Amid scores of world-class climate scientists attending last month’s annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco, independent film-maker Peter Sinclair in this month’s “This is Not Cool” video provides segments of interviews conducted a sampling of them.
National Medal of Science honoree and National Academy of Sciences member Lonnie Thompson of the Ohio State University thinks back to his first testimony before the U.S. Senate on climate change, in 2002.
“Back then, I talked about prevention,” says Thompson. “That time has come and gone. Now it’s mitigation, adaptation, or suffering.”
Mauri Pelto of Nichols College in Dudley, Mass., director of the North Cascades Glacier Climate Project, says that each individual glacier has its own story to tell. But the vast majority of those glaciers he has visited are losing ice and telling a consistent story of the impacts of a warmer climate.
Pelto says that 249 of the 250 glaciers he has worked on around the globe are “retreating.”For him, the “main takeaway” is that glaciers around the planet are sending “such a unifying signal … It just doesn’t matter where you look. You see glacier retreat.”
Thompson at one point notes that the glacier-dependant Indus River flows through China, Pakistan, and India, each a nuclear power country, and all “geopolitical hot spots” as they increasingly vie for dwindling water supplies to fuel their economies and their populations.
Eric Rignot of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the changes are occurring faster than scientists had anticipated, “not centuries but decades.” He agrees with points made by other scientists in the series of interviews that scientists themselves are not always the most effective communicators of their science: “Maybe we all need acting lessons” to help them better speak with nonscientific audiences and interests.