It has been a lively week for anyone who works under the broad umbrella of approaches sheltered by the term cultural ecology. Our second year biogeography class went down to the salt marsh to learn about transects and ecotones and was turned back by a hastily erected sign delivering a tsunami warning. The impact of the Solomon Islands tsunami in our area was subsequently measured at only 10–15 cm above normal tide levels. The students discussed risk, vulnerability, how to predict tsunamis and whether they still had to hand in their pracs. According to this morning’s headlines, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has declared the ‘planet in peril’ and ‘the window closing’ on its chances. Biodiversity in Australia’s World Heritage sites, many of which are on the coast, is declared particularly vulnerable.