Food security and Biodiversity

The second of three workshops at University of Bristol looking at Mainstreaming Biodiversity. Also part of my Climate change and agriculture series, funded by the Cabot Institute.

There was a diverse group of attendees and speakers. We were lucky to have talks from Tom Powell (University of Exeter), who works on understanding plants’ role in the Earth system and human influences on this relationship; and Calum Brown (University of Edinburgh), who models human decision making in land use.

From University of Bristol, we had talks from Mark Eisler, whose research is on global farm animal health; and Alan Feest, an expert on the measurement and modelling of biodiversity.

Defining Biodiversity

The first of three workshops at University of Bristol looking at Mainstreaming Biodiversity.

This workshop was a big picture introduction to the challenges of defining diversity – both from a scientific perspective, but also from the perspective of e.g. nutrient cycling, ecological outputs etc – i.e. the interaction of biodiversity (loss) with other planetary limits.

Two invited speakers gave excellent talks: Tim Newbold from the the UN WCMC in Cambridge, who wrote part of the biodiversity section for the recent UN GEO 5 report on the state of the global environment; and Colin Reid (University of Dundee), who works on protected area legislation.

Guns, Germs and Steel, Collapse and The World Until Yesterday – Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond is one of my Geography heros, so when I realised he was speaking in Bristol, I had to go. You can watch Diamond’s lecture┬áonline if you missed it.

I loved Collapse and although some of his other books felt repetitive to me, I’m still a big fan. Several Diamond book are key reading on the People and Planet course and that’s a great thing imo. However, the World Until Yesterday hadn’t caught my imagination though. I’m very wary of idealising non-modern lifestyles and I felt a little that this book could be caught in that trap.

Diamond gave an interesting snapshot of his most recent book, but I wasn’t fully convinced. Perhaps that just means that I need to read the book. ­čÖé