Thursday, 15 October 2009

Blog Action Day 2009

Those nice folks at Blog Action Day don't seem to know how to make things simple. Kittens. If they decided to make kittens the subject I'd be able to write a nice concise blog on why kittens are important. Instead I'm left to ponder how to cover undoubtedly the biggest issue of our time: climate change.

The trouble is that with a subject this big, it's hard to know what to write. After weeks of wondering what to write I'm afraid that I'm going to do a stream-of-conciousness on the subject. This will start with me getting back on my soap box, briefly, and mentioning biodiversity loss (I've already covered the subject before): I really care about all biodiversity, from the smallest to largest, cuddly to ugly, friendly to just plain scary, I think it's all amazing. I find it staggeringly difficult to understand how people can not feel a similar sense of awe and wonder. The biggest threat to this thing that I love is climate change.

However, it's not just wildlife that will suffer, as humans will too. Part of this will be as a direct impact of climate change, part will be as a result of the loss of biodiversity. It will and has arguably already started to happen all over the world. It will be have respect for money or power. Saving our failing economy will not help us in the long run. Quite frankly, if we don't do something, we're screwed.

There may be some sceptics reading this. I'm never quite sure what you say to sceptics. Do you ask whether they think after 30 years of collecting data and improved modelling, hundreds of experts worldwide are wrong? Do you ask them whether they think it is some kind of global conspiracy? Do you tell them that denial won't stop these things from happening? Or do you simply tell them to wake up to the fact that a single species can have a significant, long-term impact upon an entire planet?

The rest of us have to continue to strive to make a small difference. I'm guilty of failing to do this as much as anyone. I'm currently sitting in an artificially lit office, writing on a computer that is draining electricity. None of us are going to eliminate our energy requirements altogether, but it would be nice to think that we could all get into some positive habits that, when multiplied up, might just make ensure a better future.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Rickia wasmannii in the UK

Did anyone else notice the photograph on Plate 8 of the 'Ants of Surrey', captioned 'A rare variety of M. sabuleti with unusually shaped hairs? I'd had the book for ages and not paid any attention to it until a few weeks back. The unusually shaped hairs looked remarkably familiar to me.

I emailed John Pontin, to see if he had any specimens of these ants. After a bit of a mix-up over my address (which has changed since the last BWARS newsletter, by the way) I finally retrieved the two specimens he sent to me. They are covered with Rickia wasmannii, as I suspected, more so than the specimens I collected in Bavaria. This fulfils my ambition of finding it first in the UK, even if I didn't collect it. It also means probably two more papers to write (one for the mycologists, one for the myrmecologists).