Last month, Ben and I, with some friends, went to a talk on climate change held at World Head Quarters as part of a series of free talks held under the banner of Café Scientifique.
To sum it up, it is really disappointing. The facts and fiction were far too simple for the audience that was in attendance. In the Q&A time Ben asked, we all know and believe that climate change is happening (no more convincing needed!), so what is the role of the scientist now?
This stumped the guest speaker. She agreed that scientists brought messages of what happened in the world (note past-tense). We can make projections from this about what will happen in the future, but what and who, is going to do anything about it?
Ben suggested that maybe that was a role for designers and engineers and the lack of understanding of what design could bring by the general public was well highlighted in the subsequent discussion where engineers and technology were seen as the answer to going forward with action to tackle the climate change issue.
My question (which I did not get chance to ask) was why do we need to invent new technologies, in the first place, to help climate change? Why can’t we just use what we already have, re-organise and re-connect things that already exist (such as John Thackara writes in this book, In The Bubble), change our behaviours and lifestyles to accommodate our move towards environmental sustainability? As you may have picked up already, this is very much the ethos of Dott 07. My other big insight into last night was the fact that no one in the audience knew what design meant and no one seemed to know about Dott 07, with it’s huge environmental sustainability theme.
Last night was another reminder of the difference between science and design and an even more significant reminder that we, as designers, have a long way to go to help the public understand design and it’s contributions.