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The case for conserving the biodiversity of life on Earth needs to be credible and robust. Sometimes that requires a willingness to question conventional wisdom. The case for conservation podcast features long-form conversations with conservation thinkers, in which we try to untangle issues into which they have some insight.




The case for conserving the biodiversity of life on Earth needs to be credible and robust. Sometimes that requires a willingness to question conventional wisdom. The case for conservation podcast features long-form conversations with conservation thinkers, in which we try to untangle issues into which they have some insight.




37. What is climate change doing to biodiversity? (Adam Welz)

Climate change gets a lot more attention and funding than biodiversity. But, as conservation organizations are keen to point out, climate and biodiversity are intimately linked and there is, therefore, a good argument for addressing them side by side. Part of that argument is that conserving biodiversity is good for the climate. But an even more obvious link is that climate affects biodiversity. Human beings can adapt rapidly to change through innovation. But nature adapts over evolutionary time, much slower than the predicted changes in climate. And yet the countless books that continue be produced about climate change, are almost exclusively focused on its effects on humankind. Adam Welz, however, has just released a highly acclaimed book to fill this gap, “The End of Eden”. Adam is a writer, photographer, filmmaker and self-proclaimed conservation theorist with a long-standing interest in the effects of climate change on biodiversity. We interrogate this big subject, and Adam’s book in particular, in his second appearance on the podcast. In case you missed it, the last time was episode 11, in June 2021, when we discussed the problems with “performative conservation”. Links to resources The End of Eden: Wild Nature in the Age of Climate BreakdownVisit


36. Biodiversity & agriculture: appreciating the trade-offs (Prabhu Pingali)

In decades past, conservation was notorious for ignoring other development goals. These days, its focus has expanded to consider those other goals, including the prevention of poverty and hunger. In fact, there seems to be a tendency to assume that conservation is always compatible with them, and necessary to achieve them. There is certainly truth in that, but are we talking enough about the inevitable trade-offs? And if everyone agrees that we should minimize trade-offs, why is the Green Revolution - one of the greatest “trade-off minimizers” in history often vilified by environmentalists? In this episode of The Case for Conservation Podcast, Prabhu Pingali shares his thoughts on the green revolution, and more generally on trade-offs between development goals. Prabhu is Professor of Applied Economics at Cornell University and has worked in senior positions at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, FAO, the CGIAR, and other key development institutions. Links to resources Unintended consequences lectureAre the Lessons from the Green Revolution relevant for Agricultural Growth and Food Security in the 21st Century?Green Revolution: Impacts, limits, and the path aheadHunger and environmental goals for Asia: Synergies and trade-offs among the SDGsVisit


35. Are we obsessed with species? (Frank Zachos)

Species. We take them for granted as the main currency of biodiversity. But how many of us really know what species are? And do we attach too much importance to them, especially in the context of conservation? Over centuries, taxonomists have categorized and re-categorized life forms and graphically presented their relatedness in the form of a so-called ”tree of life”. The trunk of the tree is common to all life on Earth. It branches into major “taxa” like the “kingdoms” of plants, animals and fungi, and then continues branching into increasingly more specific taxa (phylum, class, order, family, genus, etc.) until, near the branch tips, are species and subspecies. The more specific the classification, the less obvious it is where to draw the line between one taxon and another, or between different levels of taxa. Taxonomy, it turns out, is as much an art as it is a science. In this episode Frank Zachos does an excellent job at explaining taxonomy, and the ways in which it is misunderstood, and he embellishes his explanations with a wealth of fascinating examples. Frank is head of the mammal collection at the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria, and affiliated professor at the Department of Genetics at UFS, Bloemfontein, South Africa. He has written well over 100 articles and other publications on taxonomy and related topics. Timestamps 02:15 What are species and what’s involved in classifying them? 07:30 Ring species 09:35 Species concepts 14:12 The spectrum of species classification tendencies, from “lumping” to “splitting” 17:45 How important is it to determine the best species concept? 23:38 Are conservationists misusing species as a tool? 25:28 What is a subspecies? 26:54 How many species are there really? 32:52 How can we conserve without using species as a unit of coservation? 35:48 Do we need more taxonomists? 39:01 Classifying the Loch Ness Monster 40:27 A real-world example of how species status can be worth billions of dollars 42:52 How have recent technological advances helped, or not helped, taxonomy? Links to resources Naming the Loch Ness MonsterVisit


