Opening Address: Michael AW: Dr Sylvia Earle


  • Dr Sylvia Earle
  • Dr Zhou Jinfeng
  • Dr Carl Safina
  • Peter Knights
  • Sharon Kwok
  • Steve Blake
  • Miao Wang

Host: Sheree Marris

Moderator: Alex Rose


There is no doubt that humanity’s predatory relationship with the natural world provides a fertile breeding ground for pandemics. In moving forward, we need to tackle the conditions that foster zoonotic diseases, consider the history of humans utilizing wildlife for a variety of purposes, take a closer look at wet markets, examine our animal-based food systems, and delve into the importance of encouraging constructive change for a safer and more humane period of post-pandemic history.

Michael AW opens by impressing upon us the importance of understanding what wet markets actually are, encouraging us not to make unfounded assumptions. With nearly eight billion people on Earth, Dr Earle says that what we choose to eat really matters, and that we must learn the lesson of respect for nature and change the way we treat animals. “It’s not about pointing fingers, it’s about solving problems.” Dr Jinfeng explained the different types of markets in Asia, and filled us in on all the work his organization is doing within China to reduce demand for endangered species and restore natural habitats.  Dr Safina connects our infectious disease epidemics to our broken relationship with all life on the planet, and feels that our lack of compassion towards animals is at fault. Sharon Kwok talks about how human demands weigh far too heavily on nature and that we must strike a better balance if we are to survive long-term as a species. Peter Knights says that this pandemic is the biggest event that has ever happened to humanity, and that he hopes it is now abundantly clear to governments that it is of critical importance to protect wildlife and their habitats if we want to avoid future pandemics. Miao explains how she uses her sustainable swimwear line to share important stories with people about the beauty of wildlife and connect them to nature in a new and lasting way. Steve Blake tells us about some of the media campaigns he has managed at WildAid and the impacts they have had in generating discussion, reducing demand, and creating policy change around wildlife protection.

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