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The Bird Way – Jennifer Ackerman


The Bird Way

A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think

Jennifer Ackerman

Genre: Nature

Price: $14.99

Publish Date: May 5, 2020

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Genius of Birds , a radical investigation into the bird way of being, and the recent scientific research that is dramatically shifting our understanding of birds — how they live and how they think. “There is the mammal way and there is the bird way.” But the bird way is much more than a unique pattern of brain wiring, and lately, scientists have taken a new look at bird behaviors they have, for years, dismissed as anomalies or mysteries –– What they are finding is upending the traditional view of how birds conduct their lives, how they communicate, forage, court, breed, survive. They are also revealing the remarkable intelligence underlying these activities, abilities we once considered uniquely our own: deception, manipulation, cheating, kidnapping, infanticide, but also ingenious communication between species, cooperation, collaboration, altruism, culture, and play. Some of these extraordinary behaviors are biological conundrums that seem to push the edges of, well, birdness: a mother bird that kills her own infant sons, and another that selflessly tends to the young of other birds as if they were her own; a bird that collaborates in an extraordinary way with one species—ours—but parasitizes another in gruesome fashion; birds that give gifts and birds that steal; birds that dance or drum, that paint their creations or paint themselves; birds that build walls of sound to keep out intruders and birds that summon playmates with a special call—and may hold the secret to our own penchant for playfulness and the evolution of laughter. Drawing on personal observations, the latest science, and her bird-related travel around the world, from the tropical rainforests of eastern Australia and the remote woodlands of northern Japan, to the rolling hills of lower Austria and the islands of Alaska’s Kachemak Bay, Jennifer Ackerman shows there is clearly no single bird way of being. In every respect, in plumage, form, song, flight, lifestyle, niche, and behavior, birds vary. It is what we love about them. As E.O Wilson once said, when you have seen one bird, you have not seen them all.

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The Bird Way – Jennifer Ackerman

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It’s official: Climate change made Australia’s wildfire season more likely

Australia has always had nasty wildfires. In 2005, the Eyre Peninsula bushfire crisped a wide swath of South Australia’s wheat belt on a day now known as Black Tuesday. In 2009, the Black Saturday fires led to 173 fatalities in Victoria. But this season was different in terms of scale, if not lives lost. Extreme fires have charred nearly 55 million acres of land and killed at least 34 people. Climate change, many suspected, was to blame for the ferocity of the fires.

Now we have evidence. On Wednesday, researchers have confirmed that climate change made Australia’s unprecedented wildfire season of 2019 and 2020 more likely. How much more likely? About 30 percent — and that’s a conservative estimate, the scientists say. That’s pretty significant, but the most concerning conclusion of the study, published by World Weather Attribution (a group of international researchers specializing in climate change, disaster preparedness, and atmospheric sciences), is that conditions for future fire seasons will be even worse.

To get their results, which have not been peer-reviewed yet, the researchers compared conditions in 1900 (before greenhouse gas emissions from human activity started heating up the planet) to conditions during the peak burning period in December 2019 and January 2020 according to the Fire Weather Index — a tool that calculates fire risk in a particular area by assessing weather conditions in addition to other climatic factors like humidity and wind. The researchers did not look at non-weather factors like ignition sources. They found that the index values for the most recent fire season in southeastern Australia were super high, and calculated that those high numbers are 30 to 80 percent more likely to pop up now than they were before 1900.

That’s more or less in line with what climate modelers say is possible on a planet that has warmed 1 degree C above pre-industrial levels, as our planet has. “These observed trends over southeast Australia are broadly consistent with the projected impacts of climate change,” the authors write. And things will start getting really dire when the planet warms an additional degree or more, at which point fires like the ones Australia saw this season will be four to eight times more likely. As such, “it is crucial to prioritize adaptation and resilience measures to reduce the potential impacts of rising risks,” they say.

Curiously, the four models used by researchers to assess wildfire risk showed that the dry conditions across Australia that many blamed for the proliferation of wildfires in the 2018-2019 season weren’t caused by climate change. Climate change did, however, double the chances of heatwaves during that period.

