Apologies for the silence over the last week – I’ve been a little preoccupied with some business in China. I’ll devote an entire post to my recent trip there (actually, I’m still there – Beijing to be precise), but I thought I’d just explain my absence and provide a little post to sate you until next week.
It’s worth mentioning that I had the enlightening experience of travelling down the Yangtze River between Chongqing and Sandouping last week – this is the area that was flooded by the world’s largest hydro-electric project, the Three Gorges Dam. This is my fourth trip to China and I’ve usually come away with the adjective ‘big’ describing pretty much everything I see here (big agriculture, big population, big pollution, big hotels, big cities…); however, in this case, ‘big’ doesn’t even come close. It’s bloody massive, and the ecological devastation (not to mention the 1.3 million people it displaced) is hard to describe in words. Sure, there are beautiful bits left (see the accompanying photo), but most of the damage is under water and along the banks of the mighty (and now, a lot mightier) Yangtze River.
What the hell was I doing floating down the flooded Yangtze? Apart from taken some good photos, it was actually for work. I am part of the Thematic Reference Group (TRG) on Environment, Agriculture and Infectious Diseases sponsored by the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) (yes, it’s a mouthful). Our purview is to highlight research priorities for determining the nexus between environmental change and human health, and to determine the best way to implement ecosystem principles into human health management and intervention. It’s a big task, and we’ve a long way to go, but it’s very, very intellectually stimulating work. Suffice it to say, I’m exhausted. Stay tuned for more on the subject over the coming year.
There’s quite an impressive membership to the group, including inter alia Professor Tony ‘The Godfather’ McMichael (former Adelaide boy), Professor James Blignaut (an economist, but still a great bloke ;-) ) and Professor Bruce ‘Stretch’ Wilcox (of fragmentation fame). These and other extremely bright people make for some fascinating discussions, especially against the backdrop of the flooded Yangtze.
At the risk of waxing way too lyrical on this late evening in Bejing, I’ll sign off with the advertisement that another (very) famous scientist, Professor Paul Ehrlich, will be shortly on his way to Adelaide to give a series of presentations. The Environment Institute is sponsoring his visit and is proud to bring Adelaideans some great philosophical science from one of the world’s most famous ecologists.
In case you haven’t heard of Paul, I’ve provided a brief bio of his most amazing career here. This man’s life should make those most arrogant person humble.
His presentations will include:
- Darwin’s Mistake: Creationism, Cultural Evolution and Conservation (3 Nov 2010)
- Population, Resources and the Environment: Where We Stand Now (9 Nov 2010)
- The Tightrope: A Millennium Assessment of Human Behaviour (11 Nov 2010)
You can book a place by clicking through each link. I think you’d be a damn fool to miss Paul if you’re in Adelaide over the next few weeks, so I hope to see you there.