Economics creates the human-wildlife conflict, and only economics can cure it

We watched episode 3 of Dynasties last night, presented by the indefatigable Sir David Attenborough. Set in Kenya’s Masai Mara, it told the story of an exceptionally resourceful lioness, ‘Charm’, and her number two, ‘Sienna’, and their struggles to feed and protect their extended young family – the remnants of the famous Marsh Pride. Deserted by the males, Charm and her band of young and adolescent lions faced the same challenges that her forebears have done for thousands of years – among them marauding hyena, aggressive buffalo, and the potentially lethal, slashing horns of those they would prey on – chiefly wildebeest.

However much of a sceptic you may be about dire warnings – they can’t all be wrong – planet Earth is steadily sliding into deep trouble and there’s no end to the decline in sight…. But could there still be a way to turn things around?

October was an ice bath shock for those who care about the welfare of the world’s wildlife and the environment. First it was the UN’s revelation that we only have 12 years to limit climate change to avoid the world getting to a tipping point of no return. To add to this shocker, they said that the 2⁰C maximum for global warming now needs to be restricted to just 1.5⁰C. Wasn’t 2⁰C meant to be nearly impossible?

The problem of waste plastics won’t be ended merely by the actions of concerned citizens – it will take something new, profound and dynamic.

If the Queen of England’s doing it, with fanfare, you know it’s got to be significant. And it is. David Attenborough’s sensational Blue Planet series awakened the masses to a truth long known by anyone half interested in the environment – that the oceans are being smothered in plastic waste. As I recall it, Thor Hyadal, crossing the Atlantic on his papyrus raft, “Ra II” to try to prove the Egyptians got to South America and built pyramids, reported giant floating masses of debris tens of miles across in remote regions. Then it was the great marine ecologist and inventor of the aqualung Jacques Cousteau.