Our Changing World for Thursday 5 July 2007
This week's programme
During her visit to Antarctica earlier this year, Veronika Meduna joined NIWA scientists Kay Vopel and Ian Hawes and diver Robyn Elwood at their dive hole on the frozen surface of Lake Fryxell. A team of scientist from NIWA spent much of last summer diving under the thick ice cover to figure out how life manages to survive in such extreme conditions. Scientists have long been interested in the bacteria and microscopic algae that inhabit such permanently frozen lakes as they could help explain the origins of life on earth and other planets.
It's one of the biggest debates in biology - is the diversity of plants and creatures growing over time, or is it constant? Are new species emerging to replace those that go extinct? By analysing the fossil record, palaeontologists have concluded that globally biodiversity has been going up. But, as Veronika Meduna finds by talking to palaeontologist James Crampton from GNS Science, a new study conducted in New Zealand comes up with a very different conclusion.
Environmental artist Chris T Wilkie spent six weeks over the last summer working as a volunteer on remote Pomona Island in Fiordland. The work was tough; setting traps and cutting tracks through the bush, but what was even tougher for Chris was coming to grips with the amount of devastation wrought in the area by introduced vermin and the lack of renewal of the forest undergrowth.
What he saw during those six weeks mostly alone on the island forms the basis of a new exhibition of works on display at Kura Gallery in Wellington. Called Radiance and Remorse, it contemplates the damage wreaked upon the native bush and birds by humankind. Chris talks to Justin Gregory about the need to paint the environment as it really is.
Recently the Mental Health Clinical Research programme at the Christchurch School of Medicine received a major increase in funding for work being carried out by Professor Peter Joyce. Louise Wallace talks to Professor Joyce about his research into links between genetics and depression, and exploring alternatives to current drug based treatments for the condition.