Stories of Change: The past, present and future of energy

Stories of Change Team Story 5 items 07 Dec 2016

Other Approaches to Climate Change

Cover picture caption

Image by (c) Chris Bonfiglioli 2015

There are a lot of views and takes on climate change. One view is that it overshadows equally important environmental issues such as loss of top soil or air polution. There are also different ways proposed to mitigate climate change, some of which are mainstream but others ignored by the media. You can have a voice here and use this page to explore your take on climate change, as well as look at other people's take.

Is climate change bad for business?

Interview with Chris Hope

What can businesses do about Climate Change? Interview with Dr. Chris Hope. Chris Hope at TippingPoint Stories of Change Project **Modelling climate change action** I’m Dr Chris Hope of the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge. I work there on trying to help governments and businesses and even individuals decide what kind of actions they should take about climate change. The way I got into this was originally I trained as a physicist and then for my PhD I looked at renewable energy sources and trying to decide whether we should support them or not. Of course in order to make those kinds of decisions you need not just to look at the physics but you need to look at economics, you need to look at how we make decisions, how we deal with risks and all those kinds of skills were useful for me when, in 1991, the European Union was trying to decide what kind of action it should take on climate change ahead of the big Rio summit a year later and I was able to put those skills to use in developing a simple model to help them try and decide how they should split their effort between cutting back emissions of greenhouse gases and trying to just cope and adapt to the kinds of impacts that we would otherwise have, and I’ve been working on climate change issues ever since. **Modelling the impacts of climate change** The kinds of impacts that we might see from climate change are flooding in Asia, the melting of Arctic ice-caps. It’s really hard to try and put an accurate value on those kinds of impacts, particularly as they’re going to occur over many decades into the future. But the kind of modelling I do has the best go at trying to put numbers on that, just how serious will it be; taking account of all the risks that are there, the risks that we might actually end up melting the Greenland ice sheet. It looks as though the kinds of impacts that are being caused by our emissions of greenhouse gasses are something like $100-150 per tonne of carbon dioxide that’s put up into the air. So what we should be doing is charging a climate change tax on everybody who is emitting those kinds of greenhouse gases. Whenever they buy coal or oil or gas to burn they should be paying the climate change tax of $100-150 per tonne of carbon dioxide. What I’m trying to do is make sure that the calculations that I do take into account the best evidence that we have from the scientists and the economists; they’re finding out new things every year. In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for instance, just recently as reported; try and make sure the estimates that I’m making with the modelling that I do stays up to date and gives us an accurate figure or as accurate as we can calculate. **The impact of Arctic ice melting** One of the most important things that has been happening over the last few years is that we’ve seen really big decreases in the amount of ice that there is in the Arctic Ocean. In 2012 the Arctic Ocean got almost ice free by the end of the summer and it has not been quite as bad in the last few years but even this year it has been the sixth lowest amount of Arctic ice extent there’s ever been. This has been a little bit of a surprise to some of the climate modellers and they’re working hard to try and understand why the Arctic ice has disappeared so quickly and is going so rapidly. They’re also trying to understand what kind of feedbacks there might be from that because the ice, when it’s there, reflects a lot of the sunlight and means that the ocean doesn’t heat up as much as it otherwise would have done. If the ocean heats up then it means that there’s lots of deposits of methane underneath the sea bed in the Siberian Sea which could be released if the ocean becomes ice free. There are all sorts of carbon dioxide and methane in the permafrost in the Arctic, what kind of impact could that have? So I’m working with a team of Arctic scientists and others to try and get the best information about what is likely to happen in the Arctic over the coming decades and then I can use that in the modelling that I do to say how much extra impact might that have on the world as a whole. From the preliminary results we’re getting it looks as though it could have tens of trillions of dollars of extra impact, huge amounts, dwarfing the kinds of impacts that we saw from the financial crisis, just from the fact that the Arctic ice is disappearing faster than people thought that it would. **Climate change tax** The kinds of actions that we need in order to tackle this issue are getting the prices right on emissions of carbon dioxide, a climate change tax. There are some countries and some regions around the world that already have taken this to heart and have put in that kind of tax. So British Columbia in Canada, for instance, has had a climate change tax of the order of thirty or more US dollars per tonne of carbon dioxide for several years and it has been a great success. It is politically accepted and in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, British Columbia has lower emissions and they’ve gone down more than other parts of Canada and their economy has been doing well. Those are the kinds of results that the model said should happen. So there are people who are taking it on board, it’s not something that has to be taken on board by every country in the world at the same time. There are great opportunities here for countries like the more progressive ones in the European Union, Canada, other parts of the rich countries to say, yes, we want to do this ourselves; we will get these climate change taxes in place; we will use the revenues that we get from them, which could be tens of billions of dollars a year, to reduce other taxes which are stopping people getting into work, for instance, if they’re national insurance or payroll taxes. We’ll reduce all those other taxes, it will allow our economy to grow faster and grow better. Those few countries can act as people who demonstrate that this is really a good thing to do and then other countries around the world will see that and we won’t have to twist their arms up behind their back to cut their carbon dioxide emissions because they’ll want to do climate change taxation themselves and get the benefits that you get from it. And that’s how it spreads throughout the world. It won’t be over the next few months, it probably won’t be over the next few years but within the next decade or so I would hope to see really big changes across the world. **Planet earth: optimist or pessimist?** When I look at what might happen over the next few years there are two things that worry me. One is that we will carry on expecting progress to be made at huge international gatherings that happen once every few years and then people just go away in between and forget about it. We’ve seen at Copenhagen in 2009 that that’s really quite a dangerous path to take, because it only needs one of those great big international conferences not to deliver and you’ve set back progress for quite a long way. So I really hope that we don’t go down that path and that we do begin, in the countries and regions that want to take action on this, not to feel that they’re held back but to be able to take their own actions, be able to institute climate change taxes which will allow them to generate revenues which will allow them to cut other taxes and grow their economy. When I’m feeling optimistic I think that will happen over the next few years in some countries and over the next decade or so in most parts of the world and we’ll be well on the way to dealing with this issue. **Let’s have a serious discussion about climate change taxes** The question that I would like to ask about climate change is why do we find it so difficult to have a serious discussion about strong, stable, comprehensive climate change taxes? Why is it that there always seems to be a knee-jerk reaction which says you can’t do anything which will increase the cost of energy, without having the complete discussion which goes round to saying you can have these revenues to reduce income taxes or sales taxes or payroll taxes and get a big benefit for your economy? I would like to put those kinds of questions to people who are in the treasuries of the most advanced countries.

