"The metabolism of a human-dominated planet" by Prof Yadvinder Malhi

Past Event

22 January 2015, 6:00pm - 7:30pm

Lecture Theatre, Oxford Martin School
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets), Oxford, OX1 3BD

Shutterstock Sergey Nivenssmaller
© Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens

We live in a new epoch, the Anthropocene, the Age of Us, of which climate change is just one aspect. The defining feature of this age is that sum of human activity (how many we are and what we are doing) has become large compared to the natural processes of the biosphere. The atmospheric waste products of our activity being the main driver of climate change. How can we measure how “large” we are, and how has our impact on the planet varied throughout human history?

Professor Yadvinder Malhi, Professor of Ecosystem Science, will examine this question through the concept of social metabolism, how much energy we use to support our lifestyles, compared to the metabolism of the biosphere. With this concept in hand, we will travel from a world full of hunter gatherers after the end of the last Ice Age, through the dawn of farming, the Roman Empire, the industrial revolution and finally look at prospects for the 21st century. On the way we’ll examine whether our cities behave like termite colonies, and whether people walk faster in London than in Oxford. And you’ll find out how you are like King Kong…

Join in on twitter with #2015climate

This seminar will be live webcast on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yraecBLkag

About the speaker

Professor Yadvinder Malhi, is Director of the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests, an Oxford Martin School Centre; Professor of Ecosystem Science at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford; Programme Leader of the Ecosystems Groupat the Environmental Change Institute and the Jackson Senior Research Fellow at Oriel College, Oxford. He is an ecosystem scientist who explores the functioning of the biosphere and its interactions with the atmosphere. He has a particular fascination with and love for tropical forests.

He is also Visiting Professor at Imperial College, London and part of their programme on Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and the Environment, an Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of the Environment and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in the UK.

The broad scope of his research interests are the impact of global atmospheric change on the ecology, structure and composition of terrestrial ecosystems, and in particular temperate and tropical forests. This research addresses fundamental questions about ecosystem function and dynamics, whilst at the same time providing outputs of direct relevance for conservation and adaptation to climate change. We apply a range of techniques including field physiological studies, large-scale and long-term ecological monitoring, satellite remote-sensing and GIS, ecosystem modelling, and micrometeorological techniques.