Why we should care about Pandas…and all that jazz.

 

Giant Panda in San Diego Zoo. Photo: jballeis (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Giant Panda in San Diego Zoo. Photo: jballeis (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

458px-Mapa_distribuicao_Ailuropoda_melanoleucaWhy should we care about Pandas? This is a big question to which there are lots of answers, all of which raise more questions.

I’ve never seen a Panda in the wild (and I’m not, honestly, that bothered about seeing one) and I can’t recall ever seeing one in a zoo either.  If it weren’t for Peter Scott’s logo for WWF, and books, and TV programmes then I wouldn’t know that Pandas existed. And if I didn’t know they existed I wouldn’t miss them.  And that’s true of lots of species across the world which have less good PR than Pandas.

But then, there are billions of people on Earth that I don’t know, and yes I feel a bit connected to all of them.  When a bunch of Chilean miners were trapped underground for weeks I didn’t think ‘Never met ’em – don’t care at all’ – did you?

I care about nature because it is beautiful, interesting and a large part of what makes this planet special.  I’ve said before, this may not be the only place where life exists but it is, as best we know, the only place where you can see a Blue Whale (as I did this summer).  And even if it isn’t the only place in the universe with Blue Whales then it is certainly the handiest for me.

Some people just don’t have this appreciation of natural beauty – George Osborne seems pretty low on it, for example.  The NFU don’t seem to have much of it either, which is a bit odd for stewards of the natural environment.   As Dennis has pointed out in his comments on this blog, we admirers of natural beauty seem to be in a minority.

But that’s OK.  I think we can get more people hooked on nature (and that would be good) but we won’t get everyone.  Just as other aspects of ‘less than natural beauty’ seem to be minority interests too.  My musical tastes are quite broad (from opera to pop) but I really don’t get jazz.  And my liking for visual art is quite broad (from Braque to Brueghel) but I’m not a fan of Francis Bacon.  I live my life without jazz and Bacon, but I recognise that they are important to others’ lives.

I think we should live in a world of visual art and music – and keep and cherish a diversity of both way beyond my rather narrow interests.  The world would be poorer without jazz even if, quite honestly, I could get by perfectly well without it.

How much more empathy should we show for our fellow living creatures? And how foolish and uncultured we would seem (why did I include ‘would’ there?) to the dispassionate observer from outer space if we let all that natural beauty disappear?

And it’s not because we need the Panda on the planet in order for us to survive, we can do fine without the Panda. It’s not because the Panda is valuable to us in economic terms. Yes, there is an economic value to ‘biodiversity’ but not a very high one to every individual species. We should look at it another way – there is a miniscule economic cost to keeping the planet’s biodiversity.  We aren’t poorer because we ‘saved’ the Panda – and we wouldn’t be poorer, globally, if there were ten times as many Pandas either.  Nor if there were ten times as many Blue Whales.  Nor if there were twice as many skylarks.

If we were more careful about how we lived our lives then we would have far less impact on all the other lives on this planet – human and wildlife.  And that would be good.

I’d like it if more people cared about the Panda (other brands of biodiversity are available) but if they don’t, like I don’t care much about jazz, then let’s not behave as though we hate it and want to see it banned.  We should be big enough to do that by now.  It’s a matter of being naturally cultured.

They're stuffed! Photo: By Momotarou2012 (Own work) (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
They’re stuffed! Photo: By Momotarou2012 (Own work) (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

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38 Replies to “Why we should care about Pandas…and all that jazz.”

  1. Invasive species yesterday, conservation of biodiversity today, it doesn't get much better!

    Invasive species in my opinion are those which will
    run unchecked without human involvement. Much to the disappointment of shoot owners and gamekeepers everywhere pheasants and partridges do not fit into this bracket. If these birds were no longer released they would be a twitchable rarity in three years. It is self evident that all these birds must have some environmental cost however the environmental offset is much needed habitat that is used by many other creatures. Those who object to shooting on moral grounds (and I can sympathise with their position) will not be happy in any case. Many of the non native invasive species we just have to live with, the introduced population of grey squirrels must have been sub 100, in order to eradicate them the population would have to be below that level and that is clearly unrealistic. One Himalayan balsam plant upstream of an eradication scheme means more return visits are required. Recently the 'last ' rhodi was removed from Brownsea Island, eradication is nigh! The management of invasive species needs to be undertaken with great care to be financially worthwhile.