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It’s official: Climate change made Australia’s wildfire season more likely

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The climate crisis is putting women in danger, study finds

Imagine being a mom of seven children in a small village with little to no economic opportunities and resources. The only job a woman can get is to sell fish in the market — but in order to get the fish to sell, you have to have sex with fishermen as a form of payment.

This is the reality for many women in parts of East Africa, where economic opportunities are divided by gender. Traditionally, men own boats and go out fishing in lakes, while women buy fish from the men to sell at the market. But fish stocks are dwindling in East Africa, as they are across the globe, in part due to climate change. When men don’t catch enough fish to supply all the buyers, they negotiate sex in exchange for a guaranteed catch.

“Sex for fish” is just one of many examples described in a new study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature about the ways in which climate change and environmental destruction are fueling violence against women.

The researchers of the study conducted a survey of environmental policymakers, advocates, activists, and academics and collected 80 case studies that drew connections between environmental catastrophe and gender-based violence and exploitation. Fifty-nine percent of those who took the survey said they have observed sexual assault and coercion, rape, trafficking, child marriage, or other forms of violence against women in the wake of environmental crises or conflicts.

In countries with high gender inequality, like those in East Africa, laws and gender norms determine who has access to and control over natural resources. The study authors write that men often engage in violence against women to maintain these power imbalances. Indigenous women, for instance, sometimes face sexual violence and assault when male authorities demand sexual favors in exchange for land rights.

It’s not just struggles over natural resources that contribute to violence against women. In rural Australia, researchers found an uptick in domestic violence during severe droughts, which the researchers attributed to an increase in men’s alcohol and drug consumption to help them cope with drought-related financial pressures. And climate change–induced migration can also exacerbate gender-based violence, with women who flee to overcrowded temporary shelters after a climate disaster particularly vulnerable.

The jaboya system, as the sex-for-fish practice is called in western Kenya, has made women vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, which are four to 14 times more prevalent in fishing communities than elsewhere in developing countries. Overfishing and warming temperatures have made it more difficult for fishermen to find fish. Climate change-fueled floods and droughts can severely impact inland waters such as lakes and ponds, resulting in a decline in water quality, longer dry seasons, the emergence of new pathogens, and accelerating fish mortality.

Despite environmental pressures, East African women have been exploring ways to resist sexual exploitation. In 2011, a women’s cooperative called “No Sex For Fish” launched, in an attempt to eliminate the jaboya practice. Thanks to grants from various nonprofits, such as World Connect, the women in the cooperative have bought boats and hired men to catch fish for them. Some boats, however, weren’t strong enough to take the strong wave currents, and eventually broke down. Although the jaboya system has not been fully eradicated, the cooperative continues to fight for women’s autonomy.

The IUCN study also provides examples of solutions and proposals for policymakers to consider when addressing gender-based violence and environmental rights. Uganda’s government, for instance, has integrated gender issues into a wetlands restoration project. Research shows that child marriage tends to increase during droughts, famines, and water shortages because it allows a family to receive “bride wealth” and to reduce the number of people to feed in a household. The restoration project is designed to mitigate such climate disasters, and as a result reduce child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence. The study also suggests ways to address gender-based violence by creating consortiums to spread awareness. In Nepal, for example, women who do forest conservation work were particularly vulnerable to violence from illegal loggers. USAID then expanded its Hariyo Ban Program, a consortium that aims to reduce threats to biodiversity and climate vulnerablities, to incorporate trainings to prevent violence against women.

“A powerful ingredient for change is knowledge,” Cate Owren, one of the study’s authors and the IUCN senior gender program manager, told Grist in an email. “We hope innovation and creative partnerships are on the horizon.”

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The climate crisis is putting women in danger, study finds

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At the 7th Democratic debate, candidates took every opportunity to talk climate

Six candidates for president took the stage in Iowa on Tuesday night for the seventh Democratic national debate, hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register. Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, and Tom Steyer, the smallest and whitest group of Democratic contenders to take the debate stage yet, talked war with Iran, health care, and, yes, impending climate chaos.

The past six debates have been a mixed bag when it comes to rising temperatures — some were surprisingly heavy on climate talk, others impossibly light. The last debate hosted by CNN, back in October, contained exactly zero questions about climate. But this time around, CNN got its act together, with a solid chunk of climate discussion in the final half hour of the debate.

