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Showing posts from May, 2014

How many animals went in to making your burger?

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This is a repost from my article that was just published in the Guardian newspaper:

The conflict between farmers and predators has wiped out the UK's large carnivores. More must be done to improve coexistence


When you take a bite from your beef burger, have you ever stopped to think about the other animals besides the cow that were killed in the making of your dinner?  It is a little known fact that the meat industry tends to be at odds with wildlife conservation.  But how can this be?
The UK used to be home to vast plethora of wonderful beasts; the grey wolf, the brown bear, and the Eurasian lynx, to name but a few.  However, farmers thought that these carnivores killed livestock and so were wiped out many centuries ago.  Now, our largest land predators (besides humans, of course) are badgers and foxes – and yet the meat industry is still waging waragainst these two species.
In other areas of Europe, carnivores are met with a similar fate: the few dozen brown bears remaining in north…

The failure to talk about failures

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"Failure is not an option".  That phrase has turned into a dogma amongst conservation scientists and practitioners.  Thou shalt not fail.  Because if you fail, you're seen as a failure, and as such, your funding will be cut, your job will be on the line, you'll lose all your friends, your partner will leave you, and your life  will suck forever.  Or that's at least how it appears failure is seen in this industry.

But how do we ever learn how to do things?  We try, we fail, we try again, we fail again, we learn, we see how other people do it, they fail, we try again, and maybe we succeed, and we show other people how to do it.  But more importantly, we show other people how not to do it; how not to waste your time, money and valuable resources on doing what we already tried and realised didn't work.

Trial and error.  What a fabulous way of learning.

It would be strange for a child to automatically know how to build a Lego house, or tie a shoelace, or ride a b…