    Biodiversity and the conservation of it is not as fashionable as people might think. Apathy reigns in the worldwide population. The world population is probably more removed from the natural world than at any time in history. Many peoples idea of wildlife and conservation is conserving iconic species like pandas. Everyone who cares about the natural world (no one more than you Mark!) should do everything in their power to fight this apathy. Educating kids (and adults) to connect with the natural world can be the only answer, appreciating the value of biodiversity will be the only thing that will save it.

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    1. "Invasive species yesterday, conservation of biodiversity today, it doesn’t get much better!"

      Yeah - Good innit. Lets keep stirring the pot, MG you've hit the spot, how to reach the the critical mass of people Charlie Moores and me were discussing over on the "Plague around all our houses" blog

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  2. Unfortunately it is not just a case of either actively liking wildlife or, if indifferent to it, leaving it alone to quietly get on with life unhindered by us. Jazz musicians may find their habitat (jazz clubs?) threatened if too few of us appreciate their music but are probably safe from being hunted for trophies or to be converted into dubious 'medical' products or from being swept up in gigantic nets and processed into cattle fodder. The problem for nature is that in too many cases people find more value in it when it is dead or in the land they occupy when turned over to other uses. Part of the value of pandas is in acting as poster species encouraging more of us to care about the state of nature in general and to oppose its wanton destruction.

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  3. Mark – I do wish you would stop 'talking' of things about which you know very little – running a blog has responsibilities

    You say - “Some people just don’t have this appreciation of natural beauty – George Osborne seems pretty low on it, for example”.

    How do you know that? Osborne's mother is Felicity Alexandra Loxton-Peacock, the daughter of artist Clarisse Loxton-Peacock. His mother, incidentally, was a Labour voter, an Anti-Vietnam War marcher and worked for Amnesty International. As far as I can determine he owns a 15 per cent stake in Osborne & Little, the wallpaper-and-fabrics company co-founded by his father.

    I would guess this gives him a head start – 'natural beauty-wise' - over yourself (but not me! )

    You say - “The NFU don’t seem to have much of it either, which is a bit odd for stewards of the natural environment.”

    The role of the NFU is not to primarily 'appreciate' natural beauty - that's a bonus – I would not expect Len Maclusky and his Unite team to elect for questions on 19th century English Art when guesting on 'Eggheads'

    You say - “We admirers of natural beauty seem to be in a minority” and “It’s a matter of being naturally cultured”

    Mark - Your opinions appear no better than those recently demonstrated by the Daily Mail

    Think about it – then think again

    I very much dislike overbearing arrogance

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    1. Trimbush - then you must find it hard to live with yourself sometimes?

      I could give you quotes from Osborne and the NFU to support my opinion but they have appeared on this blog several times before.

      Thank you for your comments - I do like them.

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    2. "The role of the NFU"

      I don't know where these notions come from - it's not as if Unite exists to promote better, clean, safe, punctual transport nor nuffink

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  4. Perhaps those people who care nothing for other forms of life only care about themselves? What is wrong about being able to appreciate wildlife without the arrogance of the human mind deciding we are different?

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  5. The bit I do not understand is that the Chinese (in general) appear to love the panda, but not the tiger (except dead), why?
    Is it because of the WWF logo, or was it like that before.........& how does one change the attitude to include wildlife in general, rather than one "iconic" species.

    PS I reckon I saw a panda once, in London zoo, but I don't think it changed my life! Oh yes, & I like jazz:-)

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  6. Apathy amongst nature conservation organisations is obviously high. If as claimed RSPB and Wildlife Trusts alone have nearly 2 million members where are their voices in the debates on biodiversity loss?

    None of the online petitions has ever reached 500,000 so do these people who sign up really care that much. I would suggest they all like wildlife but as soon as any of their "creature comforts" (whoops) are threatened then they back off.

    My point is that the people who really care are not necessarily all of those amongst our NGO memberships so it may be less than we think.

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  7. Mark, many thanks for this blog entry, I have now achieved a minor ambition - to get you to acknowledge me as a member of the Great British public - it's taken 9 years! More about that later.

    Despite recent appearances I am very supportive of what you are doing on this blog, it’s a bloody fantastic effort actually, but you're not above criticism, after all you're not slow to dish it.

    If I'm critical on your caring about Pandas piece it’s that I don't think your hard hitting enough. For example, if the species you mentioned (and enough of the others) didn't exist you most definitely would miss them. You are most definitely connected to all of the people (“rule of six” if nothing else). Nature is much more than "beautiful, interesting and a large part of what makes this planet special" it is central to our survival. It is a “closed” system and therefore, by definition, has limits (what the clever people call "carrying capacity" currently exceeded 3 times or so I’m reliably informed?).

