Written by Tobias B. L. Jørgensen
For immediate publication.
Researchers using Poetry and Exploration as Weapons against Global Warming
Researchers in Hanstholm are invoking emotions and imagination to pave the way for the new technologies needed to combat climate change.
Central to the issue of global climate change is a growing energy crisis, and if we want to combat this threat against humanity’s future we must abandon fossil fuels and look to new, clean energy technology. In Hanstholm, poetry and exploration are part of an experiment to increase awareness of these new technologies, following researchers’ belief that an emotional connection to these new technologies is an important step towards them being adopted by society and becoming commercially viable.
The experiment in question is the Energy Walk, a 40 minute nature walk which combines the actual physical exploration of Hanstholm and the surrounding area, with a narration written by the Poet and Associate Professor Laura Watts. The Energy Walk is part of the Alien Energy research project funded by the IT University of Copenhagen. This research project is investigating and experimenting with the social impact of new “alien” energy sources on the local society surrounding them. In Hanstholm’s case the technology in question is wave-energy, derived from the momentous forces of the North Sea crashing against Jutland’s western shores. As with most of these new “alien” technologies (sun, wind and wave) the location is immensely important, leading the researchers, Dr. Brit Ross Winthereik and Dr. Laura Watts, to emphasize the importance of local societal acceptance and understanding if these technologies are to move from the experimental to the commercially viable.
And this is where the Energy Walk comes in. By combining the exploration of the local area, the known and relatable, with a poetic narration that reframes Hanstholm as part of the new energy revolution, the researchers hope to foster acceptance and understanding, not only though education, but through emotional investment. The Energy Walk invokes the local landscape and infrastructure, but uses poetic narration to highlight the ordinarily invisible aspects of these. This is meant to create awareness of the importance of seemingly mundane objects and their relation to the listener’s own life. Simultaneously the narration asks the listener to imagine the history and larger scope of energy technology, before finally concluding by looking to the future, with the experimental wave energy plant off the Hanstholms coast as the last motif. As a pilot project and an experiment the Energy walk seems to be a success, with the researches citing stories of locals being deeply moved by the tour, and being amazed at the new perspective it has granted them.
All in all, the Energy Walk is set to become the example of both a new method and the argument for the impact of said method; hopefully paving the way for a future where green energy becomes embraced by the general public and global climate change becomes a thing of the past.
“…the Energy Walk provides a case or lens for showing how aesthetics may contribute to the border-crossing art-science experiments already taking place in [similar] research.”
-Line Marie Thorsen, writing about the Energy Walk.
Written by Tobias B. L. Jørgensen, Student, IT University of Copenhagen. For any further questions, contact at email@example.com. For additional information about the Energy Walk or Alien Energy research project, contact IT University of Copenhagen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources: Winthereik, Brit Ross: The Energy Walk: Infrastructuring the Imagination, printed in “Handbook of Digital STS”, Princeton University Press, 2017.
Thorsen, Line Marie; The Energy Walk: Experimenting with Aesthetic Methods in STS?, link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09505431.2015.1076641