Press Release from…

The Commonwealth Club of California

595 Market Street San Francisco, CA 94105


                                                                                     Contacts: Riki Rafner, 415.597.6712/

Jessica Lyons,

      June 12, 2012 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


The Commonwealth Club of California

Presents the “Protecting Biodiversity” series

Natural Capital + Citizens + Science


Hosted By Member Led Forums

On-site Programs FREE FOR MEMBERS



SAN FRANCISCO –  (June 12, 2012) Famed actor Paul Newman said, “When you see the right thing to do, you’d better do it.”  Considering the growing concerns around protecting biodiversity, the Commonwealth Club has elected to explore how the situation has risen to crisis proportions and what we can all do “to do the right thing.”  This year’s Member Led Forums will present their month long series of programs empowering every day citizens to get involved, be inspired, get closer to nature and learn the latest in technological advances that will save our planet and the existence of the wide variety of plant and animal species in their natural environments.  Leading thought pioneers will offer their expertise in the fields of technology, psychology, conservation, and the arts to share possible solutions to the gamut of environmental problems.  


Chair of the Club’s Member Led Forums Dr. Carol Fleming, who spearheads the series, commented, “Given the growing urgency of climate change and its costs to biodiversity and human life we decided this was the perfect time to examine as many alternative solutions as possible.”


The series, comprised of speakers programs, panel discussions and workshops, will be open to the public.  Most programs will be held at The Club offices located at 595 Market Street, 2nd Floor in San Francisco, unless otherwise noted.  Please find a detailed list of scheduled events below.


Founded in 1903, The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation’s premier non-profit public affairs forum, with more than 18,000 members.  Based in San Francisco, The Club hosts speeches, debates and discussions on issues of regional, national and international significance.  At least half a million people hear The Commonwealth Club’s weekly radio broadcasts on more than 150 public and commercial radio stations across the country.  The Club also broadcasts on XM Satellite Radio, and recently began pod casting its programs.  A selection of The Club’s programs is now also televised on Comcast Premium Digital Cable.  For the past century, The Club has fostered free speech and civic dialogue on wide-ranging topics, addressing key issues in society, culture, politics, the economy and more.  Several speakers are available for press interviews in advance and at events.  For more information and/or to arrange interviews please call Riki Rafner at 415-597-6712 and/or visit


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All Member-led Forums will take place at the SF Club Office, on the second floor of 595 Market St in San Francisco. Events held elsewhere have the location noted in the description.


Aug 1, Thu., start time TBA

Title: Citizen Science celebration at the California Academy of Sciences NightLife


August 5, Mon., 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing

Speaker: Bernie Krause, Ph.D., Musician; Naturalist; Director, Wild Sanctuary

Title: A Soundscape by Bernie Krause

MLF: The Arts
Cost: $20 standard, members FREE, $7 students (with valid ID)

Listen through the ears of Dr. Krause to an unforgettable soundscape presentation of the voice of the natural world. Krause has traveled the world to record, archive, research and express these increasingly rare sound environments of nature. His personal narrative is also recently described in The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places.


August 6, Tues., 4:45 p.m. networking reception, 5:15 p.m. program,

Speaker: Thomas Knoblauch, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist; Co-author, Elders on Love: Dialogues on
the Consciousness, Cultivation, and Expression of Love

itle: A Psychological Approach to Environmental Consciousness

MLF: Psychology
Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 for students (with valid ID)
Knoblauch will explore the barriers to developing and maintaining an intellectual as well as moral perspective on both engaging and protecting the world around us. He will discuss the role language plays in shaping our thinking about ecological problems and our pursuit of environmental activism. He will also offer up recommendations for promoting new approaches to increasing our environmental consciousness.


August 6, Tues. 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program

Speakers: Scott Loarie, Co-director,, California Academy of Sciences

Ken-ichi Ueda, Co-founder and Co-director,, California Academy of Sciences

Tanya Birch, Program Manager. Google Earth Outreach

Mary Ellen Hannibal, Journalist-Moderator

Title: The Snake, the Seeker, and the Smartphone: Can Tech Save Biodiversity?

MLF: International Relations/Science & Technology
Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID)

How are bold new technologies helping in the fight to retain global biodiversity? Google's Birch will talk about the life-and-death consequences of empowering indigenous peoples in Brazil and Africa to monitor their biodiversity. Loarie and Ueda will share the goals of iNaturalist, an online social network for naturalists, and discuss ways social media and mobile technology can bring the power of crowds to the problems of biodiversity.