    Page 57 of my copy of "Capitalism as if the World Matters" (Jonathon Porritt) has a diagram that shows "The Economy" as central to contemporary capitalism, bounded by "Human Society" which finally in turn is bounded by "The Bio-Sphere" which has no boundaries and is thus currently treated as an “open “system to be exploited ad infinitum. If we carry on the way have been doing in my short time on the planet then we'll all soon start to learn the hard way where our food, fresh clean water and Oxygen comes from - or should I say came from!

    Regarding the economic value of species and services the "Economics of Ecosystems and Bio-diversity" (TEEB) study report attempts to place monetary values on individual services provided by these systems, which as you say are not particularly high even in comparison to the amount of money the UK pays out to service it's national debt each year (£54 billion is my prediction for 2013 - about the same cost as HS2 – btw you don't hear Osborne talking much about that on your TV screen do you). But it also goes on to say about its methodology:

    "In line with standard economic analysis, the methodology that has been developed rejects attempts to estimate the total value of ecosystem services. Many of these services are essential to continued human existence and total values are therefore underestimates of infinity"

    Also Pavan Suhkdev, a senior banker who led the TEEB work was fond of saying "our economic compass is faulty".

    None of the above insight has come from me. I merely regurgitate what you clever people are attempting to tell us all. I'm just an ordinary bloke in the street who happens to care about the future of my son and any children he may have and so I go digging for it and trying to influence those around me. How many others do that? 12,046 on this blog possibly?

    What I'd like to know is how are WE going to reach the number of people that Charlie Moores was talking about in your earlier (Plague) blog. Certainly not by treating ordinary members of the public with contempt as seems to be the case today. I wrote about a visit to Sandwell Valley RSPB reserve the other day (Ralph’s Saturday cartoon was it?). I can tell you the two delightful volunteers on duty that day know more about influencing the British public than the leaders of the leading NGOs will ever do! This brings me to personal experience of the sort of thing I’m talking about.

    I first approached you Mark at the Blenheim Game Fair 9 years ago. I told you I was newly retired with time on my hands and would like to do more for the environment than I'd been able to do during my working life. You said "Ah, we can do with people like you and took my email address etc", however I had a sense that you were not truly engaging with a 54 year old with a hint of a Brummie/West Country hybrid accent and sure enough nothing ever materialised. Do you have Doug’s pre-occupation with stereotypes?

    Not to be disheartened I set about doing my own thing, campaigning all over the internet and approaching my local Wildlife Trust from which I was introduced to NCOS (North Cotswold Ornithological Society) and through them to the Gloucestershire Bird Atlas project.

    Now in birding knowledge terms I am quite good at id but am otherwise a complete ignoramus. I am however a reasonably good logical and lateral thinker (by training). When I stepped up to treasurer of NCOS in the absence of anybody else wanting the position I offered my ideas on a range of issues and was laughed and derided at by the chairman who seemed incapable of taking a strange sounding idea and modifying it into something that would work, he preferred to try and nip change in the bud with “wrecking ball” tactics. He didn’t know he’d got a Rottweiler by the tail!.

    I had suggested the society build a website to widen its appeal to others, particularly the younger generations. I suggest adoption of Bird Track as a replacement for home grown systems that were creasing the recorder who'd shouldered the onerous responsibility for years. I suggested the closed circuit "Peregrine" camera that had been paid for by the membership be opened up to the membership rather than be the sole preserve of the previous Chairman. Crucially I suggested strongly that the society to modify it's constitution to campaign for the birds it was monitoring and whose decline they were writing about.

    I met resistance to these ideas every step of the way and in the case of the latter things became very heated and I was prevented from airing my views to the membership via the website and newsletters. I resorted to publishing email exchanges which I now regret but such was the frustration!

    I also gave my time, effort and "expertise" such as it is to two Bird Atlas projects over the course of 4 to 5 years in performing field work and producing an automated mapping system used to illustrate the text. During the many debates we held I made it clear to anybody who cared to listen that my only pay off for this would be a concerted effort to fight for the birds we were writing about. Again, I was very aware throughout that there was less than an appetite to engage with a mad Brummie. So I finally put it to the test asking two of the co-authors to highlight John Squire Armitage's ePetition in support of Hen Harrier protection in their respective journals. One guy responded once and once only, pointing to the rspb "Vicarious Liability" initiative and the other dragged his feet and had to be forced, by my threat of withdrawal of my "intellectual property" from the book to include a piece in his newsletter. In doing so he stated tersely "I'll be doing a newsletter before the end of the month and intend to draw attention to this petition - which will be the first time I've done such a thing.".

