Naturalists in decline

There is a “global decline of field naturalists,” according to this piece. I have been thinking about the fact that “naturalist” doesn’t exactly have a corresponding word that means a field of study. “Naturalism” does not name what a naturalist does; it’s a philosophical or aesthetic term. So the field only lives within the doers, who are fewer now.

The story also describes sharp declines in insect populations (not just honeybees) and changes in lake plankton, both of which are poorly understood. It’s the kind of article that can induce dread in the reader. Being a naturalist is an act of love, the attention one pays to phenomena being that of an ardent lover, but it also carries the real risk of heartbreak when the beloved is threatened.

People are anecdotally reporting many fewer bugs smashed on their windshields, and at the same time, windshields may be one cause of insect populations zooming downward.

 

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