34. Is there still hope for the world’s corals? (Mike Emslie)

Historically, the oceans have received too little attention in discussions about the environment and biodiversity. On the topic of biodiversity loss in particular, however, one marine system has attracted almost as much attention as the rainforests: coral reefs. Coral reefs have even been described as the rainforests of the sea, thanks to their remarkably high levels of biodiversity. Recently, United Nations agencies have been voicing the alarming prediction that the world could lose as much as 99% of its corals within decades, if there is a 2 degree centigrade increase in average global temperature. Meanwhile, however, on the world’s largest reef system, the Great Barrier Reef, a 2021 survey had more positive news. It found that hard coral cover, which is used as a proxy for the health of coral reefs, is at its highest levels since the 1980s. That’s despite global temperatures already having risen by one degree over the past century. So, is the public being misled by messages of doom and gloom? Or are these seemingly contradictory messages somehow reconcilable? With me to answer this central question about corals is Mike Emslie. Mike is head of the Great Barrier Reef Monitoring Programme and senior researcher at the Australian Institute for Marine Science (AIMS). Timestamps 02:29 What are corals, where are they found, and why are they important? 11:28 What's special about the Great Barrier Reef and the "coral triangle"? 18:00 Why are coral reefs particularly important, among marine ecosystems? 23:19 How can we be losing corals if they are recovering on the biggest reef system in the world? 39:19 Are coral bleaching events a new thing? 41:09 Are we focusing enough on helping reefs to adapt to climate change, versus mitigating climate change? 44:20 Reasons to avoid doom & gloom messaging Links to resources Continued coral recovery leads to 36-year highs across two-thirds of the Great Barrier ReefGreat Barrier Reef: UNESCO calls for In Danger listingAustralian Institute of Marine ScienceVisit


33. Is ESG investing good for biodiversity? (Ken Pucker)

ESG is the latest buzzword in business & biodiversity circles, but it’s not actually new - only newly popular. And it’s one among many terms and acronyms in this field, which may be familiar but are often poorly understood - ESG stands for “environmental, social and governance” investing criteria. Understanding concepts like ESG is consequential because their success relies largely on convincing the general public of their value and their virtue. As we discuss in this episode, however, they are not necessarily all that they’re made out to be. To elucidate this topic with me is Ken Pucker. Ken is a professor at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and Advisory Director at the Boston-based Financial Services firm, Berkshire Partners. He was previously Chief Operating Officer of the outdoor footwear and apparel company, Timberland, one of the first companies to take an interest in sustainable production. He has written extensively on ESG and related issues in Harvard Business Review among other publications. Timestamps 01:47 A brief history of CSR, ESG, and sustainability reporting 09:41 ESG is not about the impact of companies on the environment 13:53 Other concerns about ESG 19:46 Impact investing 22:39 ESG makes policymakers complacent 26:36 Are CSR and ESG in need of reform or are they fundamentally flawed? 29:11 Investors care about impact, but not about how much 31:17 Shopping around effect 38:27 Transparency is not the main thing 41:35 Has TCFD had any effect, and will TNFD have any effect? 43:43 Should corporations serve shareholders or stakeholders? Links to resources ESG Investing Isn't Designed to Save the PlanetGlobal CompactWho Cares Wins 2004GIINThe Case Against Corporate Social ResponsibilityDo investors care about impact?When A Billion Chinese Jump: How China Will Save Mankind Or Destroy ItTCFDTNFDVisit


