Monthly Archives: February 2015

Don’t overlook what’s underfoot – save the bugs and germs

Photo by Pat Dumas via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Photo by Pat Dumas via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

By Andrew Beattie

One of the biggest problems for conservation today is that it ignores 95% of all known species on Earth. Could a company ignore that proportion of its clients or a government so many of its voters? So why does this problem exist in conservation? Read the rest of this entry

The supply chain in farming – do we count all the assets?

Image courtesy of Cyron via Flickr

Image courtesy of Cyron via Flickr

By Andrew Beattie

Most people understand the idea of a supply chain so that, for example, to make a car you need many thousands of different car components for assembly at the factory. If any of those components are no longer available, there is trouble, and if it’s a major one then you can’t make the car.

The same is true of any typical agricultural crop in Australia. The paddock is where the product is assembled but to make it, many thousands of components are required.

The supply chain of components includes the thousands of microbial and invertebrate species in the soil that make it both stable and fertile. Other components are the crop pollinators, usually insects.

The hundreds of thousands of species of soil organisms and pollinators are farm assets and are generally taken for granted as they are assumed to come free.

But some economists now question this and identify them as part of the natural capital of the system. Even so, they are only infrequently incorporated into economic models, sometimes because little is known about their functions, but more often because economists are simply unaware of them.

Cambridge University’s economist Partha Dasgupta recently referred to this issue among agricultural economists saying “[…] a whole class of assets is missing from their data set”.

Read the rest of this entry

Selfies That Count

Coati (Didelphis marsupialis) Playa Viva, Mexico

Coati (Didelphis marsupialis) Playa Viva, Mexico

Gerardo Ceballos and Paul R. Ehrlich

The selfie taken by a coati mundi that is posted above was actually posted by us, but we are sure the coati intended it to be. Technologies gone berserk are one of the main things driving Earth’s biodiversity into a mass extinction, but some of the new technologies can at least make small contributions to helping to preserve our only known living companions in the universe.

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