I found the conversation with Dan Kammen very engaging. One part of the interview that stuck out to me was the comparison of the Earth’s climate to human health in the sense of focusing on prevention vs. a cure, and the related idea of performing “sensitivity analyses” to show just how important investment in resilience is in fighting the detrimental effects of climate change. One argument I’ve often heard against taking immediate action against climate change is one to the tune of “necessity is the mother of invention.” That is, once the effects of climate change grow more catastrophic, humans will find ways to innovate against these changes in a way that mitigates their consequences. I think it’s both interesting and important that proven methods for this mitigation already exist and are in practice, and are simultaneously giving us an idea about exactly how much change we may be able to “tolerate” in the future.
If I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Kammen, I would ask about his perception of the rise of “climate anxiety” or “climate doom-ism.” We often talk about climate extremists in the form of those who outright deny climate change, but rarely give attention to those on the opposite end of the spectrum. I would ask about how he thinks we can communicate a reasonable level of concern that inspires people to get involved in finding solutions without driving them into existential fear, hopelessness, and ultimately inaction. Specifically, I’d be interested in how the science of prediction plays into this communication. How can we use data, models, and simulations to show people that the climate does have a fighting chance?