December 3, 2012 by Dr. G
It’s hard to believe that in December, there are still conferences to attend and lectures that need substitute assignments. But every year, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) has their Fall Meeting in San Francisco at the end of the semester, which usually falls during final exam week or the last week of classes. As my students back on campus are busily finishing up their iBooks Author project, I’m here with a first-time AGU attendee, undergraduate researcher Abbey Dufoe. Abbey completed a project with me this past summer (to be described more in Tuesday’s post, when she presents her poster!), and she’s now presenting her work at AGU – not too bad for a Media Studies major! She is also blogging from the AGU meeting at her WordPress site, which I know other students will find interesting to read (keep in mind this is Abbey’s first conference outside of Pennsylvania – nevermind her first AGU conference!).
After some interesting travel challenges (Abbey’s flight getting delayed out of State College to connect with me in Philly), we made it to San Francisco and caught the BART to our hotel. We’re staying in an exciting part of the city, right at the end of the Powell Street trolley car line, and only four blocks away from the convention center. After we settled in to our rooms, we headed to the convention center (the Moscone Center) to pick up our badge/meeting materials. I dragged Abbey with me to the Speaker Ready Room so she can see what it is like to review your talk one final time onsite, since the PowerPoint file is uploaded online about a week before heading to the conference (my talk is on Tuesday, the same time as Abbey’s poster, of course!).
We spent some time going over how to read the meeting program – what all of those letters and numbers mean that code each and every presentation. That took some time just to figure out our Monday schedule! Then, off to dinner before heading back to the convention center for a special evening screening of the documentary Chasing Ice. WOW – what an amazing collection of time-lapse images capturing the melting and retreat of glaciers in different locations across the globe (see the trailer at the end of this post). As the founder and executive director of the Extreme Ice Survey James Balog was speaking on a post-viewing panel, something very familiar struck me – I had actually seen James speak at the GigaPan conference two years ago, talking about using GigaPans to document the loss of glaciers! (note to self – go back and look for the notes from his fascinating talk from The Fine International Conference on GigaPixel Imaging for Science).
My takeaways from the video screening:
- Climate change is a universal issue, not a democratic or republican one
- How can film be best used to “marry” film and science?
- How can other “languages” be used to bring out the scientific stories?
- Journal articles do not matter to the general public, that every study and discovery should have a public front end
- Free public education can occur in the blogsphere
Granted, showing this film to a room full of scientists and climate-change believers was not going to change the mind of anyone in the room. What Abbey and I discussed after the showing was – well, what’s next? For believers and non-believers of climate change, showing powerful images of calving glaciers is spectacular. But what can “I” do to stop this? What actions can/should each of the audience members take to address the loss of ice? As an educator, this I feel is a critical piece missing from the end of the film. Hopefully, when the iPad/iPhone app and the educational materials are available next summer, some of my questions will be answered.
But would I show this film to my students and anyone else I could spread the word to? Absolutely! Please, at a minimum, check out the website to be inspired by the images!