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Science as Revolution: GMCA at ESOF 2016

Over recent years, ESOF has developed into the largest multi-disciplinary science meeting in Europe, where scientists meet other scientists, policy makers, media specialists, business leaders and the wider community, and visitors are given the opportunity to discuss the socio-cultural and economic implications and impacts of scientific revolutions from regional, national, European and global perspectives.

2016 is also a special year for science in Manchester, as it coincides with the 250th anniversary of the birth of John Dalton – the father of atomic theory.

“ESOF promises to be the science event of the year, not only in Manchester but right across Europe as thousands of people will visit this city to hear from and see some of the best minds in the sciences and humanities come together,” said Vicky Rosin, Programme Director at ESOF.

The overarching theme of this year’s event is ‘Science as Revolution’, encouraging debate and exploration of how science and technology transform our lives, constantly challenging how we think and act.

A key topic of discussion across the weekend will be climate change, an issue brought to the world’s stage recently with the COP21 Conference in Paris, which has helped significantly to raise the profile of low carbon work in Greater Manchester.

Climate sessions during ESOF include:

The Arctic as a hot topic:

The Arctic has become a hot topic in international relations.

Climate change, growing global interests in establishing new, shorter shipping routes and the offshore extraction of oil and gas are transforming the region into a geopolitically important area with new and sometimes contested economic, environmental, legal, and governance interests.

Rising temperatures and melting sea ice are exposing previously inaccessible natural resources to economically viable extraction.

In Northern regions, the non-renewable natural resources (fossil fuels, metals and minerals) are vast and industrial interest for their utilization is growing.

Many countries, including many geographically distant from the North, have national interests in exploiting the region’s natural resources.

Whilst these trends are contributing to infrastructural development, they are at the same time increasing pressure on the environment and biodiversity.

To support the sustainable development of the Arctic regions for the benefit of their societies, the governance options and policy information should be critically analysed.

It is necessary and urgent to increase interdisciplinary discussion between natural and social sciences about the effects of climate change on resource utilization.

This session brings together natural scientists and governance experts to give their view on resource extraction and international relations in the Arctic.

You can find out more on this topic on Tuesday 26th July from 10:00am – 11:15am in Charter 3.

Communicating Unwelcome Climate Change:

The chances of climate impacts worsening as average global temperature rise exceeds 2°C – or even 4°C - by 2050, are increasing.

In the face of the likelihood of high-end climate change, how can scientists and communicators of science be more than ‘narrators of doom’, instilling defeatism and negativity?

How can we instead help to stimulate engagement and responses from policy makers, organisations and the public?

How can individual citizens and organisations engage with the kind of negative knowledge that few want to hear?

If communication efforts based on the linear-rational and risk model have failed sufficiently to motivate, what should take their place?

This session will highlight what is known about communication in the face of unwelcome climate messages to see if we can find a way that is truthful to scientific understanding and simultaneously delivers practical messages of agency, hope and urgency.

The lessons learned go beyond climate research to many issues of science and societal risk in the public domain.

You can find out more about this topic on Wednesday 27 July from 11:25am - 12:40pm at Manchester Central Convention Complex.

GMCA’s Low Carbon Hub will also be exhibiting work at ESOF, specifically the DIMMER and NEDO projects, which will involve interactive virtual elements and a dedicated speaking slot.

GMCA project exhibitions include:


GMCA will be showcasing an ongoing Smart Heat project, which developed out of a partnership between GMCA and Japan’s New Energy Development Organisation (NEDO).

The ground-braking project is well underway and is helping 600 residents in Wigan, Bury and Manchester to reduce carbon emissions whilst saving money on their fuel bills.

Residents will have their old, inefficient heating systems replaced with state-of-the-art air source heat pumps and will also be supplied with a tablet and free broadband so that their views on low carbon heating can be explored.

Special equipment is being installed in each home known as a 'home gateway', which is used to monitor and control the heat pumps. This will be used to reduce energy consumption at peak times.

GMCA will also be giving a lecture on Tuesday 26th July from 12:00 -12.30, entitled 'Being smart: using science and technology to reduce energy in homes.'


The EU funded ‘District Information Modelling and Management for Energy Reduction’ (DIMMER) project is set to be one of the first to provide insights on our energy future.

Using sensors to gather data on energy use in districts and cities, researchers are building sophisticated computer models, which could provide the most complete view of smarter energy use in the future.

The exhibition will incorporate the exciting realm of virtual reality to transport visitors into a 3D environment, where they will be able to interrogate a building’s infrastructure and layout to assess the energy possibilities with regards to heat networks, solar pv and insulation.

“Greater Manchester has come a long way in working to prevent and prepare for climate change,” said Neil Jones, Low Carbon Energy Innovation Manger for the GM Environment Team. It’s great to have the opportunity to showcase our efforts at ESOF and increase public support and awareness of these issues.”

For more information and to purchase tickets for ESOF 2016, visit:


Manchester Museum light show image by Flickr user Richard Hopkins.