April 2016
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Greetings to the MAHB Community!

For many, this is a season of building energy, taking action, and initiating changes. We continue to be inspired by the examples of groundbreaking work occurring across the MAHB Community. We are seeing this work shift perceptions of the threats facing humanity and the environment. The task is now to push for understandings to become actions - for knowing to become doing. Thank you all for joining together to take on this critical task.

In this issue, we bring you updates from three MAHB Nodes: Voices for Biodiversity, Leuphana University Lueneburg, and Nebenrolle Natur, highlighting their work to engage the public and spur action.

The issue also includes a spotlight on the recent Earth Day signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement, information on the Break Free from Fossil Fuels movement’s upcoming actions, and an update from the MAHB Arts Community.

Finally, a recent article from MAHB members takes a critical look at why it has been so difficult to elicit substantive actions to alleviate climate disruption.

Thank you for reading, please contact us with any questions.

Traditional healer and mid-wife Virginia Rathele shares her story with anthropologist Tara Lumpkin.
Photo courtesy of Voices for Biodiversity

Node | Voices for Biodiversity

Tara Lumpkin

Do you have a story to share about human relationship with other species? Then join the Voices for Biodiversity (V4B) story-sharing community … and be heard!

Voices for Biodiversity is a conservation-oriented nonprofit with an online community platform, which connects people from around the world to protect biodiversity. V4B’s e-zine (electronic magazine) builds a community around global story-sharing, and creates a gathering place for those who believe humanity’s health and wellbeing depend upon the health and wellbeing of other species.

V4B focuses on sharing the voices of those who usually would not be heard: indigenous and local peoples, students, non-experts, and more. Anyone can submit content and be published. For those not sure of their capabilities in writing and other multimedia forms, V4B is able to assign an eco-reporter to help share your story.
The V4B concept was born in 2009 when anthropologist Dr. Tara Lumpkin was studying how human nature affects Mother Nature. How people perceive, think, and feel (personal philosophies and group cultures) affects how people interact with other species and ecosystems. Dr. Lumpkin thought: What better way to make people aware of this reality than to use the ancient art of storytelling? And so, Voices for Biodiversity was born.

Great stories — those that not only inform but also provoke, and inspire — are rare. V4B’s stories help readers answer these questions:

  • How do my actions affect wildlife and biodiversity near me?

  • What can I do to improve the world for other species?

  • How can my story help connect the human animal with the global ecosystem?

Once engaged, V4B’s storytellers and readers often move on to work in biodiversity advocacy and action, scientific research, biodiversity monitoring, teaching, nature writing and photography. Some members go on to higher education while others switch to environmental careers.

V4B is neither fish nor fowl. The organization does not engage in on-the-ground conservation projects nor conservation journalism in the usual sense. Instead the goal is to empower those whose voices would usually not be heard so that they can speak out for other species and the environment. Despite being an all-volunteer organization, V4B has been awarded numerous accolades, including the New Mexico Press Women’s Award (2015, 2016), the National Press Women’s Award (2015), and the American Anthropological Association’s Anthropology in Media Award (2014).

To help V4B help all species survive and thrive together you can:

Leuphana University Lueneburg professor, Joern Fischer conducts transdisciplinary research on sustainable development in Eastern Europe, with particular emphasis on ancient agricultural landscapes in Central Romania.
Photo of Viscri, Romania by Pozek | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Node | Leuphana University Lueneburg

Jokern Fischer

When it comes to identifying a future that works for both humanity and the biosphere, Leuphana University Lueneburg is one of Germany’s most forward-thinking universities. Among the university’s four faculties, the Faculty of Sustainability hosts around 30 professors from the social and natural sciences working to promote and inspire a just and sustainable future. Two ongoing activities related to this mission are the blog series, Ideas for Sustainability, and the recently established project, Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation

Professor Joern Fischer with the Faculty of Sustainability shares a range of perspectives through the blog Ideas for Sustainability. From technical updates on recent publications, to commentaries on academic life, to more philosophical and reflective writings on sustainability, the blog takes on a broad spectrum of topics.

