Opening Address: Michael AW: Dr Sylvia Earle


  • Jennifer Hayes
  • Christopher Chin
  • Joy Zheng
  • Esther An
  • Sarah-Jo Lobwein
  • Professor Benjamin Horton

Host: Sheree Marris

Moderator: Alex Rose


We currently have a unique opportunity to shift our worldview to reflect our understanding that “the economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment”. This pandemic has given us a chance to pause and evaluate what we used to consider normal, and perhaps even take action to make sure that globally, society does not double down on maintaining its destructive “business as usual” policies, instead pushing for a paradigm shift that focuses on making sustainable and equitable practices profitable.

We explored a variety of ways that the current pandemic can forge a new paradigm for conservation, and talked about some of the positive aspects of our “new normal” that we should try to retain in an effort to live more sustainably.  Buying local products, being more aware of need versus want, and working from home when possible all emerged as personal goals, while a focus on green building, advocating for urban farms, and reducing habitat fragmentation were cited as corporate goals. Professor Horton encouraged us to consider whether the pandemic and the climate emergency are related in both having the same underlying causes and possibly solutions, too. Christopher Chin described how the plastic industry has capitalized on people’s fears of Coronavirus infection, exploited the opportunity to push single-use items, rolled back progressive legislation, and even asked for massive government bailouts. Jennifer Hayes explained that as a storyteller, she feels compelled to tell the hard truths that few people have the desire to confront, while also focusing on the importance of collaborative efforts and empowering the next generation. Dr Earle encourages us to do a better job at accounting for the incredible value of marine life, and reminds us that “clear cutting the ocean” is a threat to our climate, health, and economy. Joy Zheng talks about how the pandemic has made it extremely obvious that we need to do a better job taking care of our environment and protecting wildlife, and says that we must stay patient, innovative, and adaptive if we want to use the Coronavirus as a positive learning experience. Michael AW thinks that there needs to be more “we” instead of “I”, and that it is our duty as citizens of Earth to each do our part, however large or small, to create a better future for all living beings.

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