Planet Earth: Better Off Without Us?

12 May 2010

Some of Australia's top biologists will come together at the Domain this Friday (14 May) to determine whether or not earth would be better off without humans.

To celebrate 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, NSW Scientist of the Year, Professor Steve Simpson from the School of Biological Sciences, will join some of Sydney's greatest minds in a dynamic dinner debate to address questions of human impact on earth.

Inspired by a quote from David Attenborough - "If we [humans] disappeared overnight, the world would probably be better off" - this timely debate, hosted by the Australian Museum and the Botanic Gardens Trust, will bring together six speakers to argue whether humans are indeed bad for earth and the life it supports.

While debating the motion "Earth would be better off without us" speakers will closely examine the pros and cons of human impact on earth and will discuss whether this impact should be stopped or whether it represents another factor shaping the evolution of life on earth.

Professor Simpson, who is on the negative team, says: "There is no doubt that humans have significantly altered many of the environments on earth. But it would be untrue to say that all life on earth, as well as the planet itself, is worse off because of us."

Bernie Hobbs of ABC-TV's 'New Inventors' will chair the debate, which runs over a three-course dinner. Australian Museum Director Frank Howarth, and Executive Director of the Botanic Gardens Trust Dr Tim Entwisle, will also contribute to the debate during the evening.

Speakers "for" the motion are:

Professor Hugh Possingham FAA, Director of the Ecology Centre at the University of Queensland

Dr Peter Weston, Senior Principal Research Scientist at the Botanic Gardens Trust

Charles Berger is the Director of Strategic Ideas to the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Speakers "against" the motion are:

Professor Stephen Simpson, 2009 NSW Scientist of the Year who's research on locusts and what makes them swarm has led to remarkable discoveries about human obesity and aging

Nicola Markus, Chief Conservation Officer, Bush Heritage Australia

Wilson da Silva, science journalist and editor of COSMOS magazine, which was voted 2009 Magazine of the Year

This is a rare opportunity to hear some of Sydney's greatest scientific minds and social commentators argue one of today's most pressing issues.

Event details:

What:Planet Earth: Better Off Without Us? Dinner Debate

When:Friday 14 May 2010, 6.30pm - 10.30pm

Where:The Pavilion, 1 Art Gallery Rd, Domain, Sydney

Cost:$160pp includes three course dinner and wine ($145pp for Members and Friends)

Bookings:9320 6389 or email

Contact: Carla Avolio

Phone: 02 9351 4543

Email: 19193f20287c0d305921073829072133173d1b76532110631211