Interview with Chris Hope

Is there more to Climate Change than Carbon?

Climate change - is it just about carbon? Interview with Oliver Morton

Oliver Morton TippingPoint Stories of Change Project OM: I’m Oliver Morton, I’m a writer and editor about scientific and technological change mostly and about the effects that they have. I discovered in the 1990s that I particularly liked writing about the distinction, you might say, we draw between planets and worlds, between planets as considered from the outside and worlds as considered from within. I first learnt about this interest of my own in writing about the planet Mars and how we imagined building worlds within it. And other planets that aren’t the Earth being significantly less interesting than Mars, I turned my attention to the Earth and so started writing about the distinction between the bio-geophysical, bio-geochemical ways of conceiving of the Earth as a whole thing and ways of conceiving of it as a world that is inhabited and only ever experienced subjectively through humans. JS: And with the topic of energy and climate change, have you written about that? OM: Yes, I’ve written and edited as an active journalist about energy and climate change topics; I used to have the energy and climate change beat at The Economist. I’m also currently working on a book that’s very much about climate and energy flows which is a book under the working title The Deliverer Planet which is about geoengineering, which is about trying to take control of the flows of energy and materials through the planet other than just with market mechanisms and mechanisms of consumption. JS: So that’s what you’re working on right now? OM: That’s the book, I’m working on that book at the moment. JS: Do you want to say something about how you see the future of geoengineering or the current status of our thinking with geoengineering. OM: My interest in geoengineering is twofold and the two folds of it are actually entangled, if you can do that with folds; some sort of origami mixes two ideas about geoengineering for me. One is that I think that it is genuinely practically a good idea to look at ways that one might intervene in the climate system other than directly through changing demand for different energy services. I think that the energy and climate debate is too narrowed down onto the idea of just reducing carbon dioxide emissions because I think that’s a very problematic idea in various ways. So partly I think that there’s a real practical need for people to think more about geoengineering, I also think there’s a broader epistemic need to broaden ones sense of imagination as to what one does when a species like humans is so largely involved in so many of the processes of our planet. You have to have a much wider imagination than we’ve managed, both in terms of the spatial distribution, the scales that you operate on, the temporal distribution of scales – the idea that we’re making decisions that move thousands of years into the future. The idea that we can somehow come to terms with that level of human involvement simply through a conception of the environment which is that we should try to do as little as possible to it, it’s an unproven assertion that we can solve these problems that way. I think we need a broader way of looking at the Earth and geoengineering, in that way, I see as a way of broadening debate. JS: Can you say why you think that just talking about carbon emissions reductions is problematic? OM: I think just talking about carbon emissions is a response that came about to ideas about climate change remarkably quickly from about 1987 to 1992, during the processes that went up to the signing of the UNFCCC, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at Rio. It was very convenient for a lot of different people to make climate change simply a matter of carbon dioxide emissions. It worked for people who were really just interested in the processes of the atmosphere; it also worked for people with broader agendas in terms of modernisation because carbon dioxide is a good proxy for industrial modernisation. It worked for economists who saw carbon dioxide in the mould of a classic pollutant that they could tax. It worked for negotiators because they had experience in negotiating ways of having less of things, whether those things be CFCs in the stratosphere or nuclear weapons. So having a reified thing called carbon dioxide that there needed to be less of worked for everyone. But if you look at this in the broader context of how humans have felt about their relationship with the climate and if you think about it in the context of an ongoing problem that’s going to last with us for hundreds of years, the idea that the answer you first thought of, which is to massively reduce carbon dioxide emissions, is necessarily the whole story seems incredibly hopeful. For one thing I’ve seen in my own life dealing with these how carbon dioxide emissions talk systematically took adaptation off the agenda for quite a long time and to my mind climate adaptation is an absolutely vital part of how one lives with climate, let alone climate change. Another thing is it has turned out so far, as a matter of practice, that it has proved very difficult to do things about carbon dioxide emissions. Now if that was the only problem I might feel differently and so I’m not saying that this is a counsel of despair because there’s nothing to do about carbon dioxide emissions but certainly the fact that it proves to be very intractable to deal with carbon dioxide emissions suggests that one ought to look at other modalities as well. JS: The reason why only talking about emissions… OM: I think it’s really important to remember that people have been thinking about how humans relate to the climate for ever and on a global scale for centuries. They’ve only decided that carbon dioxide was the only way of thinking about this in a very brief period from about 1987 to 1992, which is the period that leads up to the signing of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Carbon dioxide proved useful as, I guess what some people would call, a boundary object. It was something that lots of people could talk about and could all agree on basically what it was about. So scientists could see carbon dioxide as a key part of the greenhouse gas issue and environmentalists could see carbon dioxide not merely as a pollutant in a quasi-classical way but also as a proxy for various forms of industrial modernisation with which they had other issues. Economists could see it as a pollutant that they could put a price on and thus reduce the emission of. Negotiators and politicians could see it in terms of other treaties which had succeeded in reducing something, whether that something be CFCs that damage the ozone layer or nuclear warheads, the idea of negotiating down to a lower level of something was a comfortable idea. So I can see why, as a matter of practical politics, the whole wide discourse about climate collapses down into something measured in parts per million and gigatonnes very, very quickly. But I don’t think that it’s plausible to suggest that the conversation