Fire & Ice: The Shifting Narrative of Climate Change

About the conference

On February 8 and 9, 2019, the UCI Forum for the Academy and the Public presented, “Fire & Ice: The Shifting Narrative of Climate Change,” a two-day conference that tackled the most serious threat to humanity: climate change.

It featured an interdisciplinary and international panel of scientists, writers, academics and communicators – including keynote speaker Bill McKibben, climate activist, author of The End of Nature, and 2014 recipient of the Right Livelihood Award; Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe and The Sixth Extinction; and Nathaniel Rich, whose book Losing Earth will be published in April.

About 450 people attended the keynote event and more than 150 people attended the Saturday panels.

This website serves as a recap of the conference and a launchpad for future discussions and events. The "Next steps" section at the end will be updated with events and workshops developed as a result of the convergence of ideas that took place at Fire & Ice.

Thank you for attending, participating and spreading the word. We hope this website helps us all turn ideas into action!

-Amy Wilentz and Jeff Wasserstrom

Media coverage

C-Span has aired and made available the Friday keynote and keynote panel.

February 8, 2019 | Keynote speaker: Bill McKibben, climate activist and bestselling author

Highlights included: Bill McKibben's keynote, "From the Front Lines of the Climate Fight" and a panel discussion on “Creating Climate Change Narratives,” featuring Kolbert, Rich, McKibben and Manuel Pastor, professor of sociology and director of the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at USC; moderated by Jon Wiener, UCI professor emeritus of history.

To see the full photo album, click here.

Climate activist Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and 2014 recipient of the Right Livelihood Award
Manuel Pastor, professor of sociology and director of the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at USC

February 9, 2019 | Panels

An interdisciplinary and international panel of scientists, writers, academics and communicators addressed various issues from industrialization across the globe, to data and denial, to the intersection of law and sustainability.

Panelists and moderators included: Isabel Hilton, a Scottish journalist and broadcaster based in London; Kavita Philip, UCI associate professor of history; Gabrielle Hecht, Frank Stanton Foundation Professor of Nuclear Security at Stanford University; Tun Myint, associate professor of political science at Carleton College; Jeffrey Wasserstrom, UCI Chancellor’s Professor and chair of history; Kolbert in conversation with David Ulin, former book critic at the Los Angeles Times; Eric Rignot, world-renowned glaciologist and UCI’s Donald Bren Professor and chair of Earth system science; Peter Gleick, co-founder and president-emeritus of the Pacific Institute; Cathy Whitlock, professor of earth sciences at Montana State University; Erika Hayasaki, UCI associate professor of English in the literary journalism program; Alejandro Camacho, UCI professor of law and director of the UCI Law Center for Land, Environment and Natural Resources; Cara Horowitz, co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA’s School of Law; Doug Kysar, deputy dean and Joseph M. Field ’55 Professor of Law at Yale Law School; Paul Adler, professor of management & organization, sociology and environmental studies at USC; and David Kaye, UCI clinical professor of law and director of the UCI Law International Justice Clinic.

Los Angeles Review of Books' "Provocations"

The Los Angeles Review of Books featured ten contributions from Fire & Ice panelists in advance of the conference. Called "Provocations," the contributions are meant to inspire thoughts and action. Read them all here.

Pre-conference interviews with Dean Tyrus Miller & Jeff Wasserstrom

Tyrus Miller, dean of the UCI School of Humanities, and Jeff Wasserstrom, UCI Chancellor's Professor of history, discuss the founding of the UCI Forum for the Academy and the Public and the genesis of the Fire & Ice conference. To watch, click here.

Exhibiting and roaming artists

Roaming artist: Louisa Bertman

Exhibiting artist: Peggy Weil

#UCIclimate

The conference hashtag #UCIclimate reached over 1-million individual accounts and generated 18.3 million impressions on Twitter alone.

Melting ice sheets

Amy Wilentz, professor of English at UCI, shares some of professor of Earth science systems and glaciologist Eric Rignot's presentation

Tough questions

OC Weekly writer, Liam Blue, live-Tweeted the conference. Here, he shares footage from environmentalist Bill McKibben's talk.

110% of climate change

Critical media artist and curator Nicolas Maigret shares part of scientist Peter Gleick's talk

Levels of denial

Lilibeth Garcia, a literary journalism major at UCI, live-Tweeted the event. Here she shares the levels of denial towards climate change

Indigenous poets

Steven Allison, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCI, shares some of journalist Bill McKibben's talk about the artists involved in climate change

Cara Horowitz on environmentalism

LA Review of Books partnered with the Forum to feature authored content by the panelists

Climate action: Next steps

To continue the conversation and to spark action, we're designing a series of follow-up events. Here are some of our tentative plans listed below. We will update them as they are finalized.

  • Pop-up event on Earth Day, April 22
  • Women & climate change Wikipedia edit-a-thon, May

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