Memorial University’s Philosophy Department and For A New Earth are hosting a public lecture called “Do We Really Care About Climate Change?” tonight (Tuesday November 7th) at The Ship Pub. Lecturers Dr. Sean McGrath, Dr. Barry Stephenson and PhD Candidate Kyla Bruff will each speak for fifteen minutes and then invite the audience to join the conversation.
MUN’s Philosophy Department hosts a public lecture on the first Tuesday of every month with the goal of bringing academic discussions into a public space where people from diverse backgrounds can grab a pint and add their voices to the conversation.
“It’s really meant to open up an exchange of ideas,” Bruff said, because the ideas we have here at MUN don’t always get disseminated into the community and it appears that sometimes we might also be out of touch with the local community’s concerns.”
For this week’s lecture the Philosophy Department is working with For A New Earth, an organization that Dr. McGrath founded and co-directs with Bruff and Dr.Stephenson, with the aim of mobilizing, “knowledge in philosophy, science, and art, and make it available to communities in environmentally sensitive areas for the sake of opening up a public discussion about the future of our planet.”
Bruff explained that tonight’s lecture will look at the fact that many individuals, companies, and governments claim to be concerned about climate change but our actions as a society suggest ambivalence about the issue –begging the question how much do we really care about climate change?
“When we look at our lifestyles, our concerns, the culture of rampant individualism, and the capitalist drive for profit, we see that our concern about climate change is probably not as strong as we think it is,” Bruff said.
The organizers hope to look at the question from pessimistic and optimistic perspectives but ultimately the conversation will be shaped by the audience’s response to the three short lectures.
Bruff has been going to the Philosophy Department’s Public Lecture series for years and says the unpredictability of the audience response is what makes the long-running series so unique and engaging.
“When the discussion gets going it’s a totally open floor and the perspectives come from everywhere,” Bruff said. “Political figures come out and people who like to hang out at the ship tend to be around, so the questions and discussion can really go anywhere. That’s why it’s so exciting, you can’t anticipate what people are going to say.”
Bruff says the organizers would love to see representation from any level of government at the event, as well as members of university community with environmental concerns, and anyone who feels despair about the future of the planet.
“The whole point of For A New Earth is to get the discussion going in the community with the hope that maybe we can prompt some ecological change by getting outside of the academic constraints of the university… We hope people come out even if they haven’t heard of us or if they’re a little skeptical about us,” Bruff said.