First Climate Change Cafe Scientifique [Archives:2006/913/Local News]

January 19 2006

On Saturday 21 January the British Council launches a new project looking at the world-wide dangers of climate change. Leading British scientists and science communicators, Dr Michele Clarke and Quentin Cooper are coming to Yemen for the first Cafe Scientifique with students, and for meetings with academics working in this field. The Cafe Scientifique will be held in the University of Science and Technology (fifth floor, Girl's Branch, by the Sanabani Roundabout) beginning at 1000. Journalists are invited to the press conference at 0900.

Climate change concerns us all. It represents one of the greatest threats to humankind in the 21st century. The next hundred years could see coastlines submerged, and a surge in heat-waves, hurricanes, droughts, floods – and so in disease, famine and displacement. The debate among scientists is not whether climate change is happening, but how quickly it will happen, and how bad the effects will be. For civilisation to survive and prosper, action is essential.

The British Council worldwide is rolling out a programme of activities which aim at raising awareness and stimulating debate about climate change and the challenges we face. In Yemen in early 2005 there will be a series of Cafes Scientifiques, conversations and discussions between scientists and young people about the connections between science and society. In early summer there will be a major photographic exhibition in Sana'a and Aden, North South East West. Later, the climate change programme will see exchanges of young scientists working in this area between the UK and Yemen, and other countries in the region.

For the first Cafe Scientifique on 21 January at 1000, Dr Michele Clarke (Nottingham University) and Quentin Cooper (BBC) 'the world's most enthusiastic man' will be meeting students from Sana'a schools for an informal discussion, linked by video-conference to a group of students in Oman. The second Cafe Scientifique will be on 4 February in Oman and Yemen, and the third in this series on 5 March in the UK and five countries in the region. There will be parallel cafes in Bahrein, UAE and Kuwait.

British Council Director Elizabeth White said, 'We want to create a space for making contacts, for exchanging ideas, and for creative discussion of how we can make a difference in our changing climate.

This is a tremendously important issue, and one which interests each and every one of us. Climate change is going to affect us all; luckily, we can still affect climate change to some degree.

'There's been a lot of interest in this programme already from our partner schools and universities in Sana'a. We're looking forward to working on a range of activities around the topic of climate change over the next year'.