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  • Writer's pictureTom

Deck the halls with gins and Jonny - Dublin #7 Christmas Cracker biodiversity special

Updated: Feb 13, 2020

There are few things in life that pull the environmental heart strings like Sir David Attenborough narrating over a scene of deforestation in the dense tropical forests of Borneo, with a scanning shot of a Orangutan clinging to the last standing tree in a now desolate landscape. But is much much more than that.

"Are we happy that our grandchildren may never seen an elephant except in a picture book?" Sir David Attenborough

"A society is defined not only by what it creates but by what it refuses to destroy" John Sawhill, The Nature Conservancy

The Climate Cocktail Club Christmas Cracker hosted in The Sugar Club Dublin 12th December took Clubbers on an unique journey to the centre of the biodiversity crisis courtesy of Jonny Keeling - executive producer of Seven Worlds One Planet at the BBC's Natural History Unit - and Tara Shine - our favourite climate leader and Co-Founder of Change by Degrees (among many other climate hats). With lashings of desperation and hope in equal measure (oiled with the same in whiskey and gin courtesy of our Cocktail Partner Irish Distillers), the evening showcased to Clubbers the urgent need for action on protecting earth's natural capital, whilst also demonstrating its resilience to bounce back from adversity and extinction given the opportunity. We also had a birthday celebration on the night (cracking cake!).

Kicked off in true CCC style Tom and Ray took to the stage to set the ground rules and reflect on the growth of CCC across the pond with the recent NYC and Bay Area Chapter start ups (here's looking to 2020 on the other exciting Chapters coming!). It has been truly remarkable too, with the London and Amsterdam Chapters going strength to strength and Colombo keeping the drumbeat going too.

A first for CCC globally, our new friends at Irish Distillers (part of the Pernod Ricard group) provided the Clubbers with a tasty Christmas treat of Whiskey/Ginger and Gin/Tonic - showcasing the best of Irish producers. Claire MacCarrick (CSR Manager) took to the stage to reflect on the synergies between their ambitious sustainability vision, the drive for change needed at home and abroad, calling on Clubbers to think differently about the role business can play in tackling the climate crises. Fincovi are proud global partners of CCC and Ray was keen to highlight the growing market for renewable energy solutions within and beyond Ireland. Natural Capital Partners continued their support for the Christmas Cracker by certifying the event CarbonNeutral by offsetting the unavoidable climate impacts of hosting the event via the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve Project in Borneo, Indonesia.

Tara Shine set the scene through an immersive story telling experience of the interconnectedness of our human and natural worlds and the ability of us all to change our unsustainable behaviours - big and small. Linking dramatically to the fodder crisis two winters ago when a farming family were forced to resort to importing palm kernels to feed cattle to survive - through a backdrop of heart-wrenching cries and moans from hungry cattle. The climate is changing here in Ireland, we are not immune to the dangers of enhanced climatic events and the impact they have on our economic and social systems. Now chair of the IIED Tara continues to provide a north star on the sustainable transition and perfected the fireside chat host as she probed Jonny on the inner thinking and development of natural history productions.

Jonny Keeling - modest, unassuming and an absolute gent took to the stage to raptures from the Clubbers. A raise of hands showed that not all have immersed themselves in the Seven Worlds One Planet experience [at least as much as me, which Jonny enjoyed alluding too through the night! - thanks!]. Focusing on hope and despair, he walked us through the process of developing a natural history production through a range of clips from the series (and some not seen before!), highlighting the critical differences between Planet Earth and Seven Worlds - the former being a perfect world from above, at arms length, the latter being immersive, personal and biographical, following the lives and stories of fauna and their interactions in the ecosystems they inhabit.

For us all the highs and lows of natural history production was laid bare through a reel on bloopers and some candid accounts of the passionate team that devote their lives to bringing natural history delights to us all. Jonny now joins Mary Robinson as the second Honorary Member of the Climate Cocktail Club.

Despair was epitomised through the story of Orangutans in the dense tropical peatland forests of Borneo, where palm oil plantations continue to destroy their ancient home. A lesson for viewers was the role they can play in reducing demand for palm oil by only buying products with certified sustainable palm oil or palm oil free. This level of consumer engagement has not been seen before in previous productions, until the now infamous ocean plastics show reel in Blue Planet II.

Hope was captured dramatically in the recovery of Southern Right Whales in Antarctica. First pulling the Clubbers into despair headlining the stark realities of international whaling up to moratorium on whaling in 1986 (yes... whale blubber produced margarine!), where the Great Whales were threatened to the brink of extinction. Since 1982 and the banning of commercial whaling by all countries except a handful, whale populations have increased. The research undertaken in the Southern Ocean and tracking these mega fauna has found that they play a critical role in climate change (the IMF have valued a single great whale at USD 2 million - thats USD 1 trillion for the current global population).

Over a lifespan of around 60 years, whales - especially great whales, such as right and grey whales - accumulate an average of 33 tonnes of CO2. When they die, they sink to the bottom of the ocean, locking that carbon away for hundreds of years. By comparison, a tree absorbs up to 48 pounds of CO2 a year. Part of the carbon capture potential for whales comes down to their role in increasing phytoplankton productivity wherever they go - a phenomenon called the ‘whale pump’. As they rise up through the ocean to breathe and migrate across the globe, the iron and nitrogen in their waste provides ideal growing conditions for these microscopic creatures. IMF

Happy holidays to all Clubbers - see you on the other side!

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