that we’re going to have in very, very rich and different ways about climate that’s going to go on for the rest of history, there isn’t really a point in history where climate isn’t part of the discussion, there’s certainly not going to be now, the idea that all that discussion will always be a managerial discussion about carbon dioxide emissions seems to me a very unlikely one. And I think that’s right, it’s not just that I think the discussion is unlikely to be that narrow, I think it shouldn’t be that narrow. People should talk much more broadly about what they expect from climate; they should talk about climate adaptation, talk about climate mitigation through carbon dioxide emissions reduction very much marginalised as part of the international discussion, certainly in the 1990s and much of the 2000s. They should be able to talk about things that are, in some ways, easier. I don’t think the only reason to avoid carbon dioxide emissions talk as being the be all and end all of climate is that carbon dioxide emissions are difficult to reduce but it’s clearly objectively the fact that they have proved difficult to reduce. It’s not unreasonable to say, well, maybe we should look at a broader mix of things. JS: It’s a difficult question coming up. If carbon emissions reductions isn’t the only modality that we should use, what do we replace it with? Is it just more and plural discussion? OM: I think we need a plural discussion. Part of why I think we need a more plural discussion about the causes and solutions to issues of climate change is I think we also need to think about climate more generally in the context of global development. So I think the way to which climate discussions get held in a different place from discussions about increased energy access is quite troubling and we need to be able to find contexts that bring those all together. The fact that there are something like 1.5 – 2 billion people on the planet who have no access to modern energy services at all is certainly as big a problem, to my mind, as the climate externalities of the current fuel mix. We need to be able to talk about those things all together and climate can form an envelope for those discussions but when you narrow it down to being a subject of specific management I think you lose a lot of opportunities for seeing how to do good. So I suppose my answer to the question of what’s the correct measure for climate progress is that it’s human welfare. JS: Looking out now into five years hence, ten years hence, twenty years hence, how do you see your own engagement with the topics of energy and climate change changing? OM: That’s a very hard question to take into the answer. Thinking into the future I’d like to think that I can contribute to some sort of broadening of the debate in the ways that I’ve described – the way of thinking about energy and the environment in a context both of planetary geophysical systems and in terms of social justice and finding ways to do that. Whether I will continue doing that as a writer or whether I’ll either find other ways to pursue those goals or just find other things to write about, I don’t know. My books have taken me from writing about Mars to writing about plants to writing about, effectively in the book about geoengineering, politics. I’ve no idea quite where that goes next. It’s conceivable that it might take me in a much more personal direction and much of what I think about this may end up being more part of my lived experience than part of my remunerated output, as it were. I really don’t know. I hope it will be interesting to find out. JS: And how about the wider picture? Where are we all going to be in that same sort of time? OM: There’s a problem - people often ask things in terms of where will we all be or what will happen to us. My biggest problem with questions like that is the problem of who is us? You hear in all sorts of these discussions, and I’m sure that I’ve been using the same language in this talk, it’s very hard to get rid of this ‘we’ talk but how do you constitute an us about which to talk? Talk by people who talk about climate and us tends not to be talk about the people who have no energy services. JS: Could you just repeat that again? OM: My biggest hope for the next twenty years would be that the world would see further erosion into the huge mountain of poverty that came with the demographic transition of the twentieth century. There has been a great deal of that already - the number of people in true destitution on the planet has shrunk both as an absolute number and as a proportion of the population. I would like to see that continue; I would like to see that continue in the context of not exposing large numbers of people to enhanced climate risk which is where I think the climate debate should be going in terms rather of climate risks than of climate outcomes and how to look at those risks and how to adapt to those risks where appropriate and how to share the burden of reducing those risks. JS: And you said that you hope that’s what will happen but are you broadly optimistic or pessimistic about that trajectory? OM: I find the more that I look at history the more I find both optimists and pessimists to be likely to be fooling themselves to some extent. I think that a lot of people will get wealthier and some of those people will get happier over the next few decades. I think there are significant chances of things that we either don’t expect or don’t like to think about, for instance when friends talk about climate change as a unique possibility of ending the world you have to remember that this country and other countries actually build machines with which to end the world and put them in oceans around the world for that eventuality. So I worry about big wars, in fact they’re probably the things that I worry about most. I worry to some extent about unexpected climate outcomes, it’s a low-level worry but because the outcome would be very bad it’s a risk that I take seriously. Am I optimistic or pessimistic? I like to think that the arc of history bends towards justice but I think it does so slowly and there are various torsional effects and wobbles in between in the bending. So I would like to think that we will do things better. I’d like to think that we can build a we to do those things better. JS: Do you have a question to ask and who would you ask it of? OM: I have linked questions. The climate scholar Rob Socolow in the States has a very useful way of starting some of his discussions which is to ask two questions which is: one, do you think that there are serious society-level risks involved within climate change? And, two, do you think that it is easy to decarbonise the economy? That allows you to divide people into four groups and serious people, by Rob’s and my standing, are people who are in the yes/yes camp, they say yes, there are serious risks from climate change and yes, it is hard to decarbonise an economy. If I’m only asking one I would like to ask front bench politicians from all parties do you really think it is easy to decarbonise the economy to an 80-100% level? JS: We will try and ask them. OM: Thank you. .

