Thanks to my sister Michelle McIlroy for designing the logo!


Ever since I was a child, I have been very interested in nature and the environment. I have a B.S. degree in wildlife biology, and have worked as a zookeeper, wildlife biologist, and ecologist. I am conducting a brief survey of world leaders, government officials, religious leaders, corporate CEOs, environmental groups, wildlife experts, and others regarding nature and the environment. I am also very interested in religious views, customs, and beliefs from around the world, and the interactions between religion, culture, society, and the environment. This is something I am doing out of personal interest, and is not connected to any group or organization. I have been working on this project since the summer of 2006, and hope to eventually turn it into a book and/or documentary. I am hoping to make this into a global project, with responses from all segments of society. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or comments. If you have not already done so, I hope that you will consider taking part in my project, and please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested! Thanks for stopping by!


January 12, 2007


2006-7 Fulbright Scholar, Philippines, affiliated with the University of San Carlos in Cebu City

Today’s Date: 13 January 2007

1. What interaction with an animal and/or nature in your life has had the biggest impact on you?

I find this question difficult to answer because it implies a dichotomy between people and nature, which my training in anthropology has mostly expunged. Thinking dichotomously, though, I have to say the most meaningful interaction I have had with a non-human animal was with the Yellow Lab our family had when I was growing up. That and other friendships (?) I have had with domesticated animals over the years have led me to the belief that pets truly can improve one’s quality of life. Other than that, I think hiking is always an amazing experience, especially in unfamiliar surroundings. My ability to think clearly and abstractly is at its best when I’m in a secluded wood surrounded by nothing but “nature.”

2. Did you have a favorite place in the great outdoors during your childhood?

My childhood home was located beside a watershed at the edge of the Coronado National Forest just outside Tucson, Arizona. Although I now wish that construction had never taken place anywhere near the area, having a mixed desert/riparian ecosystem at our doorstep was a real treat. After the monsoon, when the risk of flash floods was gone, we used to take our dogs down to the creek and attempt to build rafts out of sticks and small logs. Some of my most treasured memories are imbued with the sights of cottonwood trees, prickly pares, and the occasional bobcat; the sounds of cicadas, coyotes, and rushing water; the touch of warm sand and silty creekbeds; and the smells of creosote and wet dog.

Now? I feel like it changes all the time. I still love the Coronado area, and Sedona, AZ, is of course peerless. However, living as I do in the Philippines’ “last frontier”, I’ll have to go with El Nido, a municipality in the northern reaches of the province. One just can’t beat the quadruple coincidence of turquoise seas, white sands, limestone cliffs, and primary-growth rainforests. Not to mention some really unique creatures and a seemingly boundless inventory of beautiful flora.

3. As a former zookeeper, I would love to know what your favorite animal is, and why?

That darn dichotomy again. My favorite animal is taxonomized as Homo sapiens sapiens. Yes, people. Why? Because they can talk and write and sing and dance and cry. And argue and grow vegetables. And it’s easy to find them “in the wild.”

As for non-human animas, I like water buffaloes or karaboa as they’re called here. In this part of the Philippines, they are the primary beasts of burden. Yet, of course, they are ignored by the eco-tourism firms in their celebration of the mouse deer, cockatoos, and whale sharks. I’m thinking of starting a Save-the-Karaboa foundation to free them from their servitude, which surely must be an enemy of biodiversity :)

4. What do you think is the greatest environmental challenge facing us now, and what do you think will be the greatest challenge in the future?

I think willful ignorance and apathy are the greatest challenges. I offer the US government and most of that country’s consumers, including myself, as my evidence. As long as oil, defense, and other military-industrial oligarchs are seen as viable political leaders, we will never make the switch to renewable energy sources or tackle the fundamental problem of global inequality that is driving environmental degradation in the developing world.

5. If you could give everyone one piece of advice regarding the environment and our natural resources, what would it be?

You are the problem, but you also have the potential to be the solution. Just don’t wait for the government to tell you how to start your transformation.