Skip navigation
0

IYB-lots-people-600.jpg

250 guests enjoyed the evening atmosphere in the Central Hall at the launch of the UK's International Year of Biodiversity

The International Year of Biodiversity starts officially in 2010, but here at the Museum we celebrated the launch of the UK's Year of Biodiversity on Wednesday evening, 25 November.

2010iyb-logo.jpg

 

We also launched our great new website for IYB-UK (as it's known to those working on it) which will bring together what you need to know about what's going on in the UK.


The Museum is coordinating all the IYB organisations and groups across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who are joining the biodiversity activities from now through next year. It's going to be a busy but inspiring time.

 

If you're new to the concept of 'biodiversity', have a look at our news article about the event, featuring a video interview with some of theliz-sharp.jpg speakers including Liz Bonnin (pictured here) who presented the BBC science show Bang Goes The Theory. Biodiversity is a word you'll hear lots about in the coming months.

 

When the United Nations declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity, they asked the world to celebrate the rich variety of life - biodiversity - all through next year. The sad fact is we may be losing species 1,000 times faster than the natural rate because of human activities. So we need to make 2010 count. That's why we've started early.

Marie Clements, our communications officer, was at the event and told me about some of the things that are being planned for the future:

 

'There will be exhibitions, talks, artworks, citizen science experiments and festivals. People of all ages can get involved. They can join surveys, including dormice, farmyard birds, butterflies, hedgehogs and water. And fun activities like bat walks, bird-watching, honey and apple tasting, orchard visits and tree planting.'

 

Sounds like a 'biodiversity' of things to mark up in your calendar ahead! To guide you through, use our local IYB events search on our IYB-UK website. (Check back regularly as it is a work in progress.)

 

From farmers to charities, wildlife rangers to councils, schools and colleges to zoos, museums and botanic gardens, the UK has one of the strongest programmes in the world to celebrate IYB2010.

iyb-images-spread-600.jpg

Celebrate the biodiversity of life we have all around us

While we gear up our local and national celebrations, there will be big decisions and moves to be made on a global scale too. One of the key speakers at last night's launch was Ahmed Djoghlaf from the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), who heads the global campaign. He highlighted the pressing issue of biodiversity loss, describing how, ‘Climate change is emerging as one of the most significant drivers of biodiversity loss.'

 

It seems fitting that on the same night as our launch, President Obama announced he would attend the crucial Copenhagen Climate Summit which kicks off on 7 December. Some are pinning their hopes on the decisions made at this conference, others are less optimistic. See my previous blog post on the warnings from Pavan Sukhdev at our Annual Science Lecture about the world's disappearing coral reefs.

To explore the wider picture, visit our biodiversity web pages and the 2010 International Year of the Biodiversity website.

0
coral-reef
A healthy and diverse hard coral reef before any signs of 'bleaching' from acidification

On the evening of 16 November at the Museum's Annual Science Lecture, to a gathering of about 400 listeners, speaker Pavan Sukhdev explained how the severe threat to the world’s coral reefs – on which half a billion people’s livelihoods depend – could be devastating. 'We tend to forget that carbon emissions are also destroying our tropical coral reefs,' he warned.

 

Governments worry about conservation measures costing money. But the big threat, Sukhdev argued, is that if we don't preserve nature it will make us poorer rather than richer. He called for a shift in our thinking, advising that we put a financial value on the services that ecosystems provide, rather than taking it for granted that these resources are free.

 

Sukhdev expressed concerns about the decisions that will be made at next month’s Copenhagen climate summit, if governments set carbon dioxide emissions levels. If these are set too high, then oceans will become too acidic for corals to form and we may lose them entirely.

 

Susan Vittery, our Nature online website manager was at the lecture and was suitably impressed: 'It was a really informative evening. Pavan Sukhdev is an incredibly charismatic speaker who explained complex economic and environmental issues in a really clear, succinct way that everyone could understand. Fascinating.'


Find out more about this inspiring lecture in our news story and video interview.

pavan-sukhdev-400.jpg
Pavan Sukhdev
is a senior banker at Deutsche Bank and is leading the UN Environment Programme’s Green Economy initiative which includes The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity TEEB study.


Learn more about the extinction of our coral reefs and how oceans are affected by acidification.

 

There’s also more on our website about the rich biodiversity of life on our planet and what is being done to protect it in the run-up to the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.

 

Watch out for the Museum’s Annual Science Lecture next autumn.

0

david-with-book-500.jpg

Settling in for his book signing event

Yesterday, Sir David Attenborough spent about 3 hours with us at a book signing event in our Central Hall, much to the delight of 100s of fans.

 

You had to buy one of his books or a DVD from our Museum Shop to become the lucky owner of a ticket to the signing. This was mainly because his last signing event - where no tickets were issued - was so popular, poor Sir David ended up staying on many hours more than planned, to satisfy the 1000s who turned up on the day.

 

central-hall-attenborough-queue-500#.jpg

Queuing up in Central Hall to get our books signed

I joined the queue with some work colleagues to get my newly-purchased copy of his book signed, and to shake the hand of one of the most respected people on the planet. When we arrived at the Central Hall just before 13.00 at the scheduled time for kick-off, it was packed. Visitors had been queuing since 11am in the morning, I heard. Patiently, we wound our way round our famous Central Hall Diplodocus skeleton, in what was to be a 2-hour wait to greet the great man.

