Last week Nicola Peel, solutionist, environmentalist and speaker, launched a series of talks at Collyer’s, in memory of geologist and marine biologist Kirsty Brown, who studied geology at Collyer’s and was also a former colleague of Dr Ian Carr, Collyer’s head of geology and environmental science. Kirsty worked with Ian for 3 months, as his geological field assistant in Greenland. The Kirsty Brown Fund is generously covering the costs of the talks and a number of activities in this area, to help educate and inspire young people.
Ian Carr was delighted: “What an excellent choice to kickoff the ‘Kirsty Brown Talks’! Nicola has won the Peoples Environment Award and was a finalist in the Guardian Observer Ethical Awards, so we were thrilled to have her at Collyer’s. Her inspiring talk certainly had wide appeal.”
With the backdrop of a ‘climate emergency’, Nicola offered an optimistic view of the future, focussing on where we can learn from nature, and how to live in harmony with the planet. Nicola immediately engaged the audience with her stories of her time in the Amazon rainforest, initially searching for the illusive ‘pink dolphins’, but then working with the local people to develop ways to harvest clean drinking water from rain, use fungi to clean up oil spills, and plant high yield crops to avoid the need to clear virgin rainforest.
Ian Carr said: “Nicola illuminated us all with lessons she had learned about life from the people in the rainforest. Making a direct link to the environmental science A-level, she went on to describe how we are starting to understand that nature builds structures and materials in a far more efficient way than we do and we have a lot to learn from ‘biomimicry’.”
During the talk, Nicola gave several fabulous examples, including how butterflies produce iridescent blue, how spiders produce strong thread, and how termites produce air-conditioned buildings, all of which we are now able to copy.
Nicola expertly fielded questions from staff and students, eager to know more about her experience and her opinion on environmental issues. After the talk, students stayed behind to study the crafts Nicola had brought along with her from the Amazon.