Some examples of previously featured posts include:

The exciting new Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation project focuses on food and energy systems in Germany and Romania. The project engages researchers from across disciplines as well as societal actors. The project is built on the premise that a lot of the measures implemented for sustainability to date have just “fiddled around the edges”.

In an effort to look more deeply at the causes of unsustainable human-environment systems, this project investigates hitherto under-recognized leverage points —where a small shift can lead to fundamental changes in the system as a whole. The three leverage points being examined are labeled as “re-structure”, “re-connect”, and “re-think”: members investigate how to re-structure institutions, re-connect people to the environment, and re-think knowledge systems underpinning human-environment systems. The project looks to inspire others around the world to routinely think more actively about what is required to create a more sustainable world, and how to bring about such changes.

For more information on these activities, visit, and

An engaged student audience at the Nebenrolle Natur Film Festival 2016
Photo courtesy of Nebenrolle Natur

Node | Nebenrolle Natur

Edwin Moser

Since 2012, Nebenrolle Natur, an enthusiastic group of environmentalists and film lovers, has organised film events and expert discussions to engage the public and the press with the important topics of climate change, human footprint, social justice and biodiversity.

“Our mission is to tackle complex topics in an accessible and digestible way", says Edwin Moser the founder of Nebenrolle Natur. “A passionate team has amazing potential to engage audiences with the critical narratives of our time. We invite experts and discuss sensitive topics like climate change, refugees, extinction rates and population growth, as well as our responsibilities and possibilities as individuals and as a society."

Nebenrolle Natur’s discussions take a very open approach to these most serious topics. Sometimes it is fun and entertaining and other times it is touching and emotional. This level of sincerity has meant audiences have grown and people come back.

“What we have realized in the last four years, is that despite the topics being serious, they are not only entertaining, but by framing them in the right and fair way, people love coming to our events,” explains Moser.
Nebenrolle Natur organises around 20 events a year and as well as a four-day film festival. From the featured films, the group strongly recommends people watch and screen: Cowspiracy, Racing Extinction, Mother Caring for 7 Billion, Meat the Truth, Chasing Ice, Girl Raising, Revolution and Virunga.

Experts, including journalists, university professors, filmmakers, politicians and activists love taking part and are always welcome to discuss their own subjects from the podium. Paul Ehrlich, Paul Hansen, Paul Watson, Peter Wadhams, Guy McPherson, Will Tuttle and many others have already been featured in person or via the internet during Nebenrolle Natur screenings.

Through these events Nebenrolle Natur aims to inspire people to think about these issues and to discuss them with their peers. This hopefully enables a wider discourse on subjects that people can often feel excluded from and yet, in reality, urgently need their attention.

Upcoming events include:

Film & Discussion April 28th in Lausanne – Population, environment, ethics: where we stand now

Film Festival March 16th to 19th (2017) in Zurich – 4th Nebenrolle Natur Film Festival

Nebenrolle Natur encourages others to organize similar events with experts, films and artists and to talk about the relevant topics. For questions or more information, send an email to and follow Nebenrolle Natur on Facebook.

Find out more about MAHB Nodes
To share your Node's recent activities, please contact

Earth Day Paris Agreement Signing

On April 22nd the world celebrated its 46th Earth Day. While each Earth Day carries much importance as we work towards increasing worldwide environmental consciousness, this past Earth Day held great significance as leaders representing 175 nations signed the Paris Agreement.

While the Paris Agreement will not go into effect until at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, this is a symbolic gesture that the promises made at COP-21 will start to turn into real-world actions.

We obviously still have a ways to go as the promised cuts in carbon emissions are not enough to keep the planet below the agreed upon 2°C warming limit. But in Earth Day spirit, let's try to focus on the positive and hope countries rapidly ratchet up their ambitions in order to leave a happy, healthy planet for generations to come.

Break Free from Fossil Fuels

Break Free from Fossil Fuels is a movement, an idea and a call for action that is targeting the world's most dangerous fossil fuel projects, in order to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground and accelerate the transition to 100% renewable energy.

