Claim: Severe droughts could lead to widespread losses of butterflies by 2050


From the CENTRE FOR ECOLOGY & HYDROLOGY and the Edith’s Checkerspot Club comes this tale of possible bug disaster we’ve all heard before. Except, Nature often finds a way, and scientific claims of extinction sometimes end up being proven wrong by nature itself.

Widespread drought-sensitive butterfly population extinctions could occur in the UK as early as 2050 according to a new study published today in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change.

However, the authors conclude that substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions combined with better management of landscapes, in particular reducing habitat fragmentation, will greatly improve the chances of drought-sensitive butterflies flying until at least 2100.

The study was led by Dr Tom Oliver from the UK’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) in collaboration with colleagues from CEH, the charity Butterfly Conservation, Natural England and the University of Exeter.

Lead author Dr Tom Oliver from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, “The results are worrying. Until I started this research, I hadn’t quite realised the magnitude and potential impacts from climate change. For drought-sensitive butterflies, and potentially other taxa, widespread population extinctions are expected by 2050. To limit these loses, both habitat restoration and reducing CO2 emissions have a role. In fact, a combination of both is necessary.”

The team identified six species of drought-sensitive butterfly – ringlet, speckled wood, large skipper, large white, small white and green-veined white – as having a low probability of persistence by 2050 even under most favourable emissions scenario. Butterflies were chosen for this study as they are amongst the best studied groups of species with good records of year-to-year changes in abundance, but there are many other drought sensitive groups which may be similarly affected.

Dr Oliver adds, “We consider the average response across Great Britain. Losses are likely to be more severe in drier areas with more intensive land use, whilst wetter areas with less fragmented habitat will provide refugia. We assume that butterflies won’t have time to evolve to become more drought-tolerant, because their populations are already small, and evolution would need to be very rapid. The study looked at butterflies but the conclusions are potentially valid for other species such as birds, beetles, moths and dragonflies.”

The study combined data from data from 129 sites for 28 species monitored as part of UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, with historic climate data from the Central England Temperature and the England and Wales Rainfall monthly series, habitat data from UK Land Cover Map, and climate model projections from 17 global circulation models in the CMIP5 database. Impacts of four Representative Concentration Pathways (different global CO2 emission trajectories) were investigated.

Co-author Mike Morecroft from Natural England said, “There’s good news and bad news here. The good news is that we can increase the resilience of species to climate change by improving our natural environment, particularly increasing areas of habitat and we are working hard at this. However, this approach will only work if climate change is limited by effective controls on greenhouse gas emissions.”

Co-author Tom Brereton from Butterfly Conservation said, “The study highlights the pressing need to investigate local conservation measures that may help drought-sensitive butterflies to adapt and persist in our changing countryside.”

Co-author Dr Chris Huntingford also from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, “Many climate projections indicate rapid increases in the frequency of severe drought events under all scenarios, but especially under the steepest rise in CO2 emissions. There is uncertainty in these projections, which we captured by considering outputs from seventeen different climate models. The overall results suggest that drought-sensitive butterflies are only likely to avoid widespread extinctions if CO2 emission levels are reduced below business-as-usual and, furthermore, this in combination with habitat restoration measures”

Co-author Dr Christel Prudhomme from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, ‘This study highlights the benefits of much tighter discussion between researchers from physical and environmental science disciplines- between those who develop simulations of expected levels of future climate change, and those who can translate those projections into local impacts and potential adaptation strategies’


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Joel O’Bryan
August 10, 2015 2:45 pm

That most mischievous of words comes up again. Could
That word should be banned from anything considered science.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
August 10, 2015 3:41 pm

My thoughts exactly. You beat me to it almost word for word.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
August 10, 2015 5:46 pm

I’ve been told that warming COULD cause the Return Of The Chicago 7

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
August 10, 2015 9:23 pm

Seriously, COULD is the first thing that I noticed too!

Reply to  RD
August 11, 2015 1:00 am

repetition from me below, saw -could – and went straight to comments.

Gerry, England
Reply to  RD
August 11, 2015 5:38 am

And of course the word ‘model’ as usual. Given the failure of the models to predict I have no doubt the butterflies will be fine.

Reply to  RD
August 21, 2015 8:46 am

“Could” => disregard study + skip post

AJ Virgo
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
August 10, 2015 10:34 pm

Those watching over the institution of science are claiming that some %50 of published material is wrong so it can be said that this is an era of pseudo science where observation has not gelled with understanding.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
August 10, 2015 11:15 pm

