Andy Revkin is a science writer who began his career in the 1980s. He began by writing a story for Science Digest about nuclear winter, the effect of nuclear on ecology and agriculture. This segued into his interest into climate change and the greenhouse effect. Andy went on to provide us a brief history of his written works.
Chad – What is your view of how climate change is perceived in the blogosphere?
AR – There are camps or tribes that take on this issue in a very partisan manner. It becomes discouraging because it doesn’t resolve anything. I try to avoid tribal approach and follow the science and policy, which makes it difficult because these views don’t always fit with agendas.
Tri – Are there any other questions you would have added to your recent article from October 5?
AR – What gets missed is there is not an adequate definition of what people are talking about (climate change). In a study, Yale referred to climate change as just warming. What do you do to adapt to climate change, what do you do to limit climate change, what do you do about greenhouse gasses. (He also stressed a clarification of global warming terms is needed). Science was mention at end of the presidential debate by Obama, expressing R&D in energy science. We haven’t really done that, it’s hard to get a hold of in congress. Without a robust economy, we can’t make environmental progress, unfortunately economy comes first. Climate change is not a priority issue (for presidential race).
Erik – Tiny countries want to litigate climate change
AR – I don’t see that going much of anywhere, certainly not in the UN. US rep said, all history of US emissions og GHG before 1990, we owe it to help countries avoid change, but not as responsible because we didn’t know what was happening at the time.
Sam – Are state and regional policies useful or effective in the absence of national policy?
AR – Not effective. Example: An Australian policy caps coal usage, but exports coal which is not counted towards that cap. We need a global cap and rigorous standards on how to count carbon. A rigorous system for CO2 would not pass any legislature.
Sam – I agree that state and regional policies are not effective, you don’t think national legislation is possible? What is the prospect for any meaningful policy changes in cutting carbon emissions in the US?
AR – The economy is dominant issue for years to come, we have to go back to our roots; increase R&D. However libertarians want to cut subsidies. We need to create a culture of not wasting. Looking at the realities of other energy technologies, we are in for a substantial climate change. It will take decades to transition out of fossil fuel dependencies. We also won’t convince China or other developing countries to regulate emissions if it affects them getting out of poverty.
Marco – How much will this issue play a role in creating a driver for education so people can make informed choices, a future profession
AR – crucial opportunity for scientists to experiment with new ways to communicate. It won’t lead to a swell in public concern. Social science shows there is shifting signs of perception. Each generation is born with a new or different perspective. Kids now think of the Arctic as a place in flux, not simply the frozen wilderness we once saw it as. We can communicate more effective, but fighting the new norm. Things we make political priorities are “soon, salient, and certain”.
Gerry – How do you talk about uncertainty?
AR – There are ways to be honest about levels of uncertainty, referring to Rachel Carson’s written work. It is best to try and stick with the science while making a case as it will lead to better outcomes. Don’t gloss over the uncertainties
- Dan Hauptvogel