    If I'd have known that before getting involved with the Atlas then I wouldn't have bothered. I wonder how many of the army of field workers would feel let down also?

    Apart from that, the book is a wonder to behold, with a foreword by HRH Prince Charles no less who is always calling on us to "get involved" in preserving our natural capital. My erstwhile friend has done a particularly magnificent job, what a pity that “for want of a nail” it has come to this!

    So Mark, you previously stated that you believed change will come about by influencing decision makers. I believe that in order to do that you have to get a critical mass of the voting public on your side and tell the compelling stories that you, Porritt, Lucas and Woodin, Fowles, the NEF, the RSPB etc have to tell in simple, understandable terms. Rather like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver do so successfully plus that nice Mr Farage whose policies I utterly reject but whose campaign effectiveness I admire.

    Could I ask that the next Blog entry be the start of a discussion as to how we get these messages across to the people who, by no fault of their own, are currently disengaged from nature and the debate?

    My prediction for this Likes 0 Dislikes 12,046

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    1. Phil - thanks.

      First, I'm sorry we didn't get back to you after your approach at the Game Fair. That is a bit surprising. I can tell you that anyone with a Brummie/West Country accent would have been a very welcome breath of fresh air compared with some conversations I had at the Game Fair. I can only apologise, and I guess that it was either because I sent your details to someone else to deal with or that I lost your bit of paper. I can be quite sure that you didn't feel motivated enough to contact me and remind me otherwise i could have apologised nearer the time. Good job you haven't been holding a grudge these last nine years.

      Second, the 'we're all going to die unless we save every species' argument is overdone. I know that isn't what you say but that is nearly where you ended up. I chose the Panda carefully - we really wouldn't notice the Panda's extinction very much. Certainly not in terms of disadvantage to our well-being. How much are you missing the Passenger Pigeon - formerly the commonest bird on the planet - 99 years after its extinction? And if that is the only reason for preserving nature then we can get rid of an awful lot of it before we feel the pinch. That's why the blog was about the spiritual and cultural basis of wanting to conserve nature. And why it mentioned the fact that there is not much real cost to nature conservation.

      Third, you may suggest any blog posts you like.

      Four, your prediction is already wrong.

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      1. Mark, I only hold grudges against those who laugh at me! The full Rottweiler comes out then!! As for getting in touch nearer the time, you have an advantage over us mere mortals - try getting through to Mike Clarke using a the name Fred Blogs!

        Porritt talks about 5 capitals (Human, Societal, Natural, Manufactured and Financial) and establishing a "dynamic equilibrium" between them along the lines of the bio-sphere. I discussed his decision to not include Spiritual capital as a primary construct preferring its inclusion in Human capital instead with him. He was very accomodating which is rare amongst busy heads of NGOs and hence his hero status with me. I just wish he'd make a return to Question Time and the Big Questions.

        (as an aside, I can't help but note he's not so keen to talk now after I criticised his PAs "crushing weight of established orthodoxies" excuse for failure to engage more with the general public! are these guys overly sensitive?)

        Spiritual capital is important. There are people talking about setting up camp on Mars and elsewhere (Prof Hawking amongst them). No ta - I'd prefer to take my chances here on a planet thats been shaped over 4.5 aeons to support human life!! Imagine looking out on a see of red dust each and every day? Bugger that! However, I don't think life on a planet that was denuded of Rhinos, Tigers, Elephants, Lions, Turtle Doves, Polar Bears, Pandas, Hen Harriers and Tree Sparrows (did you see 'em in that bird feeder last night? I felt a distinct twitch!) would be particularly worth living either!

        I also believe that Pandas are more important than you make out. I watched a program recently in which it was demostrated that the inter-connectedness of everything is vital to the wellbeing of the whole system. It asserted that the western Canadian forest could not exist without the presence of Salmon in the rivers that flowed through it. Put simply, no Salmon, no Bears (dumping on the forest floor), no forest, no oxygen!! QED???

        Who was the mad fool who liked my previous contribution - I bet it was Doug!

