Saturday, 14 April 2012

Climate Change at Edinburgh International Science Festival

I've been blogging from the Edinburgh International Science Festival over the past two weeks, some posts have appeared on this blog, some on Over Forty Shades (here and here) and some on the Clicket blog.

Yesterday, I attended the last event that Clicket gave me free tickets for. This was Richard Wiseman's Beginners Guide to Climate Change. Richard played the part of a complete beginner on the topic as he interviewed Stuart Hazeldine, Professor of Carbon Capture and Storage at the University of Edinburgh. The discussion started by looking at how the climate has changed in geologic time (ie over millions of years) and then moved on to discussing how human influences are massively accelerating the current natural warming of the climate. There was a lot of discussion about how we can reduce the human portion of this climate change and it has to be said that it wasn't particularly optimistic. I was impressed though by the emphasis put on energy efficiency as this seems often to be overlooked in the rush toward technological fixes.

The day before, Stuart Hazeldine had been one of the panel in the Fixing the Planet discussions at the festival. This event was very interesting, bringing up lots of ideas for how we can solve the current climate crisis. I did feel though that having five people on the panel meant that there were more ideas there than there was time to explore them. Topics that came up included:

wave power,
eco-villages where all homes are built to very high standards of low carbon emissions,
emissions taxes,
carbon pricing

It was pointed out that the UK and Scotland lead the industrial revolution and so perhaps have a particular moral obligation to lead the fight against climate change. Scotland in fact looks on target to effectively produce 100% of our power requirements from renewable energy sources by 2020.

Scotland has an advantage by the way in climate terms, because we are surrounded by sea and also benefit from the Gulf Stream (or at least until climate change knocks it out of place) so that our climate is generally milder than you might expect from a country so far north. We have earlier Springs than many other places at a similar latitude, so if you're one of the people from across the ocean wondering at our early spring, that explains part of it, though climate change has been making our springs earlier over the past decade or so and this year's spring has been particularly early.

As ever red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.


Ms Sparrow said...

Wow, you are one busy gal! Taxation based on one's "carbon footprint" is a hot topic. To me, it just makes great good sense. When the cost of polluting is in actual money, people will begin to take it seriously!

gabriellebryden said...

Australia is also in a good position regarding alternatives - solar, geothermal, wind - and a carbon price is being introduced in July but the Opposition has vowed to remove it if they get elected (and they probably will, going by polls) and the general public is quite negative about the carbon pricing policy - mainly because the USA and China are not yet on board, so our contribution will be insignificant - but I think it is an essential way forward. There is still a lot of people who don't believe in human-induced climate change despite the convincing evidence and the fact that all climate change scientists are in agreement on the fundamentals - but big vested interests in oil and coal are funding false campaigns to make out it is not a problem.

P. M. Doolan said...

Regardless of how any nation takes a lead, Global Climate Change is truely an international problem. We have never faced a problem of this complexity before.

heavy hedonist said...

@P.M. Doolan-- you're right, of course. Sadly, here in the US, big business and just plain ignorant people still talk about climate change as if it is a nutball theory, and use psuedo-science to "back up" their claims. When I lived in Indiana, all the major news stations reported on the issue in such a skewed way-- arguing that scientists don't even agree that it's happening, which is just untrue. But if they keep saying it, some people will believe it.