DECEMBER 2023 – GOING GREEN

Time was when academics locked themselves away in their ivory towers only sharing their knowledge with a small circle of fellow experts. Fortunately nowadays professors of all kinds of subjects are willing and in fact keen to share their discoveries and ideas in such a way that the people who can really make a difference (i.e. us the general public) – understand and can act upon their new found knowledge.

Many books written by experts in their subjects are entertaining as well as informative – some even make you laugh out loud! Ted talks online are short public lectures that are so good at getting across ideas in succinct and understandable ways. And sometimes these creative innovators come to Henley and give public talks to help us understand the world as it is.

Such was the recent talk at Café Scientifique – Climate Change:
What now, what next? given by Chris Merchant, Meteorologist and Professor in Ocean and Earth Observation at Reading University. With his research team they use billions of pieces of data recorded from space to track what is actually happening to the oceans and earth. What was particularly good about this talk was that it was delivered in a straightforward way that everyone could understand with interesting visuals.

He showed that the oceans are warming by one tenth of a degree every 10 years or so. Before 2 degrees warming coral reefs will bleach and die affecting the 100 million people who depend on them for fish. These findings are stark but it’s up to us to encourage our government to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees as per the Paris Agreement they signed up to.

Although the venue for this talk was packed with interested people, there were more who wanted to attend. So Greener Henley have asked Chris to return to Henley for another public lecture during Great Big Green Week in June next year. Come along he’s a good speaker and his message is serious but positive.
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Another inspiring Professor is Kate Raworth from Oxford who is behind the idea of Doughnut Economics which is clearly demonstrated in her Ted talk ‘A healthy economy should be designed to thrive, not grow’. Several cities around the world have experimented using this framework successfully.

Last month saw the launch of the Oxfordshire Doughnut Economics Collective with a workshop in Oxford. This was over-subscribed by 80 people, including yours truly however I managed to attend the follow up webinar. Did you know that Oxford city is the second most unequal city in the country with 25% child poverty?

The idea of doughnut economics is that everyone should be able to live in a safe and just space where everyone’s needs can be met within the limits of our living planet. The graphic below shows why it’s called a doughnut. We don’t want anyone to fall below the basic needs to be able to thrive, nor do we want to overshoot the planetary limit by breaking the ecological ceiling.

If you are interested in finding out more have a look at https://www.oxfordshiredoughnut.org.uk .

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