VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
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Want to get the secret sauce for effective communication of science? Three of National Geographic’s most famous explorers shared their advice and experience at the National Geographic Explorers Festival in Washington, D.C. today.
National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala is concerned that the recently announced U.S. Department of the Interior review of Papahanaumokuakea and four other marine monuments may be the first major setback for Pristine Seas, a National Geographic project launched in 2008 to explore and help save the last wild places in the ocean.
“This is a true land grab, a few companies trying to exploit something that belongs to all Americans and humanity,” said at the National Geographic Society Explorers Festival in Washington, D.C. today.
At a meeting of Group of Seven (G7) environment ministers, the first since President Donald Trump announced the U.S. exit from the Paris Agreement, the United States refused to sign a pledge that calls the global climate accord the “irreversible” global tool to address climate change. In a communique issued Monday, the U.S. position was…
Last week, on World Environment Day, the Brazilian authorities added more land to an existing nature reserve to create a protected area four times the size of the original reserve. It’s a huge victory for conservation and particularly for the science of conservation. Explaining why this great news so excites me — and why I am…
By Joe Kiesecker, Scientist for Lands Conservation, The Nature Conservancy Note: this article is the first in a series on “energy sprawl,” the conversion of new land for energy production. New installments will appear approximately every other week. On my very first trip to India I experienced some of its most iconic and most infamous…
“This is a diversified system which is ecologically more stable,” says National Geographic Explorer Zacharie Tchoundjeu. “It solved the problem of wind erosion, it solved the problem of soil fertility.”
Six months into his new position as National Geographic chief scientist, Jonathan Baillie, the former conservation programmes director of the Zoological Society of London, outlined his “scientific vision” for how the National Geographic Society would work to help create a a planet that’s going to provide for 9 billion people — and all forms of other life. “How do we do this with 9 billion people on the planet? This is the great challenge we all face. National Geographic now needs to think about its unique role helping us face this challenge,” Baillie told hundreds of National Geographic explorers and staff gathered at the Society’s headquarters for this week’s Explorers Festival.
Is this the future of marine conservation? A remote island community in Indonesia is restoring damaged coral reefs and reclaiming its fishing heritage.
Thailand’s current population of elephants is around 7,000, of which nearly 4,000 are captive beasts of burden. These enslaved animals can never be reintroduced into wild herds. They bear the psychological and physical wounds of neglect, abuse, malnutrition, and seclusion.
“This is truly National Geographic’s moment, because as Neil deGrasse Tyson says, the great thing about science is that it’s true, whether you believe it or not,” National Geographic Society President and CEO Gary E. Knell said at the opening of the Explorers Festival (#NatGeoFest) at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. today.
Knell told hundreds of National Geographic explorers and staff that the Society had been through a major transition that transformed the organization, “a transformation that better positioned National Geographic to address the multiple challenges facings its future, but more importantly, facing our planet. We figured out a way to support your critical work in a more direct way and tackle those issues by connecting and integrating our multimedia platforms. And today the content that we are generating, the stories we’re telling, the grants we’re making, the actions we’re taking are more needed and important than ever before.”
In October 2016, mountaineer and Arctic explorer Lonnie Dupre led a climbing expedition on Langju Himal (20,885ft), deep in the heart of the Himalayas. The Nepalese government recently opened up the sacred region to climbing, so the team explored an area completely untouched by people. Vertical Nepal used this opportunity to gather freshwater samples for Adventure Scientists’ Global Microplastics Initiative. Astonishingly, a sample taken at the foot of the Langju Glacier (which no person had ever set foot on), contained one blue microplastic fiber.
Imagine a booming underwater powerhouse, overflowing with vibrant biodiversity; a vast, dynamic wonderland of adaptation in aquatic form. Primordial soup? Not quite–though coral reefs are themselves an irreplaceable vessel of life. From fish nurseries to coastline protection and pharmaceutical breakthroughs to diving meccas, coral reefs provide a multitude of ecological services and economic contributions. Awed by the endless infinity of life living upon life to degrees unimaginable to the naked eye, I count myself lucky to have spent time in these enchanting habitats in many parts of the world.
You know what there’s really plenty of in the sea? Algae. And I am in love with them. Most people envision algae as slimy, possibly toxic, green scum. But this diverse group of fast-growing aquatic plants is about to undergo an image makeover, and may soon seem flat-out glamorous. Algae got a lot of excited…
New analysis of previous studies shows that biomass of whole fish assemblages in marine reserves is, on average, 670 percent greater than in adjacent unprotected areas, and 343 percent greater than in 15 partially-protected marine protected areas (MPAs), according to an essay published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science. Marine reserves also help restore the complexity of ecosystems through a chain of ecological effects (trophic cascades) once the abundance of large animals recovers sufficiently, say the authors, Enric Sala, National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, and Sylvaine Giakoumi, Universite Cote d’Azur, in their opinion essay Food for Thought: No-take marine reserves are the most effective protected areas in the ocean.
There are significant additional benefits from a rigorous protection of portions of the ocean. “Marine reserves may not be immune to the effects of climate change, but to date, reserves with complex ecosystems are more resilient than unprotected areas. Although marine reserves were conceived to protect ecosystems within their boundaries, they have also been shown to enhance local fisheries and create jobs and new incomes through ecotourism,” Sala and Giakoumi say in their essay.
Invasive alien species are the major threat to islands by most metrics, and two open access papers published this week highlight this threat in different ways.