On a visit to the Joshua Tree National Park in California Tim Smit paid a “king’s ransom” for a meteorite about the size of a grapefruit but far heavier. At Tim’s talk for the Sustainable Earth Institute, the meteorite was circulated through the lecture theatre for all to experience directly. When it was passed to me, two things went through my mind. Firstly, that this object had its origins beyond the boundaries of Earth and I had therefore the privilege to be handling something extraterrestrial. Secondly this article was very, very old.
Tim Smit had framed the simple act of touching a rock within the vastness of time and space. His intention was to awaken our sense of wonder in natural phenomena. This is inherent in all of us but has been obscured in modern times by our sense of awe at what humans can achieve. We have become blind to our dependence on the natural environment which we have come to regard as something that “needs to be looked after”. Tim Smit contends that our role as scientists must encompass the acknowledgement in ourselves of this sense of wonderment and the rekindling of it in those with whom we interact. To do this we need to develop our skills at storytelling.
This theme was revisited many times as Tim regaled us with tales of his experiences as a music promoter, a rare breeds farmer and restorer of the Lost Gardens of Heligan. However, it is at the Eden Project that this theme has found its most potent expression. As Eden now inspires similar developments across the globe, Tim Smit has extended his mission to reconnect us to the natural world and to bring to our attention its role in sustaining human life on this planet.
Dr John Maskall
Associate Professor (Senior lecturer) in Environmental Science
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science
What did Tim’s talk mean to you?
We invite everyone who attended April’s Sustainable Earth Institute public lecture from Sir Tim Smit, to submit their thoughts about what the talk meant to you. Either add your submission in the comments section at the end of this post, or email them to Kirsty Henderson on firstname.lastname@example.org.