Our biggest Experiment - A History of the Climate Crisis - Alice Bell

Parish Church, Sidmouth
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Our Biggest Experiment tells the story of Eunice Newton Foote, an American scientist and woman’s rights campaigner living in Seneca Falls, New York, who first warned the world that an atmosphere heavy with carbon dioxide could send temperatures here on Earth soaring.,The book also includes stories of the many other scientists who helped to build our modern understanding of climate change. It also tells the story of our energy system, from whale oil to kerosene and beyond, the first steamships, wind turbines, electric cars, oil tankers and fridges. Alice Bell takes us back to climate change science’s earliest steps in the 18th and 19th centuries, the advancing realisation that global warming was a significant problem in the 1950s and right up to today, where we have seen the growth of the environmental movement, climate skepticism and political systems like the UN climate talks.

As citizens of the 21st century, it can feel like history has dealt us a rather bad hand with the climate crisis. In many ways, this is true. Our ancestors have left us an almighty mess. But they left us tools for survival too, and Our Biggest Experiment tells both sides of the story. The message of the book is ultimately hopeful; harnessing the ingenuity and intelligence that has driven the history of climate change research can mean a more sustainable and bearable future for humanity.
Alice Bell is a climate campaigner and writer based in London. She co-runs the climate change charity Possible, working on a range of projects from community tree planting events to solar powered railways, heat pumps in urban parks, or using nail salons to talk about climate change research. She previously worked in academia and journalism, specialising in the politics of science and technology. She was a lecturer in science communication at Imperial College, where she also completed a PhD and launched a college-wide interdisciplinary course on climate change. As an academic, Alice has also worked at Sussex's Science Policy Research Unit, City University Journalism School and the Science and Technology Studies Department at UCL. She’s written for a host of publications including the Times, Observer and New Humanist, researched the 1970s radical science movement for Mosaic magazine, co-founded the Guardian’s science policy blog and edited the “magazine for the future”, How We Get to Next.

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