Nature Blog Network Future Earth: January 2009

Monday, 5 January 2009

Flutter bys....

It is 2050. Your great grandchild bends over the pile of discarded books while clearing out your shed or attic or store-room, and selects a faded tome. Brushing away the dust s/he traces the remains of the title... "Climatic Risk Atlas of European Butterflies - 2008". "So they knew!" The exclamation cuts through the cloying, hazy heat and the sound of the windmill generators. "They had the data, they had seen the signs... why didn't they do anything?"

Two things about butterflies - they are attractive, disctinctive and available, so we have credible, detailed, temporal and spatial data from thousands of volunteers. They are also indicator species, whose diversity and abundance can demonstrate the health of a habitat and therefore its ability to provide "ecosystem services". Applying climate models (ranging from 2.4 to 4.1 degrees C of increase) to this extensive data set paints a depressing picture. But take time to look at that picture. Think what the butterflies are telling us and let's get behind those recommendations in the Risk Atlas before we flutter along by towards extinction ourselves.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Year of...... the Gorilla

2009 has been declared by the UN and pals as the "Year of the gorilla" - and some hairy apes will be skating on thin ice at the Natural History Museum in London on January 15th, to launch the year to an unsuspecting public. Ho Ho Hoot.

Are gorillas in trouble
? Yes.

Will the UN save them? No. Well..... if the multi-millions (check out the GRASP action plan - "Plan it for the Apes") they hope to attract to the UN Environment Fund were to be divided up amongst the beleagured champions on site, in their forested habitat, perhaps. The park authorities and NGOs working with them are the ones overcoming daily difficulty and using every cent, every penny, each yen to good effect. The UN agencies can certainly do their bit on the political and publicity front but need to learn a bit more about cost-effectiveness if the Ghost of Christmas Future is not to be a simian one.