Sharing space with people and other species

By Maggie Gill |

I made my career choice (agricultural research) 3 decades ago based on an interest in how we use land/shared space to ‘feed the world’. In those days, there were only 3.5 billion people to feed, now there are more than 7 billion. Given that we have yet to colonise Space, we have (theoretically) to share the same space with double the number of people. Yet in Scotland, the population is approximately the same now (5.2 million) as it was in the early 1970s, so does global population growth have any relevance to those of us fortunate enough to live in Scotland? The answer is of course yes, not least because of the amount of carbon dioxide we are all generating through our lifestyles, which contributes to climate change (the subject of the first Andrew Raven Trust weekend) and has created one of the major challenges facing we humans as a species. So we are not just thinking about sharing land, but also about sharing air and the oceans also play a part in the carbon ‘cycle’ since, like Scotland’s peatbogs, the oceans also store carbon.

At last Year’s ART weekend, we thought about each of those dimensions and again this year, those 3 dimensions will be part of our experience, as will the concept of sharing space not just with other humans, but also with wildlife as we have an ecologist’s perspective on shared space.

But, what is exciting for me this time, is not just the natural dimensions but a programme which will also be exploring the media through which we experience shared space. I like being taken out of my comfort zone and learning how other people view the world – it helps you see things in a different way and hopefully will inspire me in my ‘day’ job of thinking about how we will feed the 9 billion people expected to be on planet earth by 2050!

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