32. When should we question environmental orthodoxy? (Russell Galt)

There is a tendency in societies to adhere to conventional wisdom. We resist challenges to consensus views, and may even dismiss those who do challenge them as conspiracy theorists... which they sometimes are. But perhaps we take that idea too far sometimes. Perhaps we underestimate the importance of having the freedom to challenge orthodoxy. We live in an age in which more people than ever before are lucky enough to inhabit free societies, but recently it has become “conventional” to take issue with some of these hard-earned freedoms - albeit often with good intentions. Even people who don’t follow the news cycle must be familiar with the concepts of cancel culture and de-platforming. In this episode we discuss the notion of questioning orthodoxy, with a focus on the environment and especially conservation. My guest is Russell Galt, Head of Policy and Science at Earthwatch Europe, and previously Senior Programme Coordinator of IUCN’s work on urban conservation and Young Champions of the Earth Coordinator with the United Nations Environment Programme. Russell recently complete a Master of Business Administration at the University of Edinburgh, to complement his earlier studies in ecology. Timestamps 02:39 Historical examples of heterodox thinkers 06:10 False consensus in the scientific literature 09:42 Well-intentioned exaggeration in conservation 12:28 Thought experiment on fighting lies with lies 15:18 The robustness of truth 16:23 Harnessing behavioral science 17:26 Attention-grabbing figures as a means of promoting conservation 24:54 Less well considered threats to life on Earth; looking at the bigger picture 27:08 Nature-based solutions 31:07 Romantic notions of indigenous knowledge 37:30 Important of a culture of debate Links to resources The Science DelusionMessaging Should Reflect the Nuanced Relationship between Land Change and Zoonotic Disease RiskPromoting health and wellbeing through urban forests – Introducing the 3-30-300 ruleSummary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C approved by governmentsContinued coral recovery leads to 36-year highs across two-thirds of the Great Barrier ReefLo—TEK - Design by Radical IndigenismVisit


31. Biodiversity risk and the law (Zaneta Sedilekova)

You may have heard of the concept of “biodiversity risk”, especially in the context of business. It has become increasingly widely used in recent years and the Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) is a recent development that has done a lot to popularize the concept. But what exactly is biodiversity risk and, for that matter, what is TNFD? Why has this topic been gathering so much steam lately, and what are some of the possible drawbacks of its progress? With us to demystify these and related questions is Zaneta Sedilekova. Zaneta is a lawyer specializing in climate and biodiversity risk, based in the UK. She is director of the climate and biodiversity risk consultancy firm, Climate Law Lab and Biodiversity Risk Advisor at the Commonwealth Climate and Law Initiative. Links to resources Biodiversity risk: Legal implications for companies and their directors Commonwealth Climate and Law Initiative TNFD Visit


30. Multilateral environmental agreements - MEAs (Peter Bridgewater)

Wherever conservation takes place, at whatever scale, and in whatever form, there’s a good chance that it is somehow affected by the decisions taken under multilateral environmental agreements, or “MEAs”. These agreements, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, are made between multiple countries - sometimes including almost all of the world's nations - with the aim of addressing one or another environmental challenge. There are now hundreds of MEAs, set up to guide national and subnational actions toward a more sustainable future. They are supported by secretariats that coordinate their work and convene large international meetings between the countries that have signed up to them. And yet, most conservationists are unaware of how these high-level agreements work, or how well they work. Peter Bridgewater is a veteran of various MEA negotiations, and has published extensively about biodiversity MEAs in particular. Among various professorships and other positions, he was the Secretary General of the oldest biodiversity MEA, the Ramsar Convention, between 2003 and 2007. In our discussion Peter explains what MEAs are, and he speaks frankly about their importance, their potential, and their shortcomings. Links to resources Peter's publications How did IPBES Estimate '1 Million Species At Risk of Extinction'Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity FrameworkRamsar ConventionConvention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild AnimalsCITESThe International Convention for the Regulation of WhalingBasel, Rotterdam and Stockholm ConventionsVisit


