All posts by admin

Time for some home truths about deforestation

TO prevent future pandemics, we must stop deforestation and end the illegal wildlife trade. Do you agree? Of course you do, because what’s not to like? The buck stops with the evil other. The question is, will doing those things solve the problem? And the answer is, probably not. They will help, but there’s another, potentially bigger problem closer to home: the global north’s use of natural resources, especially its reliance on livestock…

African rainforest

This article was first published in The Guardian on 21 December 2020. To continue reading, click here.


What are COVID archivists keeping for tomorrow’s historians?

IF only somebody had counted the orphans. That was one wish I had while trawling archives on the 1918 influenza pandemic to research my book Pale Rider. Another yearning? If only someone had saved biological samples of the unidentified respiratory disease that ravaged China in late 1917. Historians a century hence will, I think, have a lot more to go on…

Screenshot of the web portal to Cambridge University’s Covid-19 collecting effort

This article first appeared in Nature on 17 December 2020. To continue reading, click here.

What science can learn from religion

OVER the first half of the 20th century, the Catholic priest and prehistorian Henri Breuil transformed our understanding of early humans. Armed with a pared-down travel kit and a folding umbrella, this diminutive figure in a worn cassock criss-crossed France, then Europe, then the world, in search of painted caves. Having wriggled his way into hundreds of them, he re-emerged bearing his own renditions of the art with which our Stone Age ancestors decorated their interiors…

This article first appeared in the New Statesman on 10 December 2020. To continue reading, click here.

On the under-explored promise of the immune response in your nose

WHILE everyone celebrated this month’s news that not one but two experimental vaccines against Covid-19 have proved at least 90% effective at preventing disease in late-stage clinical trials, research into understanding how the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, interacts with the human immune system never paused…

Illustration by James Melaugh for The Guardian

This story first appeared in The Observer on 22 October 2020. To continue reading, click here.