The Heat is On: Glasgow Science Festival offers hard information on climate change
- Alex Johnston
- 12 May 2017
2017 programme also includes film screenings, workshops, Harry Potter-themed events and panel discussions
Nearly 30 years ago, in the summer of 1988, the US experienced record heatwaves. 45% of the country experienced a drought, and the state of Minnesota alone experienced $1.2bn in damages from lost crops. In an effort to understand what was going on, Congress asked scientists if they had an explanation. A NASA scientist named Jim Hansen gave testimony, in which he stated 'Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and observed warming.'
Hansen wasn't the first person to draw the world's attention to climate change, but he did in such a way that the world started to pay serious attention. Nevertheless, 29 years later, climate change deniers have on their side a US president who proposes to slash funding for environmental programs, and who is trying to reverse history by promoting coal mining.
It's against this background that the Glasgow Science Festival's 2017 programme offers a number of ways to grapple with the future of the planet. Australian documentary The Silent Achiever explores ways in which we can manage increasingly frequent high-intensity disasters. For students only, there's a zine workshop in which you can discover some of the latest work in climate adaptation. There's also an afternoon of short films presenting the problem from the perspective of Native American peoples, and a talk by George Loumakis of Glasgow Caledonian University which aims to explore what's fact and fiction in environmental science. Later in the festival, two panel discussions offer food for your anxieties: Optimism, Pessimism and the Human Future looks at what makes us feel how we feel about the prospects for the planet, while My Favourite Doomsday features three experts presenting different ideas about how the world will end, and you get to pick your favourite. (We'll have the Destruction of the Earth by the Sun Evolving Into a Red Giant While Humanity, Having Seeded Itself Across The Galaxy Billions of Years Earlier, Peacefully Interacts With Alien Species, thanks. With garlic bread.)
But the GSF isn't all about wake-up calls and mythbusting. There are also screenings of some fine films: James Cameron's The Abyss, a marital drama in the shape of a sci-fi blockbuster, gets a welcome look, and so does Joe Dante's 1987 Innerspace, in which a wisecracking miniaturised Dennis Quaid accidentally gets injected into the ass of a hypochondrical grocery store clerk, Martin Short.
You can explore museum collections in Kelvin Hall, get your wand on with some Harry Potter-themed science activities, and on the final day the Hunterian Museum hosts a range of activities including workshops with women engineers from the University of Glasgow.
Glasgow Science Festival runs at various venues in Glasgow from Thu 8–Sun 18 Jun 2017.