Just for info for some of you who may be interested, John Casey of SSRC, former NASA scientist and an outspoken sceptic of CAGW has closed SSRC. Hie closing statement follows in email:
Dear Friends,
This email is to advise my many friends and supporters that effective August 21, 2015, the Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC) will be closing. The reason: The SSRC has accomplished its mission.
After years of dedication to the singular objective of alerting our fellow citizens of the need to prepare for the coming cold climate, I believe that goal has finally been achieved.
This is neither a shifting of gears nor applying of the brakes. Rather, it is time to retire the old reliable truck for a new more nimble sports car. In place of the SSRC will be a new one man consulting company which I will activate within a month or so after some much needed time off.
In the planned consulting company, I will be free to say more and do more – outside of the boundaries of what a pure climate research organization like the SSRC should or could do. I intend to provide opinions and analysis on matters pertaining to climate variation and other areas of science, the
space program, and politics that will challenge both the right and the left, the media, the government and especially the scientific establishment.
After concluding my initial climate research in early 2007, my message of a coming cold climate was a voice in the wilderness, given at a time when no national leader or media executive, conservative or liberal, or many ‘friends’ wanted to hear it.
Since then, however, much has been achieved by the SSRC. At the top of the list is the establishment of the best public track record for major climate predictions in the USA.
This highly visible public record was verified by at least one PhD journalist, and echoed by many others. It means that by using the Relational Cycle Theory of solar-driven climate change, the SSRC has created a history of accuracy in major climate predictions that exceeds that of NASA, NOAA and of
course, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN-IPCC).
Added to this track record is helping get the subject of a new potentially dangerous cold climate on the table for all to discuss where none were doing so at a national level before 2007. The SSRC has served as an ‘icebreaker’ for other researchers and leaders to step up and speak about the
politically unspeakable – that global warming has ended and that a new cold climate has begun.
Meeting the SSRC mission was given a significant boost in the past year thanks to Newsmax Media, Inc., when it first began to publish my ‘global cooling’ book, “Dark Winter” in September 2014. The book was an updated, reorganized version of my first book from 2011 titled, “Cold Sun.”
Newsmax followed up a few months later with a one hour documentary on “Dark Winter.” This TV program has now been viewed by millions of Americans.
Along the way, independent videographers, news people, and numerous blog sites have posted my Op-Eds or videos or radio interviews from some of the hundreds of presentations or interviews I have given. In so doing, the SSRC message has reached countless people around the world via the web. By 2009,
the SSRC had already become the leading online source for information on the new cold epoch.
The capstone measurement of the attainment of the SSRC mission came in the first week in this month when “Dark Winter” reached the status of ‘number 1’ best seller in the ‘climate change’ category at Even before that week, it had already been in and out of the number 1 spot
in the categories of Public Policy, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Earth Sciences, and Weather. Hopefully it will stay near the top during the coming year as the book’s message is passed onto others. In any case, the people have made it clear – they want to hear the truth about the climate. The SSRC
has succeeded in bringing it to them.
Over the years, the SSRC has regularly spread the word that the Sun, not mankind, was the dominant force behind climate change. We have provided all the evidence of such through numerous press releases, research papers both in-house and from others, letters to government leaders, or especially
through the SSRC’s Global Climate Status Report (GCSR). Helping meet this communication objective required a team of brave scientists called in on a periodic basis. The list of scientists and organizations at my side during the past years is lengthy. They are found on the covers of “Cold Sun,”
“Dark Winter,” and in the “Opinions” pages for the SSRC and the GCSR at the SSRC web site at: (
Clearly, among the many who worked with me at the SSRC, there was one who did so on a relatively constant basis – Dr. Ole Humlum. It has been my great honor during this time to have had the unhesitating assistance of Dr. Humlum, as the courageous Co-Editor of the GCSR. He is a Professor of Physical
Geology, a geomorphologist and and a glaciologist at the University of Oslo, Norway, as well as a great human being. The GCSR would not have been published without him.
Another feat of the SSRC was insuring that those with science degrees have been provided an outlet for stating that they believe a new cold climate has begun. This was done though the Global Cooling Awareness Project (GCAP) at the SSRC. I will try to keep this list alive in the new consulting
company, though I suspect the coming cold will obviate its need in the near future.
The SSRC has also led the way in conducting geophysical research related to solar hibernations. This has been aided by the International Earthquake and Volcano Research Center (IEVPC), the ongoing sister company of the SSRC. This geophysics company has been co-managed with Dr. Dong Choi, its
honorable and uniquely talented Director of Research. The SSRC has been the US leader for advising our government and our people that concurrent with the new cold climate, we are about to see our worst earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in over 200 years. For example, an increased geophysical threat
alert was sent to the US government by the SSRC in conjunction with the IEVPC on June 5, 2015, for the entire US West Coast, South Carolina, and in particular for the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ).
Most importantly, the SSRC could not have accomplished its mission without the active participation of the many thousands of good people who joined with me in the quest to tell the truth about the climate. This was especially so during the early difficult years when frequent attempts were made to
‘shoot the messenger,’ by conservatives, progressives, members of the media, and a hostile scientific establishment.
Nonetheless, the SSRC has finally accomplished its mission. The next phase of my efforts to speak the truth is just beginning.
You all have my eternal thanks for your past support and advice.
Best Regards,
John L. Casey
President, Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC)

UK Sceptic
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
August 11, 2015 12:49 pm

The most mischievous word is “drought”. As in what drought? Eighteen months ago we had one of the wettest winters on record with rivers bursting their banks and people dying. We’ve had quite a lot of very wet summer too. So I ask again, what drought?

Dr. Bogus Pachysandra
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
August 12, 2015 12:17 pm

We’re already losing a lot due to the widespread use of lawn chemicals.

August 10, 2015 2:46 pm

What do windmill farms do to butterflies?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Resourceguy
August 10, 2015 3:19 pm

I doubt windmills are big buttefly killers.
But I do know that Interstate Highway-10 (I-10) across southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico does to the migrating Monarch butterflies trying to get to northern Mexico’s mountains every fall.
It ain’t pretty. I clean a few off the front of my car whenever I make that trip in September or October.
The funniest thing is the Obama White House has gotten on the save the Monarch band wagon. They plan on planting lots of milkweed along I-35 to help guid Monarchs from Minessota to Mexico. I see nothing but lots of dead butterflies smashed on the grills of cars and big rigs in that plan.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 10, 2015 3:23 pm

there’s a good plan: spread a noxious weed to help an economically insignificant insect.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 10, 2015 3:53 pm

I ran into a migration of Monarchs once. It was quite ugly when I looked at my car after.

Jeff Cagle
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 10, 2015 6:26 pm

@ fossilsage: milkweed is actually a beneficial. You can do a lot worse than a native plant that supports multiple species of animals.

August 10, 2015 2:46 pm

“The overall results suggest that drought-sensitive butterflies are only likely to avoid widespread extinctions if CO2 emission levels are reduced below business-as-usual and, furthermore, this in combination with habitat restoration measures”
Combining fiction and facts to get the grant…

August 10, 2015 2:46 pm

“Global warming will cause droughts, according to our models.”
“Less moisture because of the heat.”
“But your models rely on a huge increase in atmospheric water content to magnify the much, much smaller effect of CO2. Which will cause more rain.”
“It’s special water- it will only show up in places that don’t need droughts according to our catastrophic models.”

Reply to  cirby
August 10, 2015 6:50 pm

You nailed it! Is there anything good about the planet warming as it comes out of the Little Ice Age?…Anything?

Reply to  cirby
August 10, 2015 8:03 pm

Ice-9 anyone?

Reply to  skeohane
August 10, 2015 9:32 pm

No thank you, but Kurt Vonnegut was a great author!

Reply to  cirby
August 10, 2015 9:20 pm

Recently they were predicting a wetter world. I kid you not

August 10, 2015 2:48 pm

Traditional BS! Paris is coming!!

August 10, 2015 2:48 pm

These studies are nonsense. Butterflies are highly adaptable The evolution of the peppered moth is a famous UK case study of a moth whose wings turned black, because at the height of the industrial revolution, all the trees where the moth sheltered were blackened by soot.

george e. smith
Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 10, 2015 3:51 pm

Why are butterflies sensitive to drought ??
Or izzit just the drought sensitive butterflies that are.
Is the cabbage white drought sensitive. Let us know when they are extincticated.
I saw a factoid on screen at my bank, the other day, that said that there is no scientific distinction between a butterfly and a moth. No characteristic separates one from the other.
Great; moth is quicker to text.

Evan Jones
Reply to  george e. smith
August 10, 2015 3:59 pm

Moths have cilia on their antennae.