Debate moderators may take ages to get around to climate change in these debates, but the candidates have gotten increasingly adept at weaving the issue into their answers to other questions. This time around, Wolf Blitzer, Abby Phillip, and the Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel could barely keep a lid on the climate action in the first half of the debate. At one point, Pfannenstiel tried to get Sanders to stay on topic. “We’re gonna get to climate change but I want to stay on trade,” she said. “They are the same issue,” Sanders shot back.

Right off the bat, Buttigieg and Warren touched on the importance of accounting for the impacts of climate change on national security in response to the moderators’ first round of questions, which were about the candidates’ fitness as commander-in-chief. But things really started heating up when Steyer, the billionaire climate activist, fielded a question about Iran by pivoting to the mega-fires still burning in Australia right now. “There is a gigantic climate issue in Australia which also requires the same kind of value-driven coalition-building that we actually should be using in the Middle East,” he said.

Bernie Sanders, in response to a question about Trump’s new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, blasted the agreement for not being climate-friendly. “Every major environmental organization has said no to this new trade agreement, because it does not even have the phrase ‘climate change’ in it,” he said. “I will not vote for a trade agreement that does not incorporate very strong principles to significantly lower fossil fuel emissions in the world.”

A couple of minutes later, during the same section on trade, Buttigieg — the only candidate who will likely still be alive when the worst effects of warming kick in — jumped into the climate fray. “What I’ve noticed is pretty much all of us propose we move on from fossil fuels by the middle of the century,” he said. “The question is, how are we gonna make sure any of this actually gets done?” The former South Bend mayor (his term ended on New Year’s Day), recently came out with a green infrastructure plan that aims to invest in the nation’s roads, bridges, and tunnels while simultaneously making them more climate-resilient.

When the moderators did finally get around to asking some questions about climate change during the last quarter of the debate, the candidates were ready. But not all of them were successful in relaying their environmental expertise.

The moderators started by asking Buttigieg how he would protect farmers and factories in Iowa during natural disasters. His answer was light on specifics. Displacement “disproportionately happens to black and brown Americans, which is why equity and environmental justice have to be at the core of our climate plan,” he said. Asked why she doesn’t support a ban on fracking, Klobuchar pointed out that methane emissions from natural gas pose a growing threat to the planet but, in the same breath, said natural gas is an important “transition fuel” for achieving a renewable economy. That didn’t go over well with climate activists.

Steyer showed off his climate vocabulary, correctly noting that the question about protecting farmers was really about managed retreat. He added, “I’m still shocked that I’m the only candidate who will say this: I would declare a climate emergency on day one.” But his moment in the sun was cut short when Pfannenstiel asked him to defend his past investments in oil, gas, and coal. Steyer responded that he opted to divest from fossil fuels more than a decade ago after grasping the severity of the crisis.

Warren, who is nothing if not consistent, said tackling corruption is the first step in addressing rising temperatures. “Climate change threatens every living thing on this planet, and the urgency of this moment cannot be overstated,” she said. Biden, who spoke next, tried to establish himself as the O.G. climate advocate. “Back in 1996 I introduced the first climate change bill and — check Politifact: They said it was a game changer,” he said. But then another O.G. climate advocate got his moment.

“We have got to take on the fossil fuel industry and all of their lies and tell them their short-term profits are not more important than the future of this planet. That’s what the Green New Deal does,” Sanders said, making a plug for his $16 trillion climate proposal. The Vermont Senator recently nabbed an endorsement from the Sunrise Movement, a climate activist group that has been successful in pushing high-profile Democrats to embrace progressive climate policies.

In all, the portion of the debate devoted to climate change spanned about 10 minutes. But that total rises when you take into account all the moments that candidates brought up climate during the rest of the debate. If Tuesday night was any indication, the next 73 debates will be chock full of climate nuance.

