The new year promises to provide fascinating – and challenging – opportunities and hurdles for those involved in climate change science and policy issues. Yale Climate Connections asked 13 influential and respected voices in the climate change research, policy, and communications fields to describe, in just 100 words or so, their climate change-related New Year’s Resolutions:
Richard Alley, PhD, Professor, Penn State University, State College, Pa., and National Academy of Sciences Member.
Wisely using our knowledge about climate and energy can give us a better economy as well as a cleaner environment. And, in addressing these twin challenges, we can achieve the long-sought goal of abundant, sustainable energy, providing everyone with the good that some of us have been obtaining from the energy stored in fossil fuels. These insights are not opinions; they are the results of extensive, solid scholarship. Despite great efforts by our community, however, I believe many of our fellow citizens don’t know this. So, my resolution is to help make these results more widely available.
Kim Cobb, PhD, Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Ga.
My dreams of a federal carbon tax are dashed, but the health of the planet must not wait for favorable winds in Washington DC. As I grimly assess the damage from 2016’s record-breaking warmth, new hope and determination are taking root. I will redouble my efforts at climate mitigation within my family, my university, my city, and my state, even as I find new courage to defend climate science, and climate scientists, from attack. Perhaps this is just what the doctor ordered: How much are you willing to give for climate health? I daresay that for many, the answer will be ‘more than ever before’.
Greg Dalton, Executive Producer and Host, Climate One at the Commonwealth Club, San Francisco.
I resolve not to get caught in the doom and gloom narrative gripping the climate community since the election.
In the 10 years I have been interviewing thought leaders on Climate One podcast series, I have learned that negativity in the conversation is a turnoff. It leads to burnout and depression – increasingly a risk for the climate-conscious. One way I’ve flipped that is by no longer lamenting rainy days in drought-stricken California. Instead, I enjoy the sound and smell of rain. I also focus where there’s hope. We are still drilling, and bad things will happen. But clean energy markets and technologies are marching forward – and that is good news.
David Doniger, Director, Climate and Clean Air Program, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C.
No one voted against clean air and water, clean energy, or a safe climate. Indeed, pre- and post-election polls show a solid majority supports our environmental laws and regulatory safeguards – and that majority includes a good chunk of Trump voters. My resolution is to fight against rollbacks in Congress, the courts, and the court of public opinion. As under Reagan, Bush 43, and the Gingrich Congress, Trump and the GOP Congress will overreach and the majority will punish them. This will be ugly, but we’ll get back on course. But there’s no replacing the time lost.
Jennifer Francis, PhD, Research Professor, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.
A Post-Election New Year’s Resolution by a Climate Scientist
* STEP IT UP!!
* Embrace opportunities to talk with various audiences about the unraveling Arctic and why it matters to all of us, and how we can help slow the impacts.
* Do more to help my little sea-side New England town prepare for sea-level rise and more extreme weather.
* Exploit avenues and tactics to engage climate-averse minds by appealing to topics they care about, an approach I call “slipping spinach into a cheeseburger.” The Arctic and extreme weather are perfect for this: Everyone loves to talk about crazy weather, and explaining how it could be related to the Arctic Meltdown may open a window for discussing climate change.
* Hang out more with my wonderful kids and husband.
Bryce Madder, 12-year-old climate activist and educator and Founder of www.polararmy, Grand Rapids, Mi.
My New Year’s Resolution: Stop Eating Like a COW!
Okay, perhaps my title is simply a play on words. But in all seriousness, my New Year’s Resolution is to STOP eating red meat! I’m a typical 12 year-old boy. There is nothing that makes my mouth water more than a big, fat, juicy burger, dripping with grease, and topped with melted cheese, lettuce, and ketchup. But the fact is, cows are bad for the environment!
Each cow represents a major source of pollution contributing to climate change. Also, forests are being cut down to allow for more pastures. According to the website Climate Central, reducing red meat consumption could lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 15-35% by 2050. Perhaps the best way to fight climate change is to stop eating so many burgers!
Edward W Maibach, PhD, George Mason University social scientist and director of Center for Climate Change Communication, Fairfax, Va.
My 2017 resolution: A haiku
* Let it be resolved
What I do today must count.
This is not a drill.
Chris McEntee, Executive Director and CEO of American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C.
As we shepherd in the New Year, we’re also shepherding in a new Administration and Congress … and the changing priorities that come with such a shift, particularly related to scientific research and science’s role in informing public policy.
During such times of uncertainty, science must not sit quietly on the sidelines. The Earth and space science community is driven by a desire to find solutions and build a more sustainable future for us all. Each of us must speak up and give voice to the value of science. Our resolution for the New Year is to be a strong voice for climate science, scientific integrity, and funding for research—fighting against misinformation and standing up for the scientists who do this important work—and to inspire our community to speak out and share their science.
Andrew Revkin, former New York Times and dot.earth reporter and analyst, now doing investigative reporting on climate for ProPublica, New York, N.Y.:
In the midst of extraordinary political upheaval in the United States and other inward-turning countries, I resolve to keep my reporting focused on what policies or practices, from local to global scales, can help or hinder humanity’s journey toward a sustainable relationship with climate and energy.
Terry L. Root, PhD, Senior Fellow (University Faculty) Emerita, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, Sarasota, Fl.
With the incoming President and no national advances on climate likely, I resolve to:
Work in my new (and “red”) home state of Florida to help expand use of renewable energy, mainly solar;
Work with National Audubon Society to help it be proactive in siting of wind turbines;
Work on showing how the ranges of songbirds in North America have changed in response to warming that has already occurred;
Work on showing how seabirds, including endangered albatrosses, in New Zealand, have changed the timing of their migrations in response to existing warming.
Jeff Severinghaus, PhD, Professor of Geosciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, Ca., and National Academy of Sciences Member.
This year, whenever I get discouraged about the slow pace of the transition to clean energy, I will remember the words of the Danish poet Piet Hein:
“Problems worthy of attack
Show their worth, by fighting back.”
Marshall Shepherd, PhD, Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences, and Director, Atmospheric Sciences Program, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.
My resolution is to continue to communicate solid peer-reviewed science to broader communities and not just the ivory tower. I will also try to convey the risks of climate change to stakeholders and the public in a manner that considers their values, level of understanding, and experiences, rather than using the data/information dense-approach that many scientists use. By finding common ground, I hope to show that the challenges of climate change are about our shared experiences and society, rather than any particular interest.
Amber Sullins, KNXV-TV Chief Meteorologist, Phoenix, Az.
I have a sign hanging my house that reads, “Be kind, Speak Truth, Love Others, Show Grace, Work Hard, Be Grateful.” These are the things I’m going to try to focus on every day in every aspect of my life.
As far as climate change is concerned, I resolve to …
* Be kind to the people who attack my credibility as a scientist;
* Speak truth to those who claim climate change is not real;
* Love others despite our disagreements;
* Show grace always, just like God does for me;
* Work hard every day to inform my viewers of what’s happening to our planet and our weather.
* Be grateful for my job, my education, and my position as local “celebrity” who people generally trust.