29. Biodiversity offsets: A necessary evil? (Martine Maron)

In days gone by development (of cities, infrastructure, agriculture, etc.) happened without regard for the environment. And it was really the devastating effects of unimpeded development that led to the establishment and early growth of the environmental movement, broadly speaking. We have become much more efficient at using land and other resources, but development remains inevitable. In theory, biodiversity offsets cancel out the effect of development by conserving biodiversity "elsewhere". But that’s just theory. Biodiversity offsets are controversial for a number of reasons. It is, however, likely that we are stuck with them as a tool to mitigate biodiversity loss. Joining me on episode 29 of The Case for Conservation Podcast is ecologist at the University if Queensland, Martine Maron. For much of her career Martine has been researching offsets, and doing her best to make sure they are properly implemented. In our discussion she explains what they are, why we’re stuck with them, and how to make the most of them. Links to resources Videos - IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management Thematic Group Taming a Wicked Problem: Resolving Controversies in Biodiversity OffsettingOn track to achieve no net loss of forest at Madagascar’s biggest mineVisit


28b. Politics, the media, and the environment (Omnia El Omrani)

After decades of struggling for recognition, environmental issues, including biodiversity conservation, have exploded onto the global scene in recent years. This is incredibly encouraging and gratifying, but are we sufficiently aware of the risks that come with such vastly increased public support? How much is politics influencing the public discourse on the environment? Are we paying enough attention to other, interrelated, societal goals and the trade-offs between them? In the last episode Esther Krakue provided a fairly critical view of environmental activism with a focus mostly on climate change. With that in mind, I am joined this time by Omnia El Omrani, a young Egyptian medical doctor and self-described climate activist. Omnia has worked with organizations like the WHO, the UN climate convention, and the Global Climate and Health Alliance, and she was the youth envoy to the President of COP27 - the big UN climate conference hosted by Egypt in late 2022. Omnia comes from a different perspective to Esther, and I think that this provides an interesting contrast - I suggest you listen to these two discussions as a set, but not in any particular order. Visit


28a. Politics, the media, and the environment (Esther Krakue)

After decades of struggling for recognition, environmental issues, including biodiversity conservation, have exploded onto the global scene in recent years. This is incredibly encouraging and gratifying, but are we sufficiently aware of the risks that come with such vastly increased public support? How much is politics influencing the public discourse on the environment? Are we paying enough attention to other, interrelated, societal goals and the trade-offs between them? Esther Krakue is a young broadcaster, writer, and talk TV contributor. She’s been on the media scene for only a few years, but she features on various well-known TV channels, podcasts and other forums. She has some strong opinions on how environmentalism, especially environmental activism, may be heading in the wrong direction, and could even threaten the movement itself. Links to resources referred to in the episode Can GMOs benefit biodiversity? Loss and damageDead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa Visit


27. Deforestation and zoonotic disease spillover - a complex relationship (Andre Mader)

This month, for the first time, I am the interviewee rather than the interviewer. This episode was recorded for BioScience Talks, the podcast of the journal BioScience, which recently published an article that I co-authored. The article is about science and media communication around Covid-19 and, in particular, the way that some of the scientific literature, and much of the media, have portrayed the relationship between land change and disease spillover risk. To be clear, my co-authors and I are not suggesting that the destruction of nature is not a key driver of spillover. There is plenty of evidence that it is. We are pointing out why this is not always the case, and why it’s risky to imply that it is. Visit


26. Perceptions of science communication (Neil Waters & Erin Kawazu)

Covid-19 has, probably more than anything, ever, made science communication a matter of public interest. A couple of weeks before recording this episode, the journal BioScience published an article that I co-authored, which takes a critical look at one aspect of science messaging - the way it has portrayed the relationship between land change and infectious disease risk. That paper will actually be the focus of next month's episode of the podcast, but this month I am joined by two of my young co-authors on that paper to discuss science communication more generally. All three of us are science communicators in some sense, but we're novices in this field. So this is not an authoritative overview but rather a discussion of perceptions based on what we have observed, especially over the past couple of years. Neil Waters is a Canadian ecologist who has been studying and working in Tokyo, where he currently teaches science writing. Erin Kawazu is part of the communications team at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) in Hayama, not far from Tokyo, where I also work. She has a background in health and the environment. Links to resources: Annual Summary Report of Coral Reef Condition 2021/22Messaging Should Reflect the Nuanced Relationship between Land Change and Zoonotic Disease Risk Time stamps: coming soon Visit


