Talking to climate scientists


So, it’s 10.20pm in January 2019 and I’m sitting checking my recording of a conversation I’ve just had with the brilliant Professor Julia Steinberger and I’m reflecting on a couple of things she said. It is pretty humbling to be told by a climate scientist that one thing they’re sad about is that their own child won’t see the winter that they themselves saw as they grew up. When Julia said this to me, I have to admit I was a bit taken aback. I mean, I’ve been reading a lot of headlines, a lot, and getting as animated as I can about it all. But when a serious expert who has literally spent their life studying this stuff floors you with a fact like this (I’m still thinking we can get it all back to normal), or that e.g. we’re going to turn the planetary clock back 3 million years over the next 10 years, in terms of temperature, or that – as another climate scientist I’ve been talking to recently said, that the planet is not going to recover for, at the very least, 300 years, probably more like thousands, from what we’ve already done… then, well, what do we do with this information? There is a bizarreness in this shared grief. Think about how hard it is to think of the right thing to say when someone loses a parent or friend, we’re so untrained to talk about death. And then imagine that in them telling us, that actually they’re also telling us that someone *we* know has died. But then, I really am a ‘yes’ person, as we discuss in the conversation – which will be launching as my first podcast of the year hopefully by the end of this week. We ended on a strong note, despite the enormity of it all weighing so heavily. Fortunately for all of us, climate scientists like Julia are “taking risks”, becoming braver and reaching out beyond the safety of an academic paper. We need to do our bit and listen to experts like her (please read her totally brilliant blog when I post all the links). We really must rise up. And it’s not some fad protest. As she said, she really thought 10 years ago the adults would sort everything out. They haven’t. We, in this bizarrest of coincidences, across millennia, are the adults now.

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