An Environmental Mascot for Britain
At this Earthwatch debate, a prestigious lineup of speakers go head-to-head in a battle to choose an environmental mascot for Britain.
A prestigious lineup of speakers went head-to-head in a battle to choose an environmental mascot for Britain. The event was chaired by Bloomberg Television’s Andrea Catherwood and saw five experts take the stage to find a species that represented both the U.K.’s invaluable natural heritage and the British people’s inimitable spirit. Their job was then to persuade an audience of more than 400 people that their chosen species was vital to ecosystem health and the British social and cultural identity.
Scientist thoughts on an environmental mascot for Britain
Kicking off proceedings, Andrea Catherwood told the audience that “In the International Year of Biodiversity, it is important we’re all aware of the many natural treasures that reside within and around our island nation.”
We then heard from Dr. Johannes Vogel, keeper of botany at London’s Natural History Museum. Painting a colorful picture of the bluebell, he confirmed that around 30% of the world’s bluebells are right here in Britain. Dr. George McGavin, BBC television presenter, honorary research associate at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and winner of Earthwatch’s 2008 debate, then put forward his argument that the humble bumblebee was the perfect environmental mascot for Britain, saying quite eloquently that it is “the little things that make a big difference.”
Following a heated debate and having heard some very convincing opinions from Earthwatch’s own senior research manager for oceans, Sam Burgess, about the enormous value of deep-sea corals as carbon sinks and Professor Stephen Hopper, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, about the importance of the mighty oak tree to so many other species, the debate attendees then cast their votes by SMS text message – another first for Earthwatch on a night when a number of people joined to debate via the social networking site Twitter.
The winner, by only a small margin, was George McGavin, who was understandably “delighted to win on behalf of bumblebees,” particularly given the stiff competition. “This whole idea to raise awareness of animals that some people wouldn’t necessarily think about is absolutely the right way forward,” he added.
So, a stimulating evening, full of energy and excitement, and one that Earthwatch intends to build upon going into 2011, the 10th anniversary of our annual debate series. “Our annual debate at the RGS is always a thought-provoking and entertaining event, but it also addresses some serious environmental issues. Heartfelt thanks to the hundreds who joined us at the RGS,” said Earthwatch Executive Vice President Nigel Winser.