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  8. The Giant Panda question is a bit paradoxical. On one hand it appears to be one of those evolutionary dead-ends - an animal that has become totally dependent on a food that it is ill-equipped to digest and seems to have lost most of its will to procreate into the bargain. Charles Darwin pointed out the fate of such creatures. On the other it is so instantly recognisable, and apparently appeals to so many people, that it makes an excellent symbol for conservation. I personally wouldn't be too sad if it went the way of all evolutionary mistakes, but I would regret the loss of its habitat for the sake of all the other species that live in bamboo forests.
    There is a great need to conserve what remains of many habitats, and in many cases to create more of them and join these bits up; so that genetically isolated populations can meet more of their own kind and perhaps also move to a better area as climate change begins to demand a move northwards or to higher altitude. If protecting a few iconic species like the Giant Panda helps to attract money for this, it is worth it.
    As for those pesky alien species, couldn't we persuade the supermarkets to sell Canada Goose and Grey Squirrel burgers with a side portion of knotweed.

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  9. The early part of this blog touches on a really important point: how to get people interested in wildlife that they have never seen. All nature conservation NGOs spend a lot of time and effort trying to persuade their members, and others, out into the field, at least partly on the assumption that they will care more if they have actually seen the creatures (or flora) themselves.

    But we don't seem to take the same approach to other aspects of our world. I have never seen the Domesday Book, Constable's paintings, or the Pyramids. But I would feel pretty upset if any of them were threatened, and it wouldn't take much to persuade me to contribute towards their preservation. I have had this conversation with many people and this seems to be a widespread attitude towards cultural artefacts, but doesn't translate to the natural world. I suspect that most people feel more affinity with man-made than with natural things.

    By the way, I am not a spokesman for Mr Osborne, but he wrote last year, in a book I edited for Cheshire Wildlife Trust (http://www.cheshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/shop/product/cheshires-favourite-wildlife), that he and his family greatly enjoy walking in the Cheshire countryside; and he chose the corn poppy as his favourite species.

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    1. David - thank you very much. I think people will pay for the last Panda or the last California Condor but they seem a bit uninterested whilst they are common. Personally, I think we get to frought over extinction and not nearly worried enough about loss of abundance but one can't deny that complete loss is quite a motivator. If there were 50 Domesday books around the place we would value them a bit less? Is it because, by their very nature, wild life can reproduce that we don't see it as being 'unique' until it is almost gone? It's an interesting area.

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      1. Mark, the psychological view is summed up in the film I keep on about "Consumed, Inside the Belly of the Beast". Have you seen it? If not there is a link embedded in this: http://sustainabilityincrisis.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/consumed-inside-the-belly-of-the-beast/

        I'd be interested in your view.

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  10. Seems I am responsible for getting you into some scrapes,I enjoy seeing your escapes so do not feel guilt.
    Thought this blog was as good as it gets and interestingly a opposite opinion on Panda to Chris Packham who thinks we should just let them go extinct.
    I think that all those people putting lots of effort into them surviving deserve our backing and for them to go extinct would be a signal that other species would and should follow.
    It is surely our responsibility to make efforts to keep all our species even though some it seems will inevitably go extinct during our watch.

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    1. Dennis, well said. Martin McGill and his team at WWT performed miracles to get together a breeding base for Spoon-billed Sandpiper. As I said before, he believes in bio-diversity! His words!!

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  11. We should care about Pandas! Thank you Mark for another thoughtful piece. Having just had the privilege of watching some amazing wildlife in Yellowstone National Park (before being ejected from Eden by the US Government) it certainly reinforces my belief in nature conservation as a power for good on our planet. ps I'm finding jazz something I'm enjoying more as I get older!

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  12. There are numerous species of threatened and endangered birds and animals that require China's bamboo forests to survive. I've always thought that giant panda conservation gave various obscure parrotbills, rare pheasants etc a fighting chance by preserving their rapidly declining habitats. The question I've never been able to fathom in the fake crap panda/lovely panda debate is why there isn't a paper or well illustrated article presented by those commentators on these other panda habitat dependent specialist species? Then we would see what giant panda conservation really means. Maybe there is and I've missed it, but would you judge the fate of the Amazon on whether we liked scarlet macaws or not? If not, why do it with giant pandas.

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  13. As we seem keen to criticise other countries for not looking after their wildlife, do people in other countries criticise us for not looking after wildlife in the UK?

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    1. Diapensia - I've known a lot of conservationists from southern Europe who have been shocked at raptor persecution in the UK - they had thought that illegal killing was a Mediterranean speciality.