May 4th - 15th, 18 major mass actions will take place in 12 countries across the world. Through peaceful direct actions, Break Free looks to demonstrate to those in power that people everywhere are prepared to resist the fossil fuel industry’s plans to continue to extract fossil fuels.

If you cannot join one of the major events, you can still take part by joining a local action. Or you create your own action here.

A wide range of influential international, national and local organizations are stepping up to support or participate in the Break Free movement. If your organization wishes to join this effort, please email

Lucia deLeiris The Greenland Sea (Arctic) 2011, Oil on canvas, 24 x 72 Â©Lucia deLeiris
Featured in the MAHB Arts Communtiy and currently on display in Environmental Impact

MAHB Arts Community

Decisions. We make them everyday, from the mundane to the seemingly critical. These decisions together build our personal behaviors, which en masse influence which trajectory humanity follows. But how do we make them? What prompts us to choose biking to work over driving? Cultivating beans over corn? Having one child opposed to two? These decisions are rarely driven by logic and facts alone. Each decision can also have an emotional, often more influential, side (Lerner et al. 2014).

The MAHB Arts Community aims to elevate works connecting with this emotional side. Launched in February, the open space encourages members to share their own work, learn from artists already engaging with these themes, receive news about opportunities, connect with scientists, and participate in conversations about how to use the arts to promote change.

The MAHB is kicking-off the space with work and stories from artists featured in the traveling museum exhibition Environmental Impact, produced by David J. Wagner LLC. It has been our pleasure to share the perspectives of renowned artists, including: Robert Bateman, Lucia deLeirisZaria Forman, and Peter Goin, along with many others. They have helped link the MAHB to an amazing community of artists doing their part to connect people with environmental realities on an emotional level.

We are continuing to build and adapt the space and are excited to bring attention to new artists each week on the MAHB Blog. If you are interested in taking part, please contact Erika, and join the MAHB Arts Community node!

In Publication

A recently published article in BioScience from MAHB members, entitled The Climate Change Challenge and Barriers to the Exercise of Foresight Intelligence, takes a critical look at why it has been so difficult to elicit substantive actions to alleviate climate disruption and possible ways to better meet the global challenges we face. The full article can be found in the MAHB Library, and we encourage you to join the conversation.


Coordinating Committee

Paul Ehrlich: President, Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere; Bing Professor of Population Studies and President, Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University

Erik Assadourian: Senior Fellow, Worldwatch Institute; Director of Transforming Cultures Project and Co-Director of State of the World 2013 and 2012

Marilyn Hempel: Co-founder, Blue Planet United; Editor, Pop!ulation Press

Ilan Kelman: Reader in Risk, Resilience and Global Health, Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction and Institute for Global Health, University College London; Senior Research Fellow, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

Richard York: Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies, Director of Graduate Studies for Sociology, Department of Sociology, University of Oregon

Joan Diamond, ex-officio, Secratariat: Chief Operating Officer, The Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability

Advisory Board

Tom Burns: Professor Emeritus, Uppsala University, Sweden; Woods Institute, Stanford University

Tom Dietz: Professor Sociology, Environmental Science and Policy and Animal Studies; Assistant VP for Environmental Research at Michigan State University

Anne Ehrlich: Policy Coordinator, Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University

Bob Horn: Visiting Scholar, H-STAR, Human Sciences and Technology Advanced Research Institute, Stanford University

Don Kennedy: Bing Professor of Environmental Sciences; President, emeritus, Stanford University; Senior Fellow, Woods Institute

Hal Mooney: Paul S. Achilles Professor of Environmental Biology and FSI Senior Fellow, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University

Kirk Smith: Professor of Global Environmental Health, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

Joan Diamond, Executive Director | Erika Gavenus, Communications Officer
Peter and Helen Bing | Larry Condon | Wren Wirth | The Mertz Gilmore Foundation | The Winslow Foundation
Copyright © 2016 Millennium Alliance for Humanity and Biosphere, All rights reserved.