Buffett Institute hosts a series of events that explore the climate crisis

February 26, 2016

From the Paris conference to presidential candidate speeches, climate change is a crucial part of the conversation about the most pressing issues of our day. This quarter, the Buffett Institute is hosting a series of events that explore the climate crisis from a variety of viewpoints and experiences.

Author Naomi Klein to present capitalism versus the climate

Naomi KleinOn March 2, bestselling author and award-winning journalist Naomi Klein will be at Northwestern to discuss why she believes the free market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis. 

"We can't change the laws of nature," she says. "But be can change our broken economy."

Her book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, debuted at No. 5 on The New York Times best sellers list and was the 2014 winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction:

Written with an elegant blend of science, statistics, field reports and personal insight, it does not paralyze but buoys the reader. The book’s exploration of climate change from the perspective of how capitalism functions produces fresh insights and its examination of the interconnectedness between our relationship with nature and the creation of better, fairer societies presents a radical proposal.

—Jury citation

Klein is a member of the board of directors for 350.org, a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis.

Wednesday, March 2
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Donald P. Jacobs Center, Leverone Auditorium
More information: PlanIt Purple | Facebook 

Environmentalist, human rights advocate Sheila Watt-Cloutier to discuss Inuit culture and climate change

Sheila Watt-CloutierWhile she is in Chicago serving as the keynote speaker for the city's International Women’s Day celebration, Sheila Watt-Cloutier will visit Northwestern to discuss climate change and its effects on Inuit culture.

Watt-Cloutier is one of the world’s most recognized environmental and human rights advocates. In 2007, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy work in showing the impact global climate change has on human rights, especially in the Arctic.

Naomi Klein called Watt-Cloutier's 2015 book, The Right to be Cold, a "revelatory" look at how climate change is impacting the north:

If the ice disappears, or if it behaves radically differently, then cultural knowledge that has been passed on from one generation to the next loses its meaning. Young people are deprived of the lived experience on the ice that they need to become knowledge carriers, while the animals around which so many cultural practices revolve disappear. As Watt-Cloutier has been arguing for well over a decade now, that means that the failure of the world to act to reduce its emissions to prevent that outcome constitutes a grave human-rights violation.

In addition to her Nobel nomination, Watt-Cloutier has been awarded the Aboriginal Achievement Award, the UN Champion of the Earth Award, and the Norwegian Sophie Prize. In November 2015, she received the Right Livelihood Award, widely considered the "Alternative Nobel Prize."

Monday, March 7
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
McCormick Foundation Center, Tribune Forum
More information: PlanIt Purple | Facebook

Recap: scientists transform climate data into musical composition

Many visual aids used regularly by climate scientists have limitations: they are most easily understood by people familiar with technical jargon, are usually static, and for many, do not elicit a strong emotional response.

Music, by contrast, is inherently narrative and known to exert a powerful influence on human emotions. Because of this, sonification — the transformation of data into acoustic signals — has promise as a tool to enhance the communication of climate science.

Using sonification, Scott St. George and Daniel Crawford from the University of Minnesota composed a piece that converting more than a century's worth of climate data into sound.

On February 9, the Buffett Institute and the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) hosted Making Climate Data Sing: a string quartet performed their piece, after which a panel discussed the project and climate change. Learn about the panelists here.

Northwestern's In Our Nature magazine recorded the performance, below. Note how the sound evolves as time progresses. 

“Hopefully having people talk about the feelings evoked by this performance will also help to stimulate conversation about climate change,” said Brad Sageman, co-director of ISEN, in a Northwestern press release.


Global Health, Human Rights