Scripps Institution of Oceanography at SXSW


For the third year in a row, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego will have a presence at the 2020 South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference in Austin, Texas. The annual conference explores what’s next in the worlds of technology, film, culture, and music, with the goal of providing opportunities for discovery, learning, and creativity. 

The conference draws more than 73,000 attendees and features 2,100 conference sessions. The 2020 conference will take place March 13-22, 2020.

New this year, SXSW has added a programming track focused on Climate and Social Action. This track will highlight innovations that contribute to a more socially equitable and environmentally sustainable world and feature leaders and scientists from a variety of organizations to discuss their challenges and successes in trying to affect lasting positive social, economic, and environmental change. 

Two panels organized by Scripps Oceanography delve into the topics of  climate change and religion, and understanding and innovating around microfibers – microscopic plastic fibers that are shed from synthetic textiles. Each panel features a range of speakers including Scripps scientists, esteemed researchers from collaborating institutions, industry innovators, and journalists from influential media outlets. Additionally, two climate scientists from Scripps will participate in an “Ask Me Anything” session on climate change.  

Details for each panel and links to add them to your SXSW calendar are included below.

Can Religion Embrace Climate Action?

March 14, 5:00-6:00 p.m., JW Marriott Salon FG

In 2015, Pope Francis released Laudato Si, an encyclical on climate change, which called ondeveloped nations to take immediate action on reducing greenhouse gases. The encyclical was rooted in the argument that the world’s poorest three billion people are going to suffer the worst consequences of climate change, even though they had little to do with the actions that are contributing to sea-level rise, extreme heat waves, and more. Can religious leaders encourage their followers to be better stewards of the planet? Can climate change action shift to be a moral issue rather than a political debate? This panel will feature climate scientists, theologians, and young evangelicals working to appeal to faith-based hearts and minds.

Shed-Free Chic: Plastic Pollution and Apparel

March 16, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., JW Marriott Salon FG

Plastic bags have been banned and people are eliminating single use straws, but will they stop wearing clothes? Microfibers are microscopic plastic fibers that are shed from synthetic textiles like polyester, spandex and nylon. When clothes are washed and dried, these tiny plastics make their way to the ocean and get launched into the air. They have been found in remote ocean regions and in the Arctic. Their increasing concentrations are a growing concern for both environmental and human health impacts. This panel will discuss how scientists, start-ups and apparel industry leaders are working to understand the impacts, develop technology to combat the issue, and innovate to reinvent the shirt on your back.

Climate Science: Ask Me Anything 
March 16, 2:00-3:00 p.m., Austin Convention Center, Trade Show, Next Stage 
With climate change becoming front and center in the global conversation, here’s your chance to ask your questions to scientists studying these phenomena around the globe. From the ocean to the atmosphere, learn all about the impact of climate change on important parts of our ecosystem.

  • Natalya Gallo, Postdoctoral Scholar for the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego 

  • Yassir Eddebbar, Postdoctoral Scholar for the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego 

Follow along with Scripps at SXSW through our Twitter ( and Instagram channels (, and by following the hashtag #ScrippsOceanSXSW. 

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