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At the 7th Democratic debate, candidates took every opportunity to talk climate

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Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind – David Quammen


Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind

David Quammen

Genre: Nature

Price: $13.99

Publish Date: September 17, 2004

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

"Rich detail and vivid anecdotes of adventure….A treasure trove of exotic fact and hard thinking." —New York Times Book Review For millennia, lions, tigers, and their man-eating kin have kept our dark, scary forests dark and scary, and their predatory majesty has been the stuff of folklore. But by the year 2150 big predators may only exist on the other side of glass barriers and chain-link fences. Their gradual disappearance is changing the very nature of our existence. We no longer occupy an intermediate position on the food chain; instead we survey it invulnerably from above—so far above that we are in danger of forgetting that we even belong to an ecosystem. Casting his expert eye over the rapidly diminishing areas of wilderness where predators still reign, the award-winning author of The Song of the Dodo and The Tangled Tree examines the fate of lions in India's Gir forest, of saltwater crocodiles in northern Australia, of brown bears in the mountains of Romania, and of Siberian tigers in the Russian Far East. In the poignant and troublesome ferocity of these embattled creatures, we recognize something primeval deep within us, something in danger of vanishing forever.

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Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind – David Quammen

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Climate change drives collapse of baby corals in Great Barrier Reef

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This story was originally published by HuffPost and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The deadly back-to-back bleaching events that hammered Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017 led to a collapse in the recruitment of new corals, severely affecting the ecosystem’s ability to recover from the devastation.

That’s according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, which found that the number of juvenile corals that settled across the entire Great Barrier Reef in 2018 was 89 percent lower than historical averages before major bleaching events. The loss of so many mature adults during the climate-change-driven ocean heat waves left the ecosystem — the largest living structure on the planet — largely unable to replenish itself.

The report highlights the plight of corals in a warming world.

Along with an overall shortage of offspring, the study documents an alarming shift in the makeup of coral larvae. Dominant branching staghorn corals and table corals, the species that provide most of the habitat on the reef, produced fewer offspring than less-common stony corals. It’s a change that is likely to reduce the diversity of the reef, leaving it less resilient to future warming.

“The whole way that the Great Barrier Reef is behaving has changed,” Terry Hughes, the study’s lead author and the director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said by phone. “The mix of adult species is different. The mix of baby species is radically different. And the way it’s interconnected has shifted.”

The Great Barrier Reef has been hit by four mass bleaching events since 1998. Nearly 30 percent of the reef died off in 2016 alone. Scientists at the time described the damage at places like Lizard Island, in the northern part of the reef, as “so, so sobering” and warned that “something akin to a train crash” was about to occur.

Hughes said that under normal conditions, it would take about 10 years for coral recruitment to bounce back.

“The adult population will need to reassemble,” he said. “There’s a dearth of large, highly productive corals in the system. It will take some time to regroup so the production of larvae gets back up to normal levels.”

But with climate change forecast to drive more frequent extreme heat waves, Hughes said, “the big question is whether we’ve got the luxury of a decade for that recovery to fully unfold.”

Coral bleaching is a phenomenon in which heat-stressed corals turn white after expelling their algae, which provide most of the coral polyps’ energy. If not allowed to recover free of stressors, the corals can perish. The most recent bleaching event, which lasted from June 2014 to May 2017, was the “longest, most widespread, and possibly the most damaging coral bleaching event on record,” Coral Reef Watch said.

Scientists say failing to cut global greenhouse gas emissions would spell doom for reefs around the globe. A U.N.-backed study published in 2017 predicted that “annual severe bleaching” will affect 99 percent of the world’s reefs within the century. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in a dire report late last year that the world’s tropical reefs could decline by 70 to 90 percent with an average global rise of 1.5 degrees C from preindustrial temperatures ― the upper limit that is the goal of the Paris Climate Accord. At 2 degrees C warming, 99 percent of reefs could be lost. And the latest federal climate assessment, released by the Trump administration in November, concluded that the loss of unique coral reef ecosystems “can only be avoided by reducing carbon dioxide emissions.”

Hughes said that the Great Barrier Reef is undergoing rapid change and is in serious trouble but that it’s not too late to save it from total destruction.

“It still has a pulse,” he said. “I think if we can hold global warming to 1.5 degrees C, we will certainly still have a Great Barrier Reef, but the mix of species will be quite different from today.”

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Climate change drives collapse of baby corals in Great Barrier Reef

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Humanimal – Adam Rutherford



How Homo sapiens Became Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature—A New Evolutionary History

Adam Rutherford

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $12.99

Publish Date: March 19, 2019

Publisher: The Experiment

Seller: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.

