Robin McKie

The Observer

Robin McKie’s entries reveal the need to have balance in environmental reporting. It is crucial to warn readers of the dangers we face in a world which is heating up dangerously and is facing serious biodiversity loss. However it is also important to balance this gloom with journalism that reveals there is hope.

In one article, the dangers of the uncontrolled mis-use of one single element - phosphorus - is shown to be endangering agriculture, threatening widespread poisoning of rivers, and dangerously increasing emissions of methane, a gas far more potent than carbon dioxide in triggering global warming. This is the “phosphogeddon” that threatens our future.

A very different threat faces the mountain chicken frog, an animal that was eaten in its thousands as a national delicacy in Dominica only a few years ago but whose numbers have plunged so that there are only 21 animals known to survive. Robin’s piece looks at the remarkable factors that combined to bring this once plentiful species to near extinction and the battle still being fought by conservationists to save it.

Another example of work looks at the efforts being made by UK scientists to combat ash dieback disease which now threatens to eradicate up to 95% of the trees it infects in this country. This work involves finding those few trees that are not susceptible to the disease and growing them in laboratories, an approach that has raised hopes that trees could be cultivated so that they can withstand ash dieback.