Scripps oceanographer to examine human impacts on oceans in URI Honors Colloquium lecture, Nov. 18

KINGSTON, R.I. – November 10, 2008 – Jeremy Jackson, director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will discuss how humans have affected the ocean and its ecosystem in a lecture as part of the University of Rhode Island’s annual fall Honors Colloquium.

Free and open to the public, the lecture will be held Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Edwards Auditorium on URI’s Kingston Campus.

The 2008 Honors Colloquium, “People and Planet: Global Environmental Change,” explores human-caused global change, its consequences and potential responses through a series of lectures, films, exhibits and a cabaret. Weekly events run through Dec. 9.

A senior scientist emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution and professor of oceanography at Scripps, Jackson studies coral reef ecology and the long-term impacts of human activities on the oceans, among other topics. He was the recipient of the Secretary’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Service to the Smithsonian, the Chancellor’s Award of Excellence in Science and Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and the International Award for Research in Ecology and Conservation Biology from the BBVA Foundation.

Jackson’s work on overfishing was chosen by Discover magazine as the outstanding environmental achievement of 2001. He is also the co-founder of Shifting Baselines, a public educational program aimed at bringing attention to the severity of the decline of the world’s oceans.

His lecture is entitled “Brave New Ocean.”

According to Jackson, the “synergistic effects of habitat destruction, overfishing, introduced species, warming, acidification, toxins, and massive runoff of nutrients are transforming once complex ecosystems like coral reefs and kelp forests into monotonous level bottoms, transforming clear and productive coastal seas into anoxic dead zones, and transforming complex food webs topped by big animals into simplified, microbially dominated ecosystems with boom and bust cycles of toxic dinoflagellate blooms, jellyfish, and disease.

“We can only guess at the kinds of organisms that will benefit from this mayhem,” he said. “Halting and ultimately reversing these trends will require rapid and fundamental changes in fisheries, agricultural practice, and the emissions of greenhouse gases on a global scale.”

The next Honors Colloquium event will feature Robert Socolow, co-director of the Carbon Mitigation Project at Princeton University, discussing “Solutions to the Global Carbon and Climate Problem” on Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.

The major sponsors of the 2008 Honors Colloquium are the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation, the URI Office of the President, the URI Honors Program, the URI Graduate School of Oceanography and the College of Arts and Sciences. Additional support came from the Thomas Silvia and Shannon Chandley Honors Colloquium Endowment, the Mark and Donna Ross Honors Colloquium Humanities Endowment, the deans of the remaining URI colleges, the offices of the URI vice presidents, the EPA Atlantic Ecology Division and Rhode Island Sea Grant.

For further details about the colloquium, including an updated schedule and information on parking, go to or contact the URI Honors Center at 401-874-2381 or