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
Bioplastics from Waste Fats
23.09.2019 | Technische Universität Berlin
Fungicides as an underestimated hazard for freshwater organisms
17.09.2019 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
How long the battery of your phone or computer lasts depends on how many lithium ions can be stored in the battery's negative electrode material. If the battery runs out of these ions, it can't generate an electrical current to run a device and ultimately fails.
Materials with a higher lithium ion storage capacity are either too heavy or the wrong shape to replace graphite, the electrode material currently used in...
To process information, photons must interact. However, these tiny packets of light want nothing to do with each other, each passing by without altering the...
Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) outstation in the city have developed a new method to watch biomolecules at work. This method dramatically simplifies starting enzymatic reactions by mixing a cocktail of small amounts of liquids with protein crystals. Determination of the protein structures at different times after mixing can be assembled into a time-lapse sequence that shows the molecular foundations of biology.
The functions of biomolecules are determined by their motions and structural changes. Yet it is a formidable challenge to understand these dynamic motions.
At the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 (ISAL) in Darmstadt from September 23 to 25, 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, will present OLED light strips of any length with additional functionalities for the first time at booth no. 37.
Almost everyone is familiar with light strips for interior design. LED strips are available by the metre in DIY stores around the corner and are just as often...
Later during this century, around 2060, a paradigm shift in global energy consumption is expected: we will spend more energy for cooling than for heating....
19.09.2019 | Event News
10.09.2019 | Event News
04.09.2019 | Event News
23.09.2019 | Life Sciences
23.09.2019 | Life Sciences
23.09.2019 | Materials Sciences