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EGU2024 - An intense week of joining sessions virtually

Posted on 19 April 2024 by BaerbelW

Note: this blog post has been put together over the course of the week I followed the happenings at the conference virtually. Should recordings of the Great Debates and possibly Union Symposia mentioned below, be released sometime after the conference ends, I'll include links to the ones I participated in.

This year's General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) started on Monday April 15 both on premise in Vienna and online as a fully hybrid conference. This year, I decided to join virtually for the whole week, picking and chosing sessions I was interested in. At the time of publication this blog post was still an evolving compilation - a kind of personal diary - of the happenings from my perspective.

As this post will get fairly large, you can jump to the different days, via these links (bolded days have been added already):

Monday - TuesdayWednesdayThursday - Friday

EGU24 Banner

The already published prolog blog post contains general explanations about the session formats as well as my planned itinerary for the week.

Monday, April 15

EGU Today

My week started at 8:30 in the morning with Union Symposia (US2) about the Climate emergency, human agency: making sense of the current state of scientific knowledge on climate change to strengthen climate literacy.

This Union Symposium will build on key findings from the Sixth Assessment Cycle of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It will place the current scientific understanding in this context of climate science history and lay out what is the current state of climate, with the observed intensification of global and regional changes, and what are physically plausible futures, unpacking how science underpins the understanding of the climate emergency. The presentations will be given by Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, IPSL, France and Joeri Rogelj, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College, London, Great Britain.

This symposia was a great start into the week as the presentation jointly given by Valérie Masson-Delmotte amd Joeri Rogelj was very rich in information and contained lots of neat slides walking us through some basics of climate science and what those mean moving forward. The session was part of the climate literacy initiative and 50 students and their teachers from Vienna schools had been invited to join it so that they had a chance to experience a scientific conference directly. Throughout the presentation, it was made clear that the climate crisis is an intergenerational justice as well as a public health issue. This composite image gives just a little glimpse of the many neat slides included (click to enlarge):

US6 Composite

Afterwards, I joined a short course (SC2.2) providing an introduction to science for policy. Even though this was a repeat for me, I found this session - convended by Chloe Hill - interesting again.

This session will provide an introduction into some key ‘science for policy’ themes and provide specific details about when and how scientists can engage with policy to increase the impact of their efforts. It will also provide resources and tips for scientists so that they can start their science for policy journeys. The last part of the Short Course will include a Q&A with those working on the science-policy interface. This session will be relevant to all career levels and scientific disciplines.

Chloe Hill kicked off the session providing some context and information of what "science for policy" is and what it isn't. Noel Baker went through the list of 10 suggestions of how scientists can engage with policy on different levels. Erika von Schneidemesser gave us several examples of projects she has been involved with on local levels followed by Alessandro Allegra sharing information about how it is to interact with policy makers like the EU-Commission in Brussels.

SC2.2 composite

The afternoon started with another short course for me: SC3.3 - Scared of giving presentations to a (geo-)scientific audiences? as this cannot hurt in the run-up to my own presentations on Tuesday and Wednesday even if it'll be too late to adapt this year's slide-decks based on their tips.

This short course deals with the various reasons and symptoms of stage fright and how they can be overcome. Scientists will share their experiences and what has helped them to deal with their fear of presenting. There will be practical tips and room for questions as well as exchange of experiences. This year, we're exploring a fresh angle: science communication. While the stage is set for scientific discourse, effective communication is key. Meet our speakers, Dr. Simon Clark and Dr. Heather Handley, seasoned communicators, sharing insights!

