Top scientist demands end to abuse of planet earth
Monday 19 June 2006
“The looming sixth mass extinction serves as a stark warning to us that human beings are not using the planet sustainably” states Professor Sir John Lawton CBE FRS tonight at the Zoological Society’s Annual Stamford Raffles Lecture. Sir John, Chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and former Chief Executive of NERC, is speaking on Biodiversity, Climate Change and Unsustainable Development and is employing his wealth of international experience to express his grave concerns for our continued disregard for our earth’s finite natural resources.
“Every year we take for our own use between a quarter and a half of all terrestrial plant production, about a third of all marine plant production (via the fish we catch), and over half of all the readily available fresh water, and these numbers are growing exponentially,” explained Sir John. “Utilising this level of resource is totally unfeasible on a planet of restricted means. It is vital that we now heed the warnings from the natural world, and radically rethink our relationship with the planet.”
“We must now look to a socially fairer world that seeks to massively reduce human use of the planet’s resources,” he adds, with an ominous final message, “Doing nothing is no longer an option.”
In its role as an international scientific, conservation and education charity, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) works consistently to promote sustainable management of our world’s ecosystems and resources. Ralph Armond, Director General of ZSL, added, “It is appropriate that Sir John has chosen to highlight such a key issue at our Annual Lecture. ZSL’s scientific and conservation work has for many years demonstrated that we are failing to be aware of the effects of the demands that we are placing on our planet. Recent evidence on a range of fronts confirms the seriousness of the problem, but also shows that actions must soon be put in place if we are to have any chance of reversing the impacts of our activities on the earth’s climate, natural ecosystem and, ultimately, its people.”
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Notes to editors
Professor Sir John Lawton is currently Chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and was the Chief Executive of the Natural Environmental Research Council between 1999 and 2005.
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in other countries worldwide. www.zsl.org
The Annual Stamford Raffles Lecture at ZSL has been running since 1995, with speakers including Professor Richard Dawkins and Sir David Attenborough. The lecture will be held in the Meeting Rooms at The Zoological Society of London at 6.45pm and will be followed by a Reception. The lecture is part of a series of annual events on the 20th June this year, including ZSL’s AGM and Scientific Awards. The ZSL Scientific Awards will be held prior to the lecture at 6pm and this year’s award winners include Charles Clover (Environment Editor, Daily Telegraph) and Alastair Fothergill (BBC Natural History Unit Director/Producer).
Tickets for the lecture can be obtained from Joy Miller – contact her on 020 7449 6281 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution is an independent standing body established in 1970 to advise the Queen, government, Parliament and the public on environmental issues. The Commission sees its role as reviewing and anticipating trends and developments in environmental policies, identifying fields where insufficient attention is being given to problems, and recommending action that should be taken.
The Natural Environmental Research Council, as one of the UK’s eight Research Councils, uses a budget of about £350m a year to fund and carry out impartial scientific research in the sciences of the environment.
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