By Dr Tony Curran, University of Southampton
The University of Southampton’s Researchers’ Café held a Climate Conversations special event at Mettricks Tea and Coffee House on 4 December. Organiser Dr Tony Curran set the scene by linking the event to the
Southampton Climate Change Conversations evening run by Dr James Dyke on 27 November, which was supported by Dangerous Ideas. Tony described how both top-down efforts such as those negotiated by governments at COP21 in Paris, and bottom-up efforts to raise awareness and change behaviour, are important. Citing speakers at the 27 Nov event, he likened individuals’ efforts to the notion that “one drop of rain does not get you wet, but many do”, i.e. collectively individuals make a difference.
Jenny Barnes gave a personal account of her journey to becoming personally responsible and socially active regarding her impact on the environment. She spoke abut the Southampton Climate Change Demonstration which she organised in the city recently.
Dr Craig Hutton explained his research on global carbon footprints, and drew on accounts from people in the developing world such as farmers in Bangladesh to present some difficult realities that must be faced if we are to tackle climate change. PhD student Mike Allright talked about efforts to divest from fossil fuels, and presented the Invest Positive UoS student campaign to encourage socially responsible investment.
Attendees were asked: “What can Southampton do?” to tackle climate change, and were challenged to finish the sentence “The obvious solution to runaway global warming is…” – what do you think?? Suggestions from the event included ways to encourage, persuade and compel change, for example making environmentally friendly options easier or cheaper than the alternative – public transport, local food, recycling, etc.; investing more in public transport and green energy; and bans on some unnecessary/inefficient uses of energy. Entrepreneur Elon Musk has stated recently that the obvious solution to runaway global warming is a revenue-neutral carbon tax.
Plans are progressing for a follow-on event to take place in January – watch this space or the Researchers’ Café Facebook Group for updates.
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