BY JAN HANSPACH
DISCLAIMER: In the following blog post, I demonstrate that I am an evil, cynical person. If you feel offended, just keep that in mind (and take it with a sense of humour). Blogs are meant to initiate discussion after all…
Our world has been changing since the very first second and from a human perspective, and with huge human impact, especially so in the last 50 to 100 years. We were ‘fruitful and increase[d] in number and fill[ed] the Earth‘ (Genesis 9:3), developed technologies, communication, improved transportation, and produced a lot of substances that will influence Earth long after we have gone. We have managed to change the climate and get rid of most of what was natural around us. Open your eyes and enjoy the Anthropocene at its peak.
All that makes me think about myself (yes, I am one the first world blokes having a pretty comfortable life; without an iPad though) and about my role as a scientist. I started out as an ecologist, being excited about pristine nature and trying to understand it. Having learnt that there is nothing left worth calling pristine and that we are on our way to destroy what felt so valuable to me, I turned more towards the conservation side of ecology, and now I work in an interdisciplinary project trying to find ways to move a bit closer to sustainable land use, together with the people in the region we work in.
Doing that feels much more like doing the right thing (though it might still fail…). And so I wonder why there are not more ecologists moving in this direction. Looking at the research agenda of the newly installed German biodiversity research centre iDiv makes me think about that point even more.
To evaluate your opinion, I have put together two (slightly polemic) polls
Imagine you are a librarian and you are about to catalogue the books of your library (it was poorly maintained in the past) when suddenly a fire starts in one of the corners of your library. It is spreading very fast. What would you do?
Imagine you are an ecologist faced with global environmental change in the 21st century. A research funding body gives you a enough money to do whatever you think is most important. What would you do?