[ESSAY] How am I supposed to answer “Are we screwed?”

This essay was written by Mike Osborne.  If you wish to hear Mike read it, click play below.

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As a climate scientist in training, the most common question I get from my non-science friends is this: “So, are we just, like… screwed?” That’s it. That’s the question I get. Are we screwed?

It took a while for me to get comfortable with this question, and, at first, I had no idea how to react. This is a really interesting question to be asked. It’s vague, full of fear, and totally lacking any nuance whatsoever. Actually, if I’m honest with myself, it’s the question that drove me to become a climate scientist in the first place. Ten years ago I walked away from college thinking, “The planet is screwed, we’re all screwed. Or, at least I think we’re screwed. But wait…are we really screwed? Maybe not. Shoot, I don’t know. I don’t have enough information here. I’ll go back to school.” Continue reading

Sandy, NOAA, and the woman in charge

Jane Lubchenco, the former head of the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), discusses what it’s like being asked to join the president’s “science team,” the tremendous breadth of research covered by NOAA, and what it’s like sitting in an airplane flying through hurricane Sandy.  Dr. Lubchenco also reflects on her work as a science communicator and the now “platinum standard” of open science communication she helped develop at NOAA.

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The human cost of climate change

Expert on international law Andrew Guzman takes a step back from analyzing climate change in terms of degrees and meters of sea level rise and breaks down all the ways climate change will affect humanity.  Dr. Guzman offers this perspective through his new book, Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change.  From environmental refugees to changing disease vectors to social conflict, Guzman illustrates how nearly all of our human systems interact with climate and therefore will feel the effects of even +2C.

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If Bilbo Baggins had an environmental school

After growing up in a remote corner of Alaska, marine biologist Zach Brown wants to start a school to teach future scientists about environmental sciences and sustainability.  Zach tells producers Mike and Leslie about his vision for the Inian Islands Institute (nicknamed “The Hobbit Hole”) and how experiential education is perhaps the best way to clearly see the lost connections between human systems and the natural world.  Zach also remembers what it’s like growing up with only a single television channel, and how often the signal would drop out… with some interesting results.

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