Raising a fist at the 6th extinction – the NJC Green Symposium

Naturalist Yong Ding Li dropped in on me at NUS a few weeks ago to invite me to speak to his students at National Junior College. We agreed that the students would profit from an exposure to stories about biodiversity in Singapore. So I have a gig later at NJC’s Green Symposium to deliver one of my talks.

For almost a decade, my talks have emphasised the neglected marine environments of Singapore (mostly devoid of any protection), the issues therein. Certainly “Marine Life in Singapore” remains to be a key topic in talks for the International Coastal Cleanup.

More recently, terrestrial and freshwater fauna and ecosystems have returned to the spotlight due to the efforts of my research students. Highly suitable as this year is the International Year of the Forest.

Well, the pictures and stories will make an impression and the core messages are the same. One hopes some of it is lasting and will make a difference. In this business, naturally, you have to be an optimist. What else do you call people who persist in raising a fist against the sixth extinction?

I have company – Richard Corlett, also from the NUS Biodiversity Crew will speak about climate change and the day after features Wong Tuan Wah who speaks about NParks‘ conservation work in Singapore and then Shawn Lum who explains the role of the NGO in conservation, specifically the Nature Society (Singapore).

It will be an awakening for the students, for sure. Biodiversity, ecology and conservation are mostly sidelined at the junior college (=high school) level, so this symposium will play a large part in awakening exposure and providing food for thought. Sessions like these are not scripted as part of a school’s KPI but come about through the efforts of naturalists like Ding Li who have persisted to pursue their passion.

Earlier tonight, I had another reminder of such people out there when I bumped into an exhausted-looking friend who teaches biology in one of our JCs. She had a hard day at work but brightened up when she told me to keep a lookout for some of her students. She says to expect some passionate souls heading our way.

We’ll be ready.

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