August 9, Fri. 7:30 a.m. meet 8:00 a.m. sharp boat departs

Speakers: Michael Ellis, Footloose Forays

Title: Farallon Islands Excursion with Michael Ellis
Meet at the Salty Lady, Sausalito Sport Fishing Pier, foot of Harbor Drive, Sausalito. From 101, take the Sausalito/Marin City exit off. As you exit bear right on Bridgeway toward downtown Sausalito. Go three lights and turn left on Harbor Drive. Follow until it dead ends at some large parking lots just opposite Caruso's. The pier is obvious. Park in the large lot to the left (north). If you are unfamiliar with this area please review a map prior to departure.

Cost: $155 non-members, $155 members

Come discover one of the Bay Area's most spectacular and pristine natural wonders. After departing Sausalito we will cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge and past Pt. Bonita, looking for marine mammals that inhabit the area. If time permits we may also venture out over the continental shelf to look for unusual species that are found on this edge. Then we'll move to the main Farallon Island. Only members of the Pt. Reyes Bird Observatory and the Coast Guard are allowed on the island. We will stay in the protected Fisherman's Cove for a while to soak up the immense amount of life that abounds here. Afterwards, we will cruise over and look at the south side of the island, where most of the manmade structures are located.

August 10, Sat., 10 a.m.-12 p.m. tour
Speakers: Denise King, Artist and Exhibit Development Manager, the Exploratorium
Title: Making Art with Living Systems: The Exploratorium, Behind the Scenes
MLF: The Arts
Location: The Exploratorium. Pier 15/17, San Francisco
Cost: $45 standard, $35 members

Take a peek behind the scenes of San Francisco's hottest new exhibit space. After years by the Palace of Fine Arts, the Exploratorium recently revealed its exciting new digs along San Francisco's waterfront. King will lead us on a tour of the shops and lab where she does her development work for the Exploratorium's special exhibits. She will focus on how she builds life support systems into her exhibits, incorporating live plants and organisms, and well as the difference between exhibits and artwork. The tour is limited to 20 people.


August 12, Mon., 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program
Speakers: Peter Gleik, Co-founder, Pacific Institute; Ph.D., Energy and Resources UC Berkeley
Title: Water and Conflict: Is Water More Important Than Oil?
MLF: Middle East
Cost: $20 standard, members FREE, students FREE (with valid ID)

Gleick, renowned expert, innovator and communicator on water and climate issues, will discuss the Pacific Institute's 25 years of dedication to protecting the natural world, encouraging sustainability and improving global security. He will also discuss how conflicts can be influenced by intelligent water policies, especially in regards to the Middle East.


August 13, Tue., 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program

Speaker: Camille Seaman, 2013 Senior TED Fellow

Title:  How I Came to the Ends of the Earth and What I Found There

MLF: The Arts

Cost: $8 members, $20 non members, $7 students (with valid ID)

Photographer, Camille Seaman, has traveled between both the North and South Polar Regions for the last ten years documenting the fragile environment and its otherworldly beauty. Her work captures the essence of awe and beauty of indigenous cultures and environments in a sophisticated documentary/fine art tradition. People often wonder what one person can do to help save this planet we call home, Seaman will discuss this question from the perspective being part of both an indigenous culture and a modern world.

August 15, Thu., 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program
Speakers : Mary Ruckelshaus, Ph.D., Managing Director, The Natural Capital Project
Heather Tallis, Ph.D., Lead Scientist, The Nature Conservancy, Rich Sharp, Ph.D., Lead Software Developer. The Natural Capital Project
Title: Investing in Natural Capital   
MLF: Science and Technology/ Humanities/ International Relations
Cost: $8 members, $20 non members, students free (with valid ID)

The appeal of seeing nature as a vital asset – as natural capital – has spread like fire over the last decade. This concept appears in thinking about agriculture, water, energy, health, fisheries, forestry, protection from hazards, ining, cities and the infrastructure supporting these and other vast sectors – and it increasingly appears in the ways communities, corporations, governments and other institutions frame decisions. Despite this awareness and energy, however, our state and planet remain besieged by degradation and growing threats of catastrophic change. Leaders of The Natural Capital Project and The Nature Conservancy will talk about how they are using the power of open-source software tools to transform how communities and institutional leaders around the world include the value of natural capital in decisions improving outcomes for biodiversity and human wellbeing.