Climate change - is it just about carbon? Interview with Oliver Morton

Oliver Morton
Oliver Morton TippingPoint Stories of Change Project OLIVER MORTON from Stories of Change on Vimeo. OM: I’m Oliver Morton, I’m a writer and editor about scientific and technological change mostly and about the effects that they have. I discovered in the 1990s that I particularly liked writing about the distinction, you might say, we draw between planets and worlds, between planets as considered from the outside and worlds as considered from within. I first learnt about this interest of my own in writing about the planet Mars and how we imagined building worlds within it. And other planets that aren’t the Earth being significantly less interesting than Mars, I turned my attention ... Read More ›

The fashion industry and climate change....

Interview with Dilys Williams

Dilys Williams
"Saving energy is in fashion - Sustainable Fashion" - Dilys Williams talks at Tipping point about sustainable fashion and energy. DILYS WILLIAMS from Stories of Change on Vimeo. TippingPoint Stories of Change Project Why fashion and energy? I’m Dylis Williams, I run the Centre for Sustainable Fashion which is based at the University of the Arts in London. What has brought me here, people wonder why I talk about fashion and energy, what has brought me here is this idea of fashion being a great social energy. It’s something that involves each of us, our own personal space, and also it’s a ubiquitous thing around the world. The ideas of fashion and energy have been very dominated b... Read More ›

How Climate Change is understood at a silk mill in Derby.

