Pity the imperilled butterfly, fluttering out of toxic lives. Pity us, too | Philip Hoares

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At a time of urban growth, nature is feared, subjugated and concreted over. But now, more than ever, we need the chaos of wildness

Pity the poor butterfly, reduced in its urban environment by 69%, compared with a 45% fall in the countryside. But is its fate any wonder? Our urban and suburban streets have become deserts abandoned to the car, where walking is a subversive act and trees are offensive structures to be hacked down to size or uprooted entirely should they dare to get in the way of our careering traffic or, heaven forbid, let their leaves fall.

In this dystopian drawing-in of community, in which wildness is untidy and scary, the weighty hegemony of tons of steel is ranged against the fragility of the butterfly, its wings invisibly spotted with diesel particulates.

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