Archive for April, 2019

A Closer Look: science journalist David Quammen

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

Happy Wednesday! This week, we’re going to take a closer look at science writer David Quammen!

David has written many books, including two that many consider to be the definitive book on that subject: The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, about the father of evolutionary thought Charles Darwin, and Spillover, about emerging viral diseases.  He has also written hundreds of pieces for publications like Outside, Esquire, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, and National Geographic; he is a three-time recipient of the National Magazine Award. He is a Contributing Writer for National Geographic Magazine,

His newest book The Tangled Tree follows the groundbreaking work of microbiologist Carl Woese, who merely re-wrote our complete understanding of the so-called “Tree of Life” which is a way of charting and understanding evolutionary development from the first one-celled organisms to the billions of life forms now on the planet. Scientists have given this phenomenon Woese discovered some fancy names. One is horizontal gene transfer. Another, slightly more suggestive, is infective heredity. In some cases, these genes travel sideways—from creature to creature, even from species to species—by viral infection. That’s supposed to be impossible. Woese’s successors have shown that it’s not just possible—it’s widespread and vastly consequential.

 

The Wall Street Journal declared “David Quammen proves to be an immensely well-informed guide to a complex story. . . . Indeed he is, in my opinion, the best natural history writer currently working. Mr. Quammen’s books . . . consistently impress with their accuracy, energy and superb, evocative writing.”

He’s been a popular college speaker for many years. Comments about his visits include “He gave a wonderful lecture, full of compelling images, to complement the substance of his talk” (Claremont McKenna); “…the event was a huge success. David packed the auditorium and we had community come to our lecture who had never been on campus before! … he’s charming, witty and very interesting” (University of Nevada Reno); and “David is a wonderful guy, and everyone enjoyed his lecture and his other interactions with people during his visit.  Another winner – thank you!” (University of Wisconsin).

Let us know if you’d like to bring David to your organization, campus, or conference!

 

—And that is the story for this week! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest from all of our speakers, scientists and change makers!

 


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Take a Closer Look – Environmentalist Meg Lowman

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Happy Wednesday!  You may have noticed that we’ve taken closer looks at our environmental speakers this April. This week, we’re taking a closer look at the woman they call “Canopy Meg” – Dr. Margaret Lowman.

Nicknamed the “real-life Lorax” by National Geographic and “Einstein of the treetops” by Wall Street Journal, Meg Lowman pioneered the science of canopy ecology. For over 30 years, she has designed hot-air balloons and walkways for treetop exploration to solve mysteries in the world’s forests, especially insect pests and ecosystem health. Meg is affectionately called the mother of canopy research as one of the first scientists to explore this eighth continent. She relentlessly works to map the canopy for biodiversity and to champion forest conservation around the world, gaining her start in the rain forests of Australia. Her international network and passion for science have led her into leadership roles where she seeks best practices to solve environmental challenges and serves as a role model to women and minorities in science.

 

Forests are like gigantic stands of lollipops. Since plant sugars are manufactured high overhead, organisms that depend on those sugars, such as insects and birds, are also far from the ground. Until recently, we did not know much about life in the treetops of the world’s forest because their canopies were difficult to reach. Now, thanks to ‘Canopy Meg’s innovations, scientists can climb safely into the “high frontier” to discover some of its wonders. Dr. Lowman has developed an expertise for using different canopy access techniques such as slingshot fired ropes, hot air balloons with sleds, canopy cranes, and canopy walkways.

Dr. Lowman believes in conservation through education which is a very strong theme in her most recent book It’s a Jungle Up There. She has been involved in several JASON Project education programs and numerous other conservation education initiatives. Her books on canopy ecology are not just about her field work but add dimensions in what it’s like to be a woman in a male dominated profession, and what it’s like to be a single parent mom. Her sons co-authored It’s a Jungle Up There and added their insights on how their mother’s career and their family not only survived, but thrived.

A leading science innovator, Meg was the founding director of North Carolina’s innovative Nature Research Center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Meg oversaw the creation, construction, staffing, and programming of this research wing in partnership with the North Carolina University system. She was subsequently hired by the California Academy of Sciences to lead their twenty-first century strategy of integrating research with sustainability initiatives both local and global. She is currently the Executive Director of the TREE Foundation, that pursues and promotes research, education, and exploration to advance the conservation of our planet’s botanical resources and ecosystems dependent upon them.

 

Let us know if you’d like to bring Dr. Meg Lowman to speak to your organization, campus, or conference!

 

—And that is the story for this week! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest from all of our speakers, scientists and change makers!

