Patrick Barkham introduces himself, as well as his book Islander: A Journey Around Our Archipelago showing a projection of the book cover decorated with some of the British Isles atop of the United Kingdom and Ireland. He begins his talk with a game of spot the difference of what convincingly seems to be the same book cover, however, one of them had the Isle of Man upside down, to which he explained was an honest mistake that he got criticised for online and had to quickly reprint 4000 covers for again, to avoid any more angry complaints. The light-hearted opening quickly escalates as Barkham brings us on his adventures travelling across several islands.

What was interesting to find out was that when Barkham had camped alone on St. Kilda, he had noticed that the St. Kilda Wren’s were larger than the normal size. Strangely enough, the Soay sheep there were smaller than normal by 80-90 grams, where they had naturally shed fur due to hormones in their body. Barkham described a theory which explained that with the absence of human population, as well as predation pressures on these archipelagos that wild animals will try to go to the ideal size of 1KG.

During the Q&A, he answered a sensitive question of the future for these archipelagos. He voiced his concern for rising sea levels and lost glaciation which will consequently cause problems to the small islands. Not only this, but the issue with plastic, and how it ultimately ends up at every shoreline. It leads to the loss of species, which in turn will threaten human life and end up as a “moral tragedy” should nothing be done to prevent this from happening.

Should you wish to make a change to the future of our islands, and essentially our world altogether, there are simple small changes that could be made, for example, from using less plastic by reusing water bottles instead of being part of the supply and demand system by purchasing plastic bottles. Finding cleaner energy sources would be the easiest way to help solve increasing dangers, but until more attention is focussed on climate change, this unfortunately won’t be occurring on a global scale.

Barkham definitely painted a beautiful image of the archipelagos on the British Isle, without avoiding the fear of human intervention and our impact, as well as teaching us about the colonisation and succession of different species on some of his favourite islands. His insightful talk can be further unravelled if you read the original book that inspired his talk Islander: A Journey Around Our Archipelago to find out more.

By Sindy Nung

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