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(Drawing by Minty Sainsbury)

The big bang theory not only doesn’t fit with a lot of cosmological evidence; it also creates just as much mystery as it attempts to solve.

What came before it? Why did it happen?

To my mind, it makes a lot more sense if there was no beginning; rather if everything was going round and round in cycles, in perfect symmetry with itself. Such a symmetry must have many dimensions / degrees of freedom, some or many of which still remain unfathomable to us. …


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(Drawing by Minty Sainsbury)

Language underpins all thought. We need to start renaming climate anxiety to what it really is: climate empathy.

The notion of anxiety is very inward and destructive. Empathy is very outwards and motivating.

By slightly, subtly reframing the way we speak, we can vindicate and mobilise huge numbers of people to act to change the world for the better.

(These ideas are those of my friend Rachel Musson, at Thoughtbox)


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(Drawing by Minty Sainsbury)

All viruses are made by us for us.

(By us, I mean all of life.)

Our living cells are perfectly designed to both replicate and originate viruses.

Viruses are an intrinsic part of life on Earth. Trillions of them float above us in the sky, and trillions fall to Earth, causing infections (mostly in bacteria) every day, leading to further replication and more viruses.

Just in the same way as virus particles are intrinsic to the world, so too are ideas in our society.

Our minds are perfect for the replication of information, both true and otherwise.

What matters most…


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(Drawing by Minty Sainsbury)

Have you seen the film My Octopus Teacher? It’s the first film from my friend Ellen’s new company Waterbear.

Ellen has always been really interested in the intelligence of animals other than us, and will enthusiastically tell anyone who asks great stories about the multiple different personalities of fish and other animals.

The reason I bring up the film is because almost everyone who watches it suddenly announces that they will never eat octopus again. This is good because octopuses are one of the most intelligent animals alive.

In some ways, they’re arguably more intelligent than we are. …


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(Drawing by Minty Sainsbury)

How do we judge if a TV programme was a good one?

If one show had a million viewers, and another had 10 million, which was the better show?

We humans love to use simple summary metrics for things, and once we’ve decided upon them, we are remarkably good at optimising for them. We organise very effectively around them as simple, unifying goals.

For many decades, we have optimised for the “yield” of our crops, and the consequence is that vegetables in supermarkets are now very big.

However, we’re now realising that this has had an enormously negative impact on…


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(Drawing by Minty Sainsbury)

…but older traditions are often more likely to be wisdom, and nature is the oldest tradition of them all.


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(Drawing by Minty Sainsbury)

Inspired by conversations with, and the ideas of, Dr Martin Hay.

The ideas here are a response to environmental destruction, ecological collapse and rapid climate change.

Pursuit of economic growth in a system fundamentally dependent on the accelerating extraction and utilisation of limited resources, whose use is known to destabilise the conditions and life-support systems upon which we all depend, is a mathematically unsustainable and existentially dangerous model.

Perhaps most worrying of all is the extent to which we understand the threat that we face, and the resilient self-perpetuation of our system in spite of our understanding.

The following is…


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(Drawing by Minty Sainsbury)

If I ran fashion week in London, I’d ask (in a friendly sort of way) that everyone wears exactly the same thing as they wore last year, to make the point that we don’t need more new stuff.

Though… my friend Lucy Siegle tells me that I should go one better, and ensure that everyone is wearing plastic-free, circular economy clothes that were made to last, and ideally have been owned for years.

I’ve never been to a big fashion show, but if I were to go, I’d probably try to wear a nice big banana leaf.


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(Drawing by Minty Sainsbury)

Hello, I’m a scientist, and my name is Matthew Shribman.

I’m just here with some humble numbers…

I’m going to start with 5 and count down, until we’re out of time.

5

Number 5: that’s the hundreds of years it takes for topsoil degraded by intensive farming to recover a single cm.

Nowadays, between 1/3 and 1/2 of all global topsoil is considered to be degraded.

Many parts of the world are thought to only have a few decades of harvests left, and then we’re looking at the entire length of civilisation multiple times over to recover our soil.

We literally…


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(Drawing by Minty Sainsbury)

Humans don’t really want money. Humans want a complex range of things: friends, love, security, direction, health, and money doesn’t necessarily give us these things.

Money is a simplified proxy.

This is why pursuit of profit for profit’s sake is a global driving force that distorts and contorts civilisation.

It’s all the worse when that pursuit of profit takes a very short term view.

When you’re trying to make more profit, you want to get as many fish from the sea as can fit in your boat, as much oil out of the ground as you can find, and you…

Matthew J Shribman

Science Storyteller, Environmentalist, Teacher, Normal Guy // MChem (Oxon)

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