Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Forging new paths in science engagement

The Pacific Crest Trail over the McCloud River. Photo by me.

I so appreciate this beautiful piece on "climate grief" and what it means for climate scientists. It was written by scientist Sarah Myhre and in a couple of my favorite passages, she says:
"We are hamstrung by our need for job security, funding, advancement, and promotion – because we, too, are juggling the demands of child rearing, aging parents, urban gentrification, and the winnowing of the middle-class.

Regardless, this is the time for a gut-check. Our job is not to objectively document the decline of Earth’s biodiversity and humanity, so what does scientific leadership look like in this hot, dangerous world?"


"I believe most scientists are also, quietly and professionally, mourning the loss of the balance of Earth’s life. The pain doesn’t stop. It’s carried upon every wildfire, coral bleaching, or marine die-off. But, we can use these waves of pain to inform our moral commitment to the present and future. It requires the brave integration of science and self, the acceptance of loss."
Grief around environmental changes is something I've felt and written about a lot over the past few years, and I absolutely love seeing work that pushes the boundaries on this topic. Like Naomi Oreskes and others, Myhre argues eloquently that these emotions should compel scientists to contribute to the public dialogue on climate change, ending with the phrase "The world is worth it." It's a statement worth mulling over, on multiple levels.

For me, where the rubber meets the road in terms of practice is where my interests continue to lie -- and I am grateful for written by other scientists attempting to take that path. I've written about what it's like to try to walk the walk, so to speak, on climate change, in working with local communities on wildfire issues, and I find myself pushing my practice even further in the context of the California drought. The struggle is real! And so personal. It's truly a lifelong journey, and one that it's always nice to meet others on.

Related writing:

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