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Science and ‘social learning’ key to reduce climate disaster risks – Oxpeckers

Disrupting the Future: How communities and experts work together to reduce flood disaster risks in Limpopo. A multimedia #ClimaTracker investigation by Anina Mumm EXPLORE THE FULL MULTIMEDIA FEATURE HERE When the Western Cape experienced its worst storm in three decades in early June, disaster relief teams were on stand-by thanks to the early warnings provided by…

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Pee, poo & pollen say climate change is real

While chatting with one Nigel Barker of UP (@Nigel_GEBP) about something different entirely, he mentions that Dassie middens, used by generations of the little critters to drop their deposits into neat, sticky piles over 100s of years come rain or shine, can tell us if, in fact, it was raining or shining. The stickiness of the…

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Yesterday I learnt that it is us

Us. We who live in cities. We who are employed. We who are academics. We who are food secure. We who have air conditioning. We who drive cars. We who write about how climate change affects vulnerable communities from the comfort of the conference couch within cable distance of the plug. We who attend said…

Theodore Roosevelt on a hunting safari, somewhere around 1900. Photo: Wikipedia?library of Congress

“Puff adders don’t smell … like anything” – meerkats, dogs

These little guys learn much faster than dogs apparently, at least when it comes to learning how to pick out a snake’s scent from a line-up. A photo posted by Anina Mumm (@aninja_m) on Jan 11, 2016 at 12:19pm PST In this photo, Ash Miller, a Wits post-grad, demonstrates how she trained meerkats to recognise…

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Better get used to this heat

When the maximum temperature approaches 36 degrees around 2pm in Jozi, I’m like, screw this, I’m done; let’s pick it up after dark. And then I thank the flying spaghetti monster I’m not in Pretoria right now. I’m lucky enough to have that kind of flexibility, and many other people are lucky enough to enjoy…

A designer cap for beetles. Photo provided by Prof Marcus Byrne.

Scarab the dung beetle

IN THE MIDDLE of the Kalahari, Scarab goes about his daily business, or rather, the business of some unsuspecting antelope. As dung beetles of his species do, he collects pellets dropped by desert animals, while they’re still fresh, rolling them along to his nest in the sand. The sun is climbing as the day ages,…

This is me pipetting some sort of chemical.

In defense of my research on plant defenses

Before I switched careers from scientist to science communicator, I completed an MSc in biochemistry, and for the last 3 years I’ve been wondering how I would ever explain to someone outside of my niche research field what my project was actually about. Unless you are a plant biochemist, the title of my dissertation would give…