Cabot Institute blog

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Friday, 29 June 2012

Cabot office weekly roundup – 29 June 2012


Wow! What weather we have been having!  Incredibly hot, sticky and humid down south in Bristol – I’ve been feeling like I’m in an urban rainforest - and freaky hail, lightning and rainfall up north, causing landslides, flooding and serious damage.  Are these signs of environmental change and is it a warning of risks that will be commonplace in the UK in the future?  A very Cabot-y question!  Check out the news coverage.

This week I have been updating the Cabot website and have uploaded a video from the AXA Research Day and all the presentations from theday.  The content highlights the success of the Cabot Institute in bringing together people who work in different disciplines but cover the same ground, in this case volcanoes.  There is still more video content to come including coverage of the whole days presentations and conversation.


We have been struck by the hideousness of the #sciencegirlthing issue bouncing around Twitter last week.  For those who haven’t seen it, here’s the video which created a huge negative international response from male and female scientists alike.  We are proud to say that our very own climate modeller Tamsin Edwards will be turning into a real model along with Cabot engineer Ellie Cosgrave who are organising a real female scientist calendar in backlash to the video.  Stay tuned to the blog to find out who else is going to be in it...

And finally, Cabot Institute Artist in Residence, Neville Gabie has launched his very own blog to track the items and stories acquired for his new project – Common Room.  Neville is attempting to collect an item from every Cabot community member and display it in a public archive.  Each item will have a story attached to explain how the item is the gravitational centre of why we research what we research here at Cabot.  It’s going to be an absolutely fascinating project and we expect big things from Neville, so keep checking back on his blog and if you want to learn more or have something you want to share, do get in touch with Neville.  Read more here.

Monday, 18 June 2012

A very fishy Big Green Week

Well the BIG Green Week has finally drawn to a close, and what a week it was! Let's hope it can become an annual event on the Bristol Calender. Huge congratulations to Paul Rainger and Darren Hall, Forum for the Future, the army of volunteers and the 40,000 visitors that took part in a truly inspiring week.

As a Cabot Institute Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the University of Bristol, the event provided some great opportunities for me to talk to the public about the work we are doing on the Future of Fisheries and effects of climate change on fish and marine ecosystems (full details here).

Our first event was at the Saturday Bristol's BIG Market, where a team of us ran a Future of Fisheries stall on St Stephen's Avenue with fishing for children (and several over-competitive adults!), 13 species of UK fish to hold, poke and investigate, and displays about our research on the recent effects of climate change on European fisheries and predictions of future fisheries. We had plenty of information on how to make the right choices as consumers, including hundreds of copies of the Good Fish Guide that we gave out, information about the Marine Stewardship Council accreditation scheme, and the chance to sign up to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Fish Fight. I'm pleased to say my noble volunteers have finally finished eating their way through all the wonderful fish provided by The Fish Shop on Gloucester Road, and hopefully many Bristolians have since tried baked John dory, stargazy pie and bycatch paella.

On Thursday I was lucky to have the run of the Triodos Bank skyptop canteen for a screening of Charles Clover and Rupert Murray's superb film End of the Line. This is a must-see but heartwrenching, devestating and tragic investigation of the current state of world's fisheries, featuring many of the world's top scientists (Daniel Pauly: "We are fighting a war against fish, and winning"; Boris Worm: "The world's fisheries could run out by 2050"), which thankfully finishes with a strong message of hope (Callum Roberts: "Marine Protected Areas can build stocks"). The film led into a solid hour of discussion, where we were joined by Greenpeace with their 10-foot mackerel promoting their Common Fisheries Policy campaign. Again our discussions considered which fish are great to eat (mackerel, sardines, coley, dab) and which are better to avoid (rays, monkfish, Patagonian toothfish).

