OurEden environmental videos grow large following
Our Centre for Environment and Sustainability has been a vocal contributor to the ecological debate for nearly three decades. But a trio of PhD students from elsewhere in the University are starting to make their voices heard as well.
Ash Stott and Cameron Underwood, from our Advanced Technology Institute, and Tim Sidnell, from our Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, have been making waves with an ongoing series of YouTube videos. Under the title, OurEden, the trio research and discuss burning environmental topics, and offer practical tips for sustainable living.
Facts not fiction
“We were discussing what we wanted to do after our PhDs end,” says Tim. “We all want to work in sustainability, and this seemed like a good way to learn more about the issues outside our own specific research areas.”
“A lot of the online content on environmental issues tends to fall into two types. It’s either overtly optimistic technology-based videos or it’s pessimistic climate nihilism,” adds Ash.
Cameron comments: “A lot of the data and information on some sites and channels is also highly questionable because the whole argument has become so politically and economically entwined.
“As research scientists, we wanted to present a more accurate analysis and offer actionable points that viewers can take to positively impact the effects of climate change.”
So far, the channel has several videos online, one of which has generated 34,000 views, and there are plans to create many more.
“I really enjoyed working on The War on Bees, which is about the effect of modern agriculture on pollinators,” says Ash. “It also made me do a couple of things we suggest in the film, like buying locally produced honey and planting wildflowers.”
“My favourite film so far is The Next Generation of Solar Energy,” laughs Cameron. “It’s a bit of a biased choice as it’s about perovskite solar cells and energy harvesting, which is what my PhD is on.”
“Like Cameron, I did one based around my PhD,” adds Tim. “It’s called PFAS: The Science of Dark Waters and it’s about water pollution and using technologies to clean contaminated water.
“I also liked researching The World’s First Carbon Negative Country. It’s about Bhutan, which is a small nation in South Asia that’s doing all the right things, like banning smoking and plastic bags. But it suffers greatly from the effects of climate change because of its geographical location.”
The trio are currently working on more releases, which include films investigating how the climate crisis will be influenced by the outcome of the US election, and the sustainability of electric vehicles. Their most recent film examines the carbon footprint of the internet.
Ash reports: “Ultimately, we want to continue and hopefully inform and educate more people. If anything, we’ve got more passionate about this project as we’ve progressed with it.
“We want to be a reliable and trusted source of scientifically accredited information on climate change. We hope people find our content entertaining and helpful.”