PBK Lecture 2013: M. Sanjayan

"Saving Earth in the Age of Man: Conservation in a Human Dominated World."

The environmental movement has long been dominated by a focus on biological diversity and wilderness and a Western philosophy that sees humans as separate from and detrimental to nature. While great strides have been made in the past few decades most scientists will agree that conservationists have not managed to keep up with the vast scale of planetary change. In other words, despite our best efforts, our movement is failing.

In a planet of 7 billion people with growing economic and demographic shifts towards the South and the East, I argue that we need to reboot the environmental movement if we are to break out of our niche and become globally significant.  In particular, we need to include within the environmental movement three constituents whom we have in the past either ignored at best or despised at worst  and co-opt them as allies in conservation.

These constituents are:

  • The business community with their increasing reliance on sustainable natural resources for growth.
  • The rural poor with their non-replacable dependence on nature for basic services and provisioning.
  • And finally, the youth, who are  impatient for change but are more disconnected from nature than ever before.

By seeking allies in these three constituencies we can build a global environmental movement with the resilience and resources needed to tackle the challenges ahead.  And by doing so now, we can take advantage of a unique opportunity in human history to create an impact that will resonate through the ages.

About M. Sanjayan

Lead Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
CBS News Science and Environment Contributor

M. Sanjayan is a scientist and global environmental leader.  He is the Lead Scientist for the world’s largest environmental organization, The Nature Conservancy, and holds a faculty research position at the University of Montana.  Sanjayan’s research interests focus on exploring the nexus between saving nature and the well being of people, wildlife ecology, and digital environmental education.  He has helped launch a digital platform for environmental education (www.natureworkseverywhere.org) with a following of over 200,000 students and teachers in just the first year alone.

In 2012, Sanjayan was named the Science and Environment Contributor for CBS News where he develops and contributes to a range of science, environment, and nature stories for “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley” and “CBS This Morning.” His most recent stories include covering the ivory wars in Africa, global climate change, fire management in the west, and marine debris.

He is a Catto Fellow at the Aspen Institute and was recently named an influential alumnus (one of just 45) by UC Santa Cruz as part of their 45th anniversary celebrations.  He is also a senior advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative.

Sanjayan’s efforts have received extensive media coverage from National Geographic Adventure to the New York Times.  In 2007 Men’s Journal profiled him as an “Environmental Hero of the Year.” Outside magazine and Afar magazine recently published full-length feature profiles on him and his work.  His on-air media appearances include NBC’s Today Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS This Morning, NBC Nightly News, CNN, Fox News, and the BBC.  He has been featured in or hosted numerous documentaries including Planet Earth: The Future (BBC), Expedition Alaska (Discovery Channel), and Mysteries of the Shark Coast during “shark week” on Discovery Channel. His most recent hosting effort, a four part series on energy (Powering the Future) is now airing globally on the Discovery Channel.

He is currently at work hosting a multi-part series for PBS and National Geographic Television scheduled to air in 2014 and recently co-hosted a series of short films for BBC World News.   This fall, he will star in “Years of Living Dangerously”, a Showtime series that will address the impact of human-induced climate change through first-person narratives and explore solutions for the future.

He regularly writes for the Huffington Post and for Orion magazine and has published scholarly articles in numerous journals including Science, Nature, Conservation Biology, and Marine Policy.

Sanjayan is a sought after speaker on college and business campuses with recent appearances on stage at TED Global, International Women’s Forum, Aspen Environment Forum, Aspen Ideas Festival, Clinton Global Initiative, Google, and the Summit Series.

When not off on an expedition, usually to Africa or Asia, Sanjayan can be found fly-fishing, or hiking in Western Montana, where he tries to live.

Follow Sanjayan on twitter (@msanjayan)

More info http://www.nature.org/sanjayan