Humans are having an extraordinary impact on the life of the planet with species extinction rates now 100-1000 times the background rate. From a largely local phenomenon of habitat-loss and over-exploitation, biodiversity decline has now become systemic, driven by our increasingly globalized economy, expanding consumerism and accelerating climatic change. Indeed, many scientists believe we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event in the Earth’s history, and that the impacts on biodiversity, our life support system, will accelerate over the next century.
Professor Lesley Hughes from the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University and the Climate Council will pose the question ‘Can Biodiversity Survive the Human Race?’. In her talk she will explore how we let things get this bad, whether we still have a chance to save the Earth, and what we can all do to avert catastrophe.
Our second speaker, Manfred Lenzen, Professor of Sustainability Research at the University of Sydney, will explore how globalization and international trade are key drivers of biodiversity decline. He will outline his research which charts how demand for consumer commodities in developed economies drives species extinction in developing countries.
Details for this exciting event can be found here.
As part of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre ASEAN Forum to commemorate 40 years of Australian engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), on Thursday September 11th, Sydney Ideas will be presenting a public event focusing on issues of sustainability in Southeast Asia .
Australia has long been known for its environmental politics – movements, policy, and academic analysis. On Wednesday 11th December, four of the most well-known Australia-based academics of environmental politics from the University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, and Australian National University will convene to discuss and celebrate two recent books aimed at analysing and stimulating debate on the current and future state of environmental and climate politics.
In the decade ahead, Australia and the world will face environmental, social and financial challenges of an unprecedented scale. These include tensions between economic growth and environmental degradation, a need to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in response to climate change, and pressure to improve social inclusion and equity in a world of significant poverty and inequity. Businesses are clearly key players when it comes to responding to these challenges, but can businesses look beyond their short-term bottom line and better balance their economic needs with social and environmental priorities?
Last night I attended Bill McKibben’s first public Australian lecture at the University of Sydney. It was sell-out event and the Seymour Theatre was full as young and old crammed in to hear what one newspaper has termed the “rock star of the global warming movement”. Waiting for the doors to open it did have that feeling of a big event – a performance by someone who has been willing to call-out the elephant in the room – our convenient but ultimately suicidal race to change the physics of the Earth in the name of “business as usual”. People were hungry to see and hear the unassuming American who has become the most prominent public face of the fight against global warming.
In March this year, the Sydney Network on Climate Change and Society in association with the University of Sydney Business School organized a one-day symposium exploring how businesses as social actors have responded to the emerging climate crisis. The symposium featured a keynote address by Professor Andy Hoffman, the Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, followed by contributions from other influential academic writers on climate change, and insights from a range of business practitioners at the leading edge of corporate environmental sustainability.
Professor Hoffman has written extensively about corporate responses to climate change; how the interconnected networks of NGOs and corporations influence change processes; and the underlying cultural values that are engaged when these barriers are overcome. His research uses a sociological perspective to understand the cultural and institutional aspects of environmental issues for organizations.