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 School of Geography and the Environment

22 May 2012


Will.i.am and Oxford Professor discuss creative technology and climate change

Black Eyed Peas artist – "fascinated by science" – wants to reduce climate confusion

Will.i.am and Oxford Professor discuss creative technology and climate change

Will.i.am, a founding member and producer of supergroup Black Eyed Peas, visited Oxford on Monday 21st May to discuss climate science. The megastar met with Professor Myles Allen, professor of Geosystem Science at Oxford University’s School of Geography and Environment and Department of Physics.

Will.i.am arrived by bicycle to meet Professor Allen in the historic Radcliffe Observatory at Green Templeton College. The Observatory’s stunning architecture is based on the ancient Tower of Winds in Athens depicting the powerful impacts of strong winds upon farming and other activities for the ancients Greeks.

The meeting in Oxford was about the power of computers to help us understand our own climate futures. However, with the Radcliffe Observatory being host to the UK’s longest running series of continuous daily weather observations Will first had the chance to see hand-written records for his own birthday - 15th March - in 1811.

Will.i.am discusses climate science with Myles Allen

The discussion then jumped forward two hundred years to focus on how the latest technology trends in computing are changing the way all of us can help explore what is happening to our planet today. Will.i.am, in addition to his music and TV career, is Director of Creative Innovation at Intel, famed for their ground-breaking computer processors. He is helping to promote Intel’s Progress thru Processors initiative. This encourages the use of computers across the world for public good, enabling people to donate their computer’s power when it is idle to help science researchers for anything from predicting climate change to curing cancer.

Will.i.am himself has been concerned about climate change for several years, appearing at Live Earth and writing the track Take our Planet Back. He is also “fascinated by science” and keen on supporting its education. Discussing climate science with Professor Allen, Will said:

"Climate change is confusing . I’ll tell you why it is confusing. It should be the thing that we all should be worried and concerned about as humans on this planet - how we affect the planet, our consumption and how we treat the place that we live in. So you would think that it would be the most important thing. But it is confusing that it is not. If you ask a random person walking down the street how important climate change [is], they have been given five different versions of why it is not even an issue. That’s confusing. Who is causing the confusion and why isn’t it a priority?"

Will came to Oxford to talk to Myles Allen about Weatherathome, one of the initiatives Progress thru Processors is looking to help. Weatherathome, supported by the Guardian, seeks to understand how climate change may be producing damaging – or beneficial – weather events affecting people’s lives in specific regions of the world. It has been created by the climateprediction.net initiative, the world’s largest climate forecasting experiment, led by Professor Allen. Hundreds of thousands of people in more than 150 countries have made their computers available for climateprediction.net.

Professor Allen is keen to encourage many more people to now join the new international project weatherathome. He said "It was inspiring to see that Will was so enthusiastic and well informed about how we are trying to use computer technology to improve our understanding about our climate futures."

Members of the public can sign up – free – to weatherathome.

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