As my people might ask on Passover eve, “why is this blog different from all other science blogs?” There are a few parts to the answer. Primarily, this blog is designed for people who want to learn about how ecologists and environmental scientists do their work. Thus one primary group of readers will be (in my idealized world) high school teachers who will assign it to their students, and college instructors who will do likewise.
But there is a greater issue calling. In the current political climate, many of us are challenged to do something that encourages all of our fellow citizens to indulge in long bouts of rational behavior. Rationality is the one important basis of science. As a scientist, and someone who enjoys a good rant now and then, it seems natural for me to write about science. As an ecologist, I recognize that our very challenged ecosystems are about to get even more challenged very soon, so it makes sense for me to write about ecology and the environment. As an educator, I want to provide opportunities for people to learn where knowledge comes from. And as a human being, I like to chat and listen, with hopes that both activities may help, if only a tiny bit.
Those are my motives.
Here is my plan. Every week or two, I will tell a true and riveting tale about ecology and the environment. My tale will have a humanistic component that underlies a very science-y story. I will talk about where scientists come up with their ideas, how they investigate them, and what types of conclusions they come to. There will be data. Those of you who fear science beware; science will be featured heavily in this blog. Hopefully your fears will be diminished when you realize that science is mostly common sense.
I’m a retired ecologist, so I should have lots of time to blog. And I do. But I also have lots of other interests, like playing nerdy board games, walking around, talking to people, cooking, eating and drinking. And there are others. So although I plan to churn out about one ecological/environmental tale per week, I will probably fall short of my intent. But we retired people get to do that. On the other hand, sometimes I will be so enthralled by things I’ve read, that you might get two tales in a week, or even more. We’ll let time happen, and see how it plays.
Recent articles from the journals Ecology and Conservation Biology will serve as the major source of stories. Conversations with people will also come into play. I recently published a book entitled Ecology in Action – some of my stories are discussed there (www.cambridge.org/ecology-action). When that happens I will alert you (hopefully you will still be alert after reading the blog). I will also provide the primary source(s) of any studies that I discuss.
credit: Frank Singer
So read, enjoy, learn and comment. I plan to do the same.