Sir David Attenborough – Naturalist & Broadcaster
For more than sixty years, Sir David Attenborough has presented Earth’s natural history and introduced the beauty, creativity and fragility of its species to a global audience.
As writer, producer and broadcaster for the world’s oldest and largest public broadcaster, the BBC, he has participated in or been responsible for dozens of nature documentaries and series. Along the way he has blended his ardent presentation of flora and fauna with concern and activism to become a globally-renowned naturalist and conservationist.
Born in west London in 1926 and raised in Leicester, England, Sir David obtained a degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University before serving two years in the Royal Navy. After working briefly as an editor, he was hired to produce non-fiction programs for the BBC.
His Zoo Quest series (1954-1963) was the first of its kind to film wild animals on location, its success leading to the creation of the largest wildlife documentary production house in the world, the BBC’s Natural History Unit. This set the foundation for Attenborough’s career as a nature documentary presenter.
Attenborough left the BBC in the early 1960s to study social anthropology at the London School of Economics, but returned in 1965 as controller for BBC Two. He left the network in 1972 to begin working freelance, establishing himself as a British cultural icon with his 13-episode series Life on Earth, which began airing in 1976. This has since been viewed by an estimated 500 million people worldwide.
Between 1979-2010 he authored nine other Life series and went on to narrate every episode of Wildlife on One (1977-2005), the BBC’s flagship natural history program, as well as The Blue Planet and Planet Earth, which at the time was the most comprehensive nature documentary ever made, and the first BBC presentation to be filmed in high definition.
His delight filming the natural world motivated his earlier film explorations. Over the years, however, he noticed the animals he studied, along with their habitats, were under increasing environmental threats that could be traced to rapid population growth in many parts of the world, and that “true wilderness” was becoming harder to find. Increasingly, his work reflected these concerns.
State of the Planet, a documentary released in 2000, focused on pollution, habitat destruction and the increasing frequency of species extinction while The Truth about Climate Change (2006) raised public awareness about the evidence of global warming. His 2009 documentary, How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth? investigated the potential for a global crisis, and gave viewers a much-needed perspective on overpopulation as he noted that the population of the planet had more than doubled in his lifetime.
Over the course of his career, Sir David has received dozens of awards for his services to broadcasting and for his efforts in conservation. In 1985 he was knighted by the Queen, and in 2002 received the Order of Merit. He holds at least 31 honourary degrees from British universities, including Oxford and Cambridge. He has been voted “Britain’s Most Trusted Citizen” numerous times and is increasingly being profiled for speaking out about the problems caused by overpopulation.
In addition to holding patronage with UK-based sister organization Population Matters, he has been a patron for many years of the World Land Trust, a non-profit environmental organization that buys rain forests around the globe to preserve wildlife. In May, 2015, Sir David was interviewed by President Barack Obama to discuss his new series on the Great Barrier Reef, and highlighted the problem of overpopulation in the context of conservation efforts. The program aired on the BBC to a viewership of more than 2.5 million people in July, 2015.
Sir David Attenborough will celebrate his ninetieth birthday in May, 2016, an auspicious occasion that will see the BBC air a one-hour special, Inspiring Attenborough: Sir David at 90, together with his newest nature series, an investigation into bioluminescence. His ongoing efforts to contribute to our knowledge of the natural world, along with continuing advocacy for conservation and population awareness, ensure that his future as a steward for the environment—and his influence on the world—remains formidable.
Robert Bateman – Naturalist & Artist
Robert Bateman is one of Canada’s foremost naturalists and among the world’s most celebrated wildlife artists and naturalist painters. Since the 1960s he has been an active member of conservation organizations, and has used his prints to raise money for the causes he believes in. A spokesman for many conservation and environmental issues, he is an Honourary Member of the World Wildlife Fund and is recognized by the National Audobon Society as one of the twentieth century’s “Heroes of Conservation.”
Bateman was born in Toronto, Canada in 1930 and showed an affinity for the natural world at an early age. As a young man he trained as a naturalist at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum and was influenced by the work of the Group of Seven. He was a student of Canadian regionalist and rural painters Carl Schaefer and Gordon Payne.