Jeff Cagle
Reply to  george e. smith
August 10, 2015 6:24 pm

The factoid is mostly false. Lepidoptera has something like 30 superfamilies. One of those, Papillionoidea, is called “butterflies.” The Hesperioidea are called “skippers.” The very small Hedyloidea are “moth-butterflies.”
Everything else is a moth.

george e. smith
Reply to  george e. smith
August 10, 2015 6:47 pm

Should I change banks then ??

Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 11, 2015 6:25 am

Eric –
agreed that the studies are nonsense but your example of rapid evolutionary change in citing the Peppered Moth isn’t necessarily killer logic. Some species have great adaptability and/or are dispersing constantly. Others are stuck in a genetic rut – probably because they were very highly successful in a particular specialist environment so the genetic status quo was conserved. They should be looked on as ‘dead end’ species and are probably on their way out anyway, and these are indeed more susceptible to changes such as those in climate. Those are the ones that conservationists -including me -usually concentrate upon. But NONE of the six species studied here come into that category and I think we can discount this work merely upon a reading of the abstract. It’s a make-work project for the scientists, backed by various green interest groups.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 15, 2015 4:01 am

My use of the word “evolution” was a hint. I didn’t suggest individual peppered moths learned how to change their wing colour, like a chameleon…

michael hart
August 10, 2015 2:49 pm

Stop press: Global warming prevents funding drought.

Reply to  michael hart
August 10, 2015 3:33 pm

The most amazing FACT is the amount off funding for all this nonsense. Mankind should be more enlightened, all pity to the human race.
Big thanks to Bill Gates for coming out about the uselessness of current alternative technology. The esteemed and pragmatic Bill will be calling for an end to grrenut funding and instead, recommending that the currently wasted money goes to serious and intelligent R & D.
As will his, putting HIS money where his mouth is Good onyer Bill and Melinda! And I presume Warren Buffet?

August 10, 2015 2:54 pm

Um. ‘There is uncertainty in these projections, which we captured by considering outputs from seventeen different climate models.’ Uncertainty begets further uncertainty begets certainty. I get it. I call your drought and raise you three droughts.

Steve from Rockwood
August 10, 2015 2:56 pm

I live in Southern Ontario in the country and the Monarch Butterfly has all but disappeared in the last 2-3 years. Can’t be climate change (too sudden) but is it a normal trend or has something happened. The previous 8 years we had hundreds of them.

Reply to  Steve from Rockwood
August 10, 2015 2:59 pm

Plant Milkweed to see them return. It worked for me in IL.

Reply to  Steve from Rockwood
August 10, 2015 3:09 pm

I too live in Southern Ontario and I am seeing plenty of Monarchs this year. Many more than last year. Plus, there is more milkweed in the countryside than you can shake a stick at. Here’s hoping a recent decline in numbers is reversing. You are welcome to view some photos I took about 5 years ago in Stoney Creek, Ontario, a small vignette of the huge numbers accumulated on that day.

Reply to  heysuess
August 10, 2015 3:41 pm

Thanks, those are great! I should show my doctor those. He is a kid who lives in the city and when I told him I was a climate sceptic, he hit me with the Monarch extinction thing and gave me few shameful comments about my lack of concern for nature and future generations. No more than my car mechanic did though…

Reply to  heysuess
August 10, 2015 3:47 pm

And Dawt.. oh my, don’t we all have stories like that to tell. Why, just this week my wife complimented someone on some exotic bamboo planting in her yard, only to be told ‘Well, that’s climate change. Plenty of things grow here that didn’t before.’ Laugh/puke.

Steve from Rockwood
Reply to  heysuess
August 10, 2015 3:51 pm

Those are great photos. Thanks for that. I have lots of milkweed but no butterflies. Maybe I’m not calling them right.

Reply to  heysuess
August 10, 2015 4:10 pm

Thanks Steve. You’ve not seen my show ‘Monarch Dynasty’, where we grow beards, cover ourselves in pheromones and flowery camo?

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  heysuess
August 10, 2015 4:54 pm

heysuess @ 3:47
“exotic bamboo”
Maybe, but have a look at this: Fallopia japonica, aka Japanese knotweed

Reply to  heysuess
August 10, 2015 5:27 pm

John, in the past, I’ve done a little reading on that invasive plant – I’ve seen what I believe to be it growing along the famed trout river the Beaverkill in New York state – but I don’t know because it was my wife’s experience that I related. I never saw the plants. I hope it wasn’t Japanese Knotweed!!

george e. smith
Reply to  heysuess
August 11, 2015 2:26 am

Sometimes, extinction is the best solution.
Mother Gaia knows that, because she does it all the time when necessary.
Can’t have inefficient resource consuming critters, wasting resources that other critters could use to better effect. That’s HER idea ; not mine.
There was a case in Southern California some years back where a freeway project was re-routed around a field, through the middle of which, it had been planned to go.
The redirection cost tens of millions of dollars.
The problem was that this field was the home to some flies, that were not too abundant; well it was the only place on the planet where those flies lived, and the freeway was going to separate them into two populations (maybe) which would be a disaster for them.
Now we all feel for wild critters; but flies !!
We are talking here about #1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006, 1007, 1008 . Maybe they all have nicknames too.
Yes there were precisely 8 of these flies in the known universe.
Now I think that problem could have been fixed at a lower cost, just with a class of fifth graders and a gallon of ice cream, plus a few fly swatters.
Sometimes, nature’s way is best.

Reply to  heysuess
August 11, 2015 5:27 am

I can shake a stick at a LOT of milkweed!
Are you sure about that calculation?

Reply to  Steve from Rockwood
August 10, 2015 3:40 pm

Some loss is due to deforestation of wintering habitat in Mexico

Reply to  jim Steele
August 10, 2015 3:45 pm

Ya, Jim, also, I fear, the widespread use of ‘Roundup Ready’ crops in the U.S. midwest. We’ll see how all that turns out, but in the meantime, I am ‘for’ encouraging farmers to leave a small portion of their growing land for wild growth such as milkweed to help the migrants breed on the way down and up. (Pretty sure that’s how it works with the Monarchs.)

Reply to  jim Steele
August 10, 2015 4:45 pm

Dr. Steele, I have also seen a big jump in the number of fireflies (lightning bugs) in recent years to about the same shows as I remember seeing in the 60’s. Do you have any info on them?

