Collegium Helveticum
Panel discussion

Can We Be Smarter than the Phytoplankton?
A Perspective on the Global Climate and Sustainability

As a climate and ocean scientist for twenty-five years, Galen McKinley has studied how CO2 flows from our smokestacks and tailpipes through the atmosphere and into the ocean. By acting as a huge carbon sponge, the ocean slows climate change. A key component of this process is the annual bloom of phytoplankton in the surface ocean in which microscopic plants grow rapidly in spring, and then die off once their food is depleted. As such, the phytoplankton follow the course of many living things–taking full advantage of all the resources they can to grow exponentially, but then they die off when their environment is used up. Is this the fate of humans on Earth? Are we responding sufficiently to the climate and sustainability crises? What will it take to prove that we can collectively be smarter than the phytoplankton?

Galen McKinley will open the discussion, offering a personal perspective on today’s climate and sustainability challenges. Emma Mavodza, Maneescha Deckha, and Makiko Hashinaga will comment and present their views on global climate and sustainability in relation to food systems, sustainable consumption, animal rights, social justice, and development.

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