Dr. Simon Clark focused on the communication and story-telling aspects which are not just relevant for the science videos he creates (check his YouTube channel!) but can also provide structure for scientific presentations. He stressed that there are two simple rules to telling a story:

  2. "meanwhile, back at the ranch"

He also provided very relatable examples of how such stories can be constructed - at least relatable for people familiar with the Star Wars saga! He also briefly touched on the importance to gear the language used towards the audience and to provide the relevant context. Click on the image for a larger versioin to check a selection of Simon's very helpful slides:

SC3.3 compilation 1

The second presentation in this short course was given by Dr. Heather Handley who told us about how to deliver an effective short presentation. She highlighted how typical scientific communication goes from "Intro" via "Methods/Results" to "Discussion/Conlusion" and that this is basically inverted to how the media goes about it: "Main conclusion" followed by "Important facts" and "Background" coming last. Heather also told us about avoiding jargon and mentioned helpful resources to use in order to check things like readability, like the De-Jargonizer availble at Also important is to heed the "rule of threes" and to have a "Beginning", "Middle" and "End" in your presentation.

SC3.3 Composite 2

Even though the short course was about preparing and giving presentations, at least some of the information provided by Simon and Heather will turn out to be helpful for writing content for Skeptical Science as well.

To finish the first day at EGU24 I had planned to join another short course: SC2.5 Ethics for geoscientists in a time of crisis. Unfortunately, the Zoom-session for that kicked-in belatedly so that the session was then already ongoing and I had missed the introduction to it. Compared to the other short courses I had joined earlier in the day, this one was also difficult to follow due to some audio-issues in the room and the content including several hands-on exercises and activities for people in the room. So I only listened in for a while and used the time to work on this evolving blog post instead.

Tuesday, April 16

EGU Today

Here is how Tuesday unfolded:

The morning was taken up by a "double slot" Education and Outreach session (EOS4.4) titled Geoethics: The significance of geosciences for society and the e nvironment. This session was convened by Silvia Peppoloni with Svitlana Krakovska, Giuseppe Di Capua and David Crookall as co-conveners.

Geoscience knowledge and practices are essential for effectively navigating the complexities of the modern world. They play a critical role in addressing urgent global challenges on a planetary scale (including, climate change and its social, humanitarian, and health impacts), informing decision-making processes and guiding education at all levels. However, the response to these challenges remains largely inadequate across the board. By equipping both citizens and the wider societal stakeholders with the necessary knowledge background, geosciences empower them to engage in meaningful discussions, shape policies, contribute to reduce inequities and injustice, and implement solutions for local, regional, and global social-environmental problems. Within this broad scope, geoethics strives to establish a shared ethical framework that guides geoscientists’ engagement with sensitive and significant issues concerning the interaction between geoscience and society.

Part 1 of the session was chaired by Silvia Peppoloni and Guiseppe Di Capua who introduced the topic of geoethics briefly before the presentations got underway. We heard about the need of ethics training for geoscientists (Vincent Cronin), defining a geoethics code for the geoscientist community in Chile (Hernán Bobadilla), discussing the ethics of academic researchers' public advocacy (Eric Guilyardii), about social, environmental and ethical boundaries of mining activities (Richard Herrington), defining the term Anthropocene (Emlyn Koster), whether social justice notions can be inserted in to "blue economy" narratives (Cornelia E. Nauen) and about applying cultural psychology regarding Cape-Town Geoethics principles (Martin Bohle).

In addition, some poster presentations from Monday were briefly introduced. Pimnutcha Promduangsri invited attendees to participate in her research project on geography and climate eduction. Jayati Chawla told us about race and class disparities in urban heat in Australia and New Zealand. Giovanna Antonella Dino told us a about projects to boost education on responsible and sustainable mining.

EOS4.4 Part1

After the coffee break David Crookall and Svitlana Krakovska chaired the second part of EOS4.4 for which the focus shifted from geoethics to climate and ocean literacy. The eight presentations took us on a virtual trip around the globe, introducing several interesting research topics and projects. Pimnutcha Promduangsri told us about Méditerranée 2000 (Med2000), an environmental association in the South of France she and her sister Pariphat had volunteered for. Med2000 educates more than 25,000 young people and adults annually and offers awareness campaigns about climate and ocean change. Martin Mergili (Austria) made us wonder about some positive sides of landsides as they can lead to the creation of new habitat. They also offer an opportunity to evoke (e)motions with the help of virtual reality.

