Paul Ehrlich to present special seminar in Canberra on 21st March

The Environment Institute & Fenner School of Environment & Society at the Australian National University present a special presentation by Professor Paul Ehrlich in Canberra on Thursday 21st March 2013.

The talk is titled ‘Avoiding a collapse of civilisation – our chances, prospects and pathways forward.’ Professor Ehrlich will then be joined by leading ecological scientists to participate in an in-depth panel discussion. The panel will extend and discuss Professor Ehrlich’s topics as they relate to sustainability politics in Australia. They will broach controversial topics from food and energy supply to the politics of greed. How much scientific evidence underlies our national decision-making?

Where: Manning Clarke Centre Lecture Theatre 1 Building 26A, ANU, Canberra, Australia
Time: 7:15pm
When: Thursday 21st March 2013
RSVP: This event is free, registration is essential. Register here

Prof. Paul R. Ehrlich

Prof. Paul R. Ehrlich

ABSTRACT

Environmental problems have contributed to numerous collapses of civilizations in the past. Now, for the first time, a global collapse appears possible and at the same time avoidable. Population growth supercharged by significantly increasing consumption interacting with our choices of technologies are major drivers. Dramatic cultural change provides the main hope of averting calamity.

Paul and Anne Ehrlich have written a paper on how humanity’s global civilisation is threatened with collapse by an array of environmental problems. In this special presentation, Professor Ehrlich will give a talk about his recent conclusions.

Professor Ehrlich will then be joined by leading ecological scientists to participate in an in-depth panel discussion. The panel will extend and discuss Professor Ehrlich’s topics as they relate to sustainability politics in Australia. They will broach controversial topics from food and energy supply to the politics of greed. How much scientific evidence underlies our national decision-making?

The panel includes Professor Corey Bradshaw from the Environment Institute, Professor David Lindenmayer from ANU, and Professor Graham Pyke from University of Technology Sydney. Professor Stephen Dovers, Director of the Fenner School of Environment will chair the panel session.

About the speaker

Paul Ehrlich is the Bing Professor of Population Studies in the department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University, president of Stanford’s Center for Conservation Biology and Adjunct Professor, University of Technology, Sydney. By training he is an entomologist specializing in Lepidoptera (butterflies), but he is also a prominent ecologist and demographer. Ehrlich is best known for his dire warnings about population growth and limited resources. He became well-known after publication of his controversial 1968 book The Population Bomb.

Download the pdf flyer for this event

Paul Ehrlich in Adelaide

While in Australia, Paul Ehrlich will headline ‘The Planet Talks’ series at WOMADelaide on Monday March 11th.

The Planet Talks is a series of environmentally-focused discussions and panels – a legacy of the WOMAD Earth Station event staged in 2011 and now a part of WOMADelaide. The Talks will focus on the core fundamentals of Food Security & Sustainability, Activism & Change and Population Growth.

Professor Ehrlich will participate in a ‘one on one’ discussion on Population & Consumption with the host of the ABC’s The Science Show, Robyn Williams.

Find out more about Paul Ehrlich at WOMADelaide

 

 

Listen to Merinda Nash talk about her research into the effects of ocean acidification on tropical red algae and the discovery of dolomite.

Listen to the podcast from the recent seminar by Merinda Nash.

The Environment Institute’s Sprigg Geobiology Centre presented Merinda Nash from the Electronic Materials Engineering, Research School of Physics, Australian National University on Thursday 21st February 2013.

The talk was titled ‘Conditions constraining biomineralised dolomite in living tropical calcifying red algae offers insight into past environments’ (See Abstract Below)

Merinda Nash

Merinda Nash

Merinda Nash is a PhD candidate in the Electronic Materials Engineering group, Research School of Physics, at the Australian National University. Her research is into the physical properties of biogenic carbonates, particularly coral and coralline algae and how these may be impacted by ocean acidification.

 

 

ABSTRACT

Research into effects of ocean acidification on tropical calcifying red algae led to the surprising discovery that these algae precipitate substantial amounts (up to 30% of total carbonate) of dolomite contemporaneously with their living processes. Biomineralised dolomite is found within the cell spaces of living crustose coralline alga and has both rhomb and spheroidal morphologies. Alteration bands of dolomite and aragonite obliterate cell features leaving ghost outlines of original cells. There are many similarities between features of this modern dolomite paleo dolomite. It seems that this bio-dolomite is common in modern coral reefs and is constrained by light, temperature and water energy conditions. Our experiments showed that the presence of dolomite in the coralline algae reduces its rate of dissolution 6-10 times compared to only Mg-calcite coralline algae. This is due to a combination of reduced porosity and stability of the dolomite in-fill. Analysis of reef core coralline algae demonstrated that this bio-dolomite is stable over at least several thousand years and the original cell in-fill morphology is retained. The preferential preservation of dolomite rich red algae demonstrates a process for concentrating dolomite in shallow marine environments in elevated CO2 conditions. Biological ocean acidification experiments on calcifying algae have the potential to answer many questions about how dolomite forms, what is the isotope fractionation of this bio-dolomite and can this information be used to reconstruct past environments. This opens the door to new opportunities for biologists and geologists to collaborate to understand both the past and the future.

