Climate change is an important topic among the scientific community, largely recognized as the greatest environmental issue of modern history. Now, the science community is doing what they can to reach out to the rest of the world. Science Festivals are a rising trend around the country as universities and technology companies struggle to fill the void between people who need jobs and filling those jobs with the right skill sets. These festivals, including the ten-day, 150-plus exhibitors, indoor/outdoor extravaganza in Seattle this week, are hoping to get a new base of people excited about scientific fields like medicine, engineering and conservation. Events took place at the Seattle Science Center from June 6 until June 16, and attracted top level scientists, journalists and universities.
The main closing night event on Saturday was a discussion panel on climate change, moderated by Pullitzer Prize winning journalist Usha McFarling. Three prominent environmental scientists and writers participated in the panel. Dr. Richard Alley of the University of Pennsylvania is known for his book The Two Mile Time Machine, and has also hosted a PBS series about Earth. Alley is also a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. New York Times columnist, blogger and senior fellow Andrew Revkin also offered his perspective, from covering deforestation and the politics of climate science. Dr. Kevin Trenberth rounded out the panel. Trenberth was an author on the 2001 and 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, work that helped him become a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
To lighten the mood and make the serious discussion more palatable for the audience, the evening finished with a thirty-minute opera, one of three short operas commissioned by the Seattle Opera. The marrying of art and science is a good way of promoting the fight against climate change as a beautiful and enjoyable ambition. The title of the event included “Straight Talk on Climate Change”, also suggesting that the festival is putting a strong emphasis on making climate science accessible to anyone unfamiliar with the field. So far, the Seattle Science Festival has been successful at inspiring people to learn, as 69% of participants from last year said they did research on something they saw while attending that they had never heard of before.