NY Times scientist talks on climate change

“This pale blue dot – so much has unfolded,” said Andrew Revkin as he looked up at a photo of earth projected on the screen. A science writer for The New York Times since 1995, Revkin came to UVM on March 18 to talk about the issues involved in global climate change. His lecture, “Making Sense of Climate Change from the North Pole to the White House” centered around the problems presented by a growing population, the hinders of journalism in the sciences, and the need for dramatic evidence of a warming climate to spur action. “How do you make a big movement?” Revkin asked the audience. Even though there is evidence, climate change is happening, said Revkin, it is not as dramatic as we’d like it to be. Although photos of drowning polar bears and foggy cities have more shock value, in all actuality, the less dramatic problems are actually the more pressing. Scientific discoveries lacking that journalistic “punch,” what Revkin called the “front page thought,” are usually put in the recesses of a newspaper and, consequently, in the recesses of the public’s mind, said Revkin. In addition to journalistic obstacles, another issue with getting the word out about climate change is the doubt caused by skeptics. “There will always be discord between scientists,” said Revkin, “For every PhD there is an equal and opposite PhD.”However, most of the skepticism spurs from the fact that there is no concrete data to predict the future. “We can only speculate,” said Revkin.This inability to see what’s ahead also has many also wondering about the effect of our rapidly growing population.”There are 6.7 billion people now … and it’s predicted to be around 9 billion in the next hundred years,” said Revkin. The all-pressing question is: what then?With sea-level on the rise, and an increasingly more polluted earth abound, we need to be aware, said Revkin. However most people, he stated, aren’t ready to be. “Earth is increasingly what we choose to make it … and we’re not ready for that responsibility,” said Revkin.”We have a lot of work to do,” he told the audience after showing numerous pictures of ice depletion and discussing how 29 tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere every year.However, the problems of climate change don’t stop there.According to a graph from www.aas.org shown in the presentation, spending on climate change problems has been steadily decreasing as time progresses. “Wealth and technology isolate us from the climate risks,” said Revkin about the nation’s lack of concern for climate change. “We have a finite basket of worries,” said Revkin, saying that usually global climate isn’t one of them.However, there are solutions in sight. With a blog at www.nytimes.com/dotearth, Revkin said that much of the research not dramatic enough for the newspaper is still being discussed, and awareness is steadily increasing.