The lecture: The Metabolism of Planet Earth
We live in a unique time in human and Earth history, when human influence on the planet is so persuasive that it is argued we have entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. The consequences of this pervasive influence underlies the many environmental challenges we face, from climate change to depletion of marine resources and the loss and degradation of natural ecosystems.
The lecture starts at 16.15, on Monday 25th of April 2022.
In this lecture Professor Yadvinder Malhi examines human influence on the natural world through the concept of metabolism: how much energy flows through human societies compared to how much flows through the biosphere. We first look at the biological metabolism of the planet, how it is measured and how it is distributed over the Earth. He then explores how these energy flows have changed through human history and prehistory, and scenarios for how they may change over this century, where human-appropriated energy flows threaten to overwhelm the life-sustaining metabolism of the planet.
The metabolic profile of a modern industrialised country (the UK) is explored in particular detail: how much of our energy is directly consumed or embedded in products and in societal infrastructure? Malhi concludes by exploring possible pathways out of this predicament, of how to navigate a sustainable future on a human-dominated planet.
Everybody is welcome!
Professor Yadvinder Malhi
Yadvinder Malhi is Professor of Ecosystem Science at the University of Oxford and Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery. His work focuses on the interactions between the biosphere and global change. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in many tropical countries in particular, and is founder of the Global Ecosystems Monitoring network, which conducts detailed studies of ecosystem processes and climate change in field sites ranging across Amazonia, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. More broadly he is interested in the challenge of maintaining a flourishing and sustaining biosphere under the challenges of global change, and how to deliver nature recovery at scale. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and was awarded a CBE in the 2020 Queens’ Birthday Honours for his work on ecosystem science. He is a Trustee of the Natural History Museum of London and President of the British Ecological Society.
This lecture is a joint event organised by the Horizon Lecture Committee at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, the Darwin Day Committee at the Department of Biological Sciences, and Academia Europaea Bergen Knowledge Hub. See poster from Darwin Day in Bergen.