Eric Guilyardi introduced us to the Office for Climate Education in France which tries to tackle the challenges associated with climate change education. Change Hsuan Tsui looked at effects of religous beliefs on environmental attitudes in Taiwan. Gérard Vidal explained a new program to teach all students at a university in Lyon, France about climate change regardless of their chosen subjects. Maria Isabel Marin-Ceron explained an ongoing project which integrates the concept of science diplomacy, conducting an in-depth exploration of the intricate interrelations among geo-bio-cultural diversity and its pivotal role in peace building, risk management, and climate action in Colombian cities and territories. Susanne Neuer told us about the new School of Ocean Futures at the University of Arizona she is currently establishing. And last but not least, Stacey Alvarez de la Campa took us to Barbodos and her activities surrounding highlighting the importance of oceans.

EOS4.4 part 2

After the lunchbreak it was time for Education and Outreach session (EOS1.8) Telling climate stories: platforms, tools, and methodologies for accurate and engaging science communication.

Scientists, communicators, citizens, and the media: public awareness of climate change calls for interdisciplinary collaboration to create clear and cohesive narratives to reach a wide and diverse audience and create a real impact. Climate change narratives can take different paths and focus on different perspectives, professions, sectors, and the audience addressed. The role of trust is also pivotal, as different publics are likely to reject information, regardless of its accuracy, if the message doesn’t resonate with an individuals' personal experiences. [...] This session is also designed to host a space of dialogue among researchers, fact-checkers, and communications experts to assess how disinformation affects science credibility and society and present tools to tackle it, enhancing the quality of information with a positive effect on public trust in science and resilience.

This was another big EOS-session (both number of abstracts and attendees-wise!) divided into two parts with a mixture of presentations about "climate stories" and "debunking misinformation about climate change".Here is an impression of how it looked like in the room "on the ground" in Vienna:

EOS1.8 in the conference roomImage: Room 1.34 at VIC for session EOS1.8 (courtesy of Arianna Acierno)

The session was chaired by Arianna Acierno from the Euro-Mediterrenean Centre on Climate Change (CMCC) and Marjana Brkic and included the following abstracts:

EOS1.8 Part 1

After the coffee break the session commenced with the second half of the presentations:

EOS1.8 Part 2

One abstract had been withdrawn, so my slot to present came a bit earlier than planned but went pretty well as far as I can tell. In Resources to give facts a fighting chance against misinformation I briefly introduced participants to Skeptical Science, mentioned our rebuttals updates factory and the quick debunking of "Climate the Movie" before mentioning the Debunking Handbook, the Conspiracy Theory handbook, the FLICC taxonomy of science denial techniques and how to learn about them with the help of the Cranky Uncle game. Sounds like a lot? Yes, but it all fits within the 8 minutes, if only barely! My final presentation is available here or by clicking on this composite image (which is from the drafted version):

EGU24 EOS1.8 Fighting Chance

And with that, the 2nd day of EGU24 came to a close!

Wednesday April 17

EGU Today

Wednesday was a rather interesting day for me. It started at 8:30 with Union Symposia (US6) Misunderstanding or malice? Getting to the bottom of geoscience disinformation and much to my surprise I had been invited to be one of the panelists for this almost 2 hour long session. This was obviously a first for me, but (I think) it worked out well, in no small part due to the conveners being well aware of my background. This Union Symposia was convended by Flora Maria Brocza with Chloe Hill, Viktor J. Bruckman, Kirsten v. Elverfeldt and Christina West as co-conveners. Apart from myself, speakers for the session were Gaura Naithani (Project Manager & Researcher, European Journalism Centre) and Simon Clark (Science communicator & author).

Here is the description for the symposia:

The spread of false and misleading information can erode trust in public institutions, governments, and the scientific community. It fosters polarisation, disrupts informed decision-making, obstructs constructive dialogue, and subsequently poses a threat to social cohesion and democracy. As researchers, we stand in the eye of the storm. As professional “knowledge generators”, we produce and evaluate facts and should be well-equipped to debunk information we read elsewhere. At the same time, we may not be as well equipped as we think and our research may be taken out of context, with single facts inserted into a wider misleading narrative.

