“Conservation used to be about protecting the animals’ habitat.
Now … it’s about protecting our habitat.” – Albert George
Every day when he comes to work, Albert takes on challenges that, to some, may seem insurmountable. But for this charismatic individual, the conservation issues facing South Carolina’s future aren’t daunting. In fact, they’re exciting.
The South Carolina Aquarium’s Director of Conservation didn’t know from the start that he would find his calling in the natural sciences. Even during his first years of college, he didn’t know what path to follow, but when an opportunity arose to tour Florida’s marine research laboratories, he took it. It was during this trip that he discovered scientists using marine organisms like sharks and squid as models in biomedical research. He was fascinated to find that nature had already developed answers for many of humanity’s medical mysteries.
Albert credits his career path to his curiosity about the world around him: “I asked questions,” he says, “and I discovered that nature’s answers were far more fascinating than anything humans could create. Realizing the power of science changed my worldview. Science is occurring around you all the time. You are a scientific wonder!”
Albert’s career excites him every day because he has the opportunity to make a lasting difference in our region. “It’s our time,” says Albert. “Conservation used to be about protecting the animals’ habitat. Now, we’re in a new age, and conservation is no longer about ‘them.’ It’s about us. Conservation is about protecting our habitat.”
Albert sees the writing on the wall: with data showing sea levels rising at an average of 2.9 millimeters per year, coastal South Carolina and the surrounding regions would be at increased risk in the event of a hurricane. Beginning a new conversation of how we prepare for a storm surge is critical. He sees how Charleston has become internationally-renowned as a place to live and visit, and he thinks it can be equally celebrated as a model when it comes to planning for the effects of climate variation. “Our region has the potential to be an international leader in conservation,” he says. “We don’t have to treat climate variation like the bogeyman in the closet. We can face it head on and get to work with research and systems-based solutions. How we manage these situations will change the next 200 to 300 years.”