I’ve recently been reading a lot and writing very little (for which I apologise). Whilst, perusing a wide range of books on rather broad ecological and environmental themes I came to realise that the majority of these novels were impossible to understand without years of experience in the fields concerned. Then I stumbled upon a book by that great writer of science fiction, Douglas Adams, which proved to be a literary gem in an otherwise impenetrable field. Last Chance to See is stuffed full of Adams’ wit but also his way of breaking very complex scientific issues into very easy to understand analogies. Most strikingly, his depiction of the introduction of continental species to isolated islands caught my attention (see below). As somebody who lives on the Isle of Wight, it is to me an analogy that I can readily agree with. The relatively quiet retiree community would certainly be very concerned if their new neighbours were the kind of people Adams lists.
“An island, on the other hand, is small. There are fewer species, and the competition for survival has never reached anything like the pitch that it does on the mainland. Species are only as tough as they need to be, life is much quieter and more settled [..] So you can imagine what happens when a mainland species gets introduced to an island. It would be like introducing Al Capone, Genghis Khan and Rupert Murdoch into the Isle of Wight – the locals wouldn’t stand a chance.” – Douglas Adams in Last Chance to See