During this Union Symposium, an expert panel will outline what mis- and disinformation is, how it is created and spread in the digital age, why false experts gain traction and how they intentionally misrepresent scientific research, and how the dissemination of doubt and denial can undermine public trust, influence policy decisions, and impact society as a whole. The session will also discuss the role and responsibility of the scientific community in managing and preventing the spread of misinformation as well as the other tools that exist to deal with it.

After a short introduction of the session by Chloe Hill, Kirsten von Elverfeldt got things moving with introducing me as the first panelist. Together with the conveners for the panel session, we had decided that I'd give a quick introduction to science denial, misinformation, the dangers it poses, and how to inoculate people against the techniques used in science denial (click the link for the PDF-version or here for the notes version).

US6 slide deck

So, I was able to talk about the "stuff" I'm familiar and quite comfortable with, including at least some of the items mentioned in the presentation for EOS1.8 (see above) or other comparable presentation I already did at EGU and/or elserwhere. For whatever reason, I was much more relaxed than I expected to be and got through my presentation just fine. Chloe then had this follow-up question for me:

"What role does Skeptical Science play in helping prevent the spread of misinformation?"

Which I answered along these lines:

Based on feedback and "referrals" we get from scientists and others, our repository of rebuttals to climate myths is helpful to them as they can easily point others to our website instead of having to rebut the claims repeatedly themselves. As "Brandolini's Law" comes into play here, which states that "the amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it." I also mentioned the multi-lingual content we offer thanks to volunteer translation efforts, which - hopefully - helps increase our reach across the globe.

Next to speak was Gaura Naithani who is the Project Manager & Researcher for the European Journalism Centre (EJC). Gaura is a former multimedia journalist from India, who now works “with journalists” across Europe to support and develop relevant grants and training programmes. She is particularly focusing on social media platforms that have changed the way we produce and consume news. This year, she will also be leading the News Impact Summit for the European Journalism Centre with an emphasis on mis/dis info around climate. Gaura shared why the EJC developed a practical online and offline training programme for independent creators (journalists, climate scientists, activists,etc) to support them in elevating their climate journalism. Her opening presentation focused on:

  • The need for cross-sectoral collaboration to communicate climate science creatively
  • The role social media platforms are playing
  • How the training programme equipped participants to identify misinformation
  • Whether programmes like these are a potential solution

US6 Gaura Natihani EJC

Last but certainly not least, Simon Clark gave his introductory remarks. He is an award-winning science communicator and author from Bath, UK. He holds a PhD in atmospheric physics from the University of Exeter, and in 2023 was made an Honorary Industrial Fellow of the University of Bristol. Since 2017 he has worked as a full-time science communicator, specialising in creating online videos discussing aspects of the climate crisis which have been viewed over 50 million times (check his YouTube channel). He also hosts the How To Make A Science Video podcast, published an introductory book to atmospheric science, Firmame. Simon talked about his experience creating science videos on Youtube, how he comes up with a story line (something he explained in more details in short course SC3.3 on Monday) and how he sometimes creates a bit of a "trap" for climate science deniers with provocative video titles and images.

US6 Panel Simon Clark

After our introductory remarks, we got into the questions and answers part, where the first questions came from Chloe and Kirsten followed by questions from the audience. We touched on topics like how best to go about science-denying comments on our content, be it Youtube videos in Simon's case or on Skeptical Science content like our blog posts and rebuttals. Quite a bit of our discussion focused on various social media platforms and their options for moderation and if this can somehow be transferred to the "real world". Some questions circled around AI-tools and chat bots and whether they could be more employed for good or bad (with a reminder from Kirsten that they require a lot of energy to run, so tend to have a negative climate impact just based on that). All in all it was a very far-ranging discussion during which we all had ample opportunity to chime in with our answers and thoughts. Should a recording become available, I may add some more details about this Union Symposia in due course. For now, let me end with a sincere Thank You to the conveners of the session for giving me the opportunity to be on this panel!