August 19, Mon., 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program                                                           
Speaker: Anthony D. Barnosky, Professor, Department of Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley; Cox Visiting Professor, Department of Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University

Title: Tipping Point for Planet Earth
MLF: Humanities/ Science and Technology                                                       
Cost: members FREE, $20 non members, $7 students (with valid ID)                            
Monday Night Philosophy highlights Professor Barnosky's research into how global change influences extinction dynamics and biodiversity maintenance. The most recent generation has witnessed humanity changing the planet in both positive and negative ways. Barnosky explains that the key challenge for the 21st century is to ensure that the negative changes, now accelerating , do not limit our capacity to make our children's world at least as good as our own.

August 20, Tues., start time TBA

Title: BioMimicry

August 22, Thurs., 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing

Speaker: James Workman, Journalist; Environmental Author; Former speechwriter for Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt

Title: California’s Offshore Revolution

Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID)

Eighty percent of global fisheries are at risk of collapse due to decades of over-fishing under the broken open-access, free-for-all, "race to the bottom" system. But Pacific Coast fishermen are leading a bold new rights-based approach to replenish both the sea and their bank accounts. This careful graduation to a "catch share" regulatory program, involving 74 species of fish, is resulting in higher revenues, reduction in wasteful discards, fresher product, and greater transparency. In an animated talk based on his forthcoming book, Workman will reveal the roots, essence, challenges and evolution of catch shares, tracing the seafood value chain from hook to cook and dock to plate.

August 23, Fri., 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program                                                                                          
Speakers: Sylvia Raker, Creator and Director of Business Development, Exploratorium Global Studio, Adam Tobin, Managing Director, Exploratorium Global Studio                                                                                
Exploratorium Global Studios in the Middle East                                                                                        
MLF: Middle East                                                                                                                                                        
Cost: members FREE, $20 non-members, $7 students (with valid ID)
Raker, a scientist as well as a business executive, and Tobin, former head of Exploratorium exhibit development, will discuss the Global Studio's mission to help foreign governments and public entities create learning environments, build human capacity and transition to more knowledge based economies, while respecting their specific cultural and social conditions. One area of significant activity for the Global Studios is in the Middle East, where countries such as Saudi Arabia are making substantial investments in education.

August 26, Mon., 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program
Speakers: Gretchen LeBuhn, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Biology, SFSU                                                     
Heidi Ballard, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Education, UC Davis Mary Ellen Hannibal, Journalist-Moderator
Title: Backyards, Beaches, Birds and Bees: Citizen Science  
MLF: Science & Technology/Environmental & Natural Resources  
Cost: members FREE, $20 non-members, students FREE (with valid ID)  

Public participation in scientific research, also known as "citizen science," is a burgeoning practice that is more accessible than ever. As the world is confronted with growing challenges, from climate change to political upheavals, the individuals' ability to record observations to help assess the health of people and ecosystems is a valuable asset. Citizen science programs help empower communities to understand threats to their landscapes and well-being. They also help people understand science and how it is applied. These two leading intellectuals will discuss the ways in which people, technology and crowd-sourcing are making a difference. The program will be moderated by award-winning journalist Mary Ellen Hannibal.

August 27, Tues., 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing
Speakers: Richard Louv, Journalist; Author, The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder  
Title: What Is Nature Deficit Disorder?
MLF: Health & Medicine                                                                                                                                     
Cost: $8 members, $20 non members, $7 students (with valid ID)                                                                       

Louv’s best-selling book Last Child in the Woods sparked a national debate that spawned an international movement to reconnect kids to nature. He coined the term "nature-deficit disorder," influenced national policy and helped inspire campaigns in more than 80 cities, states and provinces throughout North America. Now, Louv delivers another powerful call to action, this time for adults, offering a new vision of the future, in which our lives are as immersed in nature as they are in technology.
August 28, Wed., start time TBA                                                                  
Title: Oceans: Open for Business

August 29, Thurs., 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing
Speaker: Mary Ellen Hannibal, Author, Evidence of Evolution; 2011 Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellow
Title: The Spine of the Continent
MLF: SO Book Discussion
Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID)

Hannibal will give a slide presentation and shares her latest work, The Spine of the Continent. Praised by luminaries such as E.O. Wilson and Paul Ehrlich, in the words of Thomas Lovejoy, Hannibal's book "is the biography of a big conservation idea." Hannibal chronicles the development of the science that tells us what can be done to heal the wounds in our life-support system, nature. Hannibal has plenty of tales to tell of heroic people who are doing the right thing by the creatures and landscapes we love, from a hairdresser who relocates beaver to a waitress-turned-whistleblower who was unjustly prosecuted regarding the death of a rare jaguar to the scientists who are racing to apply their knowledge. Hannibal's journalism accolades include Stanford's Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism and the National Association of Science Writer's Science and Society Award.



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