XR Cardiff is part of the national XR network campaigning for climate justice.
XR have three big asks:
First, that the Government must tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency.
Second, for the Government to create legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels.
Third, a national Citizen’s Assembly to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.
This weekend at Cathays Community Centre, XR organised a talk by conservation biologist Professor Mike Bruford (Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University) on 'Science versus the Extinction Crisis'. Mike highlighted the importance of conservation biology and the need to act now.
Extinction is nothing new
However, he began highlighting extinction is nothing new - it is part of life on earth. The world has experienced five major extinction events - the Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, Triassic, Cretaceous.
By the end of the last extinction event in the Cretaceous period 66 million years ago it is estimated that 76% of species were lost.
We are now thought to be entering a sixth phase of extinction. The last 200,000 years have seen pronounced oscillations in global temperature. However, this time the extinction is different in that it has been largely driven by human activity. Over the last 150 years, the planet has witnessed coral reef bleaching, mass amphibian extinction and large scale loss of molluscs.
Today, around 23% mammals, 12% birds and 25% vascular plants are threatened with extinction.
Mike spoke about his work as a conservation biologist. Mike has spent time working on tracking Great Panda activity by tracking their poos and has worked on other species including the now extinct baiji or Chinese river dolphin. As well as research in the field, Mike works with other scientists to provide evidence to policymakers and works on getting under represented, highly threatened species on the IUCN Red List ( a list of species that highlights those species that are extinct, extinct in the wild, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or near threatened). Prof. Bruford is also director of the Frozen Ark, an organisation which saves viable cells of the worldʼs endangered species.
Alongside charismatic species such as the Great Panda and Great White Rhino, Mike also highlighted the crucial role of lesser known species such as insects and microbes. He emphasised the important work of future biologists in exploring the important role of these smaller perhaps less 'charismatic' or at least less infamous creatures of the world. Right now, there are potentially tens of thousands of species we don't even know exist and what might happen if they become extinct. Creatures big and small play hugely important roles in ecosystem and if lost might have significant impact upon ecosystem functioning. We need earthworms as well as rhinos!
"Once it has gone, it has gone."
Mike concluded that we are at a critical point in the history of this earth.
For aspiring biologists, Prof. Bruford highlighted the BBC documentary series Living Planet by Sir David Attenborough as a great place to start. As well as science, he highlighted the importance of art in telling the story of biodiversity, current threats to living creatures and what human society can do to support biodiversity and the incredible range of creatures inhabiting our planet.
At Global Gardens, we are trying to support agri-biodiversity by working with heritage and open pollinated seed. If you would like to learn more about our seed-saving activities, sign up to our newsletter (link at the bottom of the page).
If you want to learn more about XR Cardiff and the extinction rebellion movement, check out their facebook page here.