Over the "lunch-break" I listened to Stefan Rahmstorf's Alfred Wegener Medal Lecture (MAL2) titled "Is the Atlantic Overturning Circulation approaching a tipping point?":

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) has a major impact on climate, not just around the northern Atlantic but globally. Paleoclimatic data show that it has been rather unstable in the past, leading to some of the most dramatic and abrupt climate shifts known.

These instabilities are due to two different types of tipping points, linked to amplifying feedbacks in the large-scale salt transport and in the convective mixing which drives the flow. Of particular concern is the evidence for an ongoing weakening of the AMOC: it likely is already at its weakest in a millennium.

These tipping points present a major risk of abrupt ocean circulation and climate shifts as we push our planet further out of the stable Holocene climate into uncharted waters. The lecture will discuss the paleoclimatic data, the instability mechanisms, the evidence for an AMOC slowdown and how close we may be to a dangerous tipping point.

Stefan Rahmstorf covered the long history of his research into all things AMOC which he also wrote about in a recently published article in OceanographyIs the Atlantic Overturning Circulation approaching a tipping point?

In the afternoon, I joined short course (SC2.10) From Misunderstanding to Malice: Countering Mis- and Disinformation which was closely related to US6 in the morning. The course was convenced by Kirsten v. Elverfeldt with Flora Maria Brocza, Maida Salkanovic, Chloe Hill and Simon Clark as co-conveners.

The research we conduct doesn’t fall into a vacuum. Once published, it enters a large information ecosystem, where we hope that our findings will resonate. As researchers, we devote our whole careers to the study of a narrow field of knowledge. This devotion is not shared by other players in this ecosystem who engage with our research, which might lead to misunderstandings and thus unintentional misinformation. Even others in the ecosystem intentionally seek to spread false information or foster ideologically driven disinformation campaigns. Thus, the players in the ecosystem range from fellow scientists from the same or other disciplines, journalists, politicians, social media influencers, the general public, to troll farms. Clearly, not all of them have or seek an in-depth understanding of the scientific context in which a particular piece of information slots into, and some merely seek to generate attention or outrage with their writing.

Many scientists feel somewhat uneasy in this ecosystem - lacking the tools to engage meaningfully. For example, when talking to journalists, information on the uncertainty of data may not be conveyed for the sake of clear and easy-to-follow storylines. Facts may be simplified or even misrepresented, which might lead to a certain reluctance of scientists to talk to journalists. However, especially this type of direct science-media-interaction is crucial for the debunking of mis- and disinformation.

Chloe Hill and Kirsten von Elverfeldt kicked of the short course with short presentations about mis- and disinformation. Chloe laid the foundation with explaining the differences between mis- and disinformation, followed by Kirsten giving us some examples of the different "dummy arguments", also known as logical fallacies:


In the late afternoon - starting at 16:15 - I joined the first part of Education and Outreach session (EOS1.1) Science and Society: Science Communication Practice, Research, and Reflection. Based on previous years' experiences I had fairly high expectations that this would be another chance to learn about several interesting projects related to science communication. I wasn't disappointed! The session was convended by Solmaz Mohadjer and Roberta Bellini, Francesco Avanzi, Usha Harris and Maria Vittoria Gargiulo as co-conveners.

Science communication includes the efforts of natural, physical and social scientists, communications professionals, and teams that communicate the process and values of science and scientific findings to non-specialist audiences outside of formal educational settings. The goals of science communication can include enhanced dialogue, understanding, awareness, enthusiasm, improving decision making, or influencing behaviors. Channels can include in-person interaction, online, social media, mass media, or other methods. This session invites presentations by individuals and teams on science communication practice, research, and reflection, addressing questions like: What kind of communication efforts are you engaging in and how you are doing it? How is social science informing understandings of audiences, strategies, or effects? What are lessons learned from long-term communication efforts?

