Science Opinion

University of California Scientists Present Climate Change Solutions

By Charles Taylor Kerchner — April 19, 2017 3 min read
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University of California scientists want to change how we think about climate change, just in time for Earth Day and the demonstrations on Saturday.

Climate Lab, a six-episode video series, a partnership between UC and Vox media debuts today. “We need to change the way we talk about climate change,” said series host M. Sanjayan, a conservation scientist and UCLA visiting researcher, in today’s episode.

“This gloom-and-doom messaging just isn’t working,” he adds. Fear makes people passive, and “with a problem this overwhelming, it’s pretty easy to turn away.”

So, in the first and subsequent videos—one each Wednesday— Sanjayan and interviewees will present practical approaches to everything from clean energy to food, religion, and smartphones. Governmental action gets a look too, in a way that the series authors hope will bridge partisan divides.

Which is a good thing. Climate change is one of the issues where ordinary citizens are much more united and willing to act than either Congress or the President.

Americans overwhelmingly believe that global warming is happening and that carbon emissions should be scaled back. On average, 69% favor restrictions on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, for example. (Maps published by the New York Times based on data released by the Yale Program on Climate Communication.)

Climate Lab videos will be featured on the UC Climate Solutions website and Vox’s YouTube with a host of related content, including infographics, quizzes and articles.

“As Climate Lab shows, investments in research and technology are critically important as we work to address global climate disruption,” President Janet Napolitano said in a release. She has set UC toward a goal of carbon neutrality by 2025, one whose clean energy projects have already generated savings of $28-million a year.

The series couldn’t come at a better time. Members of Congress are getting an earful in their home districts about the Trump Administration’s “war on science” and climate change denial. In coastal areas, rising sea levels are not an abstract concept but one that confronts homeowners with the loss of insurance and city governments with repeated catastrophic losses. It’s time for scientists to have turned into activists with a March for Science on Saturday and People’s Climate March at the end of April.

Meanwhile, climate change deniers want even more drastic action than the banning of the phrase “climate change” at the Environmental Protection Agency, which is slated for a huge budget cut.

I liked the first episode in the UC/Vox series. Especially, I liked the lack of yelling, the lack of hyperbole. If the other episodes follow suit, we’ll see scientists and academics doing what they do best, talking facts and solutions.

@realDonaldTrump meet real science.

• • • •

Here’s a summary of the episodes:

  • Episode 1 - April 19 - “Why humans are so bad at thinking about climate change.” Explores the complex psychology of climate change and the surprising ways we can motivate people to change their behavior.

  • Episode 2 - April 26 - Going green. Explores how our day-to-day behavior affects climate change.

  • Episode 3 - May 3 - Smartphones. Explores the environmental impact and carbon footprint of smartphones.

  • Episode 4 - May 10 - Food waste. Examines the impact of food waste and its contribution to greenhouse gasses.

  • Episode 5 - May 17 - Nuclear energy. Focuses on how we can fight climate change with nuclear energy, and how renewable energy can thrive in our future grid.

  • Episode 6 - May 24 - Messengers. Examines how climate change messengers (scientists, public figures) can dramatically impact how people feel and act on the issue.

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