 

 

 

 


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Take a Closer Look- Captain Paul Watson (Sea Shepherd Society)

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Happy Wednesday! This week, , let’s take a look at Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson. With Paul’s international legal issues behind him, he has returned to the lecture circuit speak out for the world’s oceans. A few things to know about Paul:

 

 

  • -Founding member of Greenpeace, left when the organization rejected his call for direct action.
  • -Founded the Sea Shepherd Society to take direct action against illegal whaling, baby seal harvesting, etc.
  • -Japan is still trying to put him in jail for his successful campaign to end whaling in the Southern Ocean.
  • -The campaigns were televised on ANIMAL PLANET’s “Whale Wars”.
  • -Author of six books, including Earthforce! An Earth Warrior’s Guide to Strategy
  • -Sank several whaling ships while anchored at port (no injuries) in Iceland.
  • -Harassed many Japanese whalers that were illegally hunting in the Southern Ocean (below)

 

Paul Watson received the Jules Verne Award, becoming  the second person after Captain Jacques Cousteau to be honored with a Jules Verne Award dedicated to environmentalists and adventurers. Paul received the Asociación de Amigos del Museo de Anclas Philippe Cousteau: Defense of Marine Life Award, in recognition of his merits achieved by the work done in defense of marine life. He was inducted into the US Animal Rights Hall of Fame for his outstanding contributions to animal liberation.

 

Let us know if you’d like to bring Captain Paul Watson to speak to your organization, campus, or conference!

 

—And that is the story for this week! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest from all of our speakers, scientists and change makers!

 


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A Closer Look – Climate Scientist Michael Mann

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

Happy Wednesday!  This week, we’re taking a closer look at climate scientist Michael Mann.

Dr. Mann is a climatologist and the head of Penn State’s Earth System Science Center. His work on the IPCC’s “Third Scientific Assessment Report” on climate change was cited as an important contribution to the IPCC and Al Gore winning the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

 

This would be enough acclaim to thrust Dr. Mann into the limelight … but along with the notoriety came the attacks on his work – not by fellow scientists, but by ‘climate change deniers’ who sought to undermine his credibility.

 

The historical account of climate change over the millennia that Dr. Mann’s research uncovered, when applied to a linear graph, produces what has come to be called “The Hockey Stick”. It show a fairly constant average temperature for thousands of years, which changes to a dramatic upward spike near the end of the 19th Century, which coincides with the birth of the Industrial Revolution when the amount of carbon generated by coal and oil combustion also spiked dramatically upwards.

Scientists from across the scientific disciplines, looking at a wide range of date (everything from tree rings and ice core samples to historical records of English garden diaries!) found the same dramatic uptick in the late 19th Century.

 

His work has been attacked by opponents in the media and in the courts … and these attacks have all been unsuccessful in challenging any of his findings.

 

Many people, having weathered these challenges to their integrity, might choose to declare victory and retire from the field of battle. Dr. Mann chose to “speak out about the very real implications of our research” and has written and lectured around the world on both the nature of his research and the political opposition it (and he) have faced.  He’s an active online presence in social media and has conducted “Ask Me Anything” sessions on Reddit.

Let us know if you’d like to bring Michael Mann to speak to your organization, campus, or conference!

 

—And that is the story for this week! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest from all of our speakers, scientists and change makers!

 


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A Closer Look At – Robert Bullard

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

Happy Wednesday! This week, we’re taking a closer look at Dr. Robert Bullard, the ‘father of environmental justice

How does one become so named? In the early 80’s, Dr. Bullard was researching the location of solid waste dumps in metropolitan Houston.  Dr. Bullard and his researchers found that African American neighborhoods in Houston were often chosen for toxic waste sites. All five city-owned garbage dumps, six of the eight city-owned garbage incinerators, and three of the four privately owned landfills were sited in black neighborhoods, although blacks made up only 25 percent of the city’s population.

 

This proved to be the tip of the iceberg; Dr. Bullard’s decades of research and activism have turned up hundreds of examples of how communities of color are exposed to greater environmental pollution of the air, water, and soil.

In 1990 Bullard published his first book, Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality. In the book, Dr. Bullard wrote that the Environmental Justice Movement, a grassroots movement by people of color then spreading across America to protest environmental racism, signified a new convergence of the civil rights movement and the environmental movement of the 1960s.

 

He has continued his scholarship, and his activism, ever since. When asked what keeps him going in his quest for environmental justice, Bullard answered, “People who fight… People who do not let the garbage trucks and the landfills and the petrochemical plants roll over them … And in the last 10 years, we’ve been winning: lawsuits are being won, reparations are being paid, apologies are being made. These companies have been put on notice that they can’t do this anymore, anywhere.”

But the battle continues; Flint, Michigan still does not have safe water to drink; Houston’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey already shows signs of neglect to the communities of color most affected by the flooding; and Puerto Rico’s struggles to recover from Hurricane Irma are a national disgrace.

 

Let us know if you’d like to bring Robert Bullard to speak to your organization, campus, or conference!

 

—And that is the story for this week! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest from all of our speakers, scientists and change makers!

 

 


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