The case for conservation podcast

The case for conservation podcast

The case for conserving the biodiversity of life on Earth needs to be credible and robust. Sometimes that requires a willingness to question conventional wisdom. The case for conservation podcast features long-form conversations with conservation thinkers, in which we try to untangle issues into which they have some insight.

Episodes

May 2, 2022 44 min

Most people outside Africa probably don’t associate trophy hunting with conservation. In fact, certain publicized incidents of trophy hunting have caused something of a global moral panic. The same often goes for the culling of animal populations to manage their numbers and the trade in ivory, even ivory harvested from elephants that die naturally. In today’s discussion we get into these perceptions, and my guest explains why they ...

Share
Mark as Played

In 1975, biologist Paul Ehrlich said that 90% of tropical rainforests would be lost by about 2005. Although their loss has continued at a steady rate, by 2019 the figure was more like 32%. Also in the 1970s, ecologist Kenneth Watt forecast a world 11 degrees colder in the year 2000. Of course, it’s been well publicized that the trend is in the opposite direction, and at a less severe pace. At a more modest scale, botanist John Acoc...

Share
Mark as Played

Renewable energy is one of the great hopes of humankind when it comes to addressing the threat of climate change and some forms of pollution. Thanks to technological advances it’s now become cost-effective enough to compete with non-renewable energy sources. As renewable energy technologies and efficiency continue improving, and new innovations emerge, it’s hoped that we can make clean energy ubiquitous. But, as Thomas Sowell said,...

Share
Mark as Played

It’s widely agreed that one of our greatest global environmental challenges is the impact of fisheries on the oceans. Aquaculture, practiced at a small scale around the world and especially in Asia for centuries, emerged decades ago as a potential solution. But it soon became clear that aquaculture was using more wild-caught fish as feed (as an input), than it was generating as product. In other words, it was making the situation e...

Share
Mark as Played

Freshwater biodiversity tends to be the most threatened of all types of biodiversity. In this episode I speak with Jenny Day about the state of freshwater biodiversity in South Africa's drought-prone Southwestern Cape, and elsewhere in the world. We get into how it coexists with humankind’s need for water.

Jenny is emeritus professor of freshwater ecology at the University of Cape Town, where she was also Director of the Freshwa...

Share
Mark as Played

Much has been written about why we wish to protect nature. The initial motivation for conservation was ostensibly for nature's own sake. Around the 1980s, the concept of ecosystem services began to highlight  ways in which we depend on nature, as a motivation for conservation. Ecosystem services and similar concepts now dominate the discourse. But do they adequately describe our relationship with nature?

Sharachchandra Lele (or ...

Share
Mark as Played

People from various walks of life have an affinity to nature. Why is that, and why is nature important to us? This episode is less of an inquiry and more of a ramble through this topic, with one of the most nature-loving, inspiring and interesting people I know. 

Steven Lowe is is a high school science teacher in the UK. But he started as a cardiovascular cell biology researcher, after earning his PhD in that subject. In between tho...

Share
Mark as Played

Why has environmentalism  come to be considered a left-wing  agenda, even though much of its history has conservative roots? And what does it even mean to be conservative when it comes to conservation and environmental issues?

Quill Robinson has some ideas about this. He is Vice President of Government Affairs for the American Conservation Coalition, and spends much of his time in Congress advocating for what he considers pragmatic,...

Share
Mark as Played

Most conservationists are motivated by the purpose of their work. But that work often involves a lot of struggle and it can be daunting, especially when one does not yet have the experience of hard-won success to draw inspiration from. So, how do we keep going when the odds seem stacked against us?

Grant Pearsell and Widar Narvelo both recently retired from decades-long, pioneering careers in urban conservation - Widar at the City o...

Share
Mark as Played

There is a lot in the media these days about how protecting biodiversity reduces the risk of zoonotic disease spillover, and hence the risk of epidemics and pandemics. There seems to be  a lot of good evidence for this in published studies on the topic, but how universal is such a conclusion? What is the science behind it? What about context? Are there exceptions to the rule? 

Dan Salkeld is a disease ecologist, and professor at Col...

Share
Mark as Played

The scientific method remains the best systematic approach we have been able to develop in our ongoing endeavor to advance human flourishing. But that does not mean it's perfect - indeed, it probably never will be. But what are the ways in which we can make science better? Perhaps some of the most fundamental ways lie in the process of publishing research findings. This applies to biodiversity science as much as it does to othe...

