Transformation conference 2013

First day conference summary

From setting the scene for the conference and defining transformation to baking bread with future farmers

The first official day of the (un)conference Transformation in a changing climate offered depth, speed, art, engagement and plenty of perspectives on complexity.

"The challenges that we are facing now, of staying within planetary boundaries, stabilizing the climate and solving issues of equity and conflict, are what can be called 'hyper-complex': they have aspects of social complexity, dynamic complexity and emerging complexity", explained Karen O'Brien from the University of Oslo, one of the initiators of the conference in a framing talk to set the scene for the day.

"It is, however, not only the problems that are non-linear, the same goes for the social processes leading up to solutions," O'Brien said.

Download high-res pictures from the conference here

Related articles:
Extreme dialogue: "Hell doesn't sell"
An introduction to the conference "Transformation in a Changing Climate

Time to pull together knowledge
The day also started with a series of welcome addresses featuring the Norwegian Minister of the Environment, Bård Vegar Solhjell, the IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri and Inga Bostad, the pro-rector of University of Oslo.

The idea for hosting the conference came out of a realization that there is a need to pull together the knowledge that we have on transformation. So the topic of this first day was simply: What is transformation?

Centre science director, Carl Folke, gave a plenary talk on his perspectives on transformation and reminded us of the importance of ecological literacy:

"I'm embarrassed as a human that we have in two generations created a mindset that we are independent of the biosphere."

Cecilie Mauritzen, the director of CICERO and physical oceanographer talked about the upcoming Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC and clearly showed that she is particularly concerned with the art of communicating climate change.

"My answer to what is transformation is a simple and perhaps a bit nerdy equation: Transformation = imagination."

Carbon demonised
The day also featured speed-talk paper presentations and deep conversation fishbowl seminars, including presentations by centre researchers Lisen Schultz, Diego Galafassi and Elin Enfors.

The afternoon session included a public lecture on "The Reimagination of Carbon" by Paul Hawken, environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author. He talked about his coming book that deals with carbon and how it has been so demonised in the climate change debate that we tend to forget that it is the key component of our life-supporting biosphere:

"The intense emotions around atmospheric carbon levels, completely justified given climate science, may prevent us from realizing that carbon weaves a net connecting us to the countless forms of life that have existed on earth. It is a tale worthy of a civilization because it is the basis of civilization."

Welcome to the Flatbread society
Last but not least, there was an art event labelled “The new agrarian mythology", hosted by the public art project "Flatbread Society and Bakehouse Bjørvika", and dealing with agrarian folklore, rituals, and celebrations related to climate change.

Download high-res pictures from the conference here

Related articles:
Extreme dialogue: "Hell doesn't sell"
An introduction to the conference "Transformation in a Changing Climate

Published: 2013-06-20