Read Merinda’s paper published in Nature that relates to this talk.

Download the podcast from this seminar.

Hear Merinda Nash talk about ocean acidification and opportunities for biologists and geologists to understand both the past and the future.

The Environment Institute’s Sprigg Geobiology Centre presents Merinda Nash from the Electronic Materials Engineering, Research School of Physics, Australian National University on Thursday 21st February 2013.

The talk is titled ‘Conditions constraining biomineralised dolomite in living tropical calcifying red algae offers insight into past environments’ (See Abstract Below)

Where: B18, Ingkarni Wardli Building, The University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide SA

Time: 12pm-1pm

When: Thursday 21st February 2013

REGISTER HERE

Merinda Nash

Merinda Nash

Merinda Nash is a PhD candidate in the Electronic Materials Engineering group, Research School of Physics, at the Australian National University. Her research is into the physical properties of biogenic carbonates, particularly coral and coralline algae and how these may be impacted by ocean acidification.

ABSTRACT

Research into effects of ocean acidification on tropical calcifying red algae led to the surprising discovery that these algae precipitate substantial amounts (up to 30% of total carbonate) of dolomite contemporaneously with their living processes. Biomineralised dolomite is found within the cell spaces of living crustose coralline alga and has both rhomb and spheroidal morphologies. Alteration bands of dolomite and aragonite obliterate cell features leaving ghost outlines of original cells. There are many similarities between features of this modern dolomite paleo dolomite. It seems that this bio-dolomite is common in modern coral reefs and is constrained by light, temperature and water energy conditions. Our experiments showed that the presence of dolomite in the coralline algae reduces its rate of dissolution 6-10 times compared to only Mg-calcite coralline algae. This is due to a combination of reduced porosity and stability of the dolomite in-fill. Analysis of reef core coralline algae demonstrated that this bio-dolomite is stable over at least several thousand years and the original cell in-fill morphology is retained. The preferential preservation of dolomite rich red algae demonstrates a process for concentrating dolomite in shallow marine environments in elevated CO2 conditions. Biological ocean acidification experiments on calcifying algae have the potential to answer many questions about how dolomite forms, what is the isotope fractionation of this bio-dolomite and can this information be used to reconstruct past environments. This opens the door to new opportunities for biologists and geologists to collaborate to understand both the past and the future.

Read Merinda’s paper published in Nature that relates to this talk.

Silver lining to coral reef climate cloud

A team of Researchers, led by Merinda Nash from Australian National University (ANU),  have found parts of our coral reefs are more resistant to ocean acidification than first thought.

The study was published in the journal Nature Climate Change today (Monday 10th December) and details their analyses of the mineral structure of coralline algae.

Photo by Dr Bayden Russell, University of Adelaide

Photo by Dr Bayden Russell, University of Adelaide

The team involves Environment Institute member Dr Bayden Russell, who is one of the authors on the paper.

The researchers discovered an extra mineral, dolomite, in coralline algae, which made the organism less susceptible to being dissolved in increasingly acidic oceans.

“A coral reef is like a house – the coral are the bricks, but the coralline algae are the cement that holds it all together,” explains lead author and PhD candidate with the ANU Research School of Physics & Engineering, Merinda Nash.

“Researchers are concerned that when atmospheric carbon levels rise and ocean acidity increases, the magnesium calcite which makes up the coralline algae will dissolve first, threatening the very foundations of the reef.

“However, in a rare piece of good news, we found when we analysed algal samples from Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef that the cell spaces in the algae were filled with dolomite, the same strong mineral that makes up the Dolomite Alps in Italy.”

Read the full media release sent out today by ANU.

Download a copy of the paper.

 

 

Guest Speaker: Dr Martijn van de Pol

The School of Earth & Environmental Sciences and the Environment Institute present a public seminar by Dr Martijn van de Pol from Evolution, Ecology & Genetics, Research School of Biology at the Australian National University on Monday 29th October 2012 at 2:00pm.

Dr Martijn van de Pol. Photo from Australian National University

The Seminar is titled ‘Phenotypic change and population dynamics in a changing environment: an evolutionary demographer’s approach’. Dr van de Pol’s research interest is at the interface of behavioural, evolutionary and population ecology, particularly the climate change ecology of birds. He combines ecological modelling with field studies to investigate questions like: What are the mechanisms by which animals adapt to climate change and is adaptation fast enough to avoid extinction?, What is the contribution of the different aspects of climate change to population dynamics?, Why are some species more sensitive to extinction than others? How do shorebirds adapt their feeding ecology in response to shellfisheries?

When: Monday 29th October 2012
Where: Benham Lecture Theatre, University of Adelaide
Time: 2:00pm – 3:00pm

All welcome.