Finally, on Friday it was time to head to court, or at least a rather sophisticated mock-up at Bordeaux Quay, where the Secretary of State was "tried" in front of a jury made up of Bristol school pupils for "Ecocide". The idea was simple. As head of Defra and so the figurehead in charge of allocating the UK fishing quota to the fleet, Caroline Spelman is committing ecocide by choosing to licence fishing with potentially destructive gear and above scientifically-determined limits, since the inhabitants of the sea (marine creatures) and neighbouring regions (including humans, both present and future) are being illegally disturbed or destroyed. After some great expert witnesses (including Sir Graham Watson - MEP; Jean-Luc Solandt - Marine Conservation Society; Tom Appleby - Marine Lawyer; Jonathon Porritt - Director Forum for the Future; Kelvin Boot - Climate Change Journalist; Charles Redfren - Fish4Ever; Jeremy Percy - Under 10m Inshore Fleet), and some emotional summing up from the dedicated lawyers, the jury finished hung with a slight majority (8:4) in favour of a guilty verdict. As the concept of Ecocide gathers pace, watch out politicians: your decisions that often threaten our precious planet and resources may one day be brought to account.

Now that the smell of fish is finally fading from my hands, and the last few tweets drift away like sardine scales after a feeding frenzy, I give many thanks to all those involved in the fishy activities at the BIG Green Week. I hope we will all return, bigger, fishier, and more positive about the state of fisheries for the BGW2013...


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.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Cabot office weekly roundup – 15 June 2012


Source: AWH
Saturday saw us on a stall in Bristol City Centre shouting about climate change and sustainable fish.  We had a brilliant time meeting with members of the public and engaging them in an important issue.  Our marine biologist, Steve Simpson was on hand to answer the more difficult questions posed.  We also had a ‘sea’, full of (rubber) fish which big and small children could catch.  On the bottom of each fish was the name of a species which was lying in an ice box on our stand.  Having real fish on display was great to make learning about sustainable fish fun and engaging, even if people just came over to point at the fish and say ‘eurgh!’ - we got them thinking about their fish food choices.

An interesting Steering Group meeting was had on Monday.  We discussed public engagement activities, had an update from Jonty Rougier on BRISK activities and talked about gaps in Cabot’s expertise.

We have launched the Cabot Open Call for 2012/13.  We have pots of money available for pump-priming, closing date for applications is Tuesday 21 August.   See our website if you would like to learn more.

We had a thought provoking time at our Big Green Week event – called Patterns of Change.  The sold out event featured some of our top speakers talking about the changing global environment over time, intermingled with video clips from iconic environmental films Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi.  The success of the event has highlighted the need for more public engagement which we will continue to work on over the Summer.
Image from End of the Line

We are now on Flickr so if you fancy having a nose at recent activities, head to http://www.flickr.com/cabotinstitute
 
Steve Simpson also answered questions after the screening of End of the Line for Big Green Week on Thursday.  This is an incredibly powerful film which we would recommend everyone watch.  Steve answered questions on sustainable fishing and what we as individuals can do to stop overfishing.  It was a real eye opener!

John Craven
At the end of this week we have been preparing for our presence at the Festival of Nature, getting brochures, pull ups and other literature ready.  We will be in the ocean acidification area of the University of Bristol’s stand tomorrow and Sunday in Millenium Square. 

And Cabot Institute Manager Philippa Bayley will be fulfilling a childhood dream of meeting John Craven when she introduces him at his talk on Saturday at 2.30 pm. See you there!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Patterns of change


On Wednesday 13 June, researchers from the Cabot Institute will talk at Big Green Week about the changing world, from large-scale environmental trends in ice sheets and oceans to social and economic patterns, and changes in the built environment and its resilience to hazards.  Speakers are from the University’s engineering, science and social science faculties, making this a truly interdisciplinary event.  Speakers from Cabot include Professors Jonathan Bamber, Colin Taylor, Wendy Larner, Kathy Cashman, and Bronwen Morgan.  The event is sold out and we will be updating our blog after the event. More info about the event.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Fisheries and climate change stall at Big Green Week

Gurnard - a relatively sustainable fish

Steve Simpson

Steve Simpson talking to passers-by
A brilliant (and breezy!) time was had by us at Big Green Week on Saturday 9 June 2012.  Apart from our umbrella blowing over in the wind and collapsing the whole stand, we made a quick recovery and had a very successful day.

We had our marine biologist, Steve Simpson, on hand to talk to people about sustainable fish and how climate change is affecting what fish we should eat.

Big and little kids got involved by catching a fish from our small sea and finding out about and seeing the real fish from the seas around Britain.

The MCS Good Fish Guides about what fish to eat were very popular, as was the Fish Fight sign-up sheet from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's campaign to end the wasting of by-catch.

We also had MSC certified fish products on show to let people know what to look out for when buying from the shops.

Here are some pictures from the day.