In the midst of a global extinction, what should we save?
Conservation science is increasingly guided by sound science. This is positive development, but risks obscuring the values behind it. There are no right answers to questions of what nature should look like, so every conservation decision comes with a value judgement.
Does protection of native wildlife justify killing ‘invasive’ species such as rats and cats? Is it acceptable to displace forest peoples to protect the ecosystem? Should we block the building of a community centre because of the impact on great-crested newts? What about a hotel?
I’m an ecologist and author, writing fiction and non-fiction about science and the ethical questions it raises, and my current focus is tackling the complex questions raised by environmental ethics. I’ll be asking whether conservation should focus on hairworms not honeybees during my talk at New Scientist Live on 13 October 2019.
My first popular science book, Is that Fish in your Tomato?, explores the benefits and the risks of genetically modified foods. Other non-fiction topics I enjoy writing about range from pesticides and bioenergy to flying ants.