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The big question: too many people on the planet?

Katherine Aitchison17 May 2013

Earth, courtesy of Kevin M Gill on Flickr

Earth, courtesy of Kevin M
Gill on Flickr

There are currently 6.9 billion people living on our planet and with that figure set to rise, many people are worried about how long the Earth will be able to sustain us all and cope with the damage that we are inflicting on it.

The UCL Grant Museum of Zoology has a “case of extinction” featuring, among others, dodo and Tasmanian wolf (thylacine) specimens. Both of these species were hunted to extinction by humans and since their deaths many other species have faced the same fate. Which led Dean Veall, the museum’s learning and access officer, to ask the Big Question: are there too many people on the planet?

When the question was first posed to a packed JZ Young lecture theatre, after a glass of wine and a mooch around the Grant Museum’s always fascinating collection, the answer from the crowd was a resounding ‘yes’. But over the course of the night, we stood to have our opinions tested and potentially changed.

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‘A fertile site for our imaginations’: the Tube at 150

Ben Stevens H P Stevens28 January 2013

Gower Street station

Gower Street station

Londoners have an ambivalent relationship with the Tube and, according to contemporary accounts, this was the case from the very start.

However, in the year of its 150th anniversary, there is a renewed sense of public affection and appreciation – not least because of its sterling performance during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

This was certainly apparent at a Lunch Hour Lecture by Professor Richard Dennis (UCL Geography) on 15 January, where there was standing room only and a large number of people even had to be turned away.

Rather than describing a particularly short walk, the lecture’s title, ‘Gower Street to Euston Square: a local history of the Underground’, referred to how UCL’s local station started life as Gower Street station before being renamed in the early 20th century.

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