Climate hero of the week

Climate hero of the week: The knight who saves butterflies

By  | 
Dr. Martin Warren

Image: Twitter

Here at Outward On, we take time every week to honor those people whose efforts help protect the environment and those who fight the issue of Global Warming in innovative ways. And this week’s Climate Hero of the Week is a scientist who helps protect the environment through a tireless dedication to preserving the butterflies of Britain.

Britain has 59 species of native butterflies, but if it weren’t for Dr. Martin Warren, O.B.E,  there would only be 56.

Warren is an entomologist who worked with an organization called Butterfly Conservation, which works tirelessly to preserve butterflies and moths throughout the country. When Warren started working for the organization on a three-year contract, there were only two other employees. Warren worked out of his living room with an old-fashioned typewriter and ancient Amstrad computer.

Over the next twenty years, he became the head of Butterfly Conservation and oversaw its growth to more than seventy employees. And the work of the Butterfly conservation has been vital to preserving the wildlife of the isles.

Take, for instance, the heath fritillary. The heath fritillary is a species of Butterfly with delicate, golden wings that graces the forests of Exmoor. And if it weren’t for Warren, it wouldn’t exist in Britain. According to Nigel Bourn, Butterfly Conservation’s director of science, “His work pulled apart exactly what made it tick and what was needed to conserve it. It set a template for the conservation of other species.” And scientists in the U.K. estimate that Warren’s work with Butterfly Conservation has saved at least two more native species from extinction.

Warren’s work with Butterfly Conservation has led to the U.K. having the world’s best system for monitoring and preserving butterflies. And Warren still treks through the countries heaths and moors searching for the nearly microscopic eggs of the most endangered species in the country, which is still the best way to monitor and protect their populations.

Warren has since retired from the organization, but his work has left an enduring legacy that extends beyond just saving the butterflies. Warren’s work and research, which has been cited more than 6,500 times in various climate journals, has shaped government environmental policy in dozens of different ways.

His contributions to this journal have gone a long way towards helping scientists understand the role that climate change plays in threatening species of insects and other animals. And his work has inspired the government to take the necessary steps to protect them.

Warren’s contribution to the environment has been so important that he was honored last week by the Queen, who bestowed a knighthood of the Order of the British Empire upon Warren.

Warren humbly responded to the honor by saying, “I am deeply honored to receive this award, but it is as much a tribute to my colleagues at Butterfly Conservation who have done so much to help reverse the fortunes of these beautiful insects and improve the environment for future generations.”

Warren proves that it is the simple things that can help protect the environment the most. And the world needs people like Warren to look after the humblest animals that people would otherwise overlook. After all, every species of animal needs someone to fight for them, even the butterflies and moths.

Wyatt is a writer and your friend. You can follow him on Twitter @WyattRedd.