Dr Mike Shanahan – How fig trees can save the planet

On Wednesday 2nd August Dr Mike Shanahan will be making his second attempt to join us at PubSci, after the first was scuppered by disruption following the terrorist attack in Borough back in June. Mike is a freelance writer and illustrator with a research background in rainforest ecology, who will be talking about the ecological and cultural importance of fig trees.


Fig trees fed our pre-human ancestors, influenced diverse cultures and played key roles in the dawn of civilisation. They feature in every major religion, starring alongside Adam and Eve, Krishna and Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. This is no coincidence – fig trees are special. They evolved when giant dinosaurs still roamed and have been shaping our world ever since.

And all because 80 million years ago these trees cut a curious deal with some tiny wasps. Thanks to this deal, figs sustain more species of birds and mammals than any other trees. As Mike will explain, fig trees could help restore lost rainforests, conserve wildlife and tackle climate change. In a time of falling trees and rising temperatures, their story offers hope.

Mike’s book Ladders to Heaven: How fig trees shaped our history, fed our imaginations and can enrich our future was published in 2016 – copies will be available on the night if you fancy getting the detailed inside scoop.

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s