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9 Climate Change Scientists on What Motivates Them

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  • 9 Climate Change Scientists on What Motivates Them

    The More Than Scientists project collected hundreds of video clips from climate scientists discussing their personal hopes, fears and motivations.

    Click through for excerpts from nine of the scientists, and get the full story here.

    Photo: Climate scientist Guillaume Mauger with his family/All photos courtesy of The More Than Scientists project

  • 9 Climate Change Scientists on What Motivates Them

    "My parents' generation made enormous sacrifices for my generation, for example, in fighting World War II...I really hope that my kids and my grandkids think about me and my generation the same way I think about my parents' generation. I think they really bent over backwards to make the world a better place—not for themselves, necessarily, but for their own children. I’d like to see that happen, and I think it will happen.

    "All that's necessary for the triumph of evil, [Edmund Burke] once said, was that good people do nothing, and right now I’m afraid there are a lot of good people who aren't doing enough."

    — Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

  • 9 Climate Change Scientists on What Motivates Them

    John (Mike) Wallace and his wife bought a beach house in 1998. In a video titled "Why would a climate scientist who knows sea level is rising buy a house on the beach?" Wallace, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington (UW), said they can't afford flood insurance for the house and are prepared to let it go if it's destroyed. In the meantime, they want their grandchildren to use the house so they can enjoy the ocean as Wallace and his wife did when they were young.

    "We can afford to take a risk with the house," Wallace said in the video. "With that, we're just investing our own money. But with the future of the planet, that's quite a different proposition, because the planet doesn't belong to us. We're just the stewards, and we want it to be here, intact, for our grandchildren and for their grandchildren."

  • 9 Climate Change Scientists on What Motivates Them

    "The reason why we care about climate change is because it’s a people issue, not a polar bear issue. We care about it because it affects our health, our water, our food, our natural resources and even how much money we pay to live from day to day. So that's why I study climate change."

    — Katherine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University

  • 9 Climate Change Scientists on What Motivates Them

    "We know what to do now. We have the technology to make changes. We have the ability to switch to safer energy—renewable energy—to do things that will prevent [a] worst-case scenario. And so to me, that's extremely hopeful, because we can act now and make a significant impact on our future. We won't have that opportunity later."

    — Erika Navarro, UW Ph.D. student in atmospheric sciences

  • 9 Climate Change Scientists on What Motivates Them

    "This year in particular, it's really come home for me...what climate change is really going to look like and what it’s going to feel like in the future. California is experiencing a very extreme drought, and I grew up in a rural area in northern California. And this year I keep hearing from my parents about how dry it is there and when I went to visit, it was so visibly obvious that things were different...[my parents are] very concerned about having enough water for their well for the summer, and what the fire danger might be like this year.

    "And it's very hard to tie a particular dry year to...climate change, but it is pretty easy for us to say that this type of year is what will be much more common in the future in California...and it's scary."

    — Abby Swann, assistant professor of climate sciences and biology, UW

  • 9 Climate Change Scientists on What Motivates Them

    Dargan Frierson, an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at UW, discussed the scientific consensus on climate science. "I've had the privilege of speaking to scientists from all around the world, and I've never met a single scientist who doesn’t agree with these basic facts that the world is warming, that it's due to mankind—it's due to humans—and that it's going to get worse in the future."

  • 9 Climate Change Scientists on What Motivates Them

    "I'm 30, and I’m going to see the consequences of climate change during my lifetime. And younger people...they're going to see even more. Our kids are going to see even more. So I think young people should get involved in this issue and really take leadership about what we do with our future, because it's mostly ours."

    — Emmanuel Vincent, postdoctoral fellow studying hurricanes and climate change, MIT

  • 9 Climate Change Scientists on What Motivates Them

    "I think the most important [thing] that individuals can do is to vote, so that we can elect leaders that are willing to take a stand on climate change and to help us create a more sustainable future."

    — LuAnne Thompson, professor of oceanography, UW

  • 9 Climate Change Scientists on What Motivates Them

    Ana Ordóñez, a Ph.D. student in atmospheric science at UW, urged people to talk about climate change with their family, friends and elected officials.

    "Even if you think that your [elected] representative might not listen to you or maybe if you think they already agree with you, it’s still really important to get in touch and let them know you think global warming should be a national priority," she said in a video.

    In an interview, Ordóñez acknowledged that the video puts her at risk of being seen as an advocate. But the whole point of the More Than Scientists series is to get people to see scientists as real people, she said. "This is really ourselves as parents or voters, as people going about their lives in the United States. And this is what we care about."