Skip to main content

Big Green Week - Patterns of change

As part of our contribution to Bristol's first BIG Green Week, we wanted to put on a public event that got people discussing both Cabot's research and the interdisciplinary approach we take.  We came up with an event called 'Patterns of change', where we asked people from across Cabot's research areas of science, social science and engineering to tell a story of how something they study is changing across space or over time.

A wide remit, which led to a fascinating and far-ranging evening of presentations and discussion.

Professor Jonathan Bamber spoke about his work on the diminishing 'frozen planet' and implications for sea level rise. Professor Kathy Cashman spoke about the awesome havoc volcanoes wreak on the human and natural environment and the ways people have come to live with their eruptive neighbours. Professor Colin Taylor spoke about a new way of looking at resilience to natural hazards that needs not only strong buildings but strong relationships between people and 'learning communities'.  Finally Professors Wendy Larner and Bronwen Morgan tackled the way that individual stories, rooted in particular places and contexts, can provide us with the real, grassroots knowledge and models we need to effect change in our world.

We also tried a bit of an experiment - interspersing the presentations with short clips from the films Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi.  These provocative and visually arresting films try to capture something about the world we have built, how it is changing, and the relationship between the developed and developing worlds.  I tried to choose clips that would tie in with the presentations, but the films are so varied and juxtapose so many different images that it was difficult to make seamless transitions between the clips and the presentations.

We ended the evening with questions from the audience, and this being Bristol, they were thoughtful and provocative.  People applauded the broad approach of Cabot, but questioned the extent to which we, as researchers, can and should be advocates for change.  Others raised questions about local schemes such as the Severn Barrage and about distributed energy generation.  The feedback from the audience was generally very positive - "interesting, informative and thought-provoking".

If you have any further comments or questions don't hesitate to leave them below.

Popular posts from this blog

Powering the economy through the engine of Smart Local Energy Systems

How can the Government best retain key skills and re-skill and up-skill the UK workforce to support the recovery and sustainable growth? This summer the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) requested submission of inputs on Post-Pandemic Economic Growth. The below thoughts were submitted to the BEIS inquiry as part of input under the EnergyREV project . However, there are points raised here that, in the editing and summing up process of the submission, were cut out, hence, this blog on how the UK could power economic recovery through Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES). 1. Introduction: Factors, principles, and implications In order to transition to a sustainable and flourishing economy from our (post-)COVID reality, we must acknowledge and address the factors that shape the current economic conditions. I suggest to state the impact of such factors through a set of driving principles for the UK’s post-COVID strategy. These factors are briefly explained belo

IncrEdible! How to save money and reduce waste

The new academic year is a chance to get to grips with managing your student loan and kitchen cupboards. Over lockdown the UK wasted a third less food than we usually would. This is brilliant, as normally over 4.5 million tonnes of edible food is wasted from UK homes every year. For students, it’s even higher. The average cost of food waste per student per week is approximately £5.25 - that's about £273 per year !  It’s not just our bank accounts that are affected by food waste – it’s our planet too. The process of growing, making, distributing, storing and cooking our food uses masses of energy, fuel and water. It generates 30% of the world’s CO₂ greenhouse gas emissions. The same amount of CO₂ as 4.6 million return flights from London to Perth, Australia! So it makes sense to keep as much food out of the bin as possible, start wasting less and saving more.  Start the new term with some food waste busting, budget cutting, environment loving habits! Here’s five easy ways to reduce

Farming in the Páramos of Boyacá: industrialisation and delimitation in Aquitania

Labourers harvest ‘cebolla larga’ onion in Aquitania. Image credit: Lauren Blake. In October and November 2019 Caboteer  Dr Lauren Blake  spent time in Boyacá, Colombia, on a six-week fieldtrip to find out about key socio-environmental conflicts and the impacts on the inhabitants of the páramos, as part of the historical and cultural component of her research project, POR EL Páramo . Background information about the research can be found in the earlier blog on the project website . Descending down the hill in the bus from El Crucero, the pungent smell of cebolla larga onion begins to invade my nose. The surrounding land transforms into plots of uniform rows of onion tops at various stages of growth, some mostly brown soil with shoots poking out along the ridges, others long, bushy and green. Sandwiched between the cloud settled atop the mountainous páramos and the vast, dark blue-green Lake Tota, all I can see and all I can smell is onion production. Sprinklers are scattered around, dr