Nature Darwin debate: what price biodiversity?

As part of Nature’s ongoing celebration of Charles Darwin’s bicentenary, the second Nature Darwin Debate will take place at 1900 h local time on Monday 9 March at Kings Place, London N1 9AG, UK .

We pay for our food, water, health-care and energy, so why not pay for the many ‘services’ currently obtained for free from biological diversity? Services such as insect-pollination, central to food production; or healthy forests, which we need for clean water and to stop soil erosion. Shouldn’t we invest now in our biodiversity in order to secure our future needs?


James Lovelock, independent scientist and author of Revenge of Gaia. Prof Lovelock is the author of more than 200 scientific papers, distributed almost equally among topics in medicine, biology, instrument and atmospheric science and geophysiology. He is the originator of the Gaia hypothesis and has written four books on the subject, including The Revenge of Gaia (2006). His latest book is The Vanishing Face of Gaia: a final warning, published this year. He is the inventor of the electron capture detector, which made possible the detection of chlorofluorocarbons and other atmospheric nano-pollutants.

Michael Meacher, MP (Labour) is a long-time campaigner for the environment within party and government. A staunch advocate of renewable energy, he was Minister of State for the Environment between 1997 and 2003. During this time, he played an important role in international negotiations over the Kyoto Treaty and helped pass the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which secured greater protection for Britain’s wildlife areas.

Sir Crispin Tickell, Director of the Policy Foresight Programme at the James Martin 21st Century School at Oxford University, was Chef de Cabinet to the President of the European Commission, Ambassador to Mexico, Permanent Secretary of the Overseas Development Administration (now DFID), and British Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He has been Warden of Green College, Oxford, and Chancellor of the University of Kent, and has since had other public and academic appointments. He has advised successive British Prime Ministers on environmental issues, and is the author of Climate Change and World Affairs (1977 and 1986).


Ehsan Masood, Acting Chief Commissioning Editor, Nature. Ehsan was UK news and developing-world correspondent at Nature in the 1990s. He then became Opinion Editor at New Scientist and subsequently Director of Communications for the environmental leadership training organization Lead International. He has also worked as a consultant to the British Council, the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He teaches international science policy at Imperial College London and his book, Science and Islam: a history, is published by Icon books this year.

Nature also continues its Darwin bicentenary celebrations with a dedicated online Web Focus celebrating the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species. Included in the Focus is the Nature Insight on Evolution, an interview with Sir David Attenborough, 15 Evolutionary Gems, and a Nature Podcast extra. Read all this and more in the Nature Web Focus.

Further details and booking information for the Nature Darwin debate at Kings Place.


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