Sidmouth Science Festival

“Up in the Air” pop-up was supposed to feature in the Sidmouth Science Festival on Saturday, but unfortunately other commitments intervened.

Clare did however preach at Sidbury Church on Sunday as part of the Festival. Her topic was “Who has the wisdom?” and she largely spoke about the book of Job, and scientific knowledge and wisdom. But of course Particulart did make an appearance. And maybe the congregation will remember Clare waving around a knitted carbon dioxide as a prop if nothing else.

Popping up soon near you

Got some dates for your diaries. “Up in the Air” will be popping up this autumn at the following meetings and events:

17 October

Sidmouth Science Festival
Popping-up from 11am at Kennaway House
FREE for the general public!

18 October

Sidmouth Science Festival
Clare is preaching at the 10.30am Holy Communion service at St Giles Sidbury

18 November

Abingdon Carbon Cutters
Clare is speaking at the Monthly meeting, 7.30pm at St Ethelwold’s, Abingdon

6 December

Holy Ground at Exeter Cathedral
Popping-up as part of the service of Holy Communion from 7pm
Discussion from about 8pm

Church Times article on Vienna Convention…

Clare Bryden. When the world acted for the good. Church Times, 2 October 2015. Available on Church Times website (paywall).

THIS year is the 30th anniversary of the ozone “hole” and the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. The Convention and accompanying Montreal Protocol are among the most successful treaties of all time, in that they addressed a human-made environmental problem through rare but genuine international co-operation, and have almost completely achieved their goals.

Shortly after they were agreed, climate change arose as the next human-made problem on the agenda. The Vienna Convention became the model for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, but there are important differences, and climate negotiations are still without resolution.

The ozone layer is not really a layer, but a section of the stratosphere about 20-30km above the earth’s surface, where ozone concentrations are relatively high; and the ozone hole is not really a hole, but a reduction in concentration. In May 1985, reporting in Nature, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) described losses of 70 per cent during the Antarctic spring, and four per cent globally.

Stratospheric ozone is important because it absorbs harmful UVB radiation from the sun, and protects us from sunburn, skin cancer, and cataracts. Stratospheric-ozone depletion is caused by emissions of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other man-made halocarbons, used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, and industrial solvents.

SCIENTISTS had been aware of ozone depletion since the mid-1970s, and five countries, including the United States, banned the use of CFCs in aerosol spray cans. Unsurprisingly, there was opposition from the CFC industry, using arguments that sound eerily familiar in a climate context: the theory was described as “a science fiction tale . . . utter nonsense”; and it was said: “We believe there is no imminent crisis that demands unilateral regulation.”

The governments of Germany, France, and the UK tried to defend their own industries, and progress in the US stalled during the first two years of President Reagan’s administration. But negotiations continued, and brought governments to the conference table in Vienna in March 1985. The Vienna Convention was a framework for further negotiations, and did not include legally binding reduction goals; so it was signed by 20 countries, including most of the main producers.

Then BAS announced the discovery of the Antarctic ozone “hole”, reviving public interest in the issue, and the US Environmental Protection Agency published a study predicting an additional 40 million cases of skin cancer and 800,000 cancer deaths in the US in the next 88 years. Then, possibly in fear of litigation, and having developed hydrochloroflurocarbons as a less destructive alternative to CFCs, US industry dropped its opposition to a CFC ban.

So, in 1987, 18 months after the Vienna Convention was signed, the world reached a binding agreement, and 43 nations signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

THE UN Environment Programme said that the Montreal Protocol embodied three guiding principles. These later formed an important part of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which sought to direct future sustainable development around the world.

First, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities: the Protocol distinguished between two blocs of high and low CFC users. High users, who were largely responsible for the problem, were expected to act first. They agreed to reduce production of the five main ozone-depleting CFCs by 50 per cent by 1999. Low users, generally less-developed countries, had a ten-year grace period, and were provided with financial support.

Second, the precautionary principle: the risk of harm from inaction outweighed the risk of harm from taking action.

Third, the principle of basing policies and action on sound science: the Protocol was agreed before scientists had resolved all uncertainties and established a consensus, but the science was considered fit for purpose.

As the scientific evidence strengthened, so did the targets. In the 1990 London Amendment, signatories agreed to phase out CFCs almost entirely by 2000. In the 1992 Copenhagen Amendment, the phase-out date was moved up to 1996.