Interview with Hannah Fox and Daniel Martin

Hannah Fox, Project Director at the Derby Silk Mill, spoke to 'Future Works' alongside the Silk Mill's Curator of Making, Daniel Martin, back in March 2015. The interview focuses primarily on the Silk Mill's long-standing relationship with energy - a two-way relationship which not only fuels innovative change at the museum, but stimulates constructive conversations about energy within the museum's surrounding communities as well. Interview Transcript - Key HF: = Hannah Fox DM: = Daniel Martin [time e.g. 5:22] = inaudible word at this time [IA 5:22] = inaudible section at this time [word] = best guess at word … = interruption in sentence, trailing off or short pause HF: My name’s Hannah Fox and I am the Silk Mill Project Director here at the Silk Mill in Derby. DM: And I’m Daniel Martin, I’m the curator of making in the same place. So the very reason that this building exists where it exists is because of energy and that necessity to have a source of energy to power what was the world’s first large industrial undertaking really, so you’ve got this position here on the river where you can redirect the course of water around by maintaining that flow of power, and that can drive a huge wheel. So this mill when it was built in 1720, 1721, in that period, was such a huge water wheel, was using direct drive, drove all of the machinery in this water mill, so energy is the very core of why it’s here. HF: And then thinking about the output of that, then you’ve got a great quote by Dafoe in the 18th century, he talks about the fact that in this engine there were 23,000 wheels, 94,000 movements that were producing 73,000 yards of silk thread every time that water wheel went round, which it did three times a minute. So there it’s about one source of power, but the output being such a scale that just had never been seen before and that really is the story of this site definitely. I came in as a consultant actually to Derby Museums, as it was when it was part of the local authority, in 2011 and the position was the silk mill had been closed, it had been mothballed, in order for it to try and look at it again, at what it needed to be in terms of relevancy to the city and unpicking that story and understanding it better. And I was asked to come in and start exploring that with the city and with the communities, and to see whether we could get a stronger story linked to then where the future was for the building, that was much more relevant and resilient as a result of that approach of working with communities. And that was my background, working in human-centred design approaches, co-production approaches with community-generated projects that put people and place at the heart of those developments. And then as the museums moved into a Trust I became part of the leadership team for Derby Museums. DM: I’m from Derby as Hannah is, Derby born and bred, and I moved to Yorkshire and I was working as a curator up in Leeds, and have done as well in Sheffield, and I was becoming a little bit frustrated with how the contemporary state of curating was, particularly with industrial collections at the time. And then I saw the advert that Hannah and everyone put out here and I just thought, ‘That’s what needs to happen in museums,’ and it’s this co-curating approach, this co-production approach which offers the sustainability which currently doesn’t exist in a lot of other museums around the world, it’s not just in Britain, it’s around the world. So I saw that as a really exciting opportunity to become part of what was happening here in Derby and it’s right at the forefront of what’s happening in contemporary museological practice and that’s a massive appeal. And also Derby’s got an incredible collection and I couldn’t really not come and work with that, so that’s why I’m here and I’m glad to be here! HF: I think that there is a shift needed that’s recognised within the museum sector more broadly actually, but there’s definitely a shift needed about the museum’s understanding of moving from a didactic approach to engagement and learning within our spaces, and that we were the experts and therefore people should be lucky to come in and learn about these things and we’ll allow them to learn about these things, to realising that the origins of museums were about being open and safe spaces for everybody to be able to access and that were full of things for discovery and enjoyment and learning. Because there weren’t many places that you could do that and our shift is very much about building those spaces and trying to get as much access to the collections as possible, rather than them being something that is hidden and preserved and conserved, which they absolutely need to be, because they need to be protected, but what is the point of protecting them if people can’t get to them? DM: Exactly, and I think also it needs to go outside, it’s important what this site stands for, what the heritage locally stands for, but the reason we’ve enjoyed such a progressive slant is because we’ve looked outside of Derby and we’ve looked outside of Britain and we’ve also looked to contemporary industry and what they’re looking at in terms of their own future works, what are people going to be building the future? They’re already there, they’re thinking about it; it’s just not become public knowledge. For us to stay relevant, to be that sort of institution that can inspire change for the future and inspire young makers to get involved in industry in the future and engineering of which there is a real problem in this country, particularly amongst young girls, of getting people into engineering and getting them thinking, because they think it’s not a world for them, and we need to be that intermediary that explains you can do this, you should be doing this, it’s your ideas that are going to change the way we think about the future of engineering and the future of making. And so by working with industry and looking inwards at our own heritage and collections, we’re in the prime position really to go and make that difference. HF: And cultural organisations are absolutely the best place to have that conversation between industry and education and public and talk about past, present, future and contemporary practice as well as historical practice and then innovating and being entrepreneurial and we should