The bestselling author of A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived investigates what it means to be human—and animal Publisher’s note: Humanimal was published in the UK under the title The Book of Humans. Evolutionary theory has long established that humans are animals: Modern Homo sapiens are primates who share an ancestor with monkeys and other great apes. Our genome is 98 percent identical to a chimpanzee’s. And yet we think of ourselves as exceptional. Are we? In this original and entertaining tour of life on Earth, Adam Rutherford explores the profound paradox of the “human animal.” Looking for answers across the animal kingdom, he finds that many things once considered exclusively human are not: In Australia, raptors have been observed starting fires to scatter prey; in Zambia, a chimp named Julie even started a “fashion” of wearing grass in one ear. We aren’t the only species that communicates, makes tools, or has sex for reasons other than procreation. But we have developed a culture far more complex than any other we’ve observed. Why has that happened, and what does it say about us? Humanimal is a new evolutionary history—a synthesis of the latest research on genetics, sex, migration, and much more. It reveals what unequivocally makes us animals—and also why we are truly extraordinary.

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Humanimal – Adam Rutherford

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Youth climate strikers: ‘We are going to change the fate of humanity’

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This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The students striking from schools around the world to demand action on climate change have issued an uncompromising open letter stating: “We are going to change the fate of humanity, whether you like it or not.”

The letter, published by the Guardian, says: “United we will rise on 15 March and many times after until we see climate justice. We demand the world’s decision makers take responsibility and solve this crisis. You have failed us in the past. [But] the youth of this world has started to move and we will not rest again.”

The Youth Strikes for Climate movement is not centrally organized, so keeping track of the fast-growing number of strikes is difficult, but many are registering on FridaysForFuture.org. So far, there are almost 500 events listed to take place on March 15 across 51 countries, making it the biggest strike day so far. Students plan to skip school across Western Europe, from the U.S. to Brazil and Chile, and from Australia to Iran, India, and Japan.

“For people under 18 in most countries, the only democratic right we have is to demonstrate. We don’t have representation,” said Jonas Kampus, a 17-year-old student activist, from near Zurich, Switzerland. “To study for a future that will not exist, that does not make sense.”

The letter says: “We are the voiceless future of humanity … We will not accept a life in fear and devastation. We have the right to live our dreams and hopes.” Kampus helped initiate the letter, which was created collectively via a global coordination group numbering about 150 students, including the first youth climate striker, Sweden’s Greta Thunberg.

The strikes have attracted some criticism, and Kampus said: “We wanted to define for ourselves why we are striking.” Another member of the coordination group, Anna Taylor, 17, from north London, U.K., said: “The importance of the letter is it shows this is now an international movement.”

Taylor said: “The rapid growth of the movement is showing how important it is and how much young people care. It is vital for our future.” Janine O’Keefe, from FridaysForFuture.org, said: “I’ll be very happy with over 100,000 students striking on March 15. But I think we might reach even beyond 500,000 students.”

Thunberg, now 16 years old and who began the strikes with a solo protest beginning last August, is currently on holiday from school. She was one of about 3,000 student demonstrators in Antwerp, Belgium, on Thursday, and joined protesters in Hamburg on Friday morning.

In recent days, she has sharply rejected criticism of the strikes from educational authorities, telling the Hong Kong Education Bureau: “We fight for our future. It doesn’t help if we have to fight the adults too.” She also told a critical Australian state education minister his words “belong in a museum.”

The strikes have been supported by Christiana Figueres, the U.N.’s climate chief when the Paris deal to fight global warming was signed in 2015. She said: “It’s time to heed the deeply moving voice of youth. The Paris Agreement was a step in the right direction, but its timely implementation is key.” Michael Liebreich, a clean energy expert, said: “Anyone who thinks [the strikes] will fizzle out any time soon has forgotten what it is to be young.”

In the U.K., Taylor said more than 10,000 students went on strike on February 15: “I’m anticipating at least double that on March 15.”

The strikes would not end, Taylor said, until “environmental protection is put as politicians’ top priority, over everything else. Young people are cooperating now, but governments are not cooperating anywhere near as much as they should.” She said students were contacting her from new countries every day, including Estonia, Iceland, and Uganda in recent days.

