This week’s issue of Nature seems to have a fairly large focus on ecosystem conservation, and in particular, protected areas (in light of the World Parks Congress to be held in Sydney, Australia next week). The editorial Protect the Parks gives a pretty good overview of the issues discussed, and most of the articles are worth the read. I’ve definitely been spending a lot more time reading about conservation-related issues this year, especially papers and publications. Mostly due to the structure of Part II Zoology here in Cambridge, where we only do 2 modules/term (as opposed to 4 in 1st year and 3 in 2nd year) but the ‘free time’ is meant to be spent on readings, essays, project work and (for this term), a research paper review. While for the past two years, I’ve mostly been reading conservation issues kinda on the side, doing conservation science for my module this term allows me to justify the more time dedicated to sourcing and reading. Sadly, there is still the need to be able to translate everything into a well-written piece of writing, cos that’s all I’m going to be assessed on. Definitely feeling the pressure of this year, especially now at half-term.
The latest IPCC AR5 report was also released recently, and the main takeaway is – we’re more sure of the effects of climate change than before, and we need to do something about it very soon. While doing some research for a class debate on ‘Is economic growth good for conservation?’ (my group’s given stance was that we’re decoupling economic growth from resource consumption, so economic growth shouldn’t be an issue), I came across a report by PwC on Low Carbon Economy Index 2014.
Pretty much, our world IS heating up, and we need to do something about it NOW. I sometimes feel like on the more macro level, yes our governments and corporations and international organisations should do something about it. But we can’t just distant ourselves from the fact of the matter that we all contribute to the carbon emissions – and no matter how small an individual’s contribution is compared to the world, it is still something that we can work on reducing. On the other hand, it’s such a difficult thing to sell to people, especially to friends and family.
There are so many different facets to conservation – the policies, the governance, the economics/economies, the law, the climate, the ecology and science, the actual species/populations/habitats/ecosystems, the local communities, the large corporations and businesses, the industries, the farmers and well, the whole world really. It’s what makes it so interesting for me, but so difficult to deal with as a problem (and hence frustrating).
Maybe that’s why I’m still doing vertebrate evolution for my other module this term, even though population biology would be more useful. All the palaeo stuff is a reprieve for me, cos there aren’t quite as many ‘problems’ in that field, nor depressing news all the time. Quite happy to learn about fossil ‘fishes’ and how amniotes (mammals, birds and ‘reptiles’) evolved, cos none of that really relates to how the earth as we know it is getting trashed by us and yet we (as a collective entity) aren’t really doing anything about it (or as much as we should be). It is so depressing on a global scale, argh! I guess that’s why people work on more local/regional scale, cos it is possible to have happy success stories then.