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Final lecture in Darwin series presented at the UFS
2010-02-23

At the lecture were, from the left: Prof. Terence McCarthy, Prof. Jo van As, Chairperson of the Darwin 200 Committee and Head of the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the UFS, Prof. Bruce Rubidge, Elsabe Brits, journalist at Die Burger and Esther van der Westhuizen, presenter on Groen.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs


The University of the Free State (UFS), in collaboration with the Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT) and The National Museum in Bloemfontein recently hosted the final lecture on the Charles Darwin lecture series entitled “The story of life and survival”.

The lecture was presented by Prof. Bruce Rubidge, the Director of the Bernard Price Institute for Paleontological Research at Wits University and Prof. Terence McCarthy, a Professor of Mineral Geochemistry at Wits and Head of the Department of Geology. Proff. Rubidge and McCarthy are co-authors of the book The Story of Life on Earth.

Their lecture with the topic “Trends in evolution and their bearing on the future of humankind” dealt with the future of evolution. According to Prof. Rubidge, ninety-nine percent of the species that have ever lived are extinct. “We are living in a time of mass extinction. Fifty thousand species become extinct annually,” he said.

Prof. McCarthy discussed many factors that can result in mankind’s extinction today. The impact of climate change, big volcanic eruptions, a comet or asteroid hitting earth, tsunamis and the collapsing of sea islands are some of the factors Prof. McCarthy believes could cause great catastrophe’s on earth.

“We live on the brink of this all the time,” he said.

Prof. McCarthy also believes that we can avoid these catastrophes. By allowing only one child per family we can shrink the global population with 30% per generation. This is doable in a short time span,” he said.

Other ideas he had on saving mankind from getting extinct is to create extensive ecological reserves on land but especially in the ocean, to decentralise everything, to change to renewable energy, to recycle resources and to be vigilant in doing this.

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