Category Archives: Opinions

From Royal Prisons to Leaders in Conservation: A Brief History of Zoos

Zoos have taken many forms since they first appeared thousands of years ago. What started as a collection of animals purely for the sake of royal entertainment has gradually evolved into a public source of education, conservation, and entertainment. When you ask someone to picture a zoo, they no longer picture an animal behind bars. However, it’s taken a long time for zoos to become bastions of conservation from their starting point as hallmarks of animal cruelty.

Read more

The Guilt of One Shark: The History of the “Rogue Shark” Theory

Image Credit: Sharkcrew, CC BY-SA 4.0, Image Cropped

In February 2022, a British swimmer was killed by a great white shark (Carcharadon carcharias) near Sydney, Australia. Unsurprisingly, this gained significant media attention. State authorities launched a search for the culprit, with the aim of culling/relocating it away from people. This plan would seem, on the surface, to make perfect sense – shark ate human, make it go away. Yet this logic is largely based on a widespread misconception, and an outdated theory that science has long since abandoned.

Read more

Searching For Standouts In The IPCC Reports

Image Credit: bertknot, CC BY-SA 2.0, Image Cropped

Let’s face it, IPCC reports are never a fun read. They’re a damming assessment of our ability to take care of the only planet we’ve got. Piecing through them to find the key takeaways is likewise a tough task, but since the final report (for this round) has now been submitted, I thought I’d reflect on what I’ve learned going through each step of the report over the last year.

Read more

We’re In The Sixth Mass Extinction Event

Image Credit: Bernard Dupont, CC BY-SA 2.0, Image Cropped

The urgency behind the most recent IPCC report has thankfully garnered it a lot of attention worldwide*. It’s a report that was very frank in its desperation for people to take this threat as seriously as possible. Yet both this report and the one that hit us in February also made mention of one other key factor that has been swept under the rug – the ability of functioning ecosystems to both mediate and mitigate the impact of climate change.

Alongside a wealth of other benefits we gain from biodiversity, ecosystems play vital roles in helping us withstand the rigours of climate change. Wetlands and rivers protect us from increased flooding. Forests help mitigate extreme heat waves. Peatlands, mires, and permafrost are all crucial carbon sinks. Yet as species disappear, these ecosystems deteriorate, as pieces of the complicated web that they’re made up of disappear. It’s why the concept of mass extinction is so frightening.

But what is mass extinction? We often hear about the concept of a mass extinction, and the question of whether we’re currently in the sixth mass extinction is constantly thrown around. So let’s have a quick look at exactly what extinction itself means, what a mass extinction is, and why it’s increasingly obvious that we’re in one.

Read more

What The Hell Is A Species Anyway?

The Sumatran tiger, which is different from other subspecies of tiger for reasons (Image Credit: Bernard Spragg, CC0 1.0)

We’re only 3 months in, but 2022 has been a hell of a year for species-related controversy. Grolar and pizzly bears have come roaring into public consciousness, researchers proclaimed that the T-Rex we know and love is actually three different species, and soon-to-be minted Doctor Yi-Kai Tea has been sinking and raising some truly glorious fish species like nobody’s business (we call this taxonomic ha-wrasse-ment).

With the classification calamities flying thick and fast, it’s easy to wonder exactly what it is about naming a species that is so damn hard. So let’s have a quick runthrough of what a species is, why taxonomy is so damn complicated, and why it even matters.

Read more

Persecution Without Solution: The Recent Controversies of Predator Control Across Europe

Co-existence concerns between predators and humans are spreading like climate-induced wildfires across the UK and EU, with recent headlines repeating stories of culls, conflicts, and illegal hunts; causing frustration and worry among ecologists and wildlife enthusiasts. Let’s review some of the recent controversial acts and policies surrounding predator persecution, and have a deeper look at the continuing war on wildlife and disputes between people and predators.

Read more

Good News in Case The Plight Of The Koala Has You Down

The koala being added to the threatened species list, plus the ridiculously warm winter weather that some of the Northern Hemisphere has been experiencing, have really struck home how much damage rampant deforestation and fossil fuel use are doing over this past week. But as always, its important to remember that across some fronts progress is being made. Whether it’s the gradual transition to more sustainable energy use many countries are showing, or heroic conservation efforts by people from every corner of the world, these successes should be spotlighted once in a while! So here’s a dose of optimism.

Read more

It’s the Climate, Stupid

Image Credit: Tristan Schmurr, CC BY 2.0, Image Cropped

“I’m not going to do it and put our kids’ economic future at risk.”

This is a quote that reverberated around Australia in mid 2019. It was uttered by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, upon being pressed on how serious a stance against climate change he would take if he won the then-upcoming federal election.

It’s a story that sadly plays out worldwide, with many politicians and members of the public opting to prioritise economic growth over the more pressing action required to combat climate change. The emotional twist is usually the same – “climate change is bad, but you still need money”.

Read more
« Older Entries Recent Entries »