Reply to  jim Steele
August 10, 2015 5:35 pm

Dawtgtomis, In California we don’t have lightning bugs that light up, only their glowworms. So I don’t have any direct observations. As a kid I caught them in Alabama and Vermont but rarely saw them in eastern Massachusetts. Most larvae feed on decaying vegetation so I would suspect it is a matter accumulation and moisture. But you have sparked my curiosity.

Jay Hope
Reply to  Steve from Rockwood
August 11, 2015 12:38 am

Where I live there are fewer and fewer butterflies every year. It can’t be the fault of a drought as we have never had one. I’ve also noticed that there are fewer and fewer flies and wasps, and other insects. I think this might have more to do with the fact that the climate is cooling.

August 10, 2015 2:57 pm

I live in Los Angeles and have noticed no discernible drop in butterflies in my garden, either this year or last.

August 10, 2015 2:58 pm

The butterflies are claimed to be drought sensitive.
Therefor, the Global Warming hotcoldwetdry function resolves to drought.
I think I am starting to see how this whole thing works.

Reply to  TonyL
August 10, 2015 3:08 pm

You got it! Obamascience posits that drought now, is not the same drought that happened before humans infected this lovely blue gem of the cosmos and raped the planet of it’s treasures to burn in their ovens of ecological doom.
[sarc factor two, Mr. Sulu]

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
August 10, 2015 5:52 pm

@dawtg, (sarc factortwo, Mr Sulu!) , can I use that one ? Thanks

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
August 10, 2015 7:11 pm

My pleasure asybot, but I got to thinkin’… maybe it was Chekov he used to give that command.

Gilbertl K. Arnold
Reply to  Dawtgtomis
August 11, 2015 6:46 am

That might have been Capt. James T. Kirk speaking.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  TonyL
August 10, 2015 5:11 pm

Doubleplus good prolethink.

August 10, 2015 3:02 pm

well hell…if they’re all going to die by 2100 anyway

Reply to  Latitude
August 10, 2015 4:07 pm

I expect to die by 2100, anyway.

D.J. Hawkins
Reply to  Auto
August 10, 2015 6:21 pm

Pessimist! 😉

Reply to  Auto
August 10, 2015 6:35 pm

Confirmation! It’s worse than we thought! Auto is not going to see any monarch butterflies in 2100.
Wait up… I don’t think I’ll be seeing any either. However, I will be doing some good for the environment, pushing up daisies and all that.

Reply to  Auto
August 10, 2015 7:19 pm

H.R.- I plan to be converted to CO2 and basic minerals by means of oxidation. Unless its illegal by then.

Louis Hunt
August 10, 2015 3:04 pm

It’s too bad butterflies don’t have wings so they could fly to areas with more moisture.

Reply to  Louis Hunt
August 10, 2015 3:25 pm

Well they do, but they are for collecting solar energy! Isn’t progressive science great!

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
August 10, 2015 5:53 pm

and they eat fossil fuels!

Mike Smith
August 10, 2015 3:06 pm

So, if all of the predictions coming out of the thoroughly discredited AGW models are true…Bad Things will happen. And this is all you got?
Get a life, ummm, job!

August 10, 2015 3:08 pm

Yet another ‘study’ that amounts to blatant climate propaganda.

August 10, 2015 3:09 pm

Not to be too pedantic but that’s a moth in the image at the top. 😮

Reply to  jakee308
August 10, 2015 3:11 pm

Wrong. Cabbage Butterfly.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  heysuess
August 10, 2015 8:54 pm


August 10, 2015 3:12 pm

What? I thought the extra CO2 would increase the food supply for the butterflies. I’m cutting my lawn every week now cause its growing so fast.

August 10, 2015 3:14 pm

Are these the same people that predicted no more snow in the UK ?

Mark from the Midwest
August 10, 2015 3:19 pm

“reducing habitat fragmentation …”
OK. let’s start with the Upper West Side and return that to forest land, then we can take large chunks of San Mateo and Marin Counties, and kick out all the humans, then I suggest that every other block of homes in Annandale and Arlington be demolished. We can mobilize FEMA to help displaced persons relocate. After all, these are the 3 most ardent sets of zip-clusters for people who believe that government action is necessary, so the cooperation should be close to 100% …
I’ll volunteer to be acting director of the project, I’ll work for $1 a year for the next 3 years as long as I get my phone call from the White House by 5PM Friday

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
August 10, 2015 4:12 pm

I’ll be your Deputy – if needed.
Marine culture – I can sort – I can take decisions.
[Popular . . . Ummmm . . . . . ]
E – if need – from our leader.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
August 10, 2015 10:02 pm

August 10, 2015 3:20 pm

Well, the study charts response and recovery from drought events of miscellaneous butterfly populations.
I guess that is ok, it makes sense that a drought would affect the populations.
I don’t see how they got to CO2 causes widespread drought.
Further – more CO2 will cause plant water conservation – even if there was a drought the plants may have more available water. The butterflies (at least the larva) presumably get all their water from plants so they should be pretty much unaffected.
They use the RCP8.5 data to create a worst case scenario. Perhaps the US should stop funding the IPCC until they develop realistic scenarios.
The good news is this doesn’t seem to have been funded with US tax dollars. It appears only British tax puunds were wasted.

August 10, 2015 3:22 pm

Well I guess they are learning. Better make those predictions far enough into the future that you will be retired (or dead) before the predicted date.

August 10, 2015 3:26 pm

Oh cut it out! we can’t stuff any more canaries in the coal mines because of the polar bears running around everywhere!

Mike Henderson
Reply to  fossilsage
August 10, 2015 8:45 pm

This might be relevant.

Reply to  Mike Henderson
August 11, 2015 8:07 am

yes, yes it is

August 10, 2015 3:28 pm

Does the climate doom ever end? They must be giving out prizes for who can fabricate the best scar scenario.
The 3 different species “whites” are all abundant around farms and feed of members of the mustard family, plants that like open sunny area. The only threat to those species has been changes in agricultural practices.
The Speckle Wood is becoming another bad climate icon. Parmesan’s 1999 paper highlighted a very deceptive graph showing the species was being pushed northward, hiding the fact that others had pusblished it had been abundant in Scotland in the 1800s
I discussed that graphic deception in the first comment of this WUWT post

george e. smith
Reply to  jim Steele
August 10, 2015 7:06 pm

When I am somewhere I like to move to where there are the fewest of others of the same species.
I suspect that animals including butterflies like to go to places that aren’t already full of butterflies working over the same flowers.
So I am not at all surprised that butterflies move to places they weren’t at before.
For example when plants live on sloping surfaces; aka mountains, the number of plants tend to diminish as you go higher, for various reasons. One of those reasons is that it is already crowded where they are at now.
so when a plant blows away its seeds; say a dandelion for example, some of them will blow up the hill and some of them will blow down the hill.
The seeds that blow down the hill are likely to land on the leaves of some other plant that is already there, so they don’t land on the soil, and critters will find them and eat them.
But the seeds that blow uphill, are more likely to land on an unoccupied piece of ground and take root.
So they tend to migrate uphill for no reason at all, other than the space is unoccupied already.
No climate change postulation is necessary to explain why living things tend to move to where they ain’t already.
The Bushmen of Africa, who populated the rest of the planet, didn’t just up and say; “let’s all move to Uzbekistan. ”
They were actually just following some animals they could hunt for food, and didn’t realize they were actually going anywhere.
You have to be grasping at straws to claim that it is climate that moves things around.
Not that things don’t move, if climate shifts; but they aren’t all just looking for 72 deg. F and 280 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Reply to  jim Steele
August 11, 2015 1:03 am

