Annual Chair in “Biodiversity and Ecosystems” at the Collège de France

Annual Chair in “Biodiversity and Ecosystems” at the Collège de France

One of the next projects that the Fondation Jean-François and Marie-Laure de Clermont Tonnerre intends to support concerns the annual chair in “Biodiversity and ecosystems” of the Collège de France, which will be held on February 4, 2021.

“This French institution – which we owe to François 1er – has had the noble ambition since 1530 of teaching“ knowledge in the process of being established ”in the fields of science, letters or the arts.

The particularity of the Collège de France is to provide high-level courses, free of charge, non-qualification and open to all without conditions or prior registration.

This place apart in the French intellectual landscape has about fifty chairs whose purpose evolves according to the latest developments in science and which refer to the most diverse fields such as mathematics, physics, or archeology, linguistics, or philosophy.

The holder of a chair is elected by his peers on the basis of his work and not his academic titles, which gives him a particular aura in his discipline and influence both in France and abroad.

Biodiversity is the natural heritage that we leave as a legacy for future generations

Chris Bowler has been awarded the annual chair in biodiversity for the year 2020/21.

This scientist in molecular biology is notably known for having characterized the genome of diatoms, major constituents of plankton which happens to be the basis of all marine food chains.

He is also one of the scientific coordinators of the Tara Oceans expedition which toured the world between 2009 and 2013 and collected more than 35,000 water samples from different depths in order to analyze them.

In order to carry out the appropriate actions to protect this heritage, it is still necessary to understand the challenges and correctly apprehend the observations made by scientists.

I am convinced that more than ever, we have an ethical and moral responsibility in the face of this challenge.

Biodiversity has economic as well as social, cultural and aesthetic value and protecting it is a complex task because most human actions have a harmful effect on ecosystems.

This is the case with pollution generated by our activities which affects living species, deforestation which destroys the habitat of animals and insects….

Protecting biodiversity,  comes down to wanting to change our economic model to limit the devastating effects of our impact on natural environments,  and to accept to hear the voice of the infinitely small.

The stakes are high !

Through this chair, our Foundation pursues a clear objective which is to give particular resonance to the work, research and analyzes carried out by Chris Bowler.

Nature today in all the richness of its diversity is the result of a long history that began more than 13 billion years ago.

The scientific approach is based on a number of postulates, principles and paradigms and the enlightened message given by the researchers,  must be relayed and serve as a basis for reflection for the actions to be taken.

The cry of alarm as to the need for action must be heard and followed up with effects appropriate to the gravity of the global situation.

To do this, the scientific findings must be translated into language accessible to ordinary people: it is time to awaken the “eco-citizen” that lies dormant in each of us!

We are all responsible for this tremendous legacy of time which should not be squandered.

Moreover, it seems to me that putting knowledge from the life sciences into perspective goes far beyond the strict scientific framework.

The questions relating to life – origin and evolution – which result from it certainly come under science, but just as much of philosophy, politics … or even poetry … You only have to reread Lucretia’s poem *: From Rerum Natura.

According to him, man has the quality of a moral subject vis-à-vis nature:

there is a pact between them and man must accept and respect the laws and devote himself to the study of natural phenomena to adapt to them …

Hopefully it’s not too late! ”

* Latin poet and philosopher from the 1st century BC