 

It seemed Sir David, clad in a warm-looking maroon jumper (which I envied as it was a little draughty where we were queuing), was saying ‘hello’ to everyone and asking each ‘how are you?’ Snacking throughout on nuts - apparently he asked for nothing more - he must have signed over 600 books and DVDs.

 

After each person got their book/s signed, they turned and smiled happily.

 

'It was wonderful to see how much everyone looks up to him as a hero. He took away a large bag full of cards, poems and gifts brought for him by members of the public,' said Jeremy Ensor, the Museum's Head of Retail, who attended the event.

 

The event was one of five book signings Sir David Attenborough is doing in the UK to promote his new book, Life Stories, published last month. Yesterday alone, 100s of copies of Life Stories were sold.

 

While we queued, I leafed through my copy of Life Stories. It’s got a quirky personal style and follows Attenborough’s original radio series where he gave us his own insights into the natural world. He talks about his first pet, a salamander, and the creatures that first inspired him like flying dinosaurs and sloths.

 

I got drawn in to a chapter on ‘Collecting’ where Sir David discusses the maleness of collecting. Actually I’m not so sure about this, women may not get into stamps or fossils as much as men, but then wasn't the greatest fossil hunter a 19th-century woman? Mary Anning. And what about seashells, butterflies, china ornaments, plush toys, dolls, shoes… the things women are traditionally known to hoard. These days I'm sure there are many more women who collect things from nature too. It got me thinking and took my mind off the wait.


Ah well, back to life as they say. And the new series, Life, is currently showing on BBC, so catch it if you can

1

Last night, while some of us were being swept away by the razzle-dazzle of bonfires and fireworks, the Museum was being swept away at the glittering BT Visit London Awards ceremony in London’s Westfield shopping centre. We collected not just one, but three coveted awards.


- Winner of the People’s Choice Evening Standard’s Best London for Free Experience

 

- Winner of the gold award for Marketing/PR Campaign of the Year for our brilliant Darwin exhibition campaign

 

- Winner of the silver award for Business Venue of the Year

 

Our Director of Public Engagement, Sharon Ament said, 'It is so good to see that we have, once again, been voted by the public as a firm favourite and the quality of our marketing and the Museum as a venue for events is recognised.'

visit_london-350.jpg

Museum representatives receiving our three awards last night

 

So thank you to all the visitors who voted us the Best London for Free Experience. We owe it all to you… and the dinosaurs. Keep on coming.


And of course, a really big thank you to Charles Darwin who has been with us every step of the way this year for his bicentenary celebrations, overseeing our exhibition and magnificent Darwin Centre building, and generally being the inspiration behind almost everything we do here.

darwin-poster-500-3.jpg

The marketing image that left its mark

This unforgettable image of the bearded man himself, finger on pursed lips, seen all over tube stations, bus stops, inside the Museum and adorning our very own eye-stopping Darwin exhibition website, will haunt many of us for some years to come.

0

Dancing on ice at the Museum

Posted by Rose Nov 3, 2009
ice-rink-500.jpg
Ice Age comes to the Museum, once again

In just one day’s time, on 5 November to be precise, we open our popular Ice Rink to visitors. Now in its fifth year, it has become a regular winter attraction at the Museum and in London.

 

Over the past weeks we’ve been noticing how things have changed outside on the East lawn where our Butterfly Jungle exhibition stood earlier in the summer. The changes seemed to speed up suddenly when the clocks went back.

 

We can now admire the twinkle of Christmas lights in the tall London plane trees lining the Ice Rink and Museum grounds in the evening on the way home after work.

 

Last week, the 25-foot Christmas tree was delivered and its lights and decorations were being put up on Friday afternoon. The outdoor catering units have arrived on site and are being set up.

 

Most importanty, on Friday, 150,000 litres (150 cubic metres) of water was poured into both the main 1,050-square-metre Ice Rink and the smaller 100-square-metre junior rink for younger skaters. This is about half the amount of water it takes to fill a standard swimming pool (10x25m). The water has now completely frozen over and the ice is receiving its final polish today.

cafe-bar-450.jpg
This year, the Ice Rink has a friendly new café bar which offers refreshments all through the day and stays open late for drinks at night. The fairground carousel returns for those who fancy a spin and if you just want to watch the action, there’s a great atmosphere on the viewing platform. Students can also take advantage of a special discount on Tuesdays which includes a free drink at the bar.

skating400.jpg
'Even better than skating in Central Park' said the Evening Standard

If you need skating tips or want to see what's on offer at the Museum's Ice Rink, have a look at our Essential skating information pages on the website. We have a brilliant new video which shows you some highlights. So no excuses, everyone can be a dancing-on-ice star.

 

Rain, shine or snow, 'tis a magical sight to see the skaters gliding around the Ice Rink outdoors, against the backdrop of our historic Waterhouse building and gardens. I'm sure this year will be as successful and merry as the last.