KPU Arts Speaker Series to address climate science, policy, and research

The talk will touch on how people can ‘articulate political responses to climate change’

Mark Vardy, KPU criminology instructor. (Submitted)

From wildfires and heat waves to floods and heavy snow, people across British Columbia have seen the worst effects of climate change last year. 

On Jan. 12, the first segment of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Arts Speakers Series in 2022 will showcase a more positive light on climate change and science. 

KPU criminology instructor Mark Vardy will discuss how climate change is often talked about in the public and the policies made around climate science. He will also present his research on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 2005, interviewing scientists on how they are tackling climate change. 

Although he can’t share many details about his research until September, Vardy says one of the things that surprised him was how his attitude started to change. 

“One of the things that surprised me was actually just how much more optimism I feel having done this research,” says Vardy. “Just through seeing how most of the scientists and social scientists are very upbeat and positive — that had an impact on my own outlook as well.” 

Vardy says that in the media one of the ways climate change can be portrayed is a “make or break it kind of thing” and can lead to some feeling a sense of despair, or also known as climate anxiety. He adds that problems due to climate change are still severe, but how people look at the problem can change how individuals respond to it or think of different solutions. 

“When I first started out this research … it wasn’t on people’s radar as much. Now [that] it’s more front and center, one of the questions I’m interested in is what are the sort of challenges for us as a society when it comes to democratic decision making.”

Vardy explains that in the modern era some people may think humans are outside of nature and that science is a way of understanding how the world works. 

“But now we know we’re very much part of nature, we’re folded within it,” Vardy says. 

“[With] science, the more you get into it the more you sort of see, ‘Okay, there’s still a lot of uncertainties in terms of how the actual events of climate change will play out.’ So democratic decision making in times of uncertainty is what the talk will be about.” 

With the extreme weather events that happened in the province last year, Vardy says it’s important to have the event now to show not only the visible effects of climate change, but also the more subtle ones. 

“Even without the extreme weather events, there’s still lots of profound changes that climate change is having,” he says. “It’s a good time for us to start thinking about how we want to do things differently.” 

While there is a lot of information out there about climate change already, Vardy hopes people will broaden their perspectives and the conversation around climate change, and take different actions. 

“I don’t see it as a lecture … but I want to use it as an opportunity to have more of a collective conversation,” he says.  

“Climate change is one of those things that [is going to] have some fairly profound impacts on most people’s lives, and also it challenges us to think about humans, or ourselves, in a different light.”