The Royal Society holds around ten discussion sessions every year which focus on a range of interdisciplinary topics in science, engineering and technology. Their aim is to bring together a range of academic experts with varying points of view to discuss the most pressing issues of our time. Any scientist or engineer can propose a new topic and if you register for the event it is free to attend so it’s a great way to get involved and hear the latest ideas and insights.
This month the forum puts the topic of geoengineering in the spotlight and the talks and discussions will consider whether there are ways in which we can attempt to control the planet’s climate in an effective way. It has been organised by Professor Andy Ridgwell, Professor Chris Freeman and Professor Richard Lampitt and there will be a whole host of speakers and chairs considering solar radiation, ocean acidification, weather, crops, carbon dioxide, and the political dimension and perspectives.
Geoengineering itself has often stimulated controversial discussions. At a very simplistic level it considers how we can make changes which would potentially reverse the damage being done to the planet – for example the idea of iron fertilization which involves ‘fertilizing’ oceans with iron to stimulate the growth of plants and theoretically increase the uptake of carbon dioxide. However, deliberate ‘changes’ such as this are not always effective – for example, if the plants are eaten – and they can also lead to negative bi-products and consequences in other areas. It’s a tricky thing to get right. Another challenge is that large-scale studies to effectively test the theories are difficult to organise, co-ordinate, and gain permission for, so producing necessary evidence to back up the theories is not always possible. It can be a controversial area of science and today and tomorrow will therefore provide some very interesting views and discussions.
Keynote speaker Jonathan Porritt will be presenting on geogoverance and ‘Assuring the future’ and as former Director of Friends of the Earth and current Founder Director of Forum for the Future, he has a great deal of expertise and experience to contribute. Forum for the Future is an organisation which focuses on sustainable development in partnership with business, higher education, and central, regional and local government. Jonathan is also co-director of the Prince of Wales’s Business and Environment Programme.
We hope discussions over the two days prove to be fruitful and stimulating and we look forward to hearing the conclusions!
Copyright Speakers Corner 2017