Supporting our Uni

2014 Keith Roby Memorial Lecture

Failure of Science, Death of Nature

Presented by Emeritus Professor Harry F. Recher, FRZS, AM

Emeritus Professor Harry Recher.jpgTo view to the recording of the 2014 Keith Roby Memorial Lecture “Failure of Science, Death of Nature” please click here.

Australians have lost contact with nature and do not understand the dependence of human civilization on global ecosystems.

Nature is seen as a threat; to be exploited and subdued.

Australians are not alone. The world accepts economic and social systems encouraging accumulation of obscene wealth by a few while sacrificing others’ rights, including other species, to life’s basic necessities. We see no wrong in exploiting resources to the detriment of other people or cultures, and of other species requiring those same resources. Today the world confronts changes to global ecosystems that threaten civilization. There are no simple cures, but we have hope. We have the knowledge, if not the will, to achieve ecological sustainability. We need to ensure that humanity understands the bond between us and nature.

We must be aware of the reasons behind our lack of care and understanding of the natural world. This requires changing our education system; developing communication and understanding between scientists, the public, and decision makers. Science must provide direction, not just technology. We need to change from economies exploiting the world’s resources unsustainably, to ones emphasizing personal achievement and quality of life above material wealth. We have a moral responsibility to share resources with other species not only ensuring their right to life, but also their right to adapt and evolve.

Addressing Earth’s environmental problems meaningfully will challenge most, offend many, and be seen as difficult by politicians, economists, and business. Unfortunately we no longer have a choice; we must change the way we live.

Professor Harry F. Recher

Harry Recher was Foundation Professor of Environmental Management at Edith Cowan University. Since retiring, he has held Adjunct Professorships at Curtin University of Technology and Murdoch University, and is a Senior Fellow at the Australian Museum in Sydney. He was awarded the Serventy Medal by the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union in 1994 for contributions to ornithology and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society (NSW) in 2000 for services to Zoology. He received an Order of Australia (AM) in 2004 for his contributions to ecology, his role in biodiversity conservation, and as an author and lecturer. He is an active writer and editor, and studies avian ecology in the Great Western Woodlands (east of the wheatbelt, and the largest unfragmented woodland in Australia) and in Kings Park.

Professor Recher received his Ph.D. in 1963 from Stanford under Paul Ehrlich before studying at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton. He came to Australia in 1967, holding positions at the University of Sydney, the Australian Museum, and the University of New England. He moved to Edith Cowan University in 1995. Professor Recher advocates scientists taking public positions on environmental and conservation issues and ensuring the community understands the relevant science.