Book Review: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Image

By Mike SanClements

Apparently, the only thing us bloggers did over the holidays was sit around and read books. So, much like Kelly’s post earlier this week, I’ll also be writing about something I recently read.

Flight Behavior, the new Barbara Kingsolver novel, discusses climate change more openly and intelligently than any other piece of fiction I’ve come across. And the writing is gorgeous. Continue reading

An Early Career Ecologist in The NY Times = Science Communication at its Best

A toy wagon transports scientific equipment to Toolik Field Station on the North Slope of Alaska (parked here beneath the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline). Photo Credit: Mike SanClements, 2012.

Field work is often the basis of ecological research. It allows researchers to directly assess the natural world and its many complexities. It also gives us access to many things we rarely encounter in our daily lives . . . Adventure? Definitely. Awesome landscapes? Duh. The Arctic? Yep. Wait, what? No, way. Who works in the Arctic? Now, that’s worth writing home about!

And, that is precisely what one of our very own ecologists, Dr. Mike SanClements, did following his most recent trip to the Toolik Field Station in Alaska’s Arctic Tundra. Check out his field notes on his adventures in climate change research via The New York Times’ Dot Earth blog: Creating a Vital Long View for Gauging Environmental Change. The best science (and scientist) is pounding the pavement and communicating with the masses. Go, Mike!

Climate Change Series– It’s a wrap!

By Kristin Marshall, Sarah Bisbing, and Mike SanClements

A quick review and wrap-up on our climate change series.  We hope we’ve provided you all with some new information and resources and convinced at least a few of you to put global climate change on your radar. In case you missed one of the posts, here are the links to all of them:

Part 1 – Climate Change for Beginners: the Uninformed, the Skeptics, and the Deniers

Part 2 – Climate Change Silence: Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

Part 3 – Winning Over the Climate Change Skeptics

Part 4 – Unconvinced that climate change action demands immediate action? Think again!
Continue reading

Unconvinced that climate change demands immediate action? Think again!

Climate Change for Beginners: Convincing the Deniers (Part 4 of 4 )

By Mike SanClements

Over the last day or so, Sarah and Kristin have done a wonderful job discussing the science behind climate change and arguments for winning over climate skeptics. And if we’re doing our job well, maybe we’ve convinced you of the science. But perhaps you’re still unconvinced that climate change is a big enough problem to require any action.

These days, most of us have become extremely disconnected from our climate. And even though I think about climate change on a daily basis at work, it only takes a minute of reflection to see how easily it might fall from your mind if you didn’t. We all have our daily lives to live, work to do, and problems to deal with, making the idea of upending our comfy status quo seem unthinkable (or at least like some abstract future thing).

When society does seem to voice worry about our climate it’s often met with the argument that addressing climate change will destroy the economy. A silly argument, because the economy exists within the environment and is already feeling the effects of climate change. Continue reading

Winning over the climate change skeptics

Climate Change for Beginners: Winning Over the Skeptics (Part 3 of 4 )

By Kristin Marshall

Now that we’ve given some basic facts and evidence for global climate change (thanks to Sarah), it’s time to turn to the skeptics.  By skeptics, I mean people who have seen the evidence but still aren’t convinced.

Being skeptical is nothing new to the scientific community. In fact, we are trained to be inherently skeptical. The scientific method relies on constructing hypotheses, collecting data, and then determining whether the data support or refute the hypothesis. Repeating this process many times and submitting our work to journals (where research is subjected to anonymous review by our peers) is how we move science forward.  Sometimes, we even agree.  Even though the peer review system isn’t perfect, all of these steps mean that reaching consensus in the scientific literature is no trivial task.  This is one reason why when 97 percent of practicing climate scientists agree that climate change is real and human-caused, the broader scientific community takes notice. Continue reading

Climate Change Silence: Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

Sperry Glacier (Glacier National Park, Motana) repeat photography shows the glacier’s recession between 1913 (credit: W.C. Alden) and 2012 (credit: Lisa McKeon). Photos are part of the USGS Repeat Photography Project (http://nrmsc.usgs.gov/reapeatphoto/)

Climate Change for Beginners: Addressing the Uninformed (Part 2 of 4 )

By Sarah Bisbing

Despite ample evidence supporting the occurrence of global climate change, the consequences and risks associated with this change are seldom the topic of dialogue in classrooms, amongst communities, or even between those determining the fate of scientific policy (ahem, presidential candidates). This incredibly relevant, world-altering topic thus remains poorly understood and seemingly irrelevant in day-to-day life.

Americans, nevertheless, stand firm on their position in the divisive battle over the existence of climate change – a topic so infrequently on our radar that we actually lack the knowledge required to take a educated stance (or make an informed decision). A Yale University climate change literacy assessment concluded that over 50% of the American public would receive an ‘F’ (an F !!!) for their climate literacy, while only 1% has knowledge equivalent to an ‘A.’

Ummm, does anyone else see this as a problem?

Continue reading