Jim – you’re dead right. I haven’t read this paper, but prima facie it’s nonsense – must be based on a heck of a lot of dubious assumptions. All of the species mentioned exist very widely in Europe in both wetter and drier climates than in UK and it doesn’t seem that they’ve been picked for any known sensitivity to drought. As you say, the three Whites are attached to agricultural weeds and are in constant ‘dispersal’ mode as with so many that feed on plants of disturbed ground. There are big invasions of the UK every year from outside of the country for two of the species and these would surely continue in a drier country also. The only species which it could be argued is attached to damper conditions is the Speckled Wood (It likes shady situs for its in-flight camouflage), and this has an interesting history. As you rightly say, it was abundant over most of the country in the early nineteenth century, just as it is today (it misses out open heath and moorland), but between-times it became something of a rarity, being absent from large swathes of the country for a very long time. I don’t think anybody has tried to pin that on climate change, as to do so would negate the uniqueness of the present climate trends.

Bruce Cobb
August 10, 2015 3:52 pm

We assume that butterflies won’t have time to evolve to become more drought-tolerant, because their populations are already small, and evolution would need to be very rapid.

What utter bollocks. Even if there were “more droughts” the idea that they would need to evolve is ridiculous.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
August 10, 2015 4:53 pm

What utter bollocks.
exactly. butterflies don’t need to evolve to deal with changing climate. their ancestors already did that over the 130 millions years butterflies have been around. a whole lot longer than humans.
the genes for drought are simply suppressed until such time as they are required by the next generation. then, when the drought is over, the genes will again be suppressed.
there will be butterflies long after the last climate scientist has long gone extinct.

August 10, 2015 4:33 pm

I have noticed an almost complete absence of some of our more colourful butterfly species such as Red Admiral, Peacock and Tortoiseshell here in South Wales. Cabbage Whites, on the other hand are in great profusion. My wife and I have been observing Buddleias ( the butterfly bush) which, are currently in magnificent bloom ( thanks no doubt to extra Co2) and are normally swarming with butterflies and have not seen even one butterfly on them. They appear to have been deserted. Bees on the other hand are having a great time.

James Francisco
Reply to  jolan
August 10, 2015 6:49 pm

Your bees are thriving. My neighbor’s bees froze to death the last two winters. (Central US)

Reply to  jolan
August 11, 2015 1:32 am

Same here in North Bristol UK, saw a hedgehog last night, first for 5 plus years

August 10, 2015 4:34 pm

Even “if” this were more than scare mongering- where is it proven that C02 causes droughts? Note that the IPCC claims that c02, increases the chance of both droughts AND floods- so how do they conclude here that it is going to be ONLY droughts…. ? Such total nonsense is putting it nicely.

Reply to  Louise Nicholas
August 10, 2015 5:47 pm

Absolutely Louise,
Hansen tried to play the apocalyptic drought card due to CO2 in a NYT OP-ED, but Dr. Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist specializing in climate dynamics at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory, publicly countered Hansen: “The claim in the Hansen NYT piece that the Midwest would be a dustbowl in coming decades thus runs contrary to peer reviewed literature and recent assessments by the U.S. Global Research Program that emerged from the synthesis of current understanding by an expert team of scientists.” He continued, “Facts should, and do, matter to some. The vision of a Midwest Dustbowl is a scary one, and the author [Hansen] appears intent to instill fear rather than reason.”
Then there are the climate models that have totally failed to hindcast droughts despite having past evidence. But the models are excellent in suggesting future catastrophic drought scenarios. The red and black lines are observation. The blue is climate model scenarios

Albert Paquette
August 10, 2015 4:38 pm

I’m 81 years old. I’m trying as hard as I can to work up a major league worry session about some flying bug that might cash in its chips 35 years from now. Ugh!! Nope, sorry, I can’t do it. Oh wait! What was I supposed be worried about?

James Francisco
Reply to  Albert Paquette
August 10, 2015 6:54 pm

I’m with you Albert. Now if chickens become endangered, I want to know how I can help.

August 10, 2015 4:39 pm

“There is uncertainty in these projections, which we captured by considering outputs from seventeen different climate models.”
Output from a model is not data. Utter trash!

August 10, 2015 4:46 pm

why is it that “nice” insects like butterflies are killed by CO2, but “bad” insects like mosquitoes and cockroaches are increased by CO2?
How does CO2 know what humans consider to be good and bad? Certainly nature doesn’t make such a distinction, so how can CO2?

Reply to  ferdberple
August 11, 2015 12:12 am

Very good point.
It’s because 97% of climate ‘scientists’ and our political leaders (who just love a bogeyman from which they can be seen to be ‘saving the world’), agree that CO2 is a thoroughly satanic pollutant. Projecting any benefit from it’s increase would be sacrilege

Stephen Brown
August 10, 2015 4:53 pm

With all of the scaremongering going on, a lot of which I have managed to read (Blecchhh!) I consisently come up with just one question.
Why is our present ‘climate’ considered to be the best? Why should any deviance from our present ‘climate’ be ‘catastophic’?
Explanations on the back of a stamp, pease.

David Chappell
Reply to  Stephen Brown
August 11, 2015 8:20 am

I think you will be lucky to get enough explanation to fit on the head of a pin between the angels.

August 10, 2015 4:53 pm

The moth-eaten butterfly effect.

Reply to  Max Photon
August 10, 2015 7:40 pm

If you think it’s butter(fly)- but it’s not, It’s Chiffon!

Reply to  Max Photon
August 11, 2015 1:11 am

You mean, if butterflies become extinct, they won’t be able to flap their wings and cause hurricanes?

