Members of the audience had to make up their minds whether to vote with their heads or their hearts as five eminent scientists battled it out during the exciting evening organised by the international environmental charity.
An initial vote put Professor David Thomas in the lead with plankton, followed by Dr. George McGavin representing bees; then the pair were each given another five minutes to win over support for their species – and everything changed.
Professor Thomas presented a superb summing up, but the outstanding winner, Dr. McGavin, won the day with his persuasive argument, explaining how one quarter of a million species of flowering plants depend on bees. He added that many species are crucial to world agriculture, and without them, we would lose not only flowering plants, but many fruit and vegetables. Among the major causes of bee declines are habitat loss and fragmentation, increasing use of insecticides, and diseases.
Dr McGavin said, ‘Bee populations are in freefall. A world without bees would be totally catastrophic.’
Television broadcaster Andrea Catherwood chaired the ‘Irreplaceable’ debate. She told the audience, ‘So in household terms on Christmas Eve with the family about to arrive, think oven rather than ornaments, dishwasher not designer handbag. We’re looking for the species we’d be hardest pushed to live without.’
The other speakers who didn’t make the top two, but nevertheless produced convincing arguments, were Ian Redmond OBE representing primates, Dr. Kate Jones fighting for bats, and Professor Lynne Boddy arguing for fungi.
These annual debates, which are designed to both inform and entertain, are now in their eighth year, and have become a highlight of the conservation calendar. Previous themes have ranged from endangered ecosystems to invasive species. They form part of Earthwatch’s educational mission to engage people in the most pressing environmental challenges facing our planet today.
The debate will be broadcast at 8pm on Radio 4 on Christmas Eve. For more information visit www.earthwatch.org./europe
The Earthwatch events programme is kindly supported by the Mitsubishi Corporation Fund for Europe and Africa.
Zoe Gamble | alfa
Surface clean-up technology won't solve ocean plastic problem
04.08.2020 | University of Exeter
Improving the monitoring of ship emissions
03.08.2020 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.
Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...
An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.
Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...
Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...
“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.
Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...
An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.
Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...
23.07.2020 | Event News
21.07.2020 | Event News
07.07.2020 | Event News
06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences
06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering
06.08.2020 | Life Sciences