest attention to these latter questions would I think lead to very large
overall improvements, largely because the current state is adverse to many
    No doubt your "insure" was a typo for "ensure", but if some well run company
did decide to insure the monarch's survival then I would want to invest heavily
in it. Any well run organization which can prey on the anxieties and misanthropy
of stressed out urbanites is bound to be highly profitable.
Yours truly, Dave Webster, Kentville, Nova Scotia
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