M Seward
August 10, 2015 4:56 pm

Meanwhile CAGW alarmism is wiping out commonsense throughout the ‘liberl’ side of the sociopolitical spectrum and certain parts of the scientific community. These are of course those sectors of society most closely related to butterflies which either interesting or just ironic.

NW sage
August 10, 2015 5:18 pm

I don’t understand! It has been said that weather in the US could be traced to the flapping wings of a butterfly in China. Since that must be true then if all the butterflies are extinct there would be no more weather because they obviously cause all weather. If there is no weather then there can be no weather change and without that there can be no climate change. PROBLEM SOLVED!

Gary Pearse
August 10, 2015 5:44 pm

You see, they ignore that their models have been falsified. Also, if you have two factors that are causing problems habitat and a guess that one is CO2, before worrying about the guess, you can check out the habitat. Probably if you fixed habitats, you would get a ten-fold increase in butterflies. A new young set of biologists will be needed to see if CO2 DOES cause a problem by 2050 and then figure out something – like move them to Scotland to wait out the depletion of fossil fuels. Don’t waste huge sums now on something that we have no idea will happen.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 10, 2015 6:07 pm

The other thing if you don’t know that in fact severe drought (in UK you got to be dreaming) WILL bring about the end of the butterflies rather than just COULD, then you should spend some time learning your trade a little more completely. In any case if its so uncertain that it will be a problem for the butterflies and its uncertain that drought will even happen, then this part can wait for another day. Spend all your resources on habitat remediation, that seems to have been the big factor in nearly all extinctions – and hey, I’m only an engineer/geologist.

Stephen Heins
August 10, 2015 5:46 pm

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”
H.L. Mencken

August 10, 2015 5:47 pm

If there are fewer butterflies, then cats won’t be distracted as easily and they will get smarter.

Reply to  Neo
August 10, 2015 6:01 pm

as a cat lover +1.

Reply to  asybot
August 11, 2015 11:32 pm

ahh if only there were no houseflys

August 10, 2015 5:59 pm

This study and its predictions are about butterflies in Great Britain. There have been issues concerning butterfly populations in Great Britain for a long time. Whether the predictions come true or not, the situation there should not be extrapolated to the rest of the world. Most declines in butterfly populations are due to habitat loss or fragmentation, not global warming.

Reply to  Chuck
August 10, 2015 6:55 pm

And via pollution of the more conventual sort as well as misapplication and intentional ( more than a few butterflies are AG pests) application of pesticides.

Mike Smith
August 10, 2015 6:16 pm

If the AGW doesn’t get ’em, all of those wind turbines we need to save the butterflies will. It must suck to be a butterfly right now.

Curious George
August 10, 2015 6:29 pm

Could the Nature Climate Change have completely perverted a peer review process?

Reply to  Curious George
August 10, 2015 6:41 pm

That isn’t the problem.
The problem is biologists and whatever else passes for scientists these days are indulging in “what if” guessing games. The study was about “drought affects butterflies”. That part was good, nice to know drought affects butterflies. But they didn’t stop there and wanted to put a “global warming” spin on the paper to appear hip and cool.
More CO2 reduces plant water consumption. The IPCC CO2 forcing is 3 times too high. RCP8.5 has atmospheric CO2 levels that are 4.5 times too high. They haven’t proven which way higher temperatures alter precipitation and humidity. The increase in temperatures expected by reasonable people isn’t going to have a discernible impact.
So the authors took actual data and applied it to a fictional situation which assumes warmer is drier with no consideration of mitigating factors.

Curious George
Reply to  PA
August 10, 2015 6:56 pm

Isn’t this what a peer review should notice?

Reply to  PA
August 10, 2015 8:28 pm

Rather than a snarky response, I will just note that the IPCC publishes crazy numbers beyond the realm of reason to give the harm and mitigator people some red meat to chew on.
The total GHG forcing by 2100 will be 1 W/m2 or less. if you assume 6°C or about 22 W/m2 (4.5°C per doubling with 940PPM CO2) why you can invent all kinds of harm.
6°C is as likely as Nibiru or winning the Megamillions jackpot.
Is it possible? Sure, but so is Nibiru and winning the Megamillions jackpot.
As far as whether droughts will increase when it gets warmer – my understanding is the scholarship is all over the place. However that more CO2 reduces plant water consumption is a fact. That CO2 is a plant nutrient and increases plant growth is not up for debate either.
This is why we need hostile review of government funded science studies so the support for the more ridiculous claims is eliminated. Only about 11%-20% of studies are reproducible. 80% of our money goes to garbage studies that are in some cases used to bolster false claims or support “uncertainty” arguments.

Mike the Morlock
August 10, 2015 6:31 pm

Its all Ray Bradbury’s fault with his story “A Sound of Thunder”
Okay so fess up which of you went back in time; stomped a Proto- Monarch Butterfly and caused this mess.

August 10, 2015 6:32 pm

cough…cough…”Bullsh_t!!!”…cough..cough… (my immediate reaction, and with apologies to Animal House)

August 10, 2015 6:43 pm

I never liked butterflies anyway.

August 10, 2015 6:52 pm

Wonder why butterflies are so special? Oh I know! In the Western mind they conjure up the meme of “The Butterfly Effect”. A monumental change brought about by a minor stimulus. Welcome to psych ops 101.

August 10, 2015 7:00 pm

“Give us your land, or these butterflies get it!”

August 10, 2015 7:18 pm

“…scientific journal Nature Climate Change.” Is that an oxymoron? So now there are entire magazines/journals dedicated to AGW? Will the business opportunities never stop?

August 10, 2015 7:49 pm

Leave the poor butterflies out of this! I remember back in the 1970’s when it was claimed that the massive use of pesticides was going to kill off all the butterflies in the world by 2000.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  ScienceABC123
August 10, 2015 8:57 pm

But we may be seeing effects of neo-nicotinimide pesticides on honey bees in North America with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Very very very low concentrations (pp trillion) of that pesticide may be enough to screw-up their homing neural curcuits and then able to come back to the hive from up to a 1/2 km away.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 10, 2015 8:58 pm


Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 10, 2015 9:48 pm

Toxic for beesespecially clothianidin, thanks Joel. Typo, neo-nicotinamide not neo-nicotinimide.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 10, 2015 11:35 pm

Maybe they’re just vulnerable to microwaves from earth-scanning satellites. The problem came up about the same time geo-radar systems were first launched.

Reply to  ScienceABC123
August 11, 2015 8:40 am

I hope not DP. Interesting and I’ll look at thanks.

August 10, 2015 8:58 pm

I understood that cooling was what produced drought and it was widespread durring the last ice age. When moisture gets frozen there is less available as rain.

