How to water down environmental impact assessments

By: Richard J. Ladle

As the political pendulum swings to the right in countries as diverse as the USA and Brazil, we are seeing renewed attacks on environmental regulations and the agencies charged with enforcing them. The rationale is always the same – assorted tree-huggers, do-gooders and hippies have created a labyrinth of bureaucracy that slows or sometimes even halts the march of progress (aka habitat destruction). What’s a politician to do? Well, for a start they can take a large pair of scissors to the symbolic red tape.

In a recent commentary in Environmental Impact Assessment Review, we outline some of the forthcoming changes to Brazil’s environmental monitoring legislation, and outline the potential consequences (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195925516303584).

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Why we need cryptozoology (without bigfoot)

By: Richard J. Ladle

It had a long beak and short wings. Then it dawned on me. I was probably holding a large-billed reed warbler. I was dumbstruck. It felt as if I was holding a living dodo.”

Phillip Round, Assistant Biology Professor, Department of Biology, Mahidol University, Bangkok.

On the 13th of November 1867 a rather drab looking little bird with a large beak was caught in the Sutlej Valley, north-west India by the grandly named Allan Octavian Hume. Hume had recently started work as the Commissioner of Customs for India’s North West Province, but his real passion was birds – his home in Rothney Castle on Jakhu Hill, Shimla, housed a private museum that contained over 80,000 preserved specimens from across the sub-continent[1]. He named his new discovery the long-billed reed warbler (latin name: Acrocephalus orinus), stuffed it, and added it to his impressive collection. As far as can be told its discovery barely registered with the zoologists and naturalists of the day. After all, this was the golden age of discovery where colonial naturalists and professional collectors such as Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer of evolution by natural selection, were garnering accolades for their remarkable travels to some of the least known habitats on earth. New species of big animals, including birds and mammals, were being recorded on an almost weekly basis. Hume himself was responsible for describing more than 90 new species of bird.

220px-Acrocephalus_orinus_Tajikistan

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