Human Journey

Earth Optimism Summit: Enough Doom and Gloom About Nature

These days it is difficult to read news about the environment and not be depressed. Climate change, pollution, destruction of forests, overexploitation of natural resources—all driven by human population growth and rampant consumption. But there are success stories that should give us hope, from reforestation projects to marine reserves. We should learn from those stories, understand what success means and what it takes, and replicate it elsewhere.

To that end, my friend Nancy Knowlton from the Smithsonian Institution and her colleagues are hosting the first Earth Optimism Summit in Washington, D.C., April 21-23.

I invite you to join us for this event, one of the first ever to focus exclusively on conservation success. It is designed for anyone interested in what they can do to make the planet a better place during the “Anthropocene.” It’s being held in the Ronald Reagan Building in D.C.

Speakers include Maya Lin (artist, environmentalist, and architect of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial), Jane Lubchenco (former head of NOAA), Andy Revkin (prizewinning journalist), Dan Janzen (legendary protector of tropical forests), Denis Hayes (founder of the Earth Day Network), Muriel Bowser (Mayor of DC), Steve Palumbi (author of “Extreme Life in the Sea” and director of the Hopkins Marine Lab), Nora Pouillon (founder of the organic food movement in DC, including Nora’s Restaurant), John Weller (photographer whose Last Ocean film project paved the way for protection of Antarctica’s Ross Sea), Randy Olson (science communication pioneer), Rhett Butler (Editor in Chief of Mongabay), Drew Harvell (scientist, author and filmmaker), Murray Fisher (head of NYC’s Billion Oyster Project), and many many more. There are six plenary sessions and 30 concurrent sessions over the three days, whose topics range from protection of species and spaces to green cities to venture capital, plus film screenings, musical performances, and training workshops.

There is also a reduced ticket available to students (use code: EarthST), enabling them to get what is in effect a 25-hour intensive course in conservation success. One of the workshops is being led by a leader of Kickstarter, an important launching pad for funding projects of particular interest to young scientists. It is hard to imagine a better way for a young scientist to spend three days.

Please check the summit’s website and find ways to participate!

Marine ecologist Dr. Enric Sala is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence who combines science, exploration and media to help restore marine life. Sala’s scientific publications are used for conservation efforts such as the creation of marine protected areas. 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, 2008 Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum.

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