Here is the list of abstracts presented in the session:

 EOS1.1 Part 1

And with that, another exciting day came to a close!

Thursday April 18

EGU Today

The morning was taken up with the second and third parts of Education and Outreach session (EOS1.1) Science and Society: Science Communication Practice, Research, and Reflection (see above for description).

Abstracts in the 2nd part had climate change as the common thread:

EOS1.1 Part 2

Abstracts in the 3rd part focused on geoscience-related projects:

EOS1.1 Part 3

In the afternoon it was time for short course (SC3.2) Elevate your Pitch: Developing Engaging Short Scientific Presentations. This turned out to be a very lively, interesting, helpful and fun short course! Topics covered included:

  • Structuring a killer elevator pitch – learning from 1/2/3-min examples
  • Knowing your audience – harnessing the power of tailored openings/closings
  • Captivating delivery – leveraging body language to your advantage
  • Harnessing creativity - choosing the right medium
  • Enunciating to engage – communicating across borders
  • Effectively practising your pitch – making the best of your time

The course included some hands-on practice to write and deliver a 1-minute pitch about a (research) project which virtual participants could do on the "rooftop" in if they wanted to. I quickly cobbled together this pitch about a certain Cranky Uncle:

Being a science communicator, I don't do any research but I can tell you about a neat project I'm involved with. So, here goes: What's the best way to understand the science denial arguments from your cranky uncle? From a Cranky Uncle as your mentor, of course! And that's what the Cranky Uncle game provides! Cranky Uncle teaches you the techniques he uses to deny science and then you practice with the help of cartoon quizzes to identify them quickly.

I delivered that to fellow virtual participant Milo and he plans to download the game - so the pitch was apparently successful! Once the Zoom-session resumed I was also able to give the pitch to the room, so a very successful application of a hybrid meeting!

SC3.2 Pitch

The final session for me on Thursday was the Education and Outreach session (EOS4.1) Science Policy Interface: Shaping Debates and building bridges. I picked this for two reasons: it was another repeat for me and earlier sessions had been interesting. And, it's a session in the fun - if somewhat hectic - PICO format, with a whirlwiind of 2-minute "long" pitches followed by longer discussions with abstract authors at their onsite or virtual screens. The session was convened by Marie Heidenreich with Susann Birnstengel, Giorgia StasiECS, Chloe Hill and Maria Vittoria Gargiulo as co-conveners.

Scientific knowledge is crucial for shaping policies related to climate, environment, sustainability, and resources. To have an impact on politics, research needs to communicate in a way that addresses needs and offers solutions. However, it is important to identify the most effective science policy formats that can contribute to enriching political debates. While there are now many resources available to scientists who would like to engage in the policymaking process, finding specific information or practical examples that relate to a specific discipline or field of research can be challenging.

This session aims to bridge that gap by highlighting success stories from scientists who have engaged in policy and made critical societal impacts – either on a European, national, or local level – across different scientific disciplines and science officers who have facilitated successful science-policy-dialogues. It will also aim to examine the various challenges that researchers face when engaging on the science-policy interface and various strategies that others have taken to manage and overcome them.

As expected, a big range of institutions, activities and projects trying to bridge the gap between science and policy were introduced. We heard about projects funded by the European Research Council (ERC), about Helmoltz scientists meeting members of the European Parliament (EEmeetsEP), about the Leopoldina’s perspective on community and policy advice, about the Parliamentary Evening, about bridging the gap between scientists and policymakers, about connecting geothermal energy research and policy in Ireland, and about Reflecting on the role of science advice in the climate crisis to name just a few of the pitches delivered within about 40 minutes.


Friday, April 19

EGU Today

I had a "late start" to the day on Friday with Great Debate (GDB8) about Artificial Intelligence in scientific publishing: blessing or bane? This turned out to be a lot more interesting than I had thought it would be.

Technological developments have always had an impact on the evolution of scientific publishing, transitioning from ink and paper to its current electronic format. In this context, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made its way to the process of publishing research results.

