Lecture 'To save or squander: how should we manage our natural capital under climate change?'

For whom
Students , Employees , Alumni
07-09-2022 from 16:00 to 18:00
Ghent University Aula, Voldersstraat 9, 9000 Gent
Kim Jacobsen

In this lecture, Prof. David Ellsworth (International Collen-Francqui Professor 2022-2023) will discuss some recent adverse climate occurrences from his home country Australia.

Addressing climate change represents one of the grand challenges for our society today. While one can easily become disheartened by the relentless bad news of adverse climate events, the scientific community continues to develop the appropriate know-how to counter these adversities.

In his inaugural lecture as an International Collen-Francqui Professor 2022-2023, David Ellsworth will discuss some recent adverse climate occurrences from his home country of Australia, which is amongst a set of highly climate-exposed countries. The raging bush fires of 2019-20 have given way to extreme flooding as reminders of potential vulnerabilities to climate change, even as resource-rich Australia remains the world’s largest exporter of coal.

He will describe a set of global climate manipulation experiments aimed to understand and predict how our natural capital may change in the future, and how climate change may alter our expectations for natural capital if we choose not to manage these systems appropriately. The experiments illustrate how our natural capital can slow climate change and mitigate its impacts on us. Providing fundamental ecosystem functions, our natural capital at both small and large scales should receive greater recognition for climate mitigation and in land valuation. Doing this will ensure that these assets remain productive and in good state to achieve what we expect and depend on to lessen the impacts of climate extremes.

About David S. Ellsworth

Prof. David S. Ellsworth from Western Sydney University’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment - is a highly cited scientist in the field of ecology and the environment with a specific focus on climate change effects on plants and ecosystems. He leads a cutting-edge team of scientists who seek to understand how plants function in relation to the environment they live in, and how they respond to climate stresses such as heat and rising atmospheric CO2. At Western Sydney, Prof. Ellsworth is science leader of the Eucalyptus Free-Air CO2 Enrichment facility, the world’s largest CO2 enrichment experiment on a mature forest ecosystem.

Prof. Ellsworth has been on the faculties of the University of Vermont, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Duke University and the University of Michigan in the USA, and he’s been Professor of Tree Physiology at Western Sydney University in Australia for the past 15 years where he has led multiple large-scale climate change and elevated CO2 experiments.

Ellsworth’s research has been filmed by the BBC and ABC and has been quoted in Sydney’s Sun Herald, The Age, The Guardian, the Washington Post and the New York Times amongst other media outlets.

The Collen-Francqui Foundation

The purpose of the Francqui Foundation is to encourage the prestige of fundamental research across a range of fields. It also provides Belgian scholars and scientists with strong scientific mentoring from international and national experts.

The Foundation states that its objective is "to further the development of higher education and scientific research in Belgium". This implicitly means that inter-university collaboration is also encouraged.

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