The potential to install a regime of benign surveillance over the natural world is immense, ranging from earth-observation satellites to smartphones listening out for chain saws in the forest. The interrelated issues of biodiversity loss and climate change are rising fast up the popular and political agenda. One reason is that the world increasingly appears to be -- on fire.
In August 2019, wildfires -- many started deliberately -- consumed large areas of Amazonian rainforest, reducing the Earth's 'lung capacity', rendering indigenous people and wildlife homeless, and releasing copious amounts of greenhouse gases. In September, on the other side of the world, forests in Indonesian Borneo and Sumatra burned. Again, human agency is widely suspected, as palm oil planters clear the jungle to make way for their crop. Massive bushfires are currently raging in eastern Australia, which experienced its hottest recorded summer in 2018/19.