25. Why could urbanization save biodiversity? (Eric Sanderson)

Cities - even the greenest of them - replace nature with glass, concrete and asphalt. And their footprint extends far beyond their boundaries to provide for the needs of the thousands, millions, or ten of millions of people concentrated within them. They are home to most of the people on Earth and are the sources of most pollution. But it seems cities are also an inevitable result of the development of civilization. They are growing in size and number, especially in some of the most biodiverse and least spoiled part of the planet. So, does that mean they are a fundamental obstacle to conservation? Should conservationists be trying to de-urbanize? My guest for this episode of The Case for Conservation Podcast answers those questions with an emphatic "no". Eric Sanderson is a landscape ecologist and Senior Conservation Ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, based at the Bronx Zoo in New York. He has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and other publications on a wide range of conservation topics. These include two books, one of which, Manahatta: A Natural History of New York City, was a New York Times bestseller when it was published in 2009. See episode 6 with Debra Roberts for another look at cities and conservation, from a different angle Links to resources: From Bottleneck to Breakthrough: Urbanization and the Future of Biodiversity ConservationBioScienceMannahatta: A Natural History of New York City Time stamps: ...coming soon Visit


24. Can GMOs benefit biodiversity? (Joseph Opoku Gakpo)

Few technologies are viewed with as much suspicion as genetic modification. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are banned in several parts of the world; an entire protocol under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is dedicated to controlling their effects on biodiversity; and national and international agreements and regulations tightly legislate their use across a broad range of applications. Why, then, do GMOs continue to grow in popularity? Why do farmers in the developing world consider them game-changing tools to deal with the demands of making a living, or even a livelihood, from agriculture? And what's all this subversive business about GMOs being good for biodiversity? Joseph Opoku Gakpo is an environmental journalist who writes about GMOs and other aspects of agriculture, the environment, and rural development. He is Ghana correspondent for "Alliance for Science", and was awarded the Ghana Journalists Association prize for Best Journalist in Poverty Alleviation Reporting in 2015. Joseph has a passion for sharing the struggle of farmers and other rural people, which is reflected in his refreshingly clear and level-headed style of reporting. In this illuminating discussion we talk about how GMOs got such a bad name; whether any of the allegations against them are reasonable; what they mean for poor people around the world; and what is the nature of their relationship with biodiversity. Links to resources: Ghana’s GMO conversation turns to biodiversityGhanaian scientist: ‘Africa needs GMOs more than the rest of the world’The Cartagena Protocol on BiosafetyTime stamps: 02:09: What are GMOs? 04:17: Why GMOs are so controversial 08:20: The geographical chronology of GMO introduction 09:27: Why GMOs shouldn’t be shunned 11:41: What about impacts on health; terminator genes; and contamination of other organisms? 17:56: How GMOs can help biodiversity 20:00: Savings to farmers 25:00: The slow uptake of GMOs in some parts of the world and the targeted traits of GMOs 30:53: Changing perspectives on GMOs, and local champions of GMOs 40:25: Changing attitudes in Europe? 43:08: Does political polarization play a role? 45:57: The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety Visit


