The definition of irony?

The Vote Leave campaign is claiming that the UK is a science super power; and they are using that as an argument for why we don’t need the EU. The question is where exactly does the money that makes the UK a science super power come from?

Since 2009 the amount spent on publicly funded research in the UK has been reduced every single year. It has now hit an all-time low at less than 0.5% of the GDP. This means that the UK is now last among the G8 countries in terms of public spending on research.

On the other hand there is EU’s framework programme for research and innovation called Horizon 2020. This is literally the biggest pot of research money in the world, distributing approximately €80 billion from 2014-2020. Scientists based in the UK have been very successful in the competition for this money. In the first round they came out on top as the country with most funded projects in the entire EU worth almost €1 billion.

If the UK leaves EU it is uncertain how much of Horizon 2020 the UK would be allowed to participate in, if any at all. Just ask the Swiss who ran afoul of EU with the adoption of an anti immigration initiative in 2014. EU withdrew their full association status and they have now only access to certain parts of the programme; in most cases only as collaborative partners without any direct access to EU funding.

So the Vote Leave campaign claims that the fact that the UK is a science super power means that we don’t need the EU. A shame that nobody has told them that the majority of the money that makes it so arrives directly from the EU they are trying so hard to get rid of.


Join the herd

Kenya has just burned over 100 tons of ivory as a message to poachers worldwide that poaching is not tolerated. Some believe that Kenya is wrong and that this act might encourage poaching instead. I disagree. I believe that advocates of controlled hunting and trade are leading us onto a slippery slope that will only increase the demand for ivory (and rhino horn). I think we should concentrate on educating people and reducing the demand instead. No demand – no poaching.


Orphaned elephant who has been a bit to close to a snare (scar on his trunk). South Luangwa NP.

What a mighty victory that would be, if we could make sure that our grandchildren also will be able to see elephants in the wild. If we could ensure that they might be able to sit under a thatched palm roof in Northern Zambia working on a laptop; lamenting the fact that it is SO hot that not even the breeze flowing into the open palapa brings any relief whatsoever. I wish they might be able to suddenly look up and realise that a 5 ton bull elephant has managed to sneak up on them and is now standing around 15 feet away using its trunk to hoover the floor under the kitchen table for cereal crumbs from breakfast.


At the end of the dry season in Zambia humans and elephants have to share the limited water resources. North Luangwa NP.

.. Or that they might be able to wake up suddenly in the middle of the night, when it has finally cooled down some, wondering what that crunching noise from just outside the window is. Only to find out on closer inspection that it is another bull elephant munching on the fruits of the marula tree next to the hut. A bull elephant who doesn’t mind a scrawny little human tiptoeing outside to sit in a bamboo chair and watch him go about his business for the next hour.

That is my wish. That, and maybe world peace, wouldn’t be so much to ask would it? Please Santa?