Monday 31 January 2011

ruth padel on our reactions to five wild animals

This week on Radio 3 the poet Ruth Padel reads an essay each night exploring our reactions to wild animals in Britain. Tonight's is The Deer. The other four in the series are on the robin, the badger, the butterfly and the fox. more ...

Sunday 30 January 2011

german version of the post about climate change jokes

A post from a couple of years ago, the joke climate changes, has been translated into German by Monik Gupta and now appears on the website Öko-Fakt as Das Witze-Klima verändert sich. more ...

Friday 28 January 2011

hollywood, climate change and public attitudes to risk

Andrew Revkin asks if Hollywood can help change public attitudes to global warming. He wishes it could, but doubts it will.

There’s simply too much evidence that the fundamental characteristics of the rising human influence on climate are a very bad fit for how humans absorb and respond to risks.

There's an excellent series of comments from people with a strong interest in climate science and communications - Michael Zimmerman, David Roberts, David Ropeik, Matthew Nisbet, Anthony Leiserowitz, Gavin Schmidt, Andrew Freedman, Robert Brulle and Randy Olson - that appears below the post. more ...

ancient greek take on carbon offsets

Should companies pay to pollute? Aristotle had a view.

More on Aristotle this week: In Our Time on The Poetics. more ...

Wednesday 26 January 2011

conrad's heart of darkness: the most influential 100 pages of 20th century

As Heart of Darkness has moved from one medium to another, it has made a good claim to be the single most influential hundred pages of the 20th century. If you consider its central theme—how one half of the world consumes resources at the expense of the other half—it’s easy to see its relevance becoming even greater. Only the resources will no longer be ivory for piano keys, or rubber for bicycle tyres.

My 'Going Green' column on Conrad's novella appears in Intelligent Life.
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at greenland, audiences get to have their say ahead of critics

The National Theatre's play about climate change, Greenland, had its first preview last night. The critics don't get to see the play till 1st February, but audience members, leaving the show last night, had a chance to express their views almost immediately.

In the Lyttelton foyer, there's a Talkaoke table, billed as a mobile talk show, where audience members take a seat, grab the microphone, and share their views on Greenland and climate change. (The pic shows a similar Talkaoke event at the Dana Centre.)

For those interested in other views still, a season of Greenland events includes talks by the four Greenland playwrights, and four well-known voices on climate change, Bjorn Lomborg, Tim Flannery, Nigel Lawson and David King. more ...

Tuesday 25 January 2011

school postcard asks our snow-bound co-editor to keep an eye out for the first daffodil

On a day when eight inches of snow fell on Boston (above), our co-editor Kellie Gutman receives a postcard asking her to look out for the first daffodil.

Boston has already received its yearly average of snow for the year - 42 inches. But that hasn't discouraged the fourth and fifth class students at the Paideia School in Atlanta, Georgia, from sending out their annual request for people to monitor the progress of "blooming daffodils" along Route 1.

A major North-South highway, Route 1 runs along the East Coast for 2,377 miles, from Key West, Florida to Fort Kent, Maine. Each year the students at Paideia School in Atlanta send postcards to postmasters and friends who live in towns along the route, asking them to mail back a postcard with the date of the first sighting of a blooming daffodil in their town.

They use this information to plot the speed of spring’s advance, and, before the end of the school year, they send out a report of their findings. It's one way of measuring season creep. Also, as a school project, it's exemplary, managing - as it does - to be poetic, scientific and participatory.

Last year we followed this project in the speed of springthe melting snow and the results for 2010. more ...

Monday 24 January 2011

since lunch

Overheard in the news room.

Reporter doing a phone interview: “Please slow down, professor. You’ve been researching this topic for a decade. I’ve been researching it since lunchtime.”

How blogs are changing science. more ...

Thursday 20 January 2011

from no plays about climate change to three in a month

It was only a couple of years ago that this blog was writing about why theatres don't touch climate change. It seemed, at the time, as if there was something about theatre, or the way people conceived of mainstream theatre, that made the subject almost impossible to treat. This was part of a more general avoidance of the environment as a subject for the performing arts. The Ashden Directory had been launched, back in 2000, as a way of following and encouraging those works which did engage with this subject.

But now things are changing. Eighteen months ago there was finally, a good play about climate change.  It was also possible to see in the works, for instance, of Wallace Shawn and Andrew Bovell the green shoots of climate change theatre.

Fast forward to January 2011, and this month alone three climate change plays will open in London - Greenland at the National, The Heretic at the Royal Court, and Water at the Tricycle.

Why is this important? Because climate change alters the way we think about our lives. The news contained within the various IPCC reports will be as influential, as paradigm-shifting, on the way we see ourselves as Darwin's Origin of Species. It is, ultimately, a question of values and relationships. As such, it is a natural subject for theatre.

But new plays don't open in a vacuum. For them to succeed, there needs to be a lively engaged audience that has some sense of what is at stake. That's why we have also been involved with the Open University in producing a new series of podcasts that puts cultural work around climate change in perspective.

The podcasts bring together 17 artists, activists, writers, film-makers, scientists, entrepreneurs and academics, including comedian Marcus Brigstocke, choreographer Siobhan Davies, BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin, architect Carolyn Steele and Mike Hulme, author of Why We Disagree About Climate Change.

Radio 4's Quentin Cooper chairs these four 'Mediating Change' discussions which cover the history, publics, anatomy and futures of cultural responses to climate change. The podcasts are now available to download from iTunesU.
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Tuesday 18 January 2011

what she didn't say

Louis Menand on how books acquire reputations for policies they never proposed from Betty Freidan to Rachel Carson.

"The Feminine Mystique" did not recommend that women pursue full-time careers, or that they demand their legal rights. It only advised women to be prepared for life after the children left home. “The Silent Spring” did not call for a ban on pesticides. It only suggested that their use be regulated. These are books whose significance exceeds anything they actually said.

(Ht: DD.)
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Monday 17 January 2011

joe romm has a dream

As today is Martin Luther King Day in the United States, climate blogger Joe Romm,who knows a thing or two about rhetoric, looks at King's speeches about the civil rights and considers what climate campaigners might learn:

I think science has mostly told us what it can about the fiercely urgent need to act swiftly ... Our urgent need now is for much more persuasiveness more ...

Thursday 13 January 2011

what scientists believe in

The short two-sentence quote that accompanies the publicity for Richard Bean's The Heretic at the Royal Court runs: “I’m a scientist. I don’t ‘believe’ in anything.”

I prefer the view of the female scientist in Kim Stanley Robinson's Forty Signs of Rain. When pressed about what she actually believes in, Anna replies the double blind study. more ...

Tuesday 11 January 2011

figures of speech: 2

The Daily Telegraph reports

Michele Bachmann, the outspoken representative from Minnesota who leads the Tea Party caucus in Congress, once said, "I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous" to block climate change legislation. more ...

Monday 10 January 2011

figures of speech

Jonathan Raban writes about the Gabrielle Giffords shooting:

extravagant figures of speech can all too easily become literal, and rhetorical guns turn into real ones.
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Saturday 8 January 2011

from websites to gun sights

The Guardian reports that US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords shot at public meeting in Arizona. The report also says

[Sarah] Palin had published a "target map" on her website using images of gun sights to identify 20 House Democrats, including Giffords, for backing the new health care law.
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