Peter Raven | St. Louis Public Radio

Peter Raven

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh was joined by Dr. Peter Raven, the former, longtime president of Missouri Botanical Garden, to discuss environmental issues. Raven recently celebrated his 80th birthday.

Even in his retirement, Raven is staying busy with his work on the board of the National Geographic Society and writing his biography. He is still deeply immersed in the challenges facing the planet today.

Air pollution from coal-fired power plants, industrial activities, and cars contributes to asthma and other health problems in the St. Louis area.
Syracuse University News Services

In December, government representatives from all over the world will meet in Paris for another conference on climate change aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and curbing rising global temperatures.

In advance of that meeting, some scientists and environmental leaders are gathering at Washington University to discuss one particular consequence of climate change: widespread species extinctions.

Peter Raven at work in China
Provided by the Missouri Botanical Garden

Director Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Peter Raven, is one of the minds behind the latest papal letter from Pope Francis. He issued the sweeping encyclical Thursday that calls for immediate societal changes to preserve the environment.  

Peter Raven (left), the President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Rudi Roeslein (right), CEO of Roeslein Associates
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

People in urban areas may not think about the importance of prairies. But beyond the asphalt, concrete and glass of the city, is a country rich in prairie land.

But, what is the importance of prairies and how do they affect our everyday lives?

On Thursday's “St. Louis on the Air” Peter Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Rudi Roeslein, CEO of Roeslein Associates, joined host Don Marsh to discuss the role of prairies conserving of natural ecosystems and their importance for production of next-generation biofuels.

Peter Raven
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Once every three months, Peter Raven pays a visit to his dermatologist. Summers spent at 10,000 feet, hiking northern California's Sierra Nevada Mountains and roaming the sand dunes and vacant lots of San Francisco take their toll. "That did a real number on my skin. Of course, nobody thought a thing about the sun in the 1950s," Raven said, describing a boyhood spent outdoors, rearing butterflies, collecting insects and gathering plants.  

Peter Raven at work in China
Provided by the Missouri Botanical Gardens

Descriptions of Peter Raven's tenure as president of the Missouri Botanical Garden range from superlative to superlative.

"Since he put down roots here in 1971, Dr. Raven has been one of St. Louis' favorite exotics. He is a generous civic leader, consummate showman, wise counsel and world expert on biodiversity. I expect him to continue in all those roles," said St. Louis mayor Francis Slay in a statement to the Beacon.

2008 photo of Hope, the polar bear at the St. Louis Zoo. 300 pxls
Michael Abbene | St. Louis Zoo | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Hope, the sole polar bear at the St. Louis Zoo, is set to begin another summer of backstroking, ball-playing and other antics in the protective custody of the zoo’s Bear Bluffs exhibit.

Meanwhile, far to the north, the 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears left in the Arctic wild will continue their precipitous population decline with another year of unusual starvation, drowning and infant mortality – a decline caused by melting sea ice.