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    2. Oh yes, and the criticism goes well beyond the confusion of DEFRA's lack of scientific procedure heavily publicised here in France. The UK as a whole is seen as the international black hole for environmental issues as a whole. Only last week I was chatting to a school teacher who had cancelled their holiday to Dorset due to this - in much the same way we would cancel a holiday to country if its dubious human rights were exposed. Regrettably I can find no argument to suggest he or the wider, growing rapidly, opinion or wrong. It provides a good case study of bad practice though - particularly towards avoiding the vast chasms that now exist between all involved.

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  14. The petition against the sale of our national forests did get over 500,000 signatures - I think it was the first 38 degrees mega- petition which gave it added impact and I'm not sure there've been any others that beat it ? That is my statutory plug on this blog - but it relates to a hugely important point very relevant to this debate - time and time again, and you can see it most recently on the Woodland Trust's response to the (disastrous) Defra proposals for the future of the national forests , when asked what people value most in the forests it isn't the walks, it isn't the cafes - its the Wildlife ! From the amount of noise most forest visitors make I'm always slightly cynical that this more about 'existence value' than personal experience (although watching Siskins and red squirrels arguing over the nuts at Whinlatter visitor centre is pretty special) - but then 'existence value' is pretty important to pandas and thanks to being cute they have a good chance of surviving against their own incompetence. Spoon Billed Sandpiper is another fascinating case in point - why save one almost-certain-to-go-extinct wader when there is so much else to do ? has developed for me into a growing appreciation of the western pacific/Asiatic flyway, and the conservation consequences of booming Asian economies and the development that goes with them.

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    1. It's a little unfair on the panda to imply that its predicament is down to its own incompetence as a species. I don't know when pandas first evolved but it's safe to say that they have been sufficiently well adapted to their habitat to survive perfectly happily for millennia until we came along and started destroying the forests they live in.

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  15. My early evening Mark Avery fix and sadly this discussion is fizzling out. So what about my request to get down to how we bring all this good stuff to the attention of the great British public?

    In the lead up to the next general election this is surely the time to point out some fundamentals like the state of the economy, the spin that is the "greenest government ever" and the prospect of the two Ed's taking over.

    The greenest government ever is not the same as a green government, there is no difference between the coalition and labour, they both have no idea how to turn around £1 trillion of debt and a similar amount quanta give easing to clean up. The only realistic opposition is therefore the green party. Use them to make a point to our political elite?

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  16. the question is not why should we care. But what is it that apparently gives us the power to decide whether a species goes extinct or not? Especially when its normally us who cause their declines in the first place. If there was in the future a species that was more exploitive and dishonest than we are, I hope it would make us extinct.

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    1. Jack, that species is an existing subspecies, "Adam smith worshipping homo sapiens". The great god Gaia will pull the trigger, it could happen any time between 2050 and 2100. we now have 6 years to come to our senses and avert the positive feedback loops that will precipitate the extinctions!

      These are not my words!

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  17. Wow, really liking all this "like" and "dislikes", it's like conservation meets X-Factor/BGT/I'm a pleb get me out of here, please tell me there's a weekly prize for the person with the more "likes" and a booby pirze for the one with most "dislikes"....perhaps a signed copy of your book.
    It also has the added bonus that everytime I click on one of the icons, I can rest easy and content in the knowledge I've contributed in some manner, now where's the latest epetition to sign....

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  18. Mark, I can't sleep, I'm thinking about Passenger Pigeons. I do miss them, spiritually, and the ignorance that has robbed me of the potential to witness what must have been the amazing sight of skies blackened by them makes me simultaneously mad and sad!

    Any plans to swell the ranks of articulate green party candidates at the next election? You don't need to agree with all their policies just the principle of fighting for justice for nature, people and society!

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  19. Just a thought, but watching the grainy black and white film of the last thylacine pacing up and down its cage is one of the saddest thing I've ever seen.

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  20. Grrrrr! I do wish people would stop with all this talk of pandas somehow deserving to go extinct. You all really, really should learn a bit more about panda biology. They are beautifully evolved for their habitat. Bamboo forests cant support lots of pandas so they regulate their breeding, they have evolved thick gullets and large salivary glands to cope with spiky bamboo. Black and white is perfect camoflague, especially in Winter. Pandas have evolved to live in that particular habitat really well. Try and look beyond the myths. 🙁

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  21. No ones yet given me an explanation on why we are superior and have the right to decide the fate of other species. The way humans treat other animals is akin to pushing someone into a river before asking passers by for help.

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