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.
This event will take place live on Zoom Webinar. You’ll receive a link to join a couple of days before the event takes place and a reminder an hour before. During the event, you can ask questions via a Q&A function, but audience cameras and microphones will remain muted throughout.
Image credit: © Bloomsbury Sigma
You can buy copies of many of our speakers’ books from Fox Lane Books, a local independent bookseller and Festival partner. In some cases, author signed bookplates are available too.
About the speaker
Alice Bell is a climate campaigner and writer based in London. She co-runs the climate change charity Possible, working on a range of projects from community tree-planting to solar-powered railways. She has a BSc in History of Science from UCL and a PhD in Science Communication from Imperial College London. She was a lecturer in Science Communication at Imperial for several years where she also launched a college-wide interdisciplinary course on climate change. As an academic, Alice has also worked at Sussex’s Science Policy Research Unit, City University Journalism School and UCL’s Technology Studies Department. She has also written for a host of publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Observer, Mosaic and New Humanist, and was editor of the ‘magazine for the future’, How We Get to Next.