Some of the events at this fifth (fifth!) Festival of Words have been discussions of books. Some have been expressions of various forms of artistry and creativity. And then you have events like this, something else again. When a member of the audience asks “Does the future scare you?”, you become aware that there’s a whole new context to the book discussion – more at stake than just the printed word.
In this illuminating hour at the Arts Centre, Professor Alex Rogers barely referred to his book, The Deep. Instead, the focus was firmly on the barely-mapped wonders of the lowest points of the ocean and how we are now altering and destroying those self-same wonders. Whilst we can see with our own eyes the catastrophic effects of the climate shifting, it is harder for us to understand that extinction-level events may also be happening in those watery parts of the world below several atmospheres of pressure.
He spoke to a packed Arts Centre in calm and clear tones that only gave his message an authority which pure panic could not have. And there is evidently much we should be panicking over. Whilst I’m grateful to the Festival for bringing Professor Rogers over to speak, I left the event hoping that the next time he visits it will be in a professional maritime capacity, advising those in authority on how we can mitigate the changes happening in our seas. I don’t think he would claim to have all the answers, but it’s reassuring to know that there are experts such as him out there who have such a passionate understanding of the oceans to help set us on the right path.
A sobering but essential close to the Festival.
WORDS: BEN EVANS
PICTURE: PETER MOURANT