Monday, 16 April 2012

Edinburgh Science Festival 5 - Fixing the Planet

This is the 5th in a series of blogs from the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Myself and six other bloggers have been writing about the event during the fortnight.

Climate change. Like many of you, I’d been aware of the worries, vaguely cogniscent of the science and had a hazy impression of the timescales involved.
Well, there’s nothing like getting up close and personal with the scientists involved to change all that. Now I’m definitely worried.
The first Edinburgh Science Festival climate change event I attended was panel featuring Jim Hansen, Stuart Haszeldine, Saran Sohi, Gary Clark and Richard Yemm. (Follow the links to see their respective specialities - and I particularly recommend Jim Hansen’s.) Each speaker gave a five minute presentation and then took questions. Some fascinating information emerged - Scotland seems to be at the forefront of renewables, with 30% of energy currently sourced that way. The way some of the speakers put it, having kicked started the industrial revolution with James Watt, it was Scotland’s duty to lead the way into the second, carbon-neutral industrial revolution.
But it was a mixture of upbeat and gloom. James Hansen in particular argued that politicians don’t lead, they react - it’s up to the public to reclaim democracy from big industry lobbyists and get something done before it was too late. He argued for a carbon tax and a move to 4th generation nuclear power - the others were more keen on energy efficiency and renewables.
The event was sobering. It featured too many speakers to be truly coherent and questions had to be grouped to get through them all. Even so, it overran. But it was a good overview - and a prelude to the climate change event the following day, which was even more alarming. But for that, you’ll have to wait for Edinburgh Science Blog 7.

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