The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
at the University of California, Santa Barbara



Richard Ladle
Department of Biological Science and Health
Federal University of Alagoas, Maceió, Algoas, Brazil

Senior Research Associate
School of Geography and the Environment
Oxford University, Oxford, England

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1414

"Scientists and the Media:
The Struggle for Legitimacy in Climate Change and Conservation Science"

Hosted by Sarah Anderson


The Nobel Prize–winning physicist Nils Bohr once quipped, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” Prediction is also dangerous if it results in misdirected initiatives or paralyzes the population into a state of collective inaction. This presentation focuses on predictions about the many possible negative effects of climate change on natural environments, how they have been communicated, and what the potential consequences may be for public policy and the credibility of conservation science. Using the public representation of extinction as a case study, I will demonstrate how competing actors have polarized the debate on the impacts of climate change on biodiversity loss. Such polarization is representative of the "struggle for legitimacy’"between environmentalist and anti-environmentalist groups, with potential negative consequences for public trust in conservation science. I will conclude by outlining the challenges facing conservationists to effectively communicate their predictions about the fate of the natural world to an increasingly skeptical public

Richard Ladle is a Brazil-based conservationist, ecologist, and environmental consultant. He has a degree in zoology from Newcastle University (UK) and a doctorate in evolutionary ecology from Oxford University (UK). In 2003, after spells lecturing in London and Edinburgh, he became the first director of Oxford University’s MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management. He moved to Brazil in 2009 to become more actively involved in hands-on research, consultancy, and capacity-raising. Professor Ladle is currently a senior research associate at Oxford University’s School of Geography and the Environment and a visiting professor at the Federal University of Alagoas. When he isn’t traveling he lives next to a beautiful beach on the northeastern coast of Brazil with his Brazilian partner and their badly behaved dog.

NOTE: Community colloquia are generally talks of broad interest geared toward a diverse, sophisticated audience. Their purpose is not only to enhance knowledge and understanding, but also to bring people together and promote interaction that will strengthen the community.


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