The Aussie Blueprint for London 2012


The campaign for London 2012 always had loftier aims than organizing a fortnight of sporting extravagance. Sebastian Coe, chairman of the Olympic Committee, described the Games as “the single biggest opportunity in our lifetime to transform sport and participation in sport in the UK forever[1]”. Of course, the upshot of this is that the Games will be partly defined in terms of its successes in post-Games sports participation. 

So, how to make the most of this opportunity, and how to avoid disappointment? The Committee could do much worse than look at the example of Australia. The 2000 Games was a chance for a nation already profoundly in love with sports to showcase their passion and build on it. 

They took the chance with aplomb; the number of adults participating in regular physical activity rose from 890,000 in 2001 to over one million in 2011[2]. Concerted efforts were made to parade victorious Australians, like the 400m champion Cathy Freeman, to inspire a “trickle-down” effect. Ordinary citizens were inspired to emulate successful sportspeople, to become more like their heroes, and this was thought to have played a large part in this increased participation. 

The Sydney Games left not only an assortment of world-class sporting venues, but a lasting impact on the entire culture of a nation. The organizers did not relax, secure in the knowledge that Australia would always be a nation of sportspeople, but relentlessly pressed home their advantage - and one would have to say it has paid dividends. 

Following in the footsteps of our perennial rivals could turn Great Britain into a leaner, faster, healthier place.

Nathan Davies 18.04.2012

Forgotten News – Unexplained mass animal deaths and species extinction


Between 2010 and 2011 there were many reports of unexplained mass animal death mysteries in the UK– over 40,000 crabs were washed up in Kent, hundreds of dead fish were found in Dublin, 75 seal pups died overnight in England. Worldwide too there were unprecedented numbers of these events including almost 600 dolphins washed up dead in Florida.

These events are still continuing at this alarming rate in 2012.

Of course, it is natural for groups of animals to die off occasionally. But the frequency and rate of mass animal deaths is increasing. Already this year there have been at least 63 mass animal death events[i]. Yet despite there being no obvious explanation for them, no one seems to be reporting them.

As well as being largely ignored by the media, not much research is being done into these events. So far no one single theory has been put forward to link all these occurrences together. Rather, scientists believe they are all isolated events.

On social media sites, some people speculate that this is the beginning of the end of time; others believe that animals have the cognitive ability to commit suicide... and others simply have no explanation at all.

Not only are these events no longer being reported, a larger but slower mass extinction of thousands of species is being largely ignored. In the last 500 years, 900 species of animals and plants have become extinct and 10,000 more are close to adding to the list. Furthermore, most of these extinctions have occurred in the last 100 years[ii].

Should humans be concerned? Does it really matter if we lose these species? Whilst arguably some species won’t be missed by humans, some threatened species are essential to human life. Honeybees are vital for pollination and the health of our entire ecology and are currently dying off at alarming rates due to Colony Collapse Disorder[iii].

Whatever the truth is, one thing is for certain – since humans have been on the planet other species have been severely affected and many are becoming extinct. Surely this cannot be a coincidence. It seems to me we have a moral duty to research these events and the underlying bigger extinction event to do our best to curtail the rate of species loss.

Laura Owen 12.03.2012


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