– Sean O’Toole, journalist & art critic

A recipient of the South African National Parks Environmental Journalist of the Year Award, I’ve written for leading African and international publications for nearly 20 years, including Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet unit, Travel Africa, the American Polar Society’s Polar Times, the Lonely Planet Guide to Antarctica and the Sunday Times. I have a special interest in global conservation issues, the natural sciences, the climate crisis and the space sciences. See my full portfolio, or browse some of my latest 2019 features below.

Mega climate shocks for SA biodiversity — government report

For Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet unit

The Clanwilliam cedar © Geoff Spiby | 2018 South African National Biodiversity Report
The iconic Clanwilliam cedar (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis) is critically endangered and faces increasing pressures as temperatures rise, the environment dries out and fires become more frequent. © Geoff Spiby | 2018 SA National Biodiversity Assessment

Ninety scientific institutions led by the South African National Biodiversity Institute have released a shock report that unveils waves of unprecedented climate impacts tearing across South Africa’s globally important wild assets.
Read the full story here.

Ecofeminism unleashed, or, How wrong the hawks are to view the vulnerable as meek

For Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet unit

Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro
US President Donald Trump, left, welcomes Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the White House in Washington DC, March 2019. © EPA-EFE/Jim Lo Scalzo

In this mentally disordered plot, the shimmering detail of unimaginably complex ecosystems that have unfurled over millennia are at the behest of an incontinent human wrecking ball with an orange tan, a fake blond combover and a helium-like vibrato that travels at 1,008 meters per second. And his band of merry dicktators. Not forever, though. Read the full story here.

Don’t sweat about Earth, just save your children

For Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet unit

Our Burning Planet launch
Reporting on Daily Maverick since November 2018, Our Burning Planet has highlighted critical research showing that South Africa is heating at ‘twice the global average’. © Image: AdobeStock

Launching Daily Maverick’s new Our Burning Planet climate journalism unit in Cape Town, former Irish president Mary Robinson, Amnesty International’s Kumi Naidoo and journalist Kevin Bloom painted a picture of a civilisation that could remake itself from the opportunity that the crisis brings. Read the full story here.

Putting deniers on ice: Inside the mind of a climate geek

For Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet unit

Guy Midgley at Gannabos
Professor Guy Midgley of Stellenbosch University near the quiver tree forest at Gannabos, Namaqualand, South Africa. This is the largest quiver tree forest in the southern hemisphere. Midgley’s ongoing collaboration with other scientists shows that quiver trees in southern Africa are good indicators of the climate crisis. © Kerry Grey

New findings released this month by the journal Nature Communications reveal that English-language digital and print media give 49% more coverage to bush-league climate contrarians than top scientists. We asked Professor Guy Midgley, a Stellenbosch University expert on how biodiversity responds to the climate crisis – with the odds in favour of ‘at scale climate change disinformation’, as the study puts it, what’s the best way for ordinary people to make sense of this wilderness? Read the full story in part one and part two.

CITES RHINO FILES: Death or glory for species on the ban wagon?

By Tiara Walters, for Daily Maverick

Care for Wild Rhino Orphanage
Refuge for a dehorned white rhino at Care for Wild rhino orphanage (location undisclosed).© / SONY

Rhinos may be in a worse state than South African government figures are willing to admit. With the planet’s biggest conservation meeting kicking off in August 2019, our last chance to save the species may be about to slip through our fingers. Read the full story here.

First image of black hole marks ‘breakthrough for humanity’

By Bloomberg, Tiara Walters and News24

First image of a black hole
A new window onto the study of black holes, their event horizons and gravity. © Event Horizon Telescope

‘Event Horizon’ scientists reveal the first-ever glimpse of a supermassive black hole. Read the full story here.

Comma Chameleon – as featured in Daily Maverick


My pet chameleon, Comma, weighs in on copy politics.
See the chairman of the branch’s insights below.

End of the road for traffic signs as we know them
Wurst of times: how typos can change history
Behind most good books, there’s a Merlin you’ll never meet
Spell check: friend or faux?
Practise safe text. Use a proofreader