Making the Links: February 2015

In January I launched “Making the Links,” a monthly blog series in which I attempt to connect the dots between nature and people in some recent news stories. (To learn more about the goal of the series, read the first post.)

gray wolf

Gray wolf numbers are bouncing back in the American West, spurring rancher concerns about protecting their herds. However, wolves play an important role in their native habitats, and getting rid of them may not actually reduce livestock loss. (© John and Karen Hollingsworth/USFWS)

Here’s my link roundup from February.

The Nature in Humans (Stories Secretly about Nature)

1.     Now You Can Sign Up to Keep Drones Away from Your Property

This story is one of a plethora of recent articles voicing public concern about the growing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (more commonly known as drones), which may soon do everything from espionage to delivering pizzas.

What’s missing: Many of these articles neglect to discuss some of the more positive contributions drones could have on societies worldwide by providing a cheaper, safer way to keep a look out for illegal activities. For example, as CI’s Tracy Farrell recently explained in the Phnom Penh Post, drones could be used to document land clearing in hard-to-access places like rural Cambodia.

2.     Sea Dwellers Without a State

CNN profiles a beautiful project by Spanish photographer Guillem Valle to document the Badjao, a stateless tribe of fishers who have lived off the shores of Borneo for more than two centuries.

What’s missing: The article’s focus is Valle’s work—“part of a larger project about stateless people that has taken him to places such as Kosovo, China, South Sudan and the Palestinian territories.” However, the author could have taken things further by talking about how the number of stateless peoples will likely increase as the world’s first climate change refugees flee their inundated homelands, which are disappearing under ocean waves.

The Humans in Nature (Stories Secretly about People)

1.     Reel-y? 280-pound Catfish Reportedly Caught in Italy’s Po River

This CNN article focuses on how the size of this giant catfish compares to the largest catfish ever caught in Italy and worldwide.

What’s missing: While the story clearly states that a fish of this size is a rare find, it fails to emphasize just how rare. In fact, a recent study estimated that 76% of freshwater species were lost between 1970 and 2010. Fortunately for the subject of this story — as well as the future of this species — the fish in question was released back into the river.

2.     Gray Wolves, Once Decimated by Eradication Campaign, Rebound in Oregon

This Reuters story talks about a resurgence in gray wolf populations, as well as the concern of nearby ranchers who fear the predators will kill their livestock.

What’s missing: Predators play an important role in all healthy ecosystems, keeping other species in the food web in check. And as National Geographic reported a few months back, a recent study found that killing wolves may actually increase the likelihood of the animals preying on livestock.

Stay tuned next month for my next “Making the Links” post — and feel free to add your own “missing link” finds in the comments section.

Molly Bergen is the senior managing editor of Human Nature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *