Organised by: York Festival of Ideas
Description: It was Eunice Newton Foote, an American scientist and women’s rights campaigner living in Seneca Falls, New York, who first warned the world that an atmosphere heavy with carbon dioxide could send temperatures here on Earth soaring. This was back in 1856. At the time, no one paid much attention.
Climate campaigner Alice Bell, author of Our Biggest Experiment, tells the story of Eunice Newton Foote and many other scientists who helped build our modern understanding of climate change. She chronicles our energy system, from whale oil to kerosene and beyond - the first steamships, wind turbines, electric cars, oil tankers and fridges.
Alice takes you on a journey of discovery through the history of climate change science - from the earliest steps in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to the advancing realisation that global warming was a significant problem in the 1950s, right up to today, where we have seen the growth of the environmental movement, climate scepticism and political responses like the UN climate talks.
As citizens of the twenty-first century, it can feel like history has dealt us a rather bad hand in the climate crisis. In many ways, this is true. Our ancestors have left us an almighty mess. But they left us tools for survival too, and Alice will tell you both sides of the story.
Alice’s message is ultimately hopeful: harnessing the ingenuity and intelligence that has long driven the history of climate change research can mean a more sustainable and bearable future for humanity.
[Link:] Our Biggest Experiment: A history of the climate crisis, York Festival of Ideas