“When you know how large the universe is and how small we are within it — what Earth looks like from space, how tiny it is in a cosmic void — it’s impossible for you to say, ‘I so don’t like how you think that I’m going to kill you for it.’ You will never find scientists leading armies into battle. You just won’t. Especially not astrophysicists—we see the biggest picture there is. We understand how small we are in the cosmos. We understand how fragile and temporary our existence is here on Earth. We understand there are bigger problems we need to solve as a species than what God you pray to.
Any time scientists disagree, it’s because we have insufficient data. Then we can agree on what kind of data to get; we get the data; and the data solves the problem. Either I’m right or you’re right or we’re both wrong. And we move on. That kind of conflict resolution does not exist in politics or religion. It does not exist in so much of what we do as human beings on this Earth, that it’s almost tragic”, Neil de Grasse Tyson.
Last week I was supposed to be visiting Skomer Island for the day with a number of colleagues and friends to discuss management issues. Skomer (Welsh: Ynys Sgomer) is an island off the coast of Pembrokeshire in southwestern Wales and you get to it by boat at the end of the road that passes our house.
It is well known for its wildlife: a third of the world population of Manx Shearwaters nest on the island, and the Atlantic Puffin colony is the largest in southern Britain. These birds spend the autumn and winter months at sea in the South Atlantic and return to Skomer each year to breed in dis-used rabbit burrows (rabbits were introduced to the island as a food source in the 14th century). There are numerous archaeological remains on the island, from stone circles, standing stones and prehistoric houses.
Unfortunately on the day of departure we were being battered by storm force south-westerly winds, and as a result the boat, the “Dale Princess”, was unable to make the crossing safely, so we couldn’t go.
Fortunately my friend Mike Alexander, who gives me all these wonderful photographs to show to you, was the warden on the island from 1976 to 1986, and so he has given me more photos of Skomer to share. I think you’ll agree it is a pretty lovely looking place. I’ll wait for better weather and sea conditions and get over there later in the year.