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This week on Nature League, Brit Garner discusses how each Harry Potter House can contribute to environmental and conservation practices in the Anthropocene. Get your Nature League pin here!

All Harry Potter images featured are from Warner Bros and Pottermore.

Special thanks to Victoria Bongiorno for additional Harry Potter consultation!

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Nature League is a weekly edutainment channel that explores life on Earth and asks questions that inspire us to marvel at all things wild. Join host Brit Garner each week to learn about, connect to, and love the amazing living systems on Earth and the mechanics that drive them.
Welcome back to Nature League!

While I'm more known for my non-fiction reading materials, there are a few fictional series and characters that have stolen my heart. One such world is that of Harry Potter, and let's just say that my passion for that book series is rivaled only by my passion for life on Earth.

This is my actual copy of Book 4 of Harry Potter from home, and while I do not condone the condition that this book is in, it is the result of how many times I have read this series and how much I absolutely love Harry Potter. [CHEERY INTRO MUSIC]. One thing that's really fun is imagining these fictional places, people, and worlds crossing over and into real life scenarios. A few months ago, Dr.

Lindsey Doe asked me a question that I posted to Twitter as a poll. Basically, it was this: which Harry Potter house is the most environmentally friendly? In my initial in-person response, I mentioned the differences between being environmentally friendly, and being interested in conserving life on Earth.

I mean, the “environment” includes both living and non-living things, and the skills required to take care of these categories can be really different. For example, being environmentally friendly could just mean contributing to keeping local water supplies clean, or combating global climate change. Whereas caring about life on Earth could mean something more along the lines of sustainable practices in consumption, or even diet choices.

But here's the thing -- in most cases, environmentally “friendly” attitudes are most likely attitudes which will benefit life on Earth, so really, these are pretty similar. For the purposes of this video, let's just say that being an “environmentally friendly house” means being dedicated to caring for the environment and the things that live within it. All of this to say that I had very many thoughts when asked this question, and even more thoughts when I saw the poll results on Twitter. 68% of respondents voted for Hufflepuff as the most environmentally friendly Hogwarts house, and while I understand where this answer is coming from, the results led me into an interesting thought experiment...

I always think about international wildlife conservation as being a collaborative effort, just like the idea of a Nature League and the topics we talk about here. So what does a Hogwarts Nature League look like? When do we need a Slytherin, and where is a Ravenclaw most effective?

And if you're not too familiar with Harry Potter, first of all, I'll try not to judge you too much, and second of all, don't worry! I'll give you a brief breakdown of the traits associated with each Hogwarts House before discussing the potential role they have in conserving and preserving life on Earth. If you're a fan of the book series, you'll recognize these traits from songs sung by the Sorting Hat throughout the series.

Let's start with Gryffindor. Gryffindor House is associated with the following traits: bravery, daring, nerve, chivalry, and boldness. Of the four original founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,.

Godric Gryffindor himself was most interested in teaching the bravest and boldest of students. In my Twitter poll, Gryffindor came in dead last for being environmentally friendly, with only 2% of the vote. But even within the world of Harry Potter, this doesn't seem too fair.

For example, there are plenty of characters that were sorted into Gryffindor house who showed curiosity and passion for the natural world. For example, one Care of Magical Creatures professor during the books was Rubeus Hagrid;. Hermione Granger time and time again stood up for the rights of non-humans in the course of the books; Charlie Weasley was a dragonologist; and Neville Longbottom spent more time studying plants than pretty much anything else at Hogwarts.

These were all characters belonging to Gryffindor House. And aside from specific characters, let's consider some general Gryffindor traits and think about how they could apply to environmental practices in the 21st century. Like it or not, it's going to take a ton of courage to do the right thing politically, economically, and socially to combat something like carbon emissions.

There's a certain amount of bravery inherent in running for office and being like, “yep, totally going to impose a carbon tax, #sorrynotsorry”. Bravery can be more than the obvious daring deeds of legend. It takes bravery to stand up for something that's right, but unpopular; to proceed with uphill and seemingly unwinnable battles; and even to dare to be innovative in the face of challenges.

When I look at it this way, I start to see that Gryffindors will be absolutely critical in facing the environmental challenges of our times. Next up is Hufflepuff House. Hufflepuffs are associated with being just, loyal, and true, unafraid of toil, and sweet.

The original namesake of this house, Helga Hufflepuff, valued students who were hard workers, and is also said to have taken in those students who didn't necessarily fit into another house. Like we mentioned earlier, Hufflepuffs won with 68% of the vote for the poll about the most environmentally friendly house. But what exactly about Hufflepuff House is environmentally friendly?

Some people on Twitter felt that the caring qualities of Helga Hufflepuff, the founder of the house, would extend to care of the Earth or other species. And maybe there's something to this. There was also mention of Hufflepuffs having the highest empathy of all the houses, and while this seems fair, I wonder how much that actually relates to environmentalism. there a difference between human to non-human empathy and human to human empathy? For example, if someone cleans up the environment for the sake of humans having a higher quality of life, is that acting selfishly in a species sort of way? And if so, is that really a classically Hufflepuff vibe?