be those spaces where those discussions are safe to have. We were part of the Art Science Prize Network and we co-deliver the Art Science Prize UK and that is a global programme, learning programme, with young people exploring big subjects, big questions that are there in the world and that need to be really thought about carefully, but the solutions that are developed by the young people are driven by personal passion, so making sure that it’s something that they actually want to have and how they can understand that, so that they’re then passionate about looking at how they might change things. This year’s theme is biodiversity, that’s really interesting to be looking with the young people about that subject and trying to explore where they might get excited about that through things like, again the bringing together of arts and sciences. Last year’s theme was energy of the future, and it was fascinating to see both the conversation around this site with young people in Derby who hadn’t understood the significance of the building and of what had happened here and continues to happen here, which again is our job. And then for them to project into the future and go, ‘OK, well the world has a lot of challenges, the Earth only has a finite amount of resources and we’re nearly there, what are we going to do about that?’ And that can be incredibly scary for young people to try to think about, because that just seems so vast that it’s never going to get solved, but by personalising it and bringing it back to something that is actually tangible that they can explore and it’s that small steps approach that that kind of programme can do. I think we’ve got some really interesting ideas that came through around things like exploring how you can use the big plumes of jellyfish across the oceans to generate energy, how can you be looking at solar energies differently, how can you be using deserts in new ways. And with the young people having the brains that can just open themselves up to anything, we get much more exciting ideas coming through. DM: Massively so, and also we can, by working with contemporary industry as we have done with Rolls Royce at the moment with the launch of their new aerospace engine, which is the most efficient aerospace engine on the market at the minute, so we can set what Hannah was just talking about in the context of what contemporary industry is doing. And actually a lot of the ideas that are coming through from these younger people are light-years ahead of where industry is at, because they’re not bound by the same controls, they’re not thinking in terms of resources, they’re not thinking in terms of money and materials, they’re just thinking of the ideas. They’re trying to get to the solutions and asking the questions, but we can provide the context so they can think of this really great idea, like the one that came out of last year that industry has to sit up and take note of what’s happening, it has to start thinking about this. And it’s empowering for them to see that their ideas are as current as what’s happening in industry at the moment, so I see our role there as well. I think I mentioned this earlier it’s all going to be about sustainability. I’m big in my curatorial practice on getting things working. I think that so much value can be added to something’s interpretation by it working in front of you. Now these renewable energies that we’re discussing are likely to be the saviour of the fuels that I will still need to run the objects in the collection which will always depend on fossil fuels, they just will, it’s how they’re designed and to compromise interpretation of an object, to power it through a different means … so I see my practice being finding alternative means of powering other things in the collection and how the museum itself is powered. So for example, we’re sitting in a creative suite right now, how we can generate electricity to actually start powering these machines, can we think about this, can we take our reference from the collections, from the heritage of the city, from what’s happening? But in doing so and finding renewable solutions to these problems it will be the saviour of those machines, those fossils which depend on fossil fuels themselves. HF: I think for us, it’s about ensuring we’re relevant and in terms of if we are going to be this place in which those conversations can happen, then we need to know what those conversations are that are happening in an industrial setting, in a scientific setting, and that’s not usually the case when you’re in your own space, just doing what you do nicely and ticking along and the world moves on past you. So for us it’s about ensuring that we are as up-to-date as we possibly can be and then making sure that we are as responsive to the changes that happen in science, in technology, in understanding how climate change is impacting on the world and driving that through a programme so that that’s a public conversation. DM: I think it’s fair to say also not just responding and things like the Art Science Prize put us at the fore, we’re leading, and it would be a nice change actually for museums to lead the way for industry, rather than industries responding… HF: I think there’s going to be a greater understanding of everything, I think already there’s a massive shift happened in terms of people’s understanding of the impact of the Industrial Revolution, for example, that we are here saying this was an amazing thing and look how Derby was part of leading that, but look actually what the impact of that has been. So I think there’s going to be a big shift in understanding and more knowledge about what that impact is. I think the world is going to demonstrate that as well through the things that are currently happening that we’re seeing more of or we’re much more aware of because of things like the internet and technology, being able to have instant communications globally, I think will only increase that knowledge and the mapping of how the climate is actually changing. DM: Massively, yeah. I think locally as well you can use those sort of technologies so if there’s going to be flooding around here it’s going to start up the valley, we can now have that early warning system. I think that’s how it’s going to affect us primarily, I think the climate thing locally is we are on the banks of the Derwent and that