Global solutions to climate change (#EEF2019Lisbon overview)

As most of you know me personally, or have been to this blog before would know, I am a passionate science communicator! I care about everything science and scicomm. Which is why, I’ve been working almost full time on this, together with various projects. Being involved in the Science Communication Journal Club team, gave me the opportunity to attend the Ecology across borders congress in Lisbon, Portugal. Here are some highlight from the event, now that I’ve done my own contribution and the programme is half-way through completion.

Congress Logo

A big Congress for "small" topics

Ecology is a science, encompassing many many aspects of our and other life-forms’ existence in this world. It does (although many of us don’t account for this) our lives in so many different ways. However, ecology is somewhere far behind the interest levels towards health, food, technology and even space sciences, while it probably affects us and those sciences more than we’d recognize on a daily basis. 
While the awareness of climate, its extreme expressions, species extinction and geological changes has undoubtedly increased in the last decades (to no small part thanks to climate change debates), there is still little understanding from most of us about our role in all these phenomena both as their causes and in suffering from their consequences.

The big, the small, the microscopic and the giant

The Congress has super rich programme when it comes to the life- and geological aspects of ecology and climate. There are key notes and whole parallel sessions highlighting problems and more importantly potential in fungi, microbes, insects, birds, big and small vertebrates and humans, plants, mosses, their communities, interactions, and development. But also, soil, marine, micro- and macro-climatic events which influence our life and how we can (potentially) deal with and mitigate climate change and extreme weather events in the future).

The social aspects of climate science

Somewhat more interesting for me were the talks with social point of view – education,  humanitarian, art, outreach and of course – science communication sessions, aiming to educate, inform and equip the hard-core-scientists with the right tools to make their messages heard by the right people who need to heard them.

The best things so far (half way through the Congress)

Three things so far are my absolute favorite about this Congress, I’ll call them swag factors:

By far the most unexpected and awesome thing so far has to be the amount of young scientists being part of the programme with their fresh ideas, new initiatives, preliminary results and barely-starting-projects. In each of the sessions so far, there has been at least one scientists who presented their master thesis work. That might not sound like a lot, but if you’ve been through the  academic mill, you’ll know that it more often than not does not happen in international congresses. 

There was a key note speaker on the second day of the Congress, which is both a scientist and an artist and who spoke predominantly about art, its use in outreach activities, its place in science, and how we’ve forgotten to enjoy science and nature and marvel at them by experiencing them and not by observing them behind the glass of the museum or expo.
I can’t possibly do justice to her work here so here’s her twitter – go discover her wonderful ideas and ways to convey them in your own pace ⇒ Dawn Sanders.

The right balance between dreadful results from data analyses and the hopeful prognoses for our abilities to work ways around and through those difficult to cope with challenges. Fear-mongering alone would stunt us all, but enough scare to get us off our a***s and plenty of ideas and possibilities for sustainable developments will give us the hope we need to continue trying. This is what this Congress offered so far in its programme for which I really need to commend the organizers and the participants. And as one of the key-notes put it:  

The Congress continues for two more days. Stay tuned for updates on this post itself!

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