So this microbe walks into a bar . . .
SMALL PRINT:HOW TO GET across the message that life in all its forms – animals, plants and micro-organisms – and the habitats that sustain it are important to us has been cracked by a marketing group associated with the Trinity Centre for Biodiversity Research.
BiodiversityInOurLives, a group of PhD students and staff at Trinity College Dublin, has produced beer mats to put in pubs near the college, aimed at sparking public interest and dialogue about the value of biodiversity in Ireland.
The group points out that “ecosystem services” such as pollination have been valued at €2.6 billion per year. For example, as explained on one of the beermats, it takes at least four bees to produce a pint of cider.
Other engaging information on the mats includes the fact that Ireland is “home to 2,000 sq km of cold water corals, equal to the size of 2 million of these beermats . . . Australia and the Caribbean aren’t the only places with coral reefs”, as the text says.
“We are trying to bring ecological research to a wider audience: away from the ivory towers of Trinity and out of the hands of crusty hippies,” says one of the group’s founders, Shane McGuinness. They hope to follow up with other initiatives.
“These beermats have been fully endorsed by Drinkaware.ieand already we have a long list of city-centre premises willing to distribute them, including the Lincoln Inn, Kennedys, ONeill’s of Pearse Street, the Gingerman, the Lombard, and ODonoghue’s,” says McGuinness.
“It is hoped that this campaign will spark conversation in pubs around Dublin about biodiversity and lead to better awareness and interest in its importance,” he adds, noting that farmers are facing reduced crop yields due to a loss in the abundance of pollinators.
“Were very proud of our project, and think it showcases how the knowledge generated within a university can be shared with the public in a fun and engaging way,” he says. It was funded by Small Changes, Big Difference, a competition run by the TCD Alumni Office.