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The Saga of Life:Notes from the Front Lines of a Magnificent Mass Extinction - Presented by Dr. Shahid Naeem, Ecology Prof., Columbia University

Free Public Talk and Discussion

- 9:00pm
Thursday November 6 2014

Venue: Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Asia Pacific Hall
Address: 580 West Hastings, Vancouver
Cost: free
Accessibility: wheel chair accessible

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Fourteen billion years ago the Big Bang gave rise to stellar kitchens that would cook up a brilliant menu of over a hundred elements, a few of which would eventually aggregate into a single microscopic life form on Earth.  That organism was the seed of the most complex structure in the known cosmos - the biosphere. Weighing in at a trillion tons, made up of countless plants, animals, and microorganisms totaling over nine million species, the biosphere has defied the collapse of oceanic currents, asteroid impacts, and deadly changes in climate.  No tale is more fascinating than the saga of life and no other intellectual endeavor rivals our achievement in understanding life.  In this century, in life’s latest chapter, we are the main characters and we have engineered a magnificent mass extinction better than all others that the biosphere has ever witnessed.  We are at a place where almost any future is imaginable.  In this presentation, we will consider the saga of life, the biosphere, details of our mass extinction, and what the humanities and natural sciences (the “two cultures”) have to tell us about our options for our future.


Shahid Naeem is a Professor of Ecology at Columbia University in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology. He is also the Director of the Earth Institute’s Center for Environmental Research and Conservation.  His research concerns the ecological and environmental consequences of biodiversity loss.  He has worked on plant, animal, and microbial species in a variety of ecosystems and was the co-chair of the United Nation’s Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’s Biodiversity Synthesis Report published in 2005.  A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, Dr. Naeem is among the Institute for Scientific Information’s list of highly influential scientists.  He and his students travel the world to study and promote the idea that the preservation of biodiversity benefits all of humanity.

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