The Great Dying

30 09 2019

Here’s a presentation I gave earlier in the year for the Flinders University BRAVE Research and Innovation series:

There is No Plan(et) B — What you can do about Earth’s extinction emergency

Earth is currently experiencing a mass extinction brought about by, … well, … us. Species are being lost at a rate similar to when the dinosaurs disappeared. But this time, it’s not due to a massive asteroid hitting the Earth; species are being removed from the planet now because of human consumption of natural resources. Is a societal collapse imminent, and do we need to prepare for a post-collapse society rather than attempt to avoid one? Or, can we limit the severity and onset of a collapse by introducing a few changes such as removing political donations, becoming vegetarians, or by reducing the number of children one has?

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Perceptions on poverty: the rising Middle Class

16 03 2009

I’m being somewhat ‘lazy’ this week in that I have unfortunately less time to spend on pertinent blog posts than I’d like (lecturing, looming deadlines, that sort of thing). So, I start out this week’s posts with one of my favourite TED talks – Hans Rosling debunks myths about the developing world.

What’s the relevance to biodiversity conservation? I’ll admit, it may appear somewhat tangential, but there are a few important messages (both potentially good and bad):

1. POSSIBLE BENEFIT #1: The rising wealth in the developing world and associated reduction in family size may inevitably curb our human population growth rates;

2. POSSIBLE DISADVANTAGE #1: Rising wealth will necessarily mean more and more consumption, and as we know at least for tropical developing nations, resource consumption is killing biodiversity faster than anywhere else on the planet;

3. POSSIBLE DISADVANTAGE #2: As family wealth rises, so too do opportunities do opportunities for the Anthropogenic Allee effect (consuming rare species just because you can afford to do so);

4. POSSIBLE BENEFIT #2: Better health care associated with rising wealth and lower infant mortality might make education a higher priority, teaching more people about the necessity of safeguarding ecosystem services.

I’m not convinced the advantages will necessarily outweigh the disadvantages; regardless, Prof. Rosling’s amazing 20-minute presentation will both entertain and enlighten. I recommend it for a lunchtime sitting or that late-afternoon attention wain.

CJA Bradshaw

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Woodland Recovery Initiative

12 03 2009

golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha)I’m recommending you view a video presentation (can be accessed by clicking the link below) by A/Prof. David Paton which demonstrates the urgency of reforesting the region around Adelaide. Glenthorne is a 208-ha property 17 km south of the Adelaide’s central business district owned and operated by the University of Adelaide. A major revegetation project called the Woodland Recovery Initative is being organised to achieve the following:

  • reclaim approximately 100 ha of farmland and reconstruct a suitable habitat that encourages the return of native species
  • establish a world-class research centre
  • employ scientists, technicians, teachers and managers to deliver research, educational, community engagement, monitoring and on-ground works
  • develop educational programs that involve local schools in the environmental works, so that young South Australians are engaged in the project and see it as important to the future of their community

In my view, this is a really exciting opportunity to test experimentally the best ways to restore woodlands to maximise biodiversity retention. Once revegetated, the Glenthorne property will link existing reserves to maximise forested area (and as we know, increasing habitat area is one of most effective ways to prevent extinction). The next step is to apply the knowledge gained from the long-term experimentation at Glenthorne to revegetate the regions surrounding Adelaide that have suffered 200 years of heavy deforestation.

I strongly encourage local support of this initiative – it’s not only biodiversity that will benefit – ecosystem services on which the human residents of the greater Adelaide region depend (including extremely important things such as water retention and carbon sequestration) will also be efficiently enhanced by evidence-based ecological restoration of the region. We could certainly use better natural water retention and more carbon sequestration in addition to the re-establishment of many extirpated native species!


CJA Bradshaw