Three Scripps Oceanography Panels in the Running for SXSW 2020

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has three panels in consideration for the 2020 South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference. The annual conference held in Austin, Texas, 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. 

Three panels proposed by Scripps Oceanography delve into topics including climate change and religion; exploring and protecting the deep ocean; and understanding and innovating around microfibers – the microscopic plastic fibers that are shed from synthetic textiles.

SXSW emphasizes diverse topics and speakers, and each proposed panel features a range of speakers including Scripps scientists, esteemed researchers from collaborating institutions, industry innovators, and journalists/reporters from influential media outlets.

In prior years, Scripps has organized panels around the technology used to study coral reefs, ocean robotics, and ocean technology development. 

All three panels are now open for online voting through Aug. 23, 2020. The voting, along with input from SXSW staff and SXSW advisory board, determines the final panel selection.

To cast a vote for the 2020 panels, voters must create a free SXSW login and then select the “Vote Up” button on their desired panel’s page.

Full details for each panel and links to vote are included below.

Can Religion Embrace Climate Action?

In 2015, Pope Francis released Laudato Si, an encyclical on climate change, which called for developed 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, ministers and young evangelicals working to appeal to faith-based hearts and minds.

Photo: Ramanathan and other researchers meet with Pope Francis after a joint workshop the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences held in 2014 at the Vatican. Credit: Pontifical Academy of Sciences. 


Deep Ocean: Exploring And Protecting The Unknown

More than eighty percent of our ocean is unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored, and more people have been to the moon than the deepest parts of the sea. How can we know so little about what covers more than 70 percent of the planet's surface, and drives our weather, supports all life, and will be key to understanding and mitigating climate change? The race is on to develop new technologies that can explore and map these diverse deep ocean environments. With these advances scientists are learning how vital deep ocean marine life is for our earth system, and how this environment is changing. This panel will feature scientists and explorers to discuss the wonders of the deep ocean, what’s left to explore, what makes that so difficult, and why it needs protection.

  • Natalya Gallo, Postdoctoral Researcher, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego
  • Vincent Pieribone, Vice Chairman, OceanX
  • Rochelle Wigley, Project Director, Nippon Foundation GEBCO Projects, Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire
  • Mark Kaufman, Science Reporter, Mashable (Moderator)

Photo: The view out of the window of Alvin at a depth of almost 2000 meters off the coast of Costa Rica, shows a deep sea holothurian (sea cucumber) in the water column. Photo credit: Victoria Orphan.

Shed-free Chic: Making Apparel Plastic Free

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 flow to the ocean and get launched into the air, and have been found far out to sea and in the Arctic. Their increasing concentrations are a growing concern – for both environmental and potential 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.

Photo: Microfibers shown under UV illumination, where the plastic fluoresces. Photo credit: Dimitri Deheyn.

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