Dr Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, shared her insights into the necessity of rigorous research and collaborative solutions to help prevent the extinction of cheetahs. Dr Marker, who received her doctorate from Oxford and is an Andrew D White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University, has worked with cheetahs since 1974 and lived in Namibia for the past 25 years. She worked with the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo to discover the cheetah's lack of genetic variation and has been recognised by Namibian authorities for her extensive work with local farmers to restore cheetah habitats and develop cheetah-friendly economic opportunities. In 2000 she was named one of Time magazine's Heroes for the Planet.
Dr Marker was joined by Professor Steven Sherwood, ARC Laureate Fellow and Director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. Professor Sherwood, who researches clouds and their relation to changing climates, described the consequences of continued global warming without radical action, such as Sydney having tropical summers and much of the tropics becoming uninhabitable. He also shared some signs of good news, such as the expansion of renewable energy technologies and the growth of business-led interventions.
These themes were developed by Professor Christopher Wright, who holds a chair in Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney Business School and leads the Balanced Enterprise Research Network. Professor Wright, whose latest book (with Daniel Nyberg) is entitledClimate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-destruction, spoke on the problematic logic of unrestrained economic growth without regard for the environment. He suggested the need for major regulatory intervention, renewable reinvention and social mobilisation to break 'the sanctity of consumption' and disrupt 'business as usual'.
Responding to these challenges by designing better cities was the focus of Ms Sandy Burgoyne, Director of the Future Cities Collaborative at the United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney. Ms Burgoyne highlighted the need for idea-sharing between local leaders around the world, and the possibilities for greener and more human communities by focusing on holistic strategies rather than piecemeal tactics.
As Dean of Applied Science at The Scots College, Mr Chris Metcalfe, said, "When our boys are empowered to design real solutions to these real and pressing problems, they come up with surprisingly creative ideas. Our task as educators is helping them understand the issues and embrace their responsibility to bring about real change."
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