Climate change expert gives insight to Perse geography students
21 Nov 2018
Sixth Form Perse geography students were given the lowdown on climate change by one of the leading experts in the field, Professor Mike Hulme.
Professor Hulme was founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, based at the University of East Anglia. He went on to become head of geography and professor of climate and culture at King’s College London, before joining Cambridge University as professor of human geography last year.
He has written three books on the subject – Why We Disagree about Climate Change, which was named one of the science and technology books of the year by The Economist magazine in 2009, Can Science Fix Climate Change?, and Weathered: Cultures of Climate, his most recent work which explores how different cultures around the world make sense of their weather and climate.
Professor Hulme began his visit to The Perse by giving an intriguing 42 Lecture on the topic ‘How is Climate Change Seen?’ putting forward three schools of thought representing how people perceive the phenomenon – invisibilists, visibilists and constructive visibilism.
Invisibilists are those who believe climate change cannot be sensed directly and that it is only through models constructed by scientists, such as future temperature charts, that climate change can be made visible. On the other hand, Professor Hulme explained that visibilists feel the effects of climate change can be seen through one’s own eyes. He said those thinkers, such as Pacific Islanders, Inuits in the Arctic and the Maasai in rural east Africa, often lived in ‘frontline communities’ for climate change.
However, Professor Hulme outlined that constructive visibilism is another way in which people’s perceptions of climate change have been more recently formed through a range of different media, including films, novels, theatre, art, music and poetry. He added that we now need to consider which of these schools of thought is the most persuasive and why.
Following the lecture, he talked to Sixth Form geographers about his research and answered their questions about climate change, which is one of the major topics of A level study in the Upper Sixth.
Perse Head of Geography James Riley said: “We were delighted Professor Hulme took time out to speak further to our Sixth Form geography students following his fascinating 42 Lecture. They made the most of the opportunity to ask Professor Hulme further questions about the different viewpoints on how climate change is seen and we are grateful to him for providing his insight.
“The talk mirrored our Sixth Form curriculum perfectly and students are better equipped to understanding a range of climate change actors, the visibility of climate change, climate change mitigation and the physical basis on which decisions are made at a myriad of spatial scales.”