In our Ecologues series, we brought environmental experts together to exchange ideas and actions on how to cool down our warming planet.
George Monbiot, Emma Heiling and Sébastien Treyer speak at Ecologues at the American Library in Paris, 27 April 2023. (Photo by News Decoder)
There are so many facets to the climate crisis, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and oversaturated. When media reports one climate-related disaster after another, feelings of hopelessness, or worse, indifference can set in. We’re often left with more questions than answers.
That’s why News Decoder, the Climate Academy and the American Library in Paris presented the Ecologues climate conversation series from January to June 2023. Over 90 minutes, expert panelists and participants debated and discussed energy, economics, law and the very meaning of the term “climate crisis.”
“While it is true that ‘what is the climate crisis?’ is very overwhelming and kind of enormous and unanswerable, it’s also true that there are responses,” said Alice McCrum, head of adult cultural programming at the Library and co-moderator of the sessions.
Hosted in-person and online by the Library, the six talks convened a total of 19 conservationists, scientists, economists, activists, journalists, lawyers, authors, students and educators. Part of The Writing’s on the Wall — a year-long Erasmus+ project helping young people across the world grapple with the climate crisis through journalism, activism and art — the series allowed participants of all ages to share knowledge, engage in debate and discuss solutions.
Hundreds of attendees joined in person and online to ask questions, raise concerns — and find hope.
“I really wanted to be in an academic setting discussing these important issues and how professionals that have studied their entire lives view it and what they think the solutions are,” said a student attending the first talk at the Library. “That way it doesn’t seem like the world will end in my lifetime.”
A recurring theme throughout each talk was how much of the responsibility to fight climate change is for us as individuals to bear.
“I come from a generation where we still do not know if we are doing enough,” said Floriane Marié, a climate educator and speaker for the environmental justice talk. “Responsibility at the individual level creates a lot of eco-anxiety, and I think this is also a key challenge in our generation.”
From food to energy to economics, there’s a tension between the urgency of climate action and the feasibility of making significant lifestyle changes to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
“I think we’re seeing a split between the people who are taking this [information] at face value and those who say that the theory may be right, but is it realistic?” said Marlowe Hood, a speaker and senior editor for Agence France Presse. “Are people going to allow it to change their lives so much? Do we want to [tell people], ‘Well, that’s it, get rid of your cars and switch to public transport,’ or do you say, ‘Just get an electric car?’”
The importance of critical conversations
News Decoder believes that tackling the multiple interconnected challenges of the 21st century — like climate change — requires savvy, informed and responsible global citizens. The free and open Ecologues discussions presented a hybrid forum for critical thought, deliberation and civic participation on an issue that impacts us all. The full webinar recordings will remain available online, accompanied by learning resources for educators to use in their classrooms.
If you missed the live events, we have compiled the Ecologues recap articles here.