By Rifa (Raz), Social Mobility Foundation Communications Intern


Nature's beauty is a source of solace and inspiration, from sunsets painting the sky to the delicate dance of leaves in a gentle breeze near the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus, where this year’s British Science Festival will launch on 7 September. 

Despite the known benefits to our wellbeing of spending time connecting with nature, as explored in new research by the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the University of Derby and the British Science Association, our living world is crumbling due to the exploitation of the environment 

A number of events at the British Science Festival will aim to show some of the simple - and also surprising - ways you can get involved and can make a meaningful difference. Get your cameras at the ready… 

Confronting the harsh reality of climate change 

Earth, our home, is undergoing a profound transformation. The signs of change are all around us – from rising temperatures to extreme weather events. Climate change is not just a distant concept; it's happening right here, right now, and its toll is becoming increasingly evident. 

Communities are grappling with the consequences, often those who have contributed the least to the problem - vulnerable populations, already facing social and economic challenges, are disproportionately affected by extreme weather events and resource scarcity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that climate change is projected to cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year between 2030 and 2050, and that the direct cost to health could reach USD 4 billion per year by 2030, highlighting the far-reaching socioeconomic impact of climate change, particularly on vulnerable communities.

According to  NASA, Earth's average surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 1800s. This small rise speeds up extreme weather events like hurricanes and droughts. This intensification of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires, can cause great harm to communities, leading to displacement, loss of homes and even loss of life.

Greenhouse gases produced by human exploitation has advanced the climate change effect quickly, leading to devastatingly amplified issues such as more severe natural disasters to the deadly destruction of natural habitats. These greenhouse gases have been increasing since 1850 at rates unseen in the last 800,000 years. 

Snapping up awareness 

The climate crisis is an urgent issue that everyone needs to play a role in combatting, but how can we get more people involved? Numbers alone can numb us, but an image can jolt us into action.

At the British Science Festival, Saffron O’Neill from the University of Exeter and a team of experts in climate communication will be running the Seeing the city through a climate lens workshop, which aims to tackle this challenge by using our own photography skills (no matter how amateur or advanced) to make a difference! In a world where change can feel overwhelming and ominous, the event helps us take charge. We're not just watching; we're sharing stories, raising awareness and making a real impact. Our photos can tell tales of beauty, challenge and hope. 

On Friday 8 September, Saffron O’Neill and her team will lead an interactive stroll through Exeter city centre to help you view the city in a new way. They'll educate you about the climate crisis and help you capture images that re-envision a world shaped by significant climate impacts, and how we might adapt to them. 

As almost everyone now walks around with a camera phone in their pocket, photography has become more commonplace, but its true impact often goes unnoticed. In fact, every snap of the camera, regardless of the original purpose, has the power to convey a narrative. With environmental photography, an emotional tale of nature's unfortunate destiny is consistently narrated.  

Cristina Mittermeier is a photographer, marine biologist and conservationist who is campaigning to save 30% of the ocean by 2030. In an interview with Digital Camera World, she said: 

“We need every human on this planet to be engaged and although we must lead with the best science available, there is no doubt in my mind that visual storytelling is the most effective means to communicate both the urgency to act and the opportunity presented by those actions.” 

Be the change 

As the urgency of the climate crisis increases, your voice matters. Join us at the Seeing the city through a climate lens event during the British Science Festival. Through your camera lens, you're not just capturing scenes; you're capturing hearts and sparking change. Together, let's transform awareness into action, one photograph at a time.  

Join us and be the change. 

This year’s British Science Festival will take place in Exeter from 7-10 September, run by the British Science Association and hosted by the University of Exeter. 

Check out our incredible Festival line-up, where you’ll find over 70 events, workshops, talks and live performances taking place on the University’s Streatham Campus and in the city centre over the four days. Events cover our environment, arts and culture, technology and many more topics – there’s something for everyone! 

What’s on at the British Science Festival?  

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