Can We Talk?

April 14, 2018

I am pretty confident that everyone reading this blog post already accepts Climate Change science.

When Ted Conwell, the Director of Climate First!, asked if I would be interested in restarting the blog on the nonprofit’s website, I spent a good amount of time thinking about what I would blog about, and more importantly what I wouldn’t blog about. It was immediately obvious that debating Climate Change would be carrying coals to Newcastle—sorry, I am dating myself, Google it. It also seemed pointless to talk about Climate First!’s protest campaigns. They already do a good job with that, and it honestly isn’t my specialty.

So what should I blog about?

The title of this post sums up what I believe is the most important issue that I can discuss here. It should come as no surprise to anyone that we are an incredibly conflicted country. In our over 240 years of existence as a country, I believe there have been only two other times that we have been as divided of a population as we are now. I will let you think on that for a minute, and get back to it at the end. But the basic question is “are we able to discuss Climate Change in any productive way?”

While Climate Change isn’t the only threat we face, it is certainly one of the biggest. Continuing down our current path of increasing our emissions of greenhouse gases is certain to have a profound and lasting effect on our entire planet. From volatile weather to massive storm damage; from reduced agricultural outputs to growing disease vectors; and from ecological devastation to increased rates of species extinction, there are few areas, if any, that Climate Change won’t have a significant effect on.

So, we NEED to talk about Climate Change, and we need to get people to accept Climate Change science. By the way, that is the correct way to state it. One does not believe or disbelieve in Climate Change. Belief is something we have for things that can’t be proven. I believe that my dog loves me—he might disagree. However, I accept that if I drop an apple from my roof it’s going to fall to the ground. Funny thing, I would claim that we know more about Climate Change and its causes than we do about gravity. But I know very few people who question gravity.

Some of my writing will focus on helping you explore your understanding of the science—after all, being better informed is always beneficial. Most of my writing, however, will examine what stands in the way of a productive conversation, and what approaches we all can use to start a conversation without immediately throwing up an impenetrable wall. I predict that you will be surprised by some of my assertions. I also hope to cover interesting aspects of Climate Change, based on the latest scientific results. Finally, my posts will peruse the goings-on of the broader non-scientific Climate Change community, and contain occasional tidbits which I find interesting and relevant.

At some point, I hope that my words actually reach out to people who either don’t currently accept the science or have lots of questions. I will encourage an active, engaging, polite, and respectful exchange. I will also look forward to your opinions. Are there questions that you have about Climate Change? More importantly, do you think my writings promote the dialogue that many believe is crucial to addressing the issue?

That’s all for this post. I hope it sets up a good foundation for what’s to come. And for those who didn’t come up with the other two divisive times, I was referring to the Civil War period of the 1860s, and the Civil Rights struggles in the 1960s.

About Mark:

From the age of 11, Mark always wanted to be an oceanographer. He received his B.S. in Physical Oceanography from the University of Washington where he was involved in both field and lab research. He then spent seven years at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory doing large-scale numerical modeling and analysis. Returning to school, Mark received his Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography from Florida State University under the late James J. O’Brien. His dissertation was an analysis of ocean-atmosphere carbon cycling. After that, he took a post-doc position at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, focusing on climate-related research primarily through global numerical modeling. When the requirements of his young family necessitated a change, Mark ran his own digital media company for 15 years. However, he couldn’t entirely leave the environment behind, and today he is a Leave No Trace Trainer and serves as an Outdoor Ethics Advocate for the Boy Scouts of America. Mark is looking forward to returning to the global Climate Change arena.

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