Originally posted March 13th, 2007 on our old site.
A faint but unmistakable rumble was heard in the vicinity of Westminster Abbey at about 2am on Friday night. Passers-by stumbling home from the bars were flummoxed, and those who didn’t have the misfortune of picking up a copy of the Financial Times the next morning remained blissfully so.
For the sad few who happened to read the balderdash passing for a regular column in FT Magazine on Saturday, though, the reason for the seismic shiver the night before became painfully and immediately obvious: at the precise moment the column was published, Charles Darwin rolled in his grave.
Though the columnist, “Mrs Moneypenny”, begins by claiming a more than a superficial interest in Darwin, she then proceeds to contradict that statement throughout the rest of her column. "I fully subscribe to Darwin's theory of natural selection” she proclaims, and then goes on to write errantly and at length on “survival of the fittest”, something that for her involves regular sessions the South Moreton Boxing Club.
"I am getting fitter,” she proclaims, “so I should survive." Actually, if what Mrs Moneypenny is interested in is Darwinian fitness, perhaps she should spend less time at the gym and more time with Mr Moneypenny.
Then, astonishingly, it gets worse. "I am not sure why we need lists of endangered species” she complains. “If species are not fit enough to survive, then surely they should be allowed to become extinct? The Red List…has evaluated 87 varieties of parakeet…what is the point of a parakeet?" For Mrs Moneypenny's sake, I sincerely hope that the cure for incurable cynicism is not found in the poo of a rare parakeet species.
Quips aside, Moneypenny’s question raises an important point. After all, she is not alone in wondering why the variety (rather than just the sheer number) of organisms is important. In case you are wondering yourself, there are loads of resources on the services biodiversity performs for you, but the main thing to remember is that all living things, including us, rely entirely on the existence of complex (and therefore robust) natural ecosystems. Yet another message that the Beagle will take to the masses.