23. How alarmed should we be about the environment? (Matt Ridley)

This episode is about environmental alarmism. Alarmism means exaggerating danger and thereby causing needless worry or panic. These days the media is flooded with proclamations and predictions of ecological catastrophe. There is no doubt that our environmental challenges are many, and huge, and they certainly do present dangers. But are they being seen in the context of broader developmental challenges and associated trade-offs? Or in the context of humankind's past achievements, and our ability to adapt? And is alarmist rhetoric the best way to motivate action to deal with them? Among the people offering answers to questions like these, is this month’s guest on The Case for Conservation Podcast, Matt Ridley. Matt was, until he retired last year, an elected member of the UK Parliament’s House of Lords. He’s been been writer and/or editor for The Economist and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications, and his non-fiction books have sold more than a million copies. They include "The Rational Optimist", "The Evolution of Everything", "How Innovation Works" and, most recently, "Viral: The Search for the Origin of COVID-19". His 2010 TED talk, "When Ideas Have Sex", has been viewed more than 2 and a half million times, and he’s spoken on various other popular forums including, quite recently, the Jordan Peterson Podcast. Links to resources: The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity EvolvesHow Innovation Works: Serendipity, Energy and the Saving of TimeViral: The Search for the Origin of COVID-19When ideas have sexEmissions – the ‘business as usual’ story is misleading Time stamps: 02:50: Matt's response to a Guardian article about climate change terminology 06:59: Species conservation and reports of species loss due to to climate change 13:35: A counsel of despair 15:32: The possible influence of funding in environmental rhetoric 17:40: How innovation helps conservation 24:40: How ecological footprint calculations may be misleading; finite resources 34:23: The Jevons paradox 35:42: The evolution of lightbulb technology; prehistoric technology without innovation 38:12: Which environmental issues are being neglected? 42:14: Invasive species as a driver of biodiversity loss 45:32: Is deforestation the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic? 48:27: Is there a link between environmental alarmism and theories of Covid-19 origins? Visit


22. Trophy hunting: Who's to judge? (Lochran Traill)

Most people outside Africa probably don’t associate trophy hunting with conservation. In fact, certain publicized incidents of trophy hunting have caused something of a global moral panic. The same often goes for the culling of animal populations to manage their numbers and the trade in ivory, even ivory harvested from elephants that die naturally. In today’s discussion we get into these perceptions, and my guest explains why they may be misguided. Lochran Traill is a lecturer at the University of Leeds. He is a conservation biologist and, having grown up in Zimbabwe, specializes in African ecology and conservation. Among the many topics he has researched and published on in top journals, is the afore-mentioned trophy hunting. Our discussion focuses on, but is not limited to, his most recent paper, on divergent views on trophy hunting in Africa, especially between people in Africa, and people outside the continent. Links to resources: Divergent views on trophy hunting in Africa, and what this may mean for research and policyConservation LettersCampfire AssociationCecil the Lion incidentPredicting the evolutionary consequences of trophy hunting on a quantitative traitThe Journal of Wildlife Management Time stamps: ... coming soon Visit


21. How can we better understand environmental change? (Timm Hoffman)

In 1975, biologist Paul Ehrlich said that 90% of tropical rainforests would be lost by about 2005. Although their loss has continued at a steady rate, by 2019 the figure was more like 32%. Also in the 1970s, ecologist Kenneth Watt forecast a world 11 degrees colder in the year 2000. Of course, it’s been well publicized that the trend is in the opposite direction, and at a less severe pace. At a more modest scale, botanist John Acocks predicted in the 1950s that South Africa's Karoo (a desert-like area the size of present-day Germany) would expand into neighboring ecosystems, amounting to the desertification of millions of hectares of the country. As you’ll hear in today’s discussion, the Karoo in fact appears to have decreased in size. There are plenty of other examples of predictions of environmental change proving to be completely wrong. Perhaps those making the predictions didn't spend enough time looking into the past in order to forecast the future; and perhaps they didn't consult a diverse enough pool of expertise to inform their predictions. Timm Hoffman is a professor of plant conservation at the University of Cape Town (UCT) who, for decades, has used a variety of techniques to understand changes in biodiversity and landscapes. I have long admired Timm for the humility with which he approaches this subject. We talk about the methods he uses, especially repeat photography, and about the role of community engagement. And Timm argues that an interdisciplinary approach to ecology and conservation is likely to give us the best idea of what is going on. This episode is focused on southern Africa, but I’m sure you’ll find the lessons universally applicable. Links to resources: Before the Beginning: Cosmology Explained Plant Conservation Unit Re-thinking catastrophe? Historical trajectories and modelled future vegetation change in southern AfricaAnthropoceneInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies Time stamps: 02:35: Are conservationists too confident in their assumptions about environmental change? 04:40: Timm's experiences that have informed his points of view including the influence of disciplines and people outside of conservation 19:04: How do communities feel about researchers? 24:10: Community photo project 25:38: What is repeat photography? 32:20: How to define degradation or improvement in the landscape 43:41: How communities help to fill knowledge gaps 45:47: Loss of traditional knowledge Visit


