ScienceWe are Mini and Gideon, wildlife biologists, who take our toddlers with us to work in remote rainforests: Ask Us Anything!
Oct 22nd 2017 by Miniwatsa • 7 Questions • 676 Points
Edit: Okay! Thanks r/IAmA for all your questions, it's now time for us to trudge home. Thank you for having us and we loved answering your questions.
Answering your questions today are senior reporters Shona Ghosh and Sam Shead, who have been following Transport for London’s surprise decision last month not to renew Uber’s license to operate in London. Catch up on all of our Uber coverage at uk.businessinsider.com. You can follow Business Insider UK on reddit, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Why not invest in an off-road RV and just become the Wild Thornberrys already?
When talking to full-time Uber drivers (in a variety of different countries) the general consensus is that to earn a livable wage you've got to be putting in a minimum of 60 hours per week, if not more.
At what point does Uber cease to be a "technological breakthrough" and start to be more of a workaround to circumvent paying livable wages to its employees?
While taxi fares are certainly well above market rates in many places around the world, Uber seems to have gone the other way...instead of being unfair to consumers they are unfair to workers...What do you think ridesharing and the taxi industry will look like 5-10 years from now? There's no doubt that Uber has caused a disruption but how do you see the wage discrepancy correcting itself over time?
Also: Dude...if you want your AMA to take off you've got to be ready to answer the first dozen questions immediately. As in, immediately, as soon as they come in. In real time. The momentum you get (or don't get) in the first hour is crucial.
I've also got a real passion for rescues - so I would have to throw in a dog and 5 cats. Did the Thornberrys do that? Can any RV handle that? Can an RV even make it on some of the roads I've seen? Where would be park the RV while taking the boat up to our field site? So many questions, but worth looking into for sure:)
That is definitely a common narrative, though there are also Uber drivers who will tell you quite spontaneously they love the extra money and flex. It's more difficult to earn a livable wage if you drive for something like Uber Exec though.
In the UK, there are MPs who already think Uber is effectively flouting regulation and worker rights to make money. I don't see the wage discrepancy correcting itself over time; I suspect politicians will step in to force some level of worker rights. That would probably result in Uber raising its prices and looking more like a traditional minicab company. — Shona
I agree that it’s best to check back in a few years, but your logic for a 1 year old having adult friends is seriously flawed.
No 1 year old can gain the social interaction they need to grow by being around only adults.
Are there any other really interesting stories you are working on?
Before everyone flies off on even more tangents - these kids are away in the rainforest for 4 months a year. Also, they are twins - so they do interact with each other. Keep it calm folks, it's ok. There are many ways to raise children - all ways are not for everyone. Thank you again for your comments.
I won't go into great detail (...just in case our future stories don't work out) but the areas Sam, I, and our colleagues are looking into right now are issues around sexual harassment in the tech industry, the gig economy and treatment of workers in the UK, unethical behaviour/lies by some major startup names. Uber's fate in London and the UK generally obviously remains an interesting topic. — Shona
How do you keep all the bitey things off your kids?
What are your and their favorite wildlife (s)?
Great questions! We actually didn't love using DEET based products but at a field station where leishmaniasis is present, it's far preferable to use DEET than to get the disease, specially from the perspective of a child. So we would spray car seats, shoes, and clothed areas with that kind of repellent, and use a citronella based spray for exposed areas. They still got a lot of bites - everybody did. The worst, of course, were the chiggers. Those really itch (the kids didn't really itch any of the mosquito bites), so at first we were really desperate about what to do - then we did what the locals do, which is to use a sulfa-based soap (which you can't find in the US!) and it was miraculous. We just soaped them at their evening baths and pretty much nixed all the chiggers after that point!
How do you deal with the times between expeditions? Is it hard to switch back to a more normal, maybe mundane life?
What do you do if one of your boys develops a serious medical condition while you're on your fieldwork?
Ah, the most important question so far. It's frustrating, but our menagerie waiting for us at home always helps. I find that reading the news is possibly the most depressing thing about being back. But this is always enlivened by moments of which we know nothing about (for the last decade, we've skipped important events that have happened within a 4-5 month stretch of time) so in the middle of some conversation, we'll be like Kate Middleton had a BABY!? What?
Mostly though, the second we get back, we enjoy warm showers, ice cream and cold beers - preferably all at once;) and then we get down to planning the next adventure:)
As to your second question: That's any parent's nightmare. So what we have is a rapid exit strategy for anywhere that we go. We are by no means as remote as one can possibly be. The other thing I always think of is that we are really only sort of unusual in that we try to live in both these worlds at once. There are people who live, give birth, and raise their children in ALL of the sites we only visit. They aren't weird or remarkable for doing that - they are simply living their lives. They probably think that living in the US for 8 months a year with winters thrown in is MAD. So...keeping all of that in mind helps. Both of us have some medical training, both academically and through experience from being in the field, and we trust our gut - we now have a good sense for when something feels like it's really urgent, so we know exactly how to bolt and get help.
Since you worked in the Western Ghats, what's you assessment of the state of overall biodiversity in the Ghats? What do you see as the main threat to the environment besides population and urbanization?
The Western Ghats are seriously an incredible place to work. Only for some taxonomic groups has biodiversity been assessed fully - people are still discovering new species there regularly. What is so remarkable to me about this place is how different it is compared to the Amazon, which is where my other field site is located. Even though there is plenty that threatens the Amazon, it has one giant advantage and that is, it's size. It can be resilient because we have not decimated it to the extent of so many other forests. The Ghats, on the other hand are boxed in, fragmented, and surrounded by some of the most population-dense places in the world. So that is what is terrifying when you think about protecting these incredible mountain ranges. That there is an unusually high level of biodiversity for the size of the area is unquestionable.
What I would be most worried about given the fragmented nature of the forests, and the way they are cut off on all sides by human encampments is disease. Many of the animals in the Ghats are endemic to the Ghats. Much of the Ghats are also traversable - by road. So that means that no matter what you do, you still see people stop to feed animals (specially the primates), and being close relatives of our own, they can catch diseases from us easily. From them, these could spread to other taxa and endemic species without a resilience to them can be entirely wiped out in one round of disease.
A secondary worry is about invasive species. Already lantana is completely changing successional forests in road and river-side areas. Animals can hardly even break through it.
This is a gloomy answer:(
Thanks for responding.
It makes sense and im not against you or your husband. Sorry if i implied that. I just question how its possible to do what you do and have toddler twin boys right there the whole time? I mean at some point it must become overwhelming? And is having someone watch them out of the question? A granny of someone? Since you asked :)
It is sort of overwhelming. They both decided, for example, that they hated their pack and plays. So they wanted to sleep in bed with us, which was actually easier than it is in the US because the mosquito net sort of forms a kind of protective giant bouncy gym like thing with the bed. But we were severely lacking sleep. By the end of the stay, when we'd learned a lot more coping strategies, we had to leave to come back. I think we'll get better over time.
Sadly, our family (the older generation) isn't really in the right frame of health to help out. Also, most anyone finds twice as many babies at one time kind of a larger and more exhausting challenge. I'm always looking out for that distant cousin/aunt to help out. Or ways to blackmail my sisters into doing it. Thus far, no such luck:)