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Behind the Scenes: A New Cultural Outlook on Climate Change

While our culture tends to discuss Climate Change in terms of how it will affect the planet and humanity over the upcoming decades, Seth Baum offers us a broad and intriguing outlook on Climate Change. Seth, a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at Pennsylvania State University, will present his research project, “A New Cultural Outlook on Climate Change,” aiming to broaden our horizons across space and time as much as is physically possible, which involves considering the universe beyond Earth and the potential for Climate Change to affect it. Seth’s presentation, “A New Cultural Outlook on Climate Change”, will take place on Friday, March 11th from 11:00-12:00pm in the Martin E. Segal Theater. We were lucky enough to interview Seth to learn more about his interesting outlook on Climate Change.

Seth, what do you find most implicating about your research on Climate Change?

Seth Baum

At its most basic level, my research is designed to be implicating in the sense of having implications for what we should be doing both as individuals and as societies. The specific implications depend on what ethical views we hold. At the NES event, I will be presenting views that imply that we should prioritize helping reduce risks to the existence of global human civilization so that Earth-originating civilization can colonize space before the world ends. These ‘existential risks’ include worst-case climate change scenarios. For more detail, see (http://sethbaum.com/views), especially the part about existential risk reduction. The idea of our actions on climate change as being part of Earth-originating civilization doing something truly special with the universe is the ‘new cultural outlook’ I’m presenting.

What do you hope people take away from your presentation?

My presentation will be oriented as much towards soliciting audience feedback as it will towards delivering ideas to the audience. I hope that I take away insights from the audience about how to more effectively talk about existential risk reduction and share the idea as an outlook on climate change. I hope that audience members will take away an understanding of the idea that reducing existential risk can be seen as a priority, and will consider how this idea meshes with their own ethical views. For those who find this idea intriguing or even persuasive, I hope they take away starting points for how to get engaged.

What audience to you aim to reach? Do these intended audiences differ from the audiences you actually reach? How do you think your work can be brought to varied audiences for greater reach?

Currently, my work is confined primarily to academic audiences. I aim to reach audiences far beyond the academy. There are a lot of people out there trying to make the world a better place; I would like to give them new ideas for how to do this as well as arguments for these ideas. There are also people out there who are not trying so hard to make the world a better place; I would like to give them arguments for trying harder. But I’m somewhat struggling with how to go about doing this. My presentation and broader participation at the NES Colloquium aims to get new ideas or even collaborations for this.

Don’t miss Seth’s presentation, “A New Cultural Outlook on Climate Change,” on Friday, March 11th from 11:00-12:00pm in the Martin E. Segal Theater. It could very well forever change the way you think about Climate Change!

Be sure to register to attend this year’s Colloquium!

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