I’ve had a busy few weeks of writing. Here are intros and links to five articles I have had published in December.
Scientific American: The nearly magical properties of fig trees
When the Indonesian island volcano Krakatoa erupted in 1883, the waves it sent forth crashed into Bantam, some 50 kilometers away in western Java, and flattened forest for a distance of more than 300 meters inland. All that remained standing, said French scientists who visited a year later, were tall fig trees, their bare branches reaching skyward.
ChinaDialogue: Biodiversity talks end with slew of announcements
Intergovernmental negotiations under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Cancún, Mexico ended with a slew of decisions aimed at safeguarding nature, ensuring natural resources can be used sustainably, and that the benefits are shared fairly and equitably.
*Read on in English, Chinese or Spanish
Thomson Reuters: Can living fig-tree bridges save lives in a changing climate?
In 1841, a young Scotsman called Henry Yule was exploring the Khasi Hills of north-east India when he came upon something no other European had ever reported. There, in that challenging landscape of thick rainforest and perilous gorges, was a most extraordinary structure — a living bridge formed from the roots of a gnarly old fig tree.
*Read the full article here.
BBC Earth magazine: The human butterfly
High on a sea cliff on the Hawaiian island of Kauai grows a strange and very special plant. Its grey stem is swollen at its base to conserve water. Atop the stem sits a rosette of shiny green leaves. “It sort of looks like a cabbage on a bowling pin,” says Steve Perlman, the botanist who has repeatedly risked his life to save it from extinction. Its name is Brighamia insignis, and it’s a species with many problems.
*Read the full article in the December edition of the magazine.
New Scientist: Tree of life – How figs built the world and will help save it
Their leaves clothed Adam and Eve; their roots were used by the Maasai people’s god to shuttle the first cattle from heaven to Earth; and according to an Indonesian story, two gods carved the first couple from their wood. The presence of fig trees in numerous origin myths is down to more than coincidence. They have shaped our world since long before the dawn of humanity, and have fed us and our imaginations for millennia. Now, as the world warms and forests fall, these extraordinary trees could help us to restore life to deforested landscapes.
*Read the full article here or in the print edition.