Popping up at TEDxExeter with ideas worth spreading

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TEDxExeter - Set-up in the Great Hall

Knit-your-own carbon dioxide

TEDxExeter - View of the Great Hall

Clare hand-waving at a group of school children
Photo: Sue Holden

Talking climate change and flood risk
Photo: Sue Holden

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On 15 April, Clare was honoured to be able to show Particulart at TEDxExeter.

For those who haven’t come across the TED talks phenomenon yet, do check out TED.com.  TED is dedicated to ideas worth spreading. It started as an annual conference, but is now much more. TEDx is a programme of local, self-organized, independent events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.

TEDxExeter has been held each year since 2012. In 2016 the theme was “Dreams to Reality”, and it featured a wide range of wonderful speakers. Danny Dorling showed us how different ways of mapping the world can communicate many different hopeful realities. Alan Smith, data visualisation editor at the Financial Times, gave a really engaging talk about statistics are about Us – the community not the individual – and how they can highlight gaps in our understanding of the world, our country, and even our local area. TEDx events also show a few TED talks as part of the programme. Among others, we got Al Gore on “The case for optimism on climate change”. A nice lot of Particulart-relevant material!

The main focus of the day is on the speakers and performers, but there are generous breaks for coffee, lunch and tea, to enable speakers, performers, delegates, sponsors, stall holders, team, and volunteers to mingle and connect. Particulart was one of many stalls in the break-out areas. Others included sponsor stalls, the FabLab hosted in Exeter Library, the Met Office Informatics Lab, and an exhibition of prints from Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here.

Clare had some great conversations during the day, especially with many of the school children and young people. She also took the opportunity to talk about her new artwork about flood risk, which was of particular interest to a group from Route 39 Academy in Clovelly, with memories of flooding on the north coast of Devon in recent years.

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The Great Hall during the breaks; we’re over on the right of the image
Photo: Tim Pestridge

Paris Agreement :: Climate action?

Today, 22nd April, is Earth Day, and the day 171 countries signed the Paris Agreement. Back in December, the agreement was met with muted approval.

Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP in the South West, welcomed it

What the Paris climate deal means is that the global economy has moved away from the fossil fuel era and onto a path towards a clean energy future. Making this transformation a reality will require widespread changes to the way we live and work, but before embarking on that endeavour we should take a moment to celebrate this unique and groundbreaking success for genuine global co-operation.

I am also delighted to see the ambition to keep temperature warming within 1.5° coming back into the agreement alongside a commitment to return to the targets set today on a regular basis to ensure that policies become more ambitious over time.

… but climate activist Bill McKibben of 350.org asked: “the pistol has fired, so why aren’t we running?”

At the moment the world … continues to pretend that merely setting the goal has been work enough for the last two decades. Its “training plan” – the text that negotiators agreed on in Paris – is a go-slow regimen that aims for a world 3.5C warmer.

So what is McKibben saying now? In an interview for Daily Kos, he spoke about the science and the rise of movements:

Less optimistic about the science—it’s happening much faster, and with more weight, than we thought it would. The last six months have been devastating—temperatures setting every possible record [see this NASA news release], … the highest wind speeds ever recorded amidst devastating cyclones, and new research indicating that we can expect the collapse of ice sheets on a much faster time scale than we’d anticipated.

More optimistic about the rise of movements. Since the policy response of governments has been so feeble, we’ve had to build globe-spanning movements to try and check the fossil fuel industry. And we have. The fight over Keystone has turned into a thousand other fights… And we’re winning a surprising number of them.

In other words, we all have power if we work together. You can take action on climate now.