He studied geography at the University of Toronto, graduating in 1954, and trained as a high school teacher at the Ontario College of Education. In the classrooms of southern Ontario he combined 20 years of teaching art and geography with environmental advocacy. During this time he helped establish the Bruce Trail, a 900 km hiking trail in southern and central Ontario that follows the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, one of thirteen UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves in Canada.
For the past thirty years he has made his home in British Columbia, frequently speaking out about threats to traditional ecosystems that are the result of human activities such as clear-cutting, tar sand and oil pipeline operations. In 2007 he donated 11 million dollars of artwork towards the Robert Bateman Centre, creating a catalyst for environmental research and study. In recent years he has used his renown as an artist to promote environmental causes around the world.
Known primarily as a realist painter, his work often places wild animals in carefully researched, ecologically accurate natural settings. Over the course of his artistic career he has had many major one-man exhibitions, including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington in 1987, the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo in 1992 and Johannesberg, South Africa in 2000.
He is the author of books on various subjects, including art, birds, wildlife in various ecosystems and his thoughts on the growing eco-crisis, including 2000’s Thinking Like a Mountain, in which he writes of the need to adopt a planet-first philosophy to ensure Earth’s sustainability.
In December 2015 he was the first visual artist to be awarded the World Ecology Award, given to individuals who’ve raised public awareness of global ecological issues and who have made significant contributions to environmental protection and biodiversity conservation.
Margaret Catley-Carlson, formerly a Canadian public servant, was Chair and is now a Patron in the Global Water Partnership, a working group involved in water management formed in 1996 by the World Bank, the UNDP, and Swedish International Development Corporation. From 2000 she also served as the Chair of the now dissolved Water Resources Advisory Committee of Suez, a multinational private water company.
Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, she grew up in Nelson, BC, before receiving a BA degree from UBC in 1966, when she joined the Department of External Affairs with assignments in Colombo and London.
In 1978, she was appointed V.P. (Multilateral) of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), becoming Senior V.P/Acting President (1979 – 80). She became a UN Assistant Secretary General in 1981, serving as Deputy Executive Director (Operations), UNICEF.
Catley-Carlson returned to Ottawa as President of CIDA (1983 – 1989) then (1989 – 92) as Deputy Minister, Health and Welfare Canada. She returned to the USA as sixth President of the Population Council (1993 – 99).
In 1984, she was appointed to the Board of Governor, International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a Canadian Crown corporation supporting researchers from the developing world in their quest to build healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous societies. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Institute for Environment and Development.
In 2002, Catley-Carlson was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of “her distinguished public service career”.
She has received honorary degrees from the University of Regina; Saint Mary’s University, Ryerson Polytechnical Institute; Concordia University; Mount Saint Vincent University; University of British Columbia; University of Calgary; Carleton University; and University of Dundee, as a Doctor of Law, Honoris Causa .
In 2012, Catley-Carlson was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Drs. Paul & Anne Ehrlich
For three decades Drs. Paul & Anne Ehrlich have been producing important scientific research on population-related issues, specifically aimed at non-scientific audiences as they seek to translate meaningful science into workable policy. Their aim: “to alert humanity to the dangers of ecological carelessness and arrogance.” In their passionate pursuit of this it is difficult to name any other couple who have made such a long-standing, substantive contribution to scientific and policy understanding of population, environmental and resources issues.
Among a large and important body of scientific research, it is their population advocacy work, along with their 1969 book The Population Bomb (followed by its 1990 sequel The Population Explosion) that they are best known. With unflinching directness, these warned that the Earth’s resources could not indefinitely support the planet’s growing population. Given their willingness to offer and seek solutions to population-related problems, the Ehrlichs have attracted harsh criticism. Their judgments have been distorted, and their prescriptions sometimes misrepresented as draconian. Nevertheless, the passage of time is revealing their work to be prescient.
Both have displayed rare leadership – notably but not exclusively on the subject of population growth – in seeking to translate meaningful science into workable policy, this stemming from an unalterable belief that “the future is still ours to make”.
Paul Ehrlich was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Ruth (Rosenberg) and William Ehrlich, a salesman. His father was a shirt salesman, his mother a Greek and Latin scholar.
