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Science and Society | How Five Elements Changed Earth’s Past and Will Shape our Future

Science and Society | How Five Elements Changed Earth’s Past and Will Shape our Future



Join us for a discussion with Dr. Stephen Porder, about his new book, Elemental. He describes how three organisms—microbes, plants, and humans—profoundly transformed our planet over its 4-billion-year history, altering the climate and the trajectory of life on Earth. Microbes and plants harnessed the same five elements—hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus— to proliferate wildly across the planet. But their innovations eventually precipitated environmental catastrophes. Porder argues use of these same elements underpins the successes of human civilization, but unintended consequences of their use threaten grave, but predictable, environmental disasters. Given the elemental roots of our environmental challenges, Porder suggests we can learn from our world-changing predecessors to construct a more sustainable future. His book takes us deep into the Amazon, across fresh lava flows in Hawaii, and to the cornfields of the American Midwest to illuminate a potential path to sustainability.

Stephen Porder is Associate Provost for Sustainability at Brown University, where he is a Professor of Ecology, Evolutionary and Organismal Biology and a fellow in the Institute for Environment and Society. He is the author of over 70 peer reviewed publications on topics including the functioning of tropical rainforests and the ecological consequences of agricultural intensification. As Associate Provost, he leads Brown's rapid decarbonization and transition to a fossil-fuel free campus.  He is also founder of Possibly, a radio show/podcast on sustainability.

We invite you to support the author by purchasing a copy of their book from Browseabout Books by clicking HERE. Call-in orders are accepted at (302) 226-2665 or you can stop by the store to purchase a copy. For store hours, please visit their website. Each copy purchased comes with a signed archival bookplate.

The library's “Science and Society - Making Sense of the World Around Us” lecture series is co-organized and moderated by Fred Dylla, Executive Director Emeritus of the American Institute of Physics and author of Scientific Journeys, Linda Dylla, former public information officer at the Jefferson Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy, and Colin Norman, the former News Editor at Science.

NOTE: this meeting is being conducted through Zoom. You MUST REGISTER to receive instructions for joining the meeting.

If you have need assistance with registration or getting your Zoom invitation, please email us.

Basic written instructions for using Zoom may be found here and a brief video tutorial may be found here. Closed captioning is available for all our sessions. Information on enabling closed captioning in Zoom may be found here.

This is an online event. Event URL will be sent via registration email.
Tuesday, October 3, 2023 Show more dates
5:00pm - 6:00pm Eastern Time
Lewes Public Library
  Adults     Older Adults  
Registration has closed.