water level is likely only to go one way. And that’s a big challenge for us, because our very life blood is being able to get down onto this ground floor, because if you can’t go down to the ground floor of this museum, you can’t get onto the top three floors either. So we’re going to have to start thinking about mitigating those risks and also finding responses to them, because if it turned out an inevitability, we’re going to have to be one step ahead of that. But it is those channels of communication that Hannah was just talking about which will give us those early warnings and allow us to be proactive rather than reactive in what we do about it. HF: I think there is some stuff as well that we’re just going to have to accept, that we might want to conserve and protect this building, but actually there’s a point where that’s just not possible and we’re going to have to just accept that that isn’t possible and then problem-solve. Then what are we going to do about that and how can we innovate out of that problem to do something that really does what the site was originally planned for, which was to utilise that energy, utilise that system that’s in place and make it work for us, to become much more sustainable? I think the building’s sustainability is a big thing for us across all three sites that we have because we are dealing with old buildings, so how can we make sure that we’re using the latest methods and technologies and then testing some of those too and innovating out of that, because we have to, we just have to, there’s no choice. DM: I think both actually, I’m incredibly optimistic about man’s ability to respond to these sorts of challenges, I’m incredibly optimistic about our local ability to respond. I think building on what Hannah was just saying we will survive whatever happens, if something’s inevitable we’ll find a way round it, we’ll make it work for us, we have to, it’s the only way we can survive, but I think that’s a global picture. I think you’ll see incredible things coming out of climate change challenges, incredible scientific minds working on great ideas. But I’m pessimistic because ultimately it’s always reactive and that’s man’s biggest problem is we’re always reactive; we’re reacting to what’s happening, we’re not tackling the problem, we’re tackling what’s actually happening as a result of that, we’re trying to find cures instead of preventions and I just think there’s an inherent problem there. I think if we applied ourselves as much as we do to finding solutions to these problems after they’ve happened, instead of just finding out why they’re happening, let’s tackle that, that’s what needs to change. So I’m pessimistic about industry and manufacturing necessarily making great leaps forward that are going to affect any sort of great climate change really, but I’m incredibly optimistic about man’s ability to respond to that. HF: I think again I’m going to sit on the fence a little bit on this one, like Daniel just has! DM: Thank you. [Laughter] HF: But I know exactly what you mean and I feel the same, I think we have to be pessimistic in the sense that we have to be and it’s almost… pessimistic is the wrong word because it’s about being realistic. We need to wake up and be realistic about the state of the world and the way things are changing and wake up to the fact that this is true, this is real and do some proper accepting of that and then make some decisions about policy making. Rather than just talking about it and, ‘What if?’ and setting targets, let’s do it and I want that pessimism that I currently feel about whether that’s actually going to happen and that almost hopelessness that you tend to feel as an individual, because you think, ‘What could I possibly do?’ because it is too big and I have children and my children are going to have children and what am I leaving them in this world? But I’m optimistic about the fact that we have amazing opportunities as cultural organisations to have a bigger voice and to stimulate some of these conversations, because we can be quite safe in doing that, does that make sense? So because we’re neutral, we’re actually asking questions quite openly to the public and we can do that quite openly to the public in order to encourage people to make a shift in their, ‘Heads down, it’s not happening to us,’ feeling. But I think we have to be optimistic, you have to, because that’s our natural disposition and you have to be optimistic about we can challenge this as long as we are real about it. So in terms of thinking about where we are as an organisation and how museums are a safe space for conversations around climate change, etc., to happen, I think that that’s a unique position that cultural organisations, broader just simply than museums, but we’re a museum so we’re going to talk about that perspective. Museums have always been places of encounter and that is absolutely how we see ourselves, as places of encounters and those encounters can be with each other, so they can be social encounters, they can be about conversation and discussions, but they can also be encounters with where things have proved difficult in the past and then how we overcame those difficulties, through to where things might be going that are difficult for the future and then how are we thinking about those things? And because they’re trusted organisations, because we’re not taking a strong position, we’re not saying, ‘This is right, this is wrong,’ we’re saying, ‘Here’s something to discuss, we think it’s something that you think also is important to discuss, therefore let’s have that conversation, ’ we can present quite challenging statistics and perspectives in those spaces and that’s actually kind of accepted by the public more readily than if government was doing that or if schools were doing that even. With us in Derby I think that’s even more important, because in the 18th century Enlightenment, that is exactly what was happening here in the Midlands and we made massive shifts in our understanding of the world around us, maybe not necessarily the right ones, we didn’t get it right all the time, there was a feeling that we could conquer the natural world, etc., but there was a shift and that came through safe spaces to have those challenging discussions. So I think that’s what I refer to in terms of us thinking about museums as being those places