He earned a B.A. in zoology from the U.of Pennsylvania in 1953, an M.A. at the U.of Kansas in 1955, and a Ph.D. in 1957 at the U.of Kansas, supervised by the prominent bee researcher C.D. Michener. His studies included participation in surveys of insects on the Bering Sea and in the Canadian Arctic, and then with a National Institutes of Health fellowship, he investigated the genetics and behavior of parasitic mites. In 1959 he joined Stanford, and was promoted to professor of biology in 1966.
He was named to the Bing Professorship in 1977, and is president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University. Ehrlich is also fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the United States National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.
She carried out research and co-authored many technical articles in population biology but also wrote extensively on issues of public concern, e.g. population stabilization, environmental protection, and environmental consequences of nuclear war. From 1981 to 2000, Ehrlich taught a course in environmental policy for Stanford’s Human Biology Program. Since 2000, she has co-taught a freshman seminar course on environmental policy.
Dr. Ehrlich has co-authored more than ten books, including The Population Explosion (Simon & Schuster, 1990); Healing the Planet (Addison-Wesley, 1991); The Stork and the Plow (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995); Betrayal of Science and Reason (Island Press, 1996); One with Nineveh(Island Press, 2004); and The Dominant Animal (Island Press, 2008).
Ehrlich served as one of seven outside consultants to the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s Global 2000 Report(1980) and, in 1994-95, served on a task group for academics and scientists for the President’s Commission on Sustainable Development. Dr. Ehrlich has served on the board of a wide range of organizations and currently serves on the boards of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Environment, Development, and Security (since 1988) and the New-Land Foundation (since 2002).
Robert R. Fowler
As a senior civil servant in Ottawa during the 1970s and 1980s, Robert Fowler’s political career has shaped many of Canada’s military and foreign policies. He spent a dozen years in the Department of External Affairs serving in Paris, the United Nations, and at headquarters in Ottawa before being transferred to the Privy Council Office where he was the Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Ministers Trudeau, Turner and Mulroney (1980 – 86).
As Assistant Deputy Minister (Policy) at the Department of National Defence, he produced three White Papers on Canadian Defence Policy. From 1989 to 1995 he served as Deputy Minister of National Defence, and was responsible for 35,000 civilian employees, the administrative, material and support needs of 90,000 members of the Canadian Forces, a budget of $13 billion (CDN), as well as for the elaboration of defence policy.
In January of 1995 he was named Ambassador to the United Nations (1995 – 2000). He represented Canada on the Security Council in 1999 and 2000, and was Canada’s longest serving UN Ambassador. As Chair of the UN Security Council’s Angolan Sanctions Committee, he issued two ground-breaking reports that out an end to the impunity of sanctions busters, and severely limited the rebels’ access to diamond markets and the arms bazaar, leading to the end of the civil war that had ravaged Angola for 25 years.
From 2000 to 2006, Mr. Fowler was Canadian Ambassador to Italy, Albania, San Marino, the three Rome-based UN Food Agencies, and High Commissioner to Malta. Concurrently, he was appointed Sherpa for the Kananaskis G8 Summit in 2002 (chairing the creation of the Africa Action Plan, which laid a new foundation for the G8’s relationship with Africa). In 2005 he chaired Prime Minister Martin’s Special Advisory Team on Sudan.
From 2001 to 2006, he was the Personal Representative for Africa of Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin and, briefly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He retired from the federal public service in the fall of 2006, and became a Senior Fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.
In July 2008, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, appointed Mr. Fowler to be his Special Envoy to Niger, with the rank of Under-Secretary-General. While acquitting his UN mission, Mr. Fowler and his colleague, Louis Guay, were captured by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) on 14 December 2008, and held hostage in the Sahara Desert for 130 days. In November 2011 HarperCollins (Canada) published his account of that experience entitled, “A Season in Hell: My 130 days in the Sahara with Al Qaeda.”
Mr. Fowler was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Ottawa in 2010 and from Queen’s in 2011. In November 2011, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.
William E. Rees, PhD, FRSC
William Rees is a bio-ecologist, ecological economist, former Director and Professor Emeritus of the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning. His early research focused on environmental assessment but gradually extended to the biophysical requirements for sustainability and the implications of global ecological trends. Along the way, he developed a special interest in modern cities as ‘dissipative structures’ and therefore as particularly vulnerable components of the total human ecosystem.