20. Is renewable energy better for biodiversity? (Alexandros Gasparatos)

Renewable energy is one of the great hopes of humankind when it comes to addressing the threat of climate change and some forms of pollution. Thanks to technological advances it’s now become cost-effective enough to compete with non-renewable energy sources. As renewable energy technologies and efficiency continue improving, and new innovations emerge, it’s hoped that we can make clean energy ubiquitous. But, as Thomas Sowell said, "there are no solutions - only trade-offs". The harm done by energy generation is not just about the gasses emitted during the generation process. It’s also about where renewable energy infrastructure is located; the materials that are mined and transported to build energy infrastructure; the batteries to store energy from non-baseload sources; the waste produced when energy infrastructure needs to be renewed; and, of most relevance to today’s discussion, the relative impacts of different forms of energy production on biodiversity. Alexandros Gasparatos is Associate Professor of Sustainability Science at the Institute for Future Initiatives at the University of Tokyo; and Adjunct Associate Professor at the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, also in Tokyo. He is an ecological economist interested in, among many other things, renewable energy and energy policy. In my conversation with him he makes clear above all, I think, that the relationship between energy production (from both renewable and non-renewable sources) and biodiversity is highly complex and what constitutes best solutions can be context-dependent. Time stamps: 2:13 Different energy production "pathways" 3:50 What is bioenergy? 6:39 How gaps in the literature inspired Alexandros to explore this area of conservation 13:48 How different forms of energy production differ in terms of their impact on nature 20:15 The difficulty in comparing different forms of energy production 25:02 Scale mismatches, and local versus global impacts 30:45 Other factors to consider, like energy security 32:44 Configuration choice and other ways of reducing impact 38:00 Trade-offs and context 42:18 Working with stakeholders Visit


19. Is aquaculture good or bad for the environment? (Roz Naylor)

It’s widely agreed that one of our greatest global environmental challenges is the impact of fisheries on the oceans. Aquaculture, practiced at a small scale around the world and especially in Asia for centuries, emerged decades ago as a potential solution. But it soon became clear that aquaculture was using more wild-caught fish as feed (as an input), than it was generating as product. In other words, it was making the situation even worse. However, things have changed in the way that we manage this final frontier of agricultural intensification. And this story is not all about the ocean. Mariculture - marine aquaculture - supplies more than 50% of the world’s seafood, but the freshwater aquaculture is even larger than the mariculture industry. Aquaculture is a big deal. I spoke about this subject with economist Roz Naylor, a professor of earth system science at Stanford University's Center for Food Security and the Environment. She led a seminal review to examine the "Effect of aquaculture on world fish supplies", which was published in the journal, Nature, in 2000. Twenty years later she led the publication of "A 20-year retrospective review of global aquaculture", again in Nature. Both papers took an exhaustive look at all the literature available at the time, to piece together comprehensive narratives that outlined the pros and cons; the advances and obstacles of one of humankind's most important and promising food systems, and its impact on the environment. Time stamps: 2:10 What is aquaculture - what does it include? 2:57 Where is most aquaculture happening? 5:30 The many species used in aquaculture and how they are used. 10:16 Roz’s interest in aquaculture, as an economist. 12:25 How aquaculture became more sustainable, and related trade-offs 20:58 Technology that has improved aquacultural production and sustainability 27:53 Aquaculture species’ energy conversion efficiency 29:33 The potential and limitations of "extractive species" 34:57 Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture 37:32 Future promise of aquaculture Visit