As a journalist who covers the environment, I’m used to depressing news. Natural systems are shifting and unraveling; the evidence is all around us. But the mind-blowing number of talks at ESA — five days of sessions from 8 am til 5 pm, with 35 talks often running at the same time (and that’s not including posters) — means that the aggregate amount of depressing news can be enough to overwhelm the staunchest optimist.
But many of them are depressing. And I’m sure I skipped some interesting presentations because I just couldn’t bear to hear one more way in which humans have messed things up for Earth’s other gazillion species. Open to any random page in the program and the titles sink your heart into your gut. “Artificial night lighting disrupts songbird breeding behavior.” “Limited physiological response to warming in lowland tropical frogs.” “Sediment pollution reduces detrital resource availability to consumers in agricultural stream food webs.” Enough, please, stop, mercy, I can’t take it anymore.