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Dr Alice Bell is co-director at climate change charity Possible, working on a range of projects from community tree planting to solar powered motorways. Before shifting to the charity sector six years ago, she worked in academia and journalism, specialising in the politics of science and technology. Alice taught on Imperial College’s world-leading science communication MSc. At Imperial, she also completed a PhD, worked on a BBC Trust review of science coverage, and developed and launched a college-wide interdisciplinary course on climate change.

As an academic, Alice has also worked at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, City University Journalism School and the Science and Technology Studies Department at UCL. As a writer and editor, she launched the “magazine for the future”, How We Get to Next, was a regular contributor to the International Council for Science’s Road to Paris blog on climate policy and co-founded the Guardian’s science policy blog. Her work has been published in the Guardian, Observer, Times Higher, New Humanist, China Dialogue, the Times and more. She’s produced educational resources as part of the national year of science and worked as an Explainer at the Science Museum (and can still mix up a vat of professional-grade bubble mix if you ask nicely).

In 2015, Alice started doing walking tours of London exploring energy and climate issues with some friends. The research for our script grew into a book exploring the larger story of the history of the climate crisis, Our Biggest Experiment, to be published by Bloomsbury Sigma in Summer 2021. Her first book, Can We Save the Planet?, an illustrated guide to environmental catastrophe, was published by Thames and Hudson in Spring 2020.

The Climate Crisis: how did we get into this mess? (and how might we survive it?)

As citizens of the twenty-first century, it can feel like history has dealt us a bad hand with 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. This talk offers a whistle stop tour of how we caused the climate crisis, how we discovered it was happening and how we started to build the tools which could, if we’re up for the challenge, help us survive it.

It was Eunice Newton Foote, a scientist, inventor and women’s rights campaigner living in Seneca Falls, New York, who in 1856 first warned the world that an atmosphere heavy with carbon dioxide could send temperatures soaring. At the time, no one paid much attention. We’ll follow Foote’s story, along with stories of the many scientists who helped build our modern understanding of climate change. We’ll also trace the growth of our energy system - from whale oil to kerosene and beyond, the first steamships, wind turbines, electric cars, oil tankers, and fridges - along with the environmental movement, climate scepticism, and political systems like the UN climate talks.

The story of the climate crisis is, undoubtedly, the great tragedy of our time, but it’s a story of a lot more than that too. It’s a story of great minds, the pursuit of truth and courageous attempts to make the world better. It’s the making of our modern world, for good as well as bad.