Kampus, who was invited to meet the Swiss environment minister, Simonetta Sommaruga, on Wednesday, said: “The strikes will stop when there is a clear outline from politicians on how to solve this crisis and a pathway to get there. I could be doing so many other things. But I don’t have time as we have to solve this crisis. My dream is to have a life in peace.”

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Youth climate strikers: ‘We are going to change the fate of humanity’

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Fossils, Finches and Fuegians – Richard Keynes


Fossils, Finches and Fuegians

Charles Darwin’s Adventures and Discoveries on the Beagle (Text Only)

Richard Keynes

Genre: History

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: March 23, 2017

Publisher: HarperCollins


A narrative account of Darwin’s historic 4-year voyage on the Beagle to South America, Australia and the Pacific in the 1830s that combines the adventure and excitement of Alan Moorehead’s famous (and now out of print) account with an expert assessment of the scientific discoveries of that journey. The author is Charles Darwin’s great-grandson. • In his autobiography, Charles Darwin wrote: ‘The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event in my life and has determined my whole career; yet it depended on so small a circumstance as my uncle offering to drive me 30 miles to Shrewsbury, which few uncles would have done, and on such a trifle as the shape of my nose. I have always felt that I owe to the voyage the first real training or education of my mind. I was led to attend closely to several branches of natural history, and thus my powers of observation were improved, though they were already fairly developed. The investigation of the geology of all the places visited was far more important, as reasoning here comes into play.’ No biography of Darwin has yet done justice to what the scientific research actually was that occupied Darwin during the voyage. Keynes shows exactly how Darwin’s geological researches and his observations on natural history sowed the seeds of his revolutionary theory of evolution, and led to the writing of his great works on The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man. About the author Professor Richard Keynes is the great-grandson of Charles Darwin. A Fellow of the Royal Society since 1959 and a former Professor of Physiology at Cambridge University, Richard Keynes has edited a number of Darwin publications – including The Beagle Record and Charles Darwin’s Beagle Diary. He lives in Cambridge.


Fossils, Finches and Fuegians – Richard Keynes

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Pantone’s color of the year might vanish from nature by 2040

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Every December, experts at the Pantone Color Institute comb through the world’s Rolodex of hues to determine the color of the next year. 2019, they have decreed, is the year of “Living Coral.” The “living” part is important: Dead coral is white, which hasn’t even earned a spot on the color wheel, let alone color of the year.

The announcement, much awaited by those fashionable enough to care, comes a little over a month after a monumental United Nations climate report found that the world’s coral reefs may experience a mass die-off as soon as 2040. Already, half of Australia’s 1,400 mile-long Great Barrier Reef has perished in bleaching events. Coral reefs are the bedrock of diverse coastal ecosystems, so a massive coral wipeout could also lead to the disappearance of other rare colors found among aquatic species.

What’s the purpose of memorializing the hues of a dying planet? As Slate’s Christina Cauterucci pointed out, the selection “feels like a troll directed at a planet rapidly growing inhospitable to the many organisms that call it home.”

Pantone’s announcement states, “In its glorious, yet unfortunately more elusive, display beneath the sea, this vivifying and effervescent color mesmerizes the eye and mind.” Living Coral’s retreat from the real world might be exactly why some find it so vivifying. The choice carries a whiff of ecotourism — the word for when travelers flock to the world’s disappearing landscapes, such the quickly melting glaciers of Glacier National Park.

The selection also feels like a throwback to a time when colors were valued for their elusiveness in nature. Before colors could be made synthetically, dyes were derived from natural sources, and the hard-to-find hues were considered more valuable. The original purple, for example, was obtained from a small mollusk found the Phoenician trading city of Tyre. As only the rich could afford it, this delicacy of a color became associated with royalty.

There’s a critical difference between Living Coral and the purple of mollusks: Coral isn’t meant to be so rare.

The color has a long history. “By the late 14th century it was recognized as a shade of red, from coral that was found in the Red Sea,” says David Kastan, an English professor at Yale and the author of the book On Color. “Shakespeare, for example, several times refers to ‘coral lips’ or a ‘sweet coral mouth.’”

Now that history may be nearing its end. While Pantone may have immortalized Living Coral in 2019’s most fashionable throw pillows and sweaters, crowning it color of the year seems unlikely to help the actual living coral that spans the sea.

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Pantone’s color of the year might vanish from nature by 2040

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