and I think we have a responsibility, therefore, because we’re considered to be safe and trusted by the public to do that, to make those challenges. And things like the Art Sense Prize Programme give us the perfect opportunity to do that, because it’s extracurricular in some senses although we deliver it within the school time, it allows schools to take risks where their current pressures in education, the things that they want to do for outcomes as perceived by the State system, etc., doesn’t allow for some of those things to happen because they’ve got so much of that outcome delivered and driven processes, that us as an organisation and the programme we’re part of enables us to sit that alongside those curriculum areas and then start to actually feed that into those programmes of learning and give teachers and schools the ability to take some risks with those conversations because they’ve been given permission to in a sense by being part of the bigger conversation and not feeling scared about it. DM: Yeah, and I think being that safe place for enquiry, we’re an advantage in a number of other ways as well, so here let’s not forget that some of the collections pre-date the use of fossil fuels. So you could have an NGO working for years and they could pump millions and millions of pounds into new ideas, innovative ideas and you could have, ‘This is your deadline, by here you need a new idea.’ Well, we don’t present that, you can come as often as you want, it’s free, come, look at the collections, think, if we can prompt those questions, they can look for solutions. Something may be sparked by an object in the collection, were you think, ‘This came from the 16th century, the 17th century, I can see a solution, we can modernise this, I can innovate from that previous idea, you can have this.’ And I think we can be that body as well. HF: Yeah, I guess to conclude you should see museums as an open source. I think our cause as an organisation is to embrace the word museum because we are museums, but what we’re doing and the way that we’ve framed our course is to expand perspectives of what a museum is and can be and I think that pretty much sums up our approach, is that there’s been over the last half century, a much more defined understanding of what people thought museums were by museums themselves actually. And I’m referring back to an earlier point Daniel made about that becoming very curatorial-led and very specialist approached thinking, which is not to say that that’s not important because we need those skills and expertise, but they became quite narrow in the way that they were then engaging and enabling our visitors and audiences to have much more open conversations, because they were perceived as the experts. And I think the shift that we’re having within our organisation and generally within museums is seeing museums again as what they were originally, which was places to discover and explore, ask questions, find things. You had no idea what that was and then someone else might not also in the museum, might not know what that is, but to discover together. And that approach is where we are going with that, is they are alternative learning spaces to schools, they are alternative spaces of social encounters, they are alternative places to ask questions, big questions, to feel good, to have fun, to be playful, but to also design for the future. And that is the shift that we’ve made, we’re not just talking about the past or the present, how does all of that stuff lead into where we’re going? And we’re part of the network of our city, so we have to be something that we know and understand our audiences and our partners in the city and our stakeholders, we need to be something that they need and so the only way we’re going to be able to do that for our own resilience and our own relevance, otherwise if nobody’s visiting, why are we here? And it gets us excited too about what the possibilities might be by working and experimenting and taking experimental approaches to how we programme and develop partnerships, etc., so it’s kind of a cross sector, definitely, it’s really important how we’ve working those industries like Rolls Royce, who may not have expected that they would have a relationship and a partnership with museums, but definitely do now, because we are relevant to them, but also we can get ourselves in the position where we can ask challenging questions of industries about where they’re going. I think it’s why first because why is to understand why you’re doing something and it doesn’t have to be the same at the end of a project to what you thought at the beginning, but it’s about why is it important that I’m working in this organisation for me personally, what is it that I feel that I’m going to get from this and why is that important to me, through to why would Rolls Royce want to work on a project that has heritage at its heart or why have Rolls Royce got challenges in engaging and recruiting young people in the city through into their industries? So the why is to understand it first and the how is the methodology, in a sense, as to how we start to address the why. And how is through things like human-centred design and design thinking processes and co-producing, that’s just the how, because that’s how we work. And we work by experimenting, we work by prototyping, we work in partnership, we work to discover, etc., but we have to keep coming back to the why are we doing it? And if there isn’t a question or you can’t define what that question is, that could be redefined all the way along that process, because you find new reasons all the time. ‘Oh, wow, we didn’t realise that there was young people in Derby who are struggling to get into education or training because they’ve not got any life/work experience.’ And so through this process we found that that’s a real why they would get involved with doing this, because we’ve then been able to tailor and target that particular programme for their needs. So you can redefine it all the way along and it’s much stronger for it, definitely. [End of Interview]

Interview with Hannah Fox and Daniel Martin

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Jules Energy PSSV - the Game

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How you view climate change will depend on who you are.

Story created by Stories of Change Team, 07 Dec 2016