Share
Mark as Played

These days some very impressive-sounding conservation projects are catching the public eye, from massive tree-planting initiatives to high-profile urban greening. They capture the headlines and they capture the imagination. But do they deserve the level of attention and adulation that they receive? Or should we be a little more discerning as conservationists and the public, and pay a little more attention to the details?

Someone who...

Share
Mark as Played

Protected areas like nature reserves and national parks are about the most fundamental manifestation of nature conservation there is, and have existed in various forms for centuries. But are they achieving what they are meant to achieve? Does formal protection necessarily translate into biodiversity conserved?

Brian MacSharry is well placed to respond to these questions. He is Head of the Biodiversity and Nature Group at the Europea...

Share
Mark as Played

Many Western nations have been undergoing a period of intense reflection on issues of discrimination. Recent incidents have re-ignited social movements like Black Lives Matter. Public intellectuals are addressing the topic with a variety of opinions - often confined to their own echo chambers. Are all concerns about discrimination justified? Are people too easily assuming that discrimination is the reason for injustice? And... what...

Share
Mark as Played

Indigenous peoples and local communities are increasingly recognized for the importance of their contribution to global biodiversity knowledge. But is indigenous & local knowledge (ILK) being vetted, in a parallel to peer review's vetting of scientific knowledge? And how does ILK add to global biodiversity knowledge, if it is typically very localized?

Zsolt Molnár helps me to explore these questions. Zsolt is a botanist and...

Share
Mark as Played

Invasive alien species are considered one of the five main direct drivers of biodiversity loss, worldwide, as well as causing untold damage to economic assets like agriculture. Is there ever anything to be said for accepting them into the landscapes or seascapes they've occupied? And what about non-invasive alien species, and invasive native species? 

Martin Schlaepfer is an ecologist and senior lecturer at the University of Gen...

Share
Mark as Played

Since about 2007 most of the world's population has been living in cities and, if there's one thing we're learning about conservation, it's that people matter. But why do people in cities matter? Why do cities themselves matter? And why are cities not playing a more prominent role in conservation globally?  

I ask Debra Roberts, whose experience and skills range from academia to policy to implementation; across local...

Share
Mark as Played

Uncertainty of outcomes is a feature of conservation. That's perhaps why the "precautionary principle" is held so sacred in this field. But, considering the potential cost of inaction in a rapidly-changing world, are we being a bit too cautious? Michelle Marvier and Peter Kereiva recently tackled this topic, and Michelle discussed it with me on the podcast.

Michelle Marvier is a professor in the Department of Environment...

Share
Mark as Played

The conservation of nature and biodiversity is often considered to be a labor of love. After all, why would anyone want to dedicate their career to such a daunting task, which is not known for its moneymaking potential? In the developing world especially, as explained by a previous guest, more lucrative jobs are pursued as a way out of poverty. And yet we need conservationists of all stripes to tackle the biodiversity crisis.

Nick A...

Share
Mark as Played

Ongoing biodiversity loss is most severe in the developing world, but the funding for conservation comes mostly from the developed world. In the past, conservation notoriously ignored the needs of local people. Times have changed, but how well are conservation initiatives working for people and for nature in the developing world now?

Mao Amis is a Ugandan conservationist based in South Africa. His PhD is in natural resources manage...

Share
Mark as Played

Popular Podcasts

    Current and classic episodes, featuring compelling true-crime mysteries, powerful documentaries and in-depth investigations.

    Crime Junkie

    If you can never get enough true crime... Congratulations, you’ve found your people.

    Morbid: A True Crime Podcast

    It’s a lighthearted nightmare in here, weirdos! Morbid is a true crime, creepy history and all things spooky podcast hosted by an autopsy technician and a hairstylist. Join us for a heavy dose of research with a dash of comedy thrown in for flavor.

    Stuff You Should Know

    If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

    Sympathy Pains

    Hosted by Laura Beil (Dr. Death, Bad Batch), Sympathy Pains is a six-part series from Neon Hum Media and iHeartRadio. For 20 years, Sarah Delashmit told people around her that she had cancer, muscular dystrophy, and other illnesses. She used a wheelchair and posted selfies from a hospital bed. She told friends and coworkers she was trapped in abusive relationships, or that she was the mother of children who had died. It was all a con. Sympathy was both her great need and her powerful weapon. But unlike most scams, she didn’t want people’s money. She was after something far more valuable.

Advertise With Us

For You

    Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.

    Connect

    © 2022 iHeartMedia, Inc.