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Salon event asks: Do we still care about climate change?

Do people still get hot under the collar about climate change, or have public perceptions cooled? Who does care about the threat of global warming, weather extremes and their impact on us all - and why?

Public concern about climate change appears to have dropped over the last few years, and more people seem to be expressing doubts about the issue, despite the fact that the scientific community has become more convinced of the human causes of climate change and the resulting risk to the planet.*

These and other talking points will be the focus of discussion at the first of a new series of salon-style public debates in Brighton, organised by the University of Sussex.

The Sussex Salon series offers an alternative evening out, where academics and other experts can share their knowledge with the public on subjects of current interest. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions, contribute to the discussion verbally or to share their opinions via an electronic voting system.

The aim of the Sussex Salon events is to highlight research at the University that engages with contemporary issues in an informal and entertaining way that will appeal to a wide audience.

Previous salon subjects have included sexual equality and civil partnerships, patients' rights and medical treatment, Westminster politics in a coalition world and the banning of religious symbols.

Climate Change - Who Cares (Tuesday 1 November, 8pm, Pavilion Theatre, Brighton Dome complex) features the views and research of: 

  • Dr David Ockwell, Global Studies, University of Sussex. Dr Ockwell is a Senior Lecturer in Geography, a Senior Fellow in the Sussex Energy Group at SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research) and a partner coordinator for the University of Sussex in the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. His research interests include the low carbon economy, technology transfer to developing countries, engaging the public in low carbon behaviour change, analysing the feasibility of decoupling energy use from economic growth and research on democratic climate policy appraisal.
  • Dr Lorraine Whitmarsh, Psychology, University of Cardiff. Dr Whitmarsh's research focuses on public engagement with climate change, carbon literacy, carbon offsetting, and low-carbon lifestyles. She is also a partner coordinator for the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and a member of the Climate Change Commission for Wales.
  • Dr Chris Shaw, Sociology, University of Sussex. Chris Shaw is studying for a doctorate at the University of Sussex, where he is researching the application of the so-called two degree 'dangerous limit' for climate change to modern society. He is Chair of The Friends Of Chalvington Fields, a community group set up to protect natural assets of the local countryside.
  • Keith Taylor is the Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East of England region. Mr Taylor has been a Green spokesperson on planning and regeneration and has led the development of the party's manifesto, which places environmental concerns at the top of the political agenda.

The Sussex Salons are organised by sociologist Dr Ruth Woodfield, on behalf of the University of Sussex School of Law, Politics and Sociology.

 Dr Woodfield says: "After the success of the salons last year, we are very much looking forward to the new series in which we will tackle topical issues such as the meaning of inclusion in the modern-day education system, climate change and the relationship between politics and the Press in the wake of the hacking scandal."

Notes for Editors


*Dr Lorraine Whitmarsh's take on the climate change debate is published in the Monday 17 October 17 edition of the Brighton Argus.

The practice of debating intellectual matters in public places such as coffee shops was a part of everyday life in 18th-century Europe. Such events were known as "salons", hence the title of this university series.

Visit Brighton Dome web site for full details and to book tickets.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

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Last updated: Wednesday, 26 October 2011