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Conflicts can grow from tiny beginnings. Indignation can build from a small matter to the point where countries go to war. And young men and young women are once more sent out to kill each other.

There is a simmering dispute between Japan and China over ownership of a small group of islands. It would be a fine thing indeed if resentment on both sides were put to rest. The consequences of a dispute here is unpredictable – and it could have consequences for the rest of us. Must we, the people of the world, always stay silent in matters like this? Our voices, if in sufficient numbers, generating a global concern, could help both sides of the conflict to draw back from conflict and struggle towards a more moderate position.

One position that we might suggest is that the disputed islands and the seas around them be designated as a world national park to be administered by the IUCN, or similar body, for the benefit  and the protection of species that depend for their survival on that area. ‘Ownership’ of this disputed area could be placed under the authority of the UN until such time that both parties to the dispute anvil out between them a more peaceful accommodation for their difficulties. And young men and young women need not go to war.

The United Nations may find difficulty with this proposal. If so then let it modify what is proposed here so that it fits into their accepted procedures – but let it happen. You owe us that.

Those who read this blog, if you agree with what is proposed here, I would be pleased indeed if you would re-blog it and re-tweet it to others to generate a ground-swell of ‘people opinion’ to prevent this creeping inevitability toward conflict over these islands.






Kill all snakes and frogs!

Are we  clowns?

32% of amphibians; 24% of birds and 12% of mammals are in threat of extinction. Hundreds of these offer potential in medical science and in food improvements but even with that going for them we are still not unduly exercised by this reality. We are indeed fools.

Bushmaster snakes from South America kill in an interesting manner – their venom drops the blood pressure of their victims to zero. But the same venom hold potential in the manufacture of blood pressure medication.

The poison in Panamanian Poison Frogs offer possibility in alleviating heart conditions. One scorpion may prove useful in the production of molecules to fight brain tumours.

There are about 600 species of cone snails. Only six have been studied in any detail. Those who suffer from epilepsy should know that the poison in the dart that they inject into their prey  offers hope for this ailment. Yet we destroy the mangrove swamps that they need: why do we destroy them? We do it  to create shrimp farms.

Yes we are indeed clowns.

At this stage we need nothing less than a world conservation ethic  that millions of people in dozens of countries would experience  a wake-up call that all of us need to come together to stem this loss of species – even if it is only for our own selfish reasons.

We are indeed fools if we continue to allow this draining away of potential into extinction.

Nothing less than a World Ethic for Nature!


There will be a three day festival – the Carnsore Summer School in Wexford on Friday 23 August to Sunday 25 August. If last year’s events are anything to go by this will be a wonderful happy occasion of music and dance and discussion on the environment and how we might all work together to improve it.

I have been invited to give a talk on Saturday afternoon on how we might generate a world ethic for nature. I hope to meet many who follow me on my blog at the festival. You might like to turn up for one or for all of the days.

Details on the events at the Carnsore Point Summer School can be had by logging onto the Green Foundation Ireland website. 

 Hope to see you all there.



To Hell with Ecology.


“To hell with ecology I want my job” This was a headline I saw in a Florida newspaper 30 years ago. And notwithstanding thousands of conferences, discussions and editorials over those past 30 years there has been scant shift from this attitude.

There is a political immutable reality too that stands as a twin brother beside this intransigency. When any government’s policy on the environment clashes up against its policy on job creation – job considerations always win. 

In a few hours time I will be attending the Dublin Climate Gathering meeting. Sincere concerns will be expressed at the prospects of global warming. At a thousand gatherings similar to this one participants will be expected to be optimistic that through ardent discussion we will somehow uncover solutions to this planet-wide dilemma.

But the attitude as held in that Florida newspaper those years ago holds just as steady today. So, following conference after conference, we will muddle along in the absence of any worthwhile change. 

Global temperatures will continue to increase. Goepolitical and environmental changes will flow as a consequence. We need now to plan for global warming.

Now where’s my coat? I have a conference to attend to!


Loss of Wonderment.


