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Video transcript

(calm music) - [Instructor] Biodiversity can be protected and for this tutorial, we're gonna outline some of the ways we can all do that by talking about the need for more science and more education. To start things off, I wanna use an analogy from nature to illustrate how science and education can act together in a kind of, symbiosis. Coral, as we know is a symbiotic organism composed of the coral animal, really a colony of tiny sea anemone-like animals and the single cell plants that live in the tissue of the animal and provide nutrients to the little anemone-like beasties. This boosts the ability of coral to make more coral and to build reefs. And so you get these enormous structures. These reefs that are visible from space through this wonderful synergy, this symbiosis between these two organisms. That's a result that's clearly a lot bigger than just the sum of the parts. And for me, that's a nice analogy. A metaphor for the symbiotic way that education and research work together. It's not enough just to do the research. Nobody is gonna realize the genius of the research if you don't know how to tell people about it. So, education works with the research the same way that corals work symbiotically with tiny plant symbionts so that you build something much bigger. Much more full of impact than either thing would be on its own. That's a nice little metaphor but what does that have to do with saving the diversity of life on the planet? The point is, more research and more education are the two ways that I think will increase our ability to protect biodiversity on Earth so that we do end up with a result much greater than the sum of the parts. And that doesn't necessarily mean more professional biologists. It can mean the involvement of more interested members of the public. It can be the involvement of people who are doing the boots on the ground kind of work. Or it could mean something as distant as remote sensing techniques and the development of new technologies that help us understand biodiversity. The reason that we're emphasizing this aspect, this building up of research resources and educational capacity is that we really only know about 10% of the life on Earth. So what about that other 90%? How do we go about figuring out where and what that 90% might be? And for this, I like to use the burning room analogy. The Earth is in crisis. It's like a house burning and we don't know who's in all the rooms. How do you know which rooms to go into first to try and save anyone from the fire if you don't have the knowledge of who is in each room, much less where everybody is in all those rooms? So we need to know the other 90% of life on Earth. We need to be better armed to protect what we find or protect more of what? Do we mean, not to lose too many? How many is too many? Do we mean to stop extinction completely? Or do we mean to preserve entire ecosystems? I think these questions are still to a large extent not yet answered. We need more science to figure out how best to address how quickly those rooms in the biodiversity house are all burning. We've seen how the unprecedented rates of human-caused environmental change can boost rates of extinction, can boost the rate at which we lose environments and in turn, reduce biodiversity which can de-stabilize ecosystems. So it seems to me that the only logical response to this rate problem is to increase the rate of discovery and the rate of dissemination of those results. That's the only way to deal with the burning house because if you charge in without the appropriate data, without the appropriate science, without the appropriate outreach and educational efforts, without this critical symbiosis of research and education you're gonna make costly mistakes with dire results for all life on earth. Ultimately, you do have to have good science. For me certainly, expeditions are always going to be crucial to that aspect. You have to have direct observations. You have to have people looking at what is happening right there in the ecosystem and these observations could be from people outside the ecosystem or they can be expeditions that involve people that are actually there working with and living with the ecosystems upon which they depend. Sure, you have to have people who can do the solid research but who can also talk about it in a way that other people, non-scientists can follow what they're saying and perhaps even act on it. That is, you need scientists who can communicate with a broad audience. You have to have people that are not just good at talking to other scientists, but can also talk to everyone from children to voters, to policy makers and the people who live in and rely on the very environments that we need to protect. And I think those scientists need help. I think they can work with educators to develop outreach programs that work really, really well. Again, we have and need the symbiosis of research and education and that can be a symbiosis of people, it can be a symbiosis of ideas. We need to help people understand that we are not divorced from that connectivity of life, that we are a part of all of those ecosystems and that an understanding of how those ecosystems play a role in every level of our existence is really another way of making the protection of biodiversity relevant to every single person walking on this planet. We are part of all those food webs. Part of how all those ecosystems function and ecosystems services which are explicitly framed in the context of humans deriving benefit from ecosystems rest on an understanding of what ecosystem function is. The education component of the symbiosis, the education to help people understand biodiversity and ecosystem function and ecosystem services can come in a lot of forms. Some ways of getting the messages out are clearly more efficient than others. Some reach broader audiences than others but their scope includes everything from a scientist working one on one in their own lab with a young student who's inspired by the work that's being done there, to tweeting a result, to going on television for an interview, to developing educational videos, to giving lectures and courses, to having people come to a museum and walk through the halls and explore messages about the connectivity of life because knowledge is power and with the world wide web, the lessons can be immediate. To me, that's the single most amazing thing about being alive today to experience this digital revolution and to use it to solve the problems of the world. This is where the symbiosis of science and education is most powerful. In these mass abilities that we have now to disseminate information faster than ever before. As long as this information is founded in appropriate, testable science, there's hope that the symbiosis can lead to action and to change in the ways humans interact with their environments. Data can be provided to policy makers. Not only on what's happening, but what the best steps might be to cause positive change. Or, data can be used to organize reactions to negative situations that harm biodiversity. We can do that faster than ever before. And what's really crucial, children can be inspired to change the world around them. I've seen it myself. Any one of us who's ever interacted with kids knows how important the internet is to them and how important social media is to their lives. How important the immediacy of information is to all of them and we've all seen them act on what they see, doing stuff in response to what they see on the internet. It used to much more passive but now they're taking a message and acting on it. They can be inspired to change the world around them as they grow and acquire the tools to absorb and modulate the information that they're taking in. It starts with the research. It starts with asking questions and it continues with education and talking about the answers. It's hard to imagine but I was once a kid myself. I inherited a world with problems and I began to see what those problems were and how I might investigate some solutions. The next generation has to be encouraged to continue those investigations and contribute to that understanding of our part in life's connectivity.