The advent of Large Language Models (LLM) which are capable of generating various types of textual content, raised concerns within the scientific community with regards to presenting research output. This new technological revolution is developing at a fast pace, with possibly significant consequences for scientific publications.

The rise of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, including Large Language Models (LLM), presents both challenges and opportunities for scientific publishing. How can we use these tools responsibly and effectively?

The discussion will explore several aspects of the topic, including:

  • Best practices in employing AI tools for scientific writing
  • The potential of AI to assist in the peer review process
  • Responsibilities and ethical considerations for authors, reviewers, editors and publishers

The panel discussion among the participants (Fernanda Matos, PhD candidate, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Germany / Marie Soulière, Head of Publication Ethics and Quality Assurance, Frontiers, Switzerland / Tina Treude, Professor, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and Executive Editor, EGU Journals (Biogeosciences), USA / Tony Ross-Hellauer, Senior Researcher, Graz University of Technology and Know-Center GmbH, Austria) focused on scientific publishing, what AI can and shouldn't be used for and how guidelines for its ethical use are needed. This however can also at least to some extent be applied to what we write for Skeptical Science. Just to give a simple example: I've been using fairly regularly to create a first draft of a German translation which is a big time saver as it helps to get the wording and sentence structure right. The recording of this far ranging great debate will eventually be available on Youtube and I'll embed it here as soon as this happened. In the meantime, here is a composite image for both debates:

GDB9 and GDB6

In the afternoon, the Great Debate (GDB6) If informing is not enough, how should scientists engage to accelerate the social transformation required by climate change and biodiversity collapse? was my last session for this year's EGU conference.

Numerous geoscientists are producing and disseminating knowledge about climate change and contemporary environmental degradation to increasingly wider audiences, from civil society to policymakers. This knowledge is notably gathered in alarming reports by scientific institutions such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and it indicates that rapid and radical transformations of our societies are simply vital.

Still, ongoing efforts to trigger such transformations, whether by political, economic, or civil society stakeholders, often fall short of the urgent actions recommended. It has increasingly been suggested that putting most efforts into ever-improving knowledge and communication is a strategy that can only address part of the obvious gap between Science and the required societal change (see review articles by Stoddard et al., 2021 and Oreskes, 2022).

This great debate was convened by Odin Marc, Marthe Wens and Riccardo Riva and featured Sonia Seneviratne (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), Julia Steinberger (Lausanne, Switzerland), Augustin Fragnière (University of Lausanne, Switzerland) and Oscar Berglund (Bristol, United Kingdom). The engaged discussion included pros and cons of scientists getting involved in protests and how effective - or not - they are.

Final thoughts

As expected, EGU24 was another intense week for me following many sessions virtually. Overall, the hybrid format worked pretty well for me from the relative comfort of my office at home. One advantage certainly was the short "commute" each morning from the living room to the "office" and that going from one session to another only involved some virtual "meet hopping" from one Zoom-call to the next. It was also a lot easier to work on this evolving blog post throughout the days instead of cramming most of that "task" into the evenings spent at the hotel in Vienna.

The one thing that I think could be improved for virtual participants is to make better use of the virtual meeting space It could for example be actively promoted during short courses when on-premise participants are working on tasks in groups with having a virtual space there (the Rooftop would bea  nice place for that!). In addition virtual pop-up events scheduled for could be promoted right there, so that people wandering around with their avatars have a chance to notice and join them.

All in all, the conference provided a lot of food for thought, some new connections and several websites to check out in more detail. And last but not least, I'm really glad that I accepted the "challenge" from Chloe Hill and Kirsten von Elverfeldt to be on the panel of Union Symposia 6 about Misunderstanding or malice? Getting to the bottom of geoscience disinformation! This session certainly turned out to be the highlight of the week for me!

And with that, it's a wrap! I'm already looking forward to what next year's General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union will bring from April 27 to May 2 2025 which I plan to join in Vienna again.

All Days in one image

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