The picture above shows myself with Taurai Bere from Zimbabwe at the Use of Algae for Monitoring Rivers meeting in Trento. Taurai gave an interesting talk on the use of diatoms for biological monitoring in Brazil and Zimbabwe, ending with a call for better interactions between scientists and the general public and decision-makers. It was a theme that others had already echoed (see previous post) and, for me, is a positive sign that the ecological assessment community is getting more realistic.
His final clarion call deserves repeating: “Those who want a second term need to be convinced that the environment, too, needs a second term.” The relative indifference of politicians to the environment at the moment seems to be common both in the UK (see “A plague on both their houses …” and “The political landscape isn’t very green …”) and Zimbabwe. That is probably a comparison that David Cameron will not welcome.
But we should not be complacent. The problem is, at least in part, the fault of ecologists who are not able to move their information through the political and administrative “ecosystem” (see “The human ecosystem of environmental management”). Sorting this one out is going to take a long time, but I’m leaving Trento with some stimulating conversations on which to dwell and a renewed impetus to make sure that everyone understands the importance of algae as a vital component of healthy ecosystems.