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Published on Mar 5, 2012
The Club of Rome and the Smithsonian Institution's Consortium for Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet hosted a symposium on March 1, 2012 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the launching of Limits to Growth, the first report to the Club of Rome published in 1972. This book was one of the earliest scholarly works to recognize that the world was fast approaching its sustainable limits. Forty years later, the planet continues to face many of the same economic, social, and environmental challenges as when the book was first published. The morning session focused on the lessons of Limits to Growth. The afternoon session addressed the difficult challenges of preserving biodiversity, adjusting to a changing climate, and solving the societal issues now facing the planet. The symposium ended with a thought-provoking panel discussion among the speakers on future steps for building a sustainable planet.
W. John Kress is the Director of the Consortium for Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet at the Smithsonian as well as curator and research scientist with the Department of Botany at the National Museum of Natural History. He was born in Illinois and received his education at Harvard University (B. A. 1975) and Duke University (Ph. D. 1981) where he studied tropical biology, ethnobotany, evolution, and plant systematics. Among his many scientific and popular papers on tropical biology are his books entitled Heliconia: An Identification Guide, Heliconias -- Las Lamaradas de la Selva Colombiana, A New Century of Biology (with Gary Barrett), A Checklist of the Trees, Shrubs, Herbs, and Climbers of Myanmar, and Plant Conservation -- A Natural History Approach (with Gary Krupnick). His book The Weeping Goldsmith (Abbeville Press) describes his experiences exploring for plants in the isolated country of Myanmar. Dr. Kress is also interested in the intersection of science and art. To this end he has published two original art projects: one called Botanica Magnifica (Abbeville Press) with photographer Jonathan Singer, and the second a book on plant evolution, entitled The Art of Plant Evolution (Kew Publications), with Dr. Shirley Sherwood using contemporary botanical art to illustrate the diversity of the plant world. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and currently Executive Director of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation. Dr. Kress is an Adjunct Professor of Biology at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Yunnan.