Rees is perhaps best known as the originator and co-developer (with his graduate students) of ecological footprint analysis—the expanding human eco-footprint is arguably the world’s best-known indicator of the (un)sustainability of techno-industrial society. His book on eco-footprinting (co-authored with his former PhD student, Mathis Wackernagel) has been published in eight languages, including Chinese. Rees is also author of over 150 peer reviewed papers and numerous popular articles on sustainability science and policy. (And sometimes the lack of policy—his recent writing focuses on biological, neuro-cognitive and socially-constructed barriers to progress.)
Prof Rees’ academic work has been widely recognized. He has served on numerous advisory committees and lectured by invitation in 30 countries. Rees is a founding member and former President of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics; a founding Director of the One Earth Initiative; and a Fellow of the Post-Carbon Institute. He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 2006 and in 2007 was awarded a prestigious Trudeau Foundation Fellowship. In 2012, Prof Rees received an Honorary Doctorate from Laval University, the Boulding Prize in Ecological Economics and a Blue Planet Prize (jointly with Dr Wackernagel). He was elected a full member of the Club of Rome in 2014; in 2015 he received Herman Daly Award for that year from the US Society for Ecological Economics.
Dr. David Schindler, Ecologist & Limnologist
David Schindler was an American Rhodes Scholar who obtained his D. Phil. at Oxford University in 1966. He came to Canada as Assistant Professor of Biology at Trent University (1966-1968).
From 1968 to 1989 he founded, then directed, the Experimental Lakes Project of Fisheries and Oceans Canada which conducted interdisciplinary research on the effects of eutrophication, acid rain, radioactive elements and climate change on boreal ecosystems. Dr. Schindler’s work has been widely used to help formulate ecologically sound management policy in Canada and beyond, including the reduction of release of harmful phosphates to lakes; reducing emissions that cause acid rain, and improved monitoring in the Alberta oil sands.
From 1989 until his retirement in 2013, Schindler was the Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology at the University of Alberta, where he is now Professor Emeritus. He taught limnology (study of fresh water), boreal ecology, and environmental decision making. In Alberta, his research included the study of fish management in mountain lakes; the biomagnification of organochlorines in food chains; the effects of climate change and UV radiation on lakes, and environmental contamination resulting from oil sands developments in northern Alberta.
Dr. Schindler has received a number of awards for his scientific work, including the first Stockholm Water Prize (1991), the Volvo Environment Prize (1998) and the Tyler Award for Environmental Achievement (2006). In 2001, he was awarded the NSERC Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, Canada’s highest scientific honor. He has also received a number of national and international awards for conservation and public science education, most recently the 2015 NatureServe 2015 Award for Conservation.
He is a member of the Royal Societies of Canada and the UK, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and a foreign associate of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering. Schindler has received 14 honorary doctorates from Canadian and US universities.
Ronald Wright, Historian & Author
Ronald Wright is an award winning historian, novelist, and essayist. His ten books of fiction and non-fiction have been translated into 16 languages and published in more than 40 countries. Much of his writing explores the relationships between past and present, peoples and power, other cultures and the west.
Born in England to Canadian and British parents, Wright read archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge University and has been awarded two honorary doctorates. He then spent several years in Mexico and South America, Africa, and the South Seas, travelling for his books, taking part in anthropological research, and recording indigenous music. While in Peru he also wrote Lonely Planet’s first Quechua (Inca) phrasebook.
In 2004 Wright was chosen to give the prestigious CBC Massey Lectures, broadcast on national radio in Canada, Australia, and the USA; and published to critical acclaim as A Short History of Progress. Wright examines what he calls the “progress trap,” noting patterns of overpopulation and environmental destruction among ancient civilizations as a warning for our modern world. A Short History of Progress went on to win the Libris Award for Nonfiction Book of the Year, and inspired the 2011 Martin Scorsese documentary Surviving Progress.
Wright’s first novel, A Scientific Romance, won Britain’s David Higham Prize for Fiction and was chosen a book of the year by the New York Times, the Sunday Times, and the Globe & Mail. His other bestsellers include Time Among the Maya and Stolen Continents, a history of the Americas since Columbus which won the Gordon Montador Award and was chosen a book of the year by the Independent and the Sunday Times.
Wright lives on Canada’s West Coast. His latest novel, The Gold Eaters, was published by Hamish Hamilton/Penguin Canada and Riverhead/Penguin USA in fall 2015.