Please join the University Collections for an Oration by
Professor Bob Hill, Executive Dean, Faculty of Sciences and Director, Environment Institute, The University of Adelaide
6.00pm for a 6.30pm start, concluding at 7.30pm
Thursday 10 August 2017
Ira Raymond Room, Level 3 Hub Central,
The University of Adelaide North Terrace Campus
The rise of civilisation is inextricably linked with plants, and in particular with one key aspect of plants – photosynthesis. The capacity plants have to utilise incoming light as an energy source to convert water and carbon dioxide to simple sugars is the basis upon which the modern global economy is built. One of the most obvious products of photosynthesis is fossil fuels. The energy available from fossil fuels has been the mainstay of the industrial revolution, and only now are we becoming aware that this energy is not a free resource – we use it at enormous cost.
The plant fossil record documents many, but not all, of the major events in the history of plant life, and South Australia provides an important share of the record. As well as such important events as major shifts in climate, remarkable changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, changing fire regimes, the impact of the introduction of humans into Australia and the aftermath of the extinction of the megafauna. Fossil plants also provide one of the few direct pieces of evidence for what might happen in the future under different climate change scenarios, and in the best world they will allow some scope for intelligent planning.
Almost from the dawn of life plants have been the key to life on Earth and South Australia provides an impressive window in to that vast history. Professor Hill’s insights and experience in this area will broaden our horizons and enhance our knowledge on how to think and respond to the way in which environment and civilisation intermesh.
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