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I used to be indecisive…

by Rebecca Nesbit

While I like to maintain that my long-term reputation for indecisiveness is unfair, I have had an especially bad bout of it recently. For  the last few weeks I have spent vast quantities of time thinking about whether we should save the panda, because of the debate we are having during Biology Week (‘Do we need pandas? Choosing which species to save’). Now the debate is tomorrow, the poll on the Society of Biology website is swinging about 3/4 in favour, and I still haven’t voted.

I swung towards yes for a while, because of what it would mean for the image of conservation if pandas went extinct. It is easy to believe that conservation is a lost cause, and would the negative feeling associated with the loss of the panda reduce people’s enthusiasm for changing their lifestyle to protect biodiversity (reducing the amount of meat we eat, the rate at which we get through cotton clothes, the amount we use our cars etc), and the level of donations people are willing to make? As a PR tool, pandas are pretty good. But then, part of me is still stubbonly believing that beauty is not what determines value.

So, you can vote on whether we should save the panda (you have until tomorrow afternoon), join the discussion I started, or listen to my podcast. I’ll be live tweeting with the hashtag #pandadebate from 6-7pm tomorrow, and you can tweet me questions any time up to then. Then maybe after the debate I will be able to tell you which way I voted.

Happy Biology Week 2012!

4 comments to I used to be indecisive…

  • You should try to get some environmental economists involved in this discussion. You can find a couple of good ones over at http://www.env-econ.net. Tim and John frequently blog about things like “existence values” for endangered species. I know that the idea of computing cash values for species offends a lot of tree-huggers, but there are some pretty compelling arguments for doing those calculations anyway.

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