August 10, 2015 9:25 pm

This scare story seems to suggest butterflies have never been up against a drought before. In fact they’ve survived (as a specie) an endless number of them world wide. Nature doesn’t think life is sacred so life has adapted to get on with things when adversity strikes. Droughts are a bump in the road, nothing more. Surely this is not a new and shocking revelation for biologists. Or is it? Liberals have been running the education system (down) for so long anything is possible.
I look forward to a day when we can celebrate a spontaneous outbreak of good science. It’s been too long.

Reply to  dp
August 11, 2015 2:52 pm

“Nature doesn’t think life is sacred” – dp
I’m going to use that. Very insightful!

August 10, 2015 9:39 pm

Tornado a cuming!
Queue Burt Lancaster, The Rainmaker:

Encore, Encore … Call in Kirk! and Queue:

Ha ha

August 10, 2015 11:11 pm


Peter Plail
August 11, 2015 12:27 am

This study relates to the UK. From the information that is not pay-walled, it appears that the study relates to information available up to 2010. From the Met Office website, on the subject of droughts entitled “England and Wales drought 2010 to 2012” (
“April 2012 onwards
From April 2012 there was a decisive change in weather patterns across the UK. Rainfall totals for April to July 2012 were the highest on record across England and Wales bringing the drought to an abrupt and dramatic termination. Instead, the focus rapidly turned to flooding problems. This exceptionally wet spell is described as a separate weather event linked from the index page.”
I hope the “threatened ” butterflies learned how to swim!

Ian Magness
August 11, 2015 12:37 am

You really couldn’t make this up. Within hours of WUWT posting this latest, risible, unscientific drivel, and the UK media is full of reports of how Scotland is having a washout summer. Rainfall since May in some areas is around double the long term seasonal average, temperatures are correspondingly low and some farmers have had to bring their cattle into the wintering sheds months early due to the fields becoming swamps.
What does this mean for butterflies? Well, ask anyone who actually watches butterflies (these “scientists” clearly don’t) and they will tell you that washout summers are disastrous for British butterflies, most of which only fly, and mate,when it’s dry and, preferably, sunny. They like the sun, not the rain – honest!!! Again, ask anyone who has actually watched British butterflies over many years and they will tell you that the individual species populations swing significantly from year to year and the ranges change over time for many (although by no means all) species. Global warming nutters seem desperate to impute climate change (even if it did exist) as the cause for these fluctuations but I for one have never seen any hard evidence that this is the case except on a very short-term basis (as is no doubt occurring in Scotland at the moment). As ever with global wildlife, habitat destruction and its direct effect on life-cycle food sources, has a much more easily demonstrated effect on long term population changes. If these “scientists” concentrated their efforts on this area, they might actually produce some work of value on which we could act, rather than chasing this illusory warming nonsense.

Reply to  Ian Magness
August 11, 2015 1:12 am

Scotland has, indeed, had a washout summer and commensurately low temperatures. Which is also impacting our own weather-dependent mating habits.
– Warm and dry leads the Scottish male to put on his shorts and take off his shirt. This reduces his likelihood of attracting a mate to approximately zero.
– Too wet will lead to him uttering the phrase “hell, it’s pishing doon again, I’m off the the boozer”. After a decent session, his ability to mate will have reduced to approximately zero.
– Only in cold weather, when the call “god, it’s baltic, come here hen and coury in” can be heard, is there the realistic prospect of mating.
Thankfully the Met Office were wrong with their “we’ll never see snow again” prognostications, or we’d be facing a population crisis.

Ian Magness
Reply to  thomam
August 11, 2015 1:15 am

Excellent post!
…and just as scientific as the original paper…

Ex-expat Colin
Reply to  Ian Magness
August 11, 2015 3:03 am

Last year in W.Mids (UK) I witnessed the largest swarm of red admiral type lepi’s I had ever seen in my life (age = 70). All around two shrubs nearby. I thought they were both Buddleia. I discovered one this year is a Lilac and to date has not flowered. Or maybe, might, could flower after the insects have diminished/gone? All I see now is a single Cabbage White trying to cause destruction at a later date.
I note that too many plants purchased for UK gardens are mainly from DIY centres/supermarkets. Most sold there are for bling (same old same old) rather than wildlife. It means that its difficult to measure the behaviour/quality/quantity of flying insects….its going to vary dramatically. I am on the edge of a town in Worcestershire.
I have a bee hotel for the 1st time with something like 170 leaf cutter bee grubs in. Thats a solitary bee that likely does more local pollinating than the commercially sensitive honey bee. The solitary bee is of over 250 species in UK/USA/Canada. Mind you the leaf cutter bee cuts neat chunks out of rose leaves. I think the rose in general is not useful in terms of pollen/nectar? Not that I have noticed anyway?

Reply to  Ex-expat Colin
August 11, 2015 7:08 am

Hi, Colin
Red Admirals are very largely migrants to UK (some will survive a mild winter) so numbers vary hugely from year to year. You probably won’t have seen Buddleia and Lilac flowering together, as there is no overlap with their seasons. Lilacs are not great butterfly attractions and flower before most species are on the wing.
All butterflies undergo huge population changes from year to year. To such an extent, in fact, that we can say that the numbers one year are extremely poor predictors of the numbers the following year. But, when some species are down, others are up. Unfortunately, few parts of the West Midlands are good for butterflies (or most wildlife, for that matter..?)

August 11, 2015 12:58 am

butterfly population extinctions “could ” occur – binned.

August 11, 2015 1:34 am

BBC this morning, ski resort which started in 1956 sees snow on the ground every day this year, not seen this since 1956, a harbinger of doom? Has the big freeze started? No, it’s only the Jet Stream playing around.

Reply to  Adrian Kerton
August 11, 2015 1:37 am

Should have said they were talking about Scottish ski resort

August 11, 2015 2:57 am

and climate model projections from 17 global circulation models in the CMIP5 database

I was willing to listen to their theory and look at their data until I read the above statement.
It has been shown again and again that the CMIP5 GCMs are wrong. Their output does not match reality. Using the output of invalid models destroys ANY scientific conclusion from their research.
They might as well have said that models of Venus’ climate show that if the Earth’s climate was like Venus’ all the butterflies would be dead. A true statement, but completely irrelevant because the Earth’s climate ISN’T like Venus’. Just like the Earth’s climate ISN’T shown by the CMIP5 GCMs, so any results based on the CMIP5 models is irrelevant as it isn’t reality.

