The Human Enterprise on a Changing Planet

3rd March 2020

Join us as we welcome Professor Ruth DeFries to the Conservation Research Institute from 3 – 5 March 2020 for a series of free public talks called The Human Enterprise on a Changing Planet.

Professor Ruth DeFries is the Tellus Mater Distinguished Fellow in Sustainability Studies 2020 and her talks will examine human transformation of the landscape and its consequences for climate, biogeochemical cycling, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services that make our planet habitable. Ruth DeFries is a professor of ecology and sustainable development at Columbia University in New York. She uses images from satellites and field surveys to examine how the world’s demands for food and other resources are changing land use throughout the tropics.

Nature’s Secrets for Uncertain Times – Tuesday 3 March, 5pm

The complexity of the urban, interconnected modern world, combined with the complexity of a changing planet, makes the future unpredictable and uncertain.  How societies can prepare and manage for unpredictable times raises fundamental questions about how society can persist through uncertainty.  Nature’s experience over billions of years with survival through swings in climate, crashing asteroids, and self-inflicted extinctions provides surprising and counter-intuitive clues for us, with lessons for the architecture of trade networks, collective decisions, and investments to maintain biological and cultural diversity. Followed by a drinks reception.  Read more and book here

The Illusive Quest for Science to Make a Difference – Wednesday 4 March, 5pm

Many ecologists and earth system scientists are heeding the rallying-cry to use their science to make a difference.  But how precisely to do so and whether scientists can actually influence decisions are not easy questions.  This lecture will discuss some possible strategies and pitfalls, drawing from the presenter’s trials with various approaches including tools and methods for decision support about fires and deforestation in the Amazon and Southeast Asia and attempts at deep engagement in the central India landscape.  Key characteristics to make a difference include collaboration with those who can use the information, a realistic theory of change, and evaluation of effectiveness. Read more

Professor Ruth DeFries Bio

Please click here for more information and to register your attendance at the lectures