Something in the Water – Why Should I Care?

University of Otago Winter Symposium, August 8, 2017

Four fabulous panellists spoke to the subject then answered a myriad of varied questions from the 130-strong audience. This review briefly summarises freshwater scientist Marc Schallenberg’s presentation – apologies we couldn’t fit reviews of all four presentations.

In environmental management, the problem of “shifting baselines” is a concept used to explain how precious environments have been allowed to degrade.

The question is, how can we recognise, monitor and respond to these shifting baselines – which over time, lead to incremental, creeping degradation that is unnoticed until our lakes’ natural resilience becomes exhausted – to stop our lakes breaching their environmental tipping point?

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What’s Going on and What’s Next in the Middle East?

Prof Bill Harris, University of Otago Politics Department, July 18, 2017

Despite a “massively unbalanced” PR spend by the ‘evet’ (yes) camp of Pres Erdogan, and a last-minute Electoral Commission decision to count unsealed (and therefore legally invalid) votes that predominantly were probably in the yes camp, Turkey’s president extended his powers in the recent “hyper presidency” referendum by a vote of just 51%.

Prof Harris, recently returned from observing the referendum, said Erdogan claimed his divided country needed a strong man to rule it. But Erdogan was himself in part responsible for inflaming the main rifts (opposition parties, Kurds, religious camps) that are causing the apparent divides.

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The Politics of International Immigration and Refugees

July 4, 2017

The politics of international immigration – highlighted by the ongoing European refugee crisis and the drama of the first six months of Donald Trump’s presidency – was the subject of Prof Mark Miller’s American Independence Day Catalyst Trust talk.

US-Mexico tensions had escalated in the wake of Trump’s plan to build a 2000 mile wall – but, he says “walls don’t work and Mexico won’t pay for it”.

Mexicans had served as a bogeyman throughout his campaign – leading to the worst relationship between the two neighbours in Prof Miller’s memory.

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