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Showing posts from November, 2011

Saving Species

Last night the Cabot Institute hosted a recording of the BBC Radio 4 programme Saving Species from the Great Hall here at the University of Bristol. The panel comprised the philosopher and activist Dr. Vandana Shiva, the Executive Director of the European Environment Agency Professor JacequelineMcGlade, Professor Aubery Manning of the University of Edinburgh and the Cabot Institute's own Dr. Jon Bridle, who is a Senior Lecturer in Bristol's School of Biological Sciences. As Cabot's Director I was delighted to welcome such an eminent panel to the University and to run an event with the very dynamic Julian Hector from the BBC Natural History Unit which is based here in Bristol. The topic of the show was "Saving species: sustaining life" which the panel debated in response to audience questions. The idea was to explore the extent to which an increasing human population can be made compatible with efforts to preserve the natural world.

The thing that amazed me is h…

Renewable Futures and Green Energy Awards

This year’s Renewable Futures conference, hosted as always by Regen South West (RegenSW) didn’t have an official theme; but if it did, that theme would be change. Indeed, if anybody has felt the winds of change this year, it would be RegenSW. As a result of government funding cuts, RegenSW has recently had to turn towards the private sector instead, financing itself using a subscription-based model. This has meant big changes for RegenSW, who have had to find new ways to make their way in the world. It isn’t yet clear whether they will succeed, but I certainly hope they do; it would be heartening to see that the sustainability sector in the UK today might actually be large enough to maintain a support organisation like RegenSW. The Renewable Futures conference, held at the Assembly Rooms in Bath on November 9th, was a major event in their calendar; judging by its success this year, it seems a good portent for their future. Headline speakers this year came mostly from the DECC (Departmen…

First 2 months as a Cabot KE Fellow

My name is Steve Simpson and I am a marine biologist in the School of Biological Sciences. My focus for some time has been on how global environmental change influences fish, fisheries and marine ecosystems. At the moment my work in Bristol focuses on the effects of warming on European fisheries and the impacts of anthropogenic noise on marine ecosystems. The first two months of my NERC/Cabot Knowledge Exchange fellowship, which builds on these themes, has presented some fantastic opportunities to explore how my research, and that of all my collaborators in Bristol and beyond, can feed into UK policy and industry.
I was lucky that our study on the effects of warming over the last 30 years on the European fish assemblage came out just as I was starting. This meant I was able to spend a day with the Guardian at Brixham fishing port in Devon talking to trawlermen, wholesalers, fishmongers and restaurateurs about how their catches have been changing. After 3 years of staring at records of …
Meeting the Minister

I met my first Minister today. One of the fun things about becoming Director of the Cabot Institute has been the range of people I've been able to meet; some senior and some not so senior. The Minister in question was Charles Hendry MP, the Minister of State for Energy who was in Bristol today to be at the launch of the joint Bristol and Oxford Nuclear Research Centre. However, I actually met him at a meeting about the future of renewable energy being organised by Regen SW. I wasn't sure what to expect, but was half anticipating someone being tightly managed by protective civil servants. In fact he spent a lot of time talking and listening to representatives from the renewables sector, and seemed to be well on top of the brief.

The interesting part of the discussion for me was the feeling among the renewables sector that sections of the press currently paint these forms of energy as expensive compared to the alternatives. Last night's Panorama progra…

Launching the Cabot Institute blog

Blogs are about ideas and conversations - sharing ideas and starting conversations with interested, and interesting, people.

Cabot is about the same things; we want to help find new ways to address some of the biggest challenges we face as a society - how we live with environmental uncertainty - and we want to bring together the broadest possible group of people to do that.  So although we're based at the University of Bristol, and students and researchers here are our primary constituency, we also feel very strongly about engaging beyond the institution, with business, industry, third sector, public sector and community organisations, as well as interested individuals.  We'd be delighted if you wanted to join the conversation.

The blog is a space to freely discuss ideas - nascent research ideas, ideas provoked by current affairs, events, other people's writing.  You're welcome to comment on anything, or if you want to post to the blog then let me know and I will add y…