The answer is... I'm really not sure. But, I do think there's an important difference between human-human relationships, and those between humans and non-human species.

Other arguments made for Hufflepuff had to do with some well known characters that were sorted into that house themselves. For example, Professor Sprout came up -- she's the head of Hufflepuff house and a professor of herbology during Harry Potter's time in school, so people like to cite her as one reason Hufflepuff is environmentally friendly. However, you know me -- gotta lend a dissenting voice for the sake of rationalism!

It was revealed that Neville Longbottom, a Gryffindor, wound up teaching Herbology at. Hogwarts later on, and as both heads of houses and professors of topics fluidly change, Professor. Sprout isn't a perfect argument.

Same with Newt Scamander, the most famous magizoologist of the wizarding world. In the world of Harry Potter, a magizoologist studies magical creatures, and Newt Scamander, a Hufflepuff, wrote the literal book on the topic. However, this field of study isn't limited to him, and people from several other houses went onto great careers in magical creatures -- looking at you, Luna Lovegood of Ravenclaw!

And speaking of Ravenclaw, let's talk about the house that Ravenclaw built! The original Ravenclaw valued students with the surest intelligence, sharpest minds, and cleverest of natures. Overall, Ravenclaws are associated with wit and learning, having a ready mind, and being wise.

In the Twitter poll, Ravenclaws came in second place with 24% of the vote. Fun fact- I originally answered Ravenclaw, and had a couple of reasons in mind that I still find pretty convincing. While being environmentally friendly certainly has to do with caring for things other than oneself and putting thoughts into actions, I feel like the problems facing us right now are going to require intellect, and in some cases, a lot of it.

Take climate change, arguably one of if not the most pressing environmental issues of our time. Even if everyone is on board and willing to put in the work necessary, we're now at the point that technological and ingenious solutions might be the best way forward. Some of the most ambitious plans on the table at present sound more like science fiction than science, and that's because people are having to be more and more innovative to creatively solve such huge global issues.

And hey... Ravenclaw house brought the Harry Potter world a number of famous, if not eccentric, inventors, most notably Uric the Oddball. He was rumored to wear a jellyfish for a hat, and if anything says innovative climate change solutions that are just so crazy they might work -- well, it'd be jellyfish for hats.

Last up is Slytherin House, which came in second to last with 6% of the vote during the Twitter poll. Slytherins are described as cunning, power-hungry, using any means to achieve their ends, and highly ambitious. And while I definitely have an issue with some of the blood purity mess that is associated with the fictional founder of Slytherin house, I do think that the other traits can be used for good, depending on what "good" is to you.

So, if “good” is being environmentally friendly, just what would that look like for someone sorted into Slytherin House? Well, some of the most famous Slytherins in the book series were politicians and advisors to high ranking governmental officers. Imagine if a voting constituency was really into environmentally favorable practices?

Well well well, it just so happens that a Slytherin running for that office might adopt an eco-friendly platform to achieve being elected. Or perhaps there's a Slytherin who is very deeply interested in protecting other species and the environments they live in for some reason other than political power. Slytherins are known for being ambitious and obtaining results, and there's a decent argument for this applying to environmental causes as well.

There's also something to be said for selfishness within the environmental movement. In book 5, previous headmaster Phineas Nigellus says to Harry from a portrait, “We Slytherins are brave, yes, but not stupid. For instance, given the choice, we will always choose to save our own necks.” If you extend this past the individual level of, “Hey, forget you man, I'm looking out for me” and apply it to the species level, this mentality could mean that Slytherins would be very interested in protecting humans.

In that case, a Slytherin might be an excellent environmental advocate ensuring that we protect the planet that humans live on. So, back to the original Twitter poll... While I do understand why so many people voted for Hufflepuff, and I still place my personal vote for Ravenclaw, I recognize that each fictional Harry Potter house has something to contribute.

Being environmentally friendly and doing the right thing for life on Earth is incredibly complicated, and requires all kinds of talents, traits, strengths, and yes, even weaknesses. Going through the options for the original question was not only fun, but served as a great reminder for the intricacies of thinking deeply about these subjects in the Anthropocene -- an era dominated by humans... and, you know, Harry Potter. And for the official record, despite my Ravenclaw tendencies, I am definitely... [WAVES WAND] a Gryffindor.

In my own head canon, this is because the Sorting Hat takes the rest of your house members into consideration, and I would be way too much for the Ravenclaw common room to handle on a daily basis. Thanks for watching this episode of Nature League! If Twitter was any indication, I'm sure many of you have your own thoughts on this question, and I'd love to hear what you're thinking!

Leave a comment below to continue this conversation, or engage with us on Twitter @Nature_League if you have questions or topics that you'd like to hear about in future videos. And hey, if you know someone who loves Harry Potter and life on Earth as much as I do, share this video with them to keep the conversation going. And as always, to go on life on Earth adventures with us each week, go to and subscribe.

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