August 11, 2015 3:21 am

I’m very worried about those 6 species of butterflies: if they die out there’ll only be 15,000 species of them left!

August 11, 2015 4:13 am

sorry if this one is an old one
Correlations, Causes and Dis-proofs
“We have concluded that the crowing rooster causes the sun to rise.” – Viv Forbes
“Every morning just before dawn our rooster crows and soon afterwards the sun comes up. We have observed no exceptions over three months – clear evidence of perfect correlation. Therefore we have concluded that the crowing rooster causes the sun to rise.
My wife Flora (who believes that the Cooee birds bring the rain) said: “I knew that ages ago – Professor Percival told me.”
So I consulted Professor Percival, our neighbour. He is Professor Emeritus in the “Science in Society” Department at Top-Line University. He specialises in the effect of sound waves on atmospheric transmissivity. He says that some roosters produce sound waves of just the right frequency to affect the dawn visibility through the thick morning atmosphere. He has written peer-reviewed papers on the subject which has been named “The Percival Effect”. In all the hallowed halls, it is regarded as “settled science”.
However, we decided that our rooster was not doing his day job, so he ended up as roast dinner last night.
Flora was very concerned – “what if the sun does not appear at alltomorrow?” she wailed.
But the sun rose as normal.
Flora was relieved but a concerned Professor Percival went off to check his calculations “for feedback loops”. He is still checking.
One thing was proved conclusively in just one day – roosters crowing do not make the sun appear. Something else causes the sun to rise. Our ninety-two correlations did not prove causation. But just one disproof was needed to kill the Percival Effect.
So it is with the Greenhouse Effect. For about 20 years now, carbon dioxide levels have risen steadily but global temperatures are trending level. Therefore CO2 does not control global temperature.
One disproof is all that is needed”
thanks to iceagenow

Clovis Marcus
August 11, 2015 7:29 am

My brussel sprout plants may be mightily relieved if one of the possible futures described in this paper comes to pass.
Just search and replace “may” and “could” with “might not” if you really want to see what the paper is saying.

August 11, 2015 8:24 am

Fact: Monarch butterfly population in the US is declining rapidly, caused largely by the use of neonicotinoid pesticides inserted into GMO corn. You know, the same corn that is used to make ethanol, a very green product.

August 11, 2015 8:40 am

As long as we don’t lose the elusive Pussycat Swallowtail…comment image

August 11, 2015 9:10 am

all i remember is caterpillars eating my plants. Good riddance butterflies, their predators will adapt

August 11, 2015 11:39 am

Always thought Bees and Butterflies have a similar diet.
By bad weather they mean cold and wet.

August 11, 2015 1:28 pm

Butterflies are a recent cause-du-jour of eco-activists like David Suzuki.
His pitch is blaming GMO corn for decline of Monarch butterfly populations, as it tolerates weedkillers thus there will be no milkweed for the Monarchs. (Milkweed makes the Monarchs distasteful to birds.)
Jus a min’ I say:
– corn was not widespread way back, as it was developed from a plant that only grew in the southern US and Central America, tribal people bred it to what we know as corn then it was widely adopted.
– mechanical cultivating was well organized, clever devices planted corn seeds aa regular intervals so that there was space for a mechanical cultivator in both directions. How much milkweed was there then?
Seems to me that any abundance of milkweed was the result of human activities, so a decline is just returning to normal.
One fool butterfly enthusiast in the Victoria BC claimed that a small brown butterfly was critically dependent on a marshy area – but a small amount of research would have shown him that the butterfly lives in shrubs in the transition area between open spaces and forest, that marsh just provides a wet open space.

David Cage
August 11, 2015 11:31 pm

Widespread drought-sensitive butterfly population extinctions could occur in the UK as early as 2050 according to a new study published today in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change…..
By my definition half as much rain again as there is on average does not qualify as drought. What is actually causing them problems is the very cold nights which I gather only the cabbage whites are able to cope with well.
So far I have yet to see a single field round here being watered. Yes a tiny part of the south east including London is hot and dry but that still leaves over 95% of the UK being soaked.
Discounting the top and bottom 10% of temperatures we have had a Summer range of 16 to 22 degrees which is just too cold for butterflies.
Are these guys really trained in anything but bovine excrement? Clearly not.

David Cage
August 11, 2015 11:51 pm
Darkinbad the Brighdayler
August 12, 2015 1:07 am

Of course droughts will have an effect, perhaps disproportionate on some species but, as an overall component in the ecology of these species, the very randomness of its occurrence makes modelling nearly impossible.
It is just one of thousands of component factors that affect all species in a very fragmented landscape.
I think this paper’s publication is more about gaining fund raising publicity than scientific acceptance. Yes there is a case, but its not a strong or particularly measured one.

Leo Morgan
August 12, 2015 7:21 am

I wonder, if they run the model backwards, would they discover that butterflies couldn’t survive the temperature 100 years in the past?
If only we could sequence the genome and never have to worry abouyt extinctiob- oh wait!

Gary Pearse
August 12, 2015 11:17 am

1) What is the probability of a widespread drought in the UK – is there any data – once in a hundred years? Well take your warming estimates and see if you can determine a probability of it occurring at this higher temperature. Did the 1930s-40s hot period cause some drought in UK? Lets say you triple the probability of droughts in 100 years, then the probability of a drought by 2050 would be about 1% since it will take time for the temp to reach the worrisome figure, but let’s be cautious and give you the whole 3%.
2) What is the probability of drought actually killing off the species you are worried about (you have COULD, which if you actually had some vague idea that it is worrisome, would be say 10% chance)
3) Now multiply: 0.03* x 0.1 and the probability of this coming to pass is about 0.003. Go for habitat amelioration! I haven’t even added in the uncertainty of the CO2 sensitivity you used (undoubtedly the highest of the range, since you are only a biologist with no clue about climate physics – the lowest in the official reckoning is even looking too high these days. Multiply 0.003 by 0.5 for a conservative over estimate.
4) can the species and their comfort food move north or upslope, can they adapt to other similar vegetation (I suspect the cabbage butterfly was extant in many places before cabbage was cultivated in them). If so cut the probability in half again. Long before this point, the study would be deemed a brainless folly.
A suggestion:
– today’s normal condition in eastern Ontario would be thought to be a drought in UK. Possibly a population of some of these species, with their comfort plants could be transplanted to the federal agricultural research station in Ottawa where they can be isolated – you would get some numbers and COULD, may shift to 5-10% – nothing like empirical data (google it up if you are familiar with the idea).

August 12, 2015 11:55 am

Butterflys, who needs them?! They are just moths with pretty wings!

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