Invited Talk - Splinter Sustainability

Friday, 17 September 2021, 10:35   (virtual Sustain)

Astronomers for Planet Earth: how a grass-roots organisation is helping astronomers address the climate crisis

Leonard Burtscher and the A4E collective
Leiden University

This presentation will address the potential of astronomy outreach in communicating the urgency of the climate crisis. While astronomy and climate science are distinct fields, climate communication can profit from astronomy's reach as well as from the public trust of, and fascination with, astronomy. Tackling the climate crisis from an astronomical point of view was one of the main motivators behind the creation of Astronomers for Planet Earth (A4E), https://www.astronomersforplanet.earth, who have been at the forefront of linking climate and astronomy outreach since 2019. A4E is a world-wide grass-roots movement uniting more than 1100 past and present astronomy students, educators, and scientists around the globe who share their astronomical perspective about the Earth and climate change with the public. In this talk, we will show how, at A4E, we are engaging with astronomers all around the world to include climate change in outreach initiatives, both in dedicated talks about the “pale blue dot” and -- possibly even more powerfully -- as an add-on to other science topics from exoplanets to cosmology. We will discuss how successful this “astro-climate” outreach is, and where there is room for improvement. As A4E members are distributed across approximately forty countries on all continents, we will also provide an overview of how we have overcome such geographic and cultural challenges, and how we are engaging astronomers in climate action in different international contexts.