Earth Stewardship: Sustainability strategies for a rapidly changing planet

By Arnaud Sepulchre

For thousands of years, humanity has been altering its environment to its needs and the environment has been adapting to these changes. But how  strong is the planet’s resilience and how long do we have before the irreversible  occurs? The world’s challenge towards environmental sustainability is becoming omnipresent. People often think that a sustainable system is a static system; on the contrary, the concept of sustainability implies a dynamic balance between relative rates of resource consumption and replenishment.

Prof. F. Stuart Chapin introduced us to the principle of Earth Stewardship as a social-ecological change to enhance ecosystem resilience and long-term human welfare. The achievement of this challenge involves a broadened ecology spectrum and integrates it with other sources of knowledge and understanding to stimulate new interactions and partnerships. Moreover, an interdisciplinary approach beyond economics incentives is the key towards behavioural sustainable change and pro-environmental attitudes. Continue reading


Speaker Bio: Professor Kathy Willis

The best way to be introduced to the multi-talented Kathy Willis is to hear about her work and her motivations in her own words:

Getting your hands dirty

If, like Arnaud, you enjoy the psychological benefits of touching, feeling, getting your hands all over nature but don’t have easy access to an allotment, then have a look at Landshare. By putting landless growers in direct contact with landowners who have soil to spare, Landshare brings together people who have a passion for home-grown food. Whether you want to learn a new skill, fill your lungs with fresh air, or simply save some money on groceries, spending a few hours in the muck is likely to be a ‘fruitful’ experience with lasting environmental – and judging from Arnaud’s experience – personal benefits.

Visit Landshare.

Podcast of Prof. Chapin’s Q&A session

One of the things that really impresses me about Alaskan native groups is their confidence that they can adapt. They’ve felt that they’ve always had to adjust to change, they’ve never lots of resources. Each individual is a jack of all trades … so they have to be very efficient in doing different things, and this makes them convinced that they can deal with a lot of differently circumstances – because they’ve done it regularly as part of their lives.
I’m optimistic that many people in poor areas are more resourceful than we give them credit for being. So maybe some of the best ways to enhance resilience is to empower them to use the skills that they already have, rather than developing programmes that bring in resources from outside. Because once people are doing these things for themselves they’ll figure out a way to continue doing them with little or no money, and so it’ll be less dependent on a public finance program.

Podcast of Prof. Chapin’s lecture

We need to think about the relationship between science and society much more in terms of dialogue rather than as conveying of information. I think, at least speaking for ecologists, we tend to view the issue as one of information deficit rather than as an issue of public engagement and so I think we need to redefine the way we think about communication between science and society.

The Linacre Lectures begin!

This Thursday will be the first Linacre Lecture of 2012, featuring Prof. Stuart “Terry” Chapin. It will be held at 5.30pm, in the Lecture Theatre of the New Biochemistry Building on South Parks Road.

The following day, there will be an Q&A session held at 10am in the Tanner Room of Linacre College, and hosted by Linacre student, Arnauld Sepulchre (MSc Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management). He will be asking the speaker more in-depth questions about his current, previous, and upcoming work, as well as fielding questions from the audience. Come along and get answers straight from the expert!

On the subject of resilience …

Part Aussi, part common: all black-tip.

The discovery of hybrid sharks off the coast of Australia may suggest that different species are interbreeding with one another in order to ensure their survival through climate change-driven sea temperature rise. Genetic testing showed certain sharks to be one species when physically they looked to be another. If this is indeed the case, then it would be nothing short of evolution in action.


World-first hybrid shark found off Australia