Blockbuster director James Cameron set a different kind of record on Monday by becoming the 1st person to reach the Challenger deep site (the deepest recess of the Mariana Trench) solo. While on his voyage 11 kilometers below the surface of the ocean, Cameron collected samples that will play a large role in helping us understand the biology of the deep water habitat.
It’s so exciting that there are still so many places in the world that we know very little about. Discoveries and missions like the one led by National Geographic and Mr. Cameron should inspire a whole new generation of scientists and researchers and that, is something that Avatar can’t claim!
Innovation and discovery have always been a double edged sword. While our society and culture progress with new inventions, these same inventions can tend to create new problems. It’s a story as old as time. The printing press helped spread knowledge and educate the masses, but also provided a tool for propagandists. Nuclear energy has helped provide electric power to countless households without the need for fossil fuels, but has also allowed for the engineering of weapons of mass destruction. The list goes on.
In the 21st Century, the Internet has helped give everyone a voice; it has connected people and alerted them to injustices taking place halfway around the world, but it has also helped facilitate atrocities. In a recent article, the BBC has highlighted the dangers of sharing newly discovered species on the Internet. While we should rejoice in learning of wildlife discoveries, the article tells of a sordid twist of fate. Due to the rarity of many such species, writing about them can help them become objects of desire for limitless illegal wildlife collectors worldwide. While wildlife enthusiasts read of discoveries around the world, so do smugglers and traffickers.
This reality puts conversationists in a bind. It is difficult to raise money for new discoveries and conservation efforts without sharing findings but sharing findings can make their work more challenging. Some conservationists argue that listing species as endangered can seal their fate. The BBC article offers no solutions to the problem but we ask you: How would you solve this dilemma?
Read the BBC piece here.
So many cool discoveries were made this year. Check out this Top 10 list from National Geographic and learn more about this year’s coolest finds.