The Vienna Convention, Montreal Protocol, and its four Amendments are the only UN treaties to achieve ratification by all 193 member states. Many countries in both blocs met their phase-out targets well ahead of schedule. Tens of millions of skin cancers and cataracts have been avoided, and there have been substantial climate benefits.

THE Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol were so successful that it seemed logical to follow the template when scientists first sounded the alarm about carbon emissions. Talks began in 1989 on what was to become the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

There is, however, a big difference between convincing governments to ban chemicals manufactured by only a few countries and used in only a few applications, and persuading them to give up fossil fuels, when many rely on selling them for their national income, and almost all depend on burning them.

So the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and the precautionary principle, were subsumed by self-interest. And the stratospheric expectations for precision, confidence, and consensus have stretched the principle of basing policies and action on sound science almost to breaking point.

The UNFCCC was eventually agreed, and signed at Rio de Janeiro in 1992. But it left decisions about how this was to be accomplished to future negotiations, and, crucially, the rules on voting have never been agreed.

Although the 1997 Kyoto Protocol imposed targets on developed countries, only the EU took it seriously, and global carbon-dioxide emissions have soared. In December, world leaders are meeting in Paris for what is billed as “our last hope”. Let us hope and pray that the spirit of 1980s Vienna and Montreal prevails.

Relight My Fire

Particulart pop-up at RLMF BikeShed bar

“Up in the Air” popped up for a second time at the Relight My Fire festival of energy and the arts in Exeter last weekend. Indoors this time, and slimmed down without roof or games area. It just about fit in the space.

Relight My Fire is run by Regen SW, and is part of Part of Community Energy Fortnight. It brings artists to the streets and venues of Exeter to explore our relationship with energy past, present and future. The energising (and hopefully not enervating) programme includes performances, talks, workshops, activities and pop-up events.

In fact, Relight My Fire’s financial support helped make the pop-up possible. It was part of the RE:FRESH event in the Bikeshed Bar and Theatre.

Regen SW is building a network of creative practitioners who are developing work in the arts and energy space – This networking event will provide a platform for some of those artists to share details of their work and chat over drinks.

It was great to speak to some really interesting people doing great work in this area. One performance artist is living on 15 litres of water a day for a year, just 10% of the UK average. I offered her a loan of my water vapour particle! It featured among the “A Stitch in Time” greenhouse gases, but doesn’t fit easily into the data framework for “Up in the Air” so is sitting on a shelf at the moment.

Relight My Fire also included the launch of a new blog called Power Culture, which explores our energy generation through the arts. Clare has a couple of pieces on the blog, one about Particulart, the other about Didcot Power Station, as you do.

Pattern – “Ozone Depletion”

Download this pattern as a pdf

See also the patterns for the atoms and bonds between atoms.


Light green
Medium green


Trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11)



1 carbon
3 chlorine
1 fluorine


3 carbon-chlorine
1 carbon-fluorine

Chlorine radical



1 chlorine


Dichlorofluoromethyl radical



1 carbon
2 chlorine
1 fluorine


3 carbon-chlorine
1 carbon-fluorine




3 oxygen


3 oxygen




2 oxygen


2 oxygen

Chlorine monoxide radical



1 chlorine
1 oxygen


1 chlorine-oxygen

Happy Ozone Day!

UNEP has designated 16th September as International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, and 2015 marks the 30th anniverary of the British Antarctic Survey’s paper in Nature alerting the world to the ozone hole and the adoption of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1985.

So I knitted representations of the three main stratospheric ozone depletion equations, took a photo, and published it online. I’m treating it as an exhibition, but have further plans for it…


Photos – Pop-up at the Green Fair

A few pictures I’ve gleaned of the pop-up at the Exeter Green Fair on 5th September.

Diana-pic thumbnail
Jen thumbnail
Green-Fair thumbnail
EE-pic thumbnail

Clare talking about something

Stepping inside the 3D graph!

Making pompoms at the back

This photo was taken by the Express and Echo




Exeter Green Fair on 5 September saw the debut of my new “Up in the Air” pop-up. Under a blue gazebo (the sky), I suspended eight pale blue hula hoops (clouds), and from these the eight greenhouse gases. I turned it round so the (0,0,0) of the axes was at the front-bottom-left, and the posters stuck to a panel at the back. The inflatable globe hung centrally, and the carpeted and cushioned games area was off to one side. Thankfully it didn’t rain, and the gusts were manageable!

