Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ocean blues on the Chagos Islands

I picked up a big scoop at the end of last week on plans to turn the Chagos Islands into a giant marine reserve, which was published on our website on Monday. Our PR people tipped off the Telegraph and the Independent in exchange for a mention of You can see the results below.

The Economist story is here:

Green.view: Ocean blues
A new conservation plan for the Chagos Islands
Feb 9th 2009 Web only

Other outlets:

The Daily Telegraph – ‘Turn disputed Chagos Islands into marine reserve, say conservationists
William Marsden, chairman of the Chagos Conservation Trust, told that the 250,000 square mile reserve would be "in the big league". He said: "It is going to be compatible with defence and do something for the Chagossians".

The Independent– ‘Giant marine park plan for Chagos
A Foreign Office spokesman told that the Government "welcomes and encourages recognition of the global environmental importance of the British Indian Ocean Territory", adding that it would "work with the international environmental and scientific community to develop further the preservation of the unique environment".

Blog coverage linking to
Blog coverage linking to The Independent or The Daily Telegraph

Unfinished business

For Darwin's anniversary we published a three page essay about why his revolution in thought was unfinished. This essay was drafted last year, and at the time had rather a different ending. It basically aired the same point argued by Stephen Jay Gould, that life is just an accident and if you replayed evolution with just a few things different, the outcome (humans, for example) would be different.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a science breakfast with Prospect magazine towards the end of the year with a number of other science journalists and writers. We were asked to talk about some of the ideas we thought were important over the following twelve months and I explained what I had in mind for the Darwin anniversary. Alun Anderson, the former editor of New Scientist, was also at this breakfast. He asked me if I had read Simon Conway Morris's book. I had not. He said that Conway Morris has a very different idea about how evolution works.

I followed this tip up, and picked up a copy of the 2003 book: Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe. I will not tell you a lie and say that I have read all of it, but the parts I have paint an exciting and new picture of how evolution might work. I revised the Darwin piece to take account of this new idea, and The Economist asked Professor Conway Morris to record an audio interview. I heartily recommend the podcast. If you have even a passing interest in evolution, Professor Conway Morris is a fascinating individual.

I've also got a couple of broadcasts coming up on Marketplace, a programme on American Public Media, on the subject of Darwinism, business and the markets.

Updated 13th February, 2009: Marketplace broadcast: Why the markets are not Darwinian.

Unfinished business
Charles Darwin’s ideas have spread widely, but his revolution is not yet complete. Feb 5th 2009

Podcast with Simon Conway Morris, a paleontologist from the University of Cambridge.

Daily chart, belief in evolution.