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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Sirens and solutions: NI Science Festival kicks off with call for action on climate change

‘The Oil Machine’


As the 2023 NI Science Festival gets underway its organisers have sounded the SIREN on the climate emergency.


The annual festival, a celebration of all things science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM), returns for a jam-packed 11 days of discovery from Thursday 16 – Sunday 26 February.


Over 200 events are planned across Northern Ireland covering everything from the natural world, our planet, and the vast expanse of space to technology, engineering, the mind and body, food and much more.


As part of this year’s festival, its climate convention SIREN will come to The Playhouse in Derry~Londonderry on Saturday 18 and Ulster University in Belfast on Saturday 25 February.


SIREN will bring together a range of inspirational speakers, traders and environmental organisations to share ideas and practical solutions on everything from conservation to living a more eco-friendly lifestyle.


Suitable for all ages, the drop-in event will feature a range of workshops, exhibitions, discussions, screenings, a traders market and more.


NI Science Festival director Sarah Jones says:

“SIREN signals the immensity of the climate emergency, the greatest challenge of our century. Only by recognising the issues can we begin to address them – and that’s the other very important part of this series of events. We want it to challenge and to encourage audiences to think, but we also want it to provide solutions and practical steps to help reduce our collective environmental footprint.”


In the Belfast edition of the event, Eoghan Daltun, a conservator, farmer and rewilder will guide audiences through his personal journey into the magic of rewilding. Fulfilling his ambition to rewild a 73-acre farmland in West Cork, the author of An Irish Atlantic Rainforest will share fascinating insights into how he established a flourishing Irish rainforest on the Beara Peninsula.

(Insights from Madagascar and the Amazon) Ricardo Rocha, Amazon, Photo by Madalena Boto.


In Insights from Madagascar and the Amazon, National Geographic explorer Ricardo Rocha will explore the links between bats, human food security and forest regeneration. Using examples from Madagascar and the Brazilian Amazon, he will explain how tropical bats react to deforestation and how, by supporting farmers and planting secondary forests, they can contribute to human food security and help reverse the effects of climate change.


The festival will also screen The Oil Machine, which brings together a wide range of voices from oil company executives, economists, young activists, workers, scientists, and pension fund managers. It explores the complexities of transitioning away from oil and gas as a society and considers how quickly we can do it. The screening will be followed by a discussion with climate activists Anna Kernahan and Dylan Hamilton, who features in the documentary.


Delve into the deep with marine biologist Dr Helen Scales as she explores the living wonders in the greatest ocean depths. Her talk, The Brilliant Abyss, shows just how far people have gone to exploit the sea – for knowledge and profit – and the perils it currently faces.

(The Brilliant Abyss) Helen Scales and fish by Ria Mishaal.


In Biodiverse City, local conservationist and broadcaster Conor McKinney discusses the internationally agreed targets from the COP15 conference on biodiversity and poses the question: how can Belfast live up to these ambitions?


Environmental Éadaí will explore the world of sustainable fashion. Led by Moya Doogan, who runs the bilingual @environmentaléadaí Instagram account, this talk will cover the environmental and mental benefits that come with living a slower, more sustainable and fast fashion free life.

Crossota sp., a deep red medusa found just off the bottom of the deep sea.


The event will also welcome local participants from Innovate UK’s Young Innovators programme to discuss their groundbreaking business ideas that are tackling some of the most pressing environmental, economic and societal challenges of our times.


NI Science Festival is supported by the Department for the Economy, Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, British Council Northern Ireland, MCS Group, The Open University NI, Innovate UK, Matrix NI, Film Hub NI, Institute of Physics, Belfast Harbour and Halifax Foundation.


The 2023 NI Science Festival runs 16–26 February.

For more information about events and bookings, visit Keep up to date with the festival on social media via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


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