I had loads of conversations with passers by, from the children who were drawn to the globe and the swinging particles (“be gentle!”), to a former colleague in the Met Office climate business, to scientists and knitters and people who were just interested.

The pop-up was kindly supported by the Relight My Fire festival of energy and arts. Its next outing will be at the festival, which will be happening across Exeter during 18-21 September.

Pecha Kucha at Greenbelt

Greenbelt is a Christian festival “Where faith, arts and justice meet”. Since 1974, it has brought people together to explore these issues, “to ask questions and suggest answers, to find moments of joy in art and music, and moments of celebration in our daily lives.”

In 2015, the Festival theme was The Bright Field, the title of a poem by RS Thomas. The programme included two Pecha Kucha events, each with six talks given by mostly visual artists. I was second in my set, sandwiched in between Katie Duxbury’s amazing costumes, and Kay Morrisson’s talk about paying tax forward and her very new project that may or may not be @TaxitForwardUK. As I said, mostly visual artists.

Pecha Kucha is a new way of doing Powerpoint presentations. There are 20 slides, which must be images only, no text, although one can cheat and have images of text. I also passed around a carbon dioxide molecule as a prop. The slides change automatically every 20 seconds, so the talk is 6 minutes 40 seconds in total. It becomes more of a performance than a presentation, and there was a lot of good energy in the tent. Most importantly for me, the audience laughed at the right places!

Free Art Friday

As part of the publicity for “Up in the Air” in July, I gave away my prototype for Particulart, the carbon dioxide that ended up a bit too big and time-consuming to knit. It was a bit of a wrench! But I took the opportunity to piggy back on the Free Art Friday movement, and set up Free Art Friday Exeter, with its own Facebook page. The worldwide free art movement has existed for many years. Artists leave pieces in public places to be discovered and taken for free. There’s a much longer explanation below.

FreeArtFriday-LibraryThe lady on Reception in the Exeter Civic Centre couldn’t quite grasp the point of Free Art Friday (“It’ll disappear within 5 minutes”… well, yes) and thought it better if I didn’t leave my carbon dioxide molecule there. So I took it to Exeter Library instead. Here it is in the entrance and café area. I asked whoever found and took the molecule to let me know, but sadly received no response. Maybe it ended up in the bin. Still, it was worth trying, and I may well again. I need to get more artists involved too, so if anyone is interested, please see the Facebook page and get in touch.

The long explanation

By MyDogSighs ’07, from the Flickr page for the original Free Art Friday

Artwork placed on the street for any member of the public to enjoy and take home — go on, make someone’s day! Post only pictures of free art please.

Free Art Friday is not an original concept. There are many artists across the world making art and leaving it out on the street.

There are no rules. That’s the joy! In order to keep a record of exclusively free art you need to make sure the work is easily removable and does little or no damage to its environment.

Some put out canvas. Others use materials found on the street. Cardboard is popular but your imagination is your limit.

P.S. It doesn’t have to be Friday!

The concept of Free Art Friday has many strands.

For the artist, it is an opportunity to create work free from the constraints of commerce, to voice an idea, shout a political message or just amuse and confuse the viewer.

Art is so often tied to a need by the artist to ‘make a living’ and constrained by gallery and dealer issues. FAF focuses the artist on the act itself, giving complete artistic freedom as opposed to considering financial and commercial limits.

Many Free Art Friday participants’ work is humorous and good natured, hoping to cheer up the walk to work of the viewer. Hoping to make them question everything. To expect the unexpected and realise that along with the need to sell, promote, fight the system and rebel, there is also a need to embellish and entertain in a non profit way without the need to cause damage to property.

The act of removing the work intrigues. Almost an act of situationist art itself. Is there guilt? Why is it taken – as part of a street cleaning operation, consigned to the rubbish heap? or coveted and displayed? Are they artists themselves? Kids, willing to steal and destroy purely for the act of rebellion or someone never faced with something completely free, not promoting or selling? After all how many things do you know that are completely free, no strings attached?

All street artists, whether producing static or removable art, hope to promote discussion in one form or other: “Talk about me and my work”, “Question the images thrown at you”, or “Use your political power”.