In a rainforest in Queensland, Australia, in about 1980 a small frog sat on a stone in a wet place. She had conspicuously protruding eyes. At a casual glance there was little beyond that that would catch the interest of a passer-by. Except for one thing. She had been given the extraordinary name of gastric-brooding frog. How could anyone conjure-up such a name! Come on!

This frog, with no notable colouration, however, had one little trick that said she was important.

Frog’s eggs, tadpoles and babies suffer from high predation. So what is a frog to do to protect her brood? This species evolved an astonishing process to give her youngsters their best chance of survival. She laid her eggs and the male fertilized them in the normal way of frogs. Then she did an unbelievable thing – she ate them all up – like Goldilocks eating the baby bear’s porridge.

So where’s the great plan in all of that? Eating your own eggs to prevent Great Diving Beetles from doing the same seems – well – a bit dumb. It’s as though mum hadn’t quite joined up all the dotted lines to come up with a workable solution. 

When food slips down into the stomach – acids break it up into nutrients – but in this frog’s case the eggs secrete a chemical that protects them from the corrosive digestive juices. The developing tadpoles and the resultant baby frogs, still in the mother’s stomach, also produce the same protective shield. And when mum frog judges the time to be right she regurgitates and spits out her brood of tiny children, one by one, to take their chances in the great world outside.

And there is another consideration here – usefulness – to us. In the USA alone up to 25 million Americans suffer from peptic ulcers; a painful condition. Could the chemical shield produced by the eggs of this frog lead to the discovery of a drug that would be a cure for this painful human condition? Scientists started to work on this possibility. Then all research stopped. Why? Because sometime in the early 1980s the gastric-brooding frog became extinct. It had taken millions of years of evolution to create this chemical – and now it had disappeared with the disappearance of this frog. 

There were two different species of gastric-brooding frog. Both have become extinct. the reason is not clear. Fungal infection and damage to the bits of rainforest they needed may have been part of the cause.

That a small frog managed to evolve such a process is far beyond our understanding. We can only drop down into silence at the mystery of it all. 

In her going we have lost one more wonder from our world.



I had an old dog: a dog I loved dearly. A Bearded Collie.Her  name was Zoey. She went out onto the road and played with a small dog. Back and forth they went having a great time as friends do. A truck came at speed and killed my dog. The driver did not think it was worth his while to stop.

One moment my dog was full of life and the next dead. Life can deal out a hand of cards like that. And whatever we try to express about such events – means nothing.

But one extraordinary thing happened that has left me mighty puzzled.

The small dog, who but a moment before was playing with her friend, did a strange thing. She stood, all four feet, up on the body of Zoey who lay on her side. The small dog stared straight ahead and started to scrape her hind paws repeatedly against the side of my dead dog. She continued to do this for a full minute, never looking down, just staring ahead down the road. Then she got off Zoey and walked off with never a look back.

I buried my dog. The next day while driving home the small dog was lying on the road in the EXACT spot where my dog had been killed. I know it to be the exact spot because of a mark on the road at that place. After that I never saw the small dog again.

Can anyone please explain what was happening here, in particular why the small dog scraped her paws in the fashion described? I am mystified.

Has anyone reading this witnessed a similar experience among dogs or other animals? 




The air was particularly fragrant that morning. The scent of flowers across the entire pond was never finer. It was a good place to be for a frog.

He sat on a half-submerged leaf with the sun full on his face. With particular satisfaction he reflected on the three lady frogs he had covered the evening before. Many tadpoles would issue as a result of that profligate dalliance with those notable dainty strumpets.

Then his patch of sunlight suddenly darkened. A large princess, notable for her extreme ugliness, unruly manner and gross weight, lowered herself into a heap on the very edge of the pond. It was clear to him that she intended to sit there for a considerable time and thereby blocking his place in the sun.

He shuffled around on the lily-pad and said to her: “If you kiss me I will turn you into a beautiful creature.”

Well, what was a girl to do? How could any girl, especially one of her disposition, pass up on such an offer!

She got down on her broad hands and broader knees and leaning far out over the pond kissed the frog – and was immediately turned into a beautiful butterfly.

The frog ate the butterfly and the sun shone down on his pond as before.