As a child, Kate Marvel had not dreamed of being a scientist; An actress or writer perhaps, but anything other than science. (He thought it was “too boring.”) A single astronomy class in college, however, would change its trajectory forever.
Today, Marvel is a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and Columbia University, where he looks at the big picture of climate change using supercomputers and satellite observations. He received his Ph.D. In theoretical particle physics from the University of Cambridge in 2008.
A large part of his time is also devoted to speaking and writing about climate change. Over a column for scientific American “Hot Planet” and her 2017 TED Talk on Clouds and Climate Change have been viewed more than a million times, she is a contributor All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, A new collection of essays by women in the climate movement.
Marvel disturbs Earth’s future (its favorite planet) and a reserved optimism about the climate crisis, which he describes as “a problem with solutions”. She believes that we humans are in control of our destiny, and it is up to us to work together to prevent the worst.
The following interview, edited for clarity and brevity, is part of the inversion Future 50 Series, a group of 50 people who will be the army of good people in 2020.
Your Ph.D. Was in theoretical physics, but now you are working as a climate scientist. How did that transition happen?
Fundamentally, I loved physics; I loved using mathematics to learn things about the universe. I was studying everywhere in the universe, and then I realized that Earth is the only good part.
It was a much easier transition, intellectually, than I thought. I use mathematics and statistics and physical principles to learn things about the world. Unlike all the planets, right now I am studying this planet.
“We can do it shape the future We want
You have said earlier that Earth is your favorite planet. Why is it like this?
I love space, I have always been interested in space and cosmology. But there is talk about space, it wants to kill us completely. You leave the planet and there is no oxygen, no water.
This planet is special because it is the only place we know for sure that there are perfect ideal conditions for life. And I really like life; I like people, I like society, I like animals, I like ecosystems, and all those things happen this Planet.
What were you as a child?
I have very great, supportive parents. And I was always encouraged to be interested in things; I was one of those kids who was super into dinosaurs for one month, and then super into marine biology for another.
But from the age of 12, I was adamant that I did not want to be a scientist; I don’t want to be someone who has anything to do with math or science, because I thought it was too boring. And one of the reasons is that the way I was taught was really boring. I was like, “Why would anyone care about physics?” I wanted to be a writer; I wanted to become an actress.
And then I went to college and I took an astronomy class for non-majors. I remember that I was sitting in class, “Oh my god, this is incredible; I could know more about it, and I would have to overcome my math fears?”
You are featured in a new collection of essays All We Can Save What motivates you to reach the general public, and does it ever work against you?[Writing] Helps me as a scientist – to be able to think, “Well, why is this really important? Why would anyone care? How can I explain that I am thinking in a way that someone without this particular background will be able to understand and be relevant? “
I have a ton of criticism of the traditional structure of academia, where you are a physicist, or you are a biologist, or you can only study this one thing. If you really care about the planet and climate change, you can not do Just study one thing. Some areas of academia are better than others.
You are very active on Twitter.
Twitter can be really useful for broadcasting, and I have met many people in real life that I previously knew on Twitter. In general, if someone looks really terrible on Twitter, they are really terrible in real life.
But sometimes it’s more like, if there was a machine you’d enter into a science fact or a silly joke, and then the machine would offend you in many different ways – I think Twitter sometimes happens .
How are you doing these days?
There is a new person in my family, so not much is happening. It is a stressful time for all of us, and I have found that I get really worried when I try to read or watch something where anyone is put in any danger for any length of time – Which basically means that I cannot consume anything with a plot.
I see a lot British baking show, Which I like; Just people have a very strong opinion about the cake, and if someone has a baking disaster and needs to go home, that’s fine.
Marvel’s 2017 TED Talk on Clouds and Climate Change was viewed more than a million times.
You have talked about clouds which is an understandable variable in climate change.
I am interested in the question of how hot the planet is getting. And, to a great extent, we don’t know how hot it is getting – because we don’t know what humans are going to do; We do not know what carbon dioxide concentrations and greenhouse gas concentrations are going to look like by the end of the century. So, this is the biggest wild card.
But, even if we knew that, we still don’t know how hot it will get. And the reason for this is what we call the reaction process. As the Earth warms, the climate changes. We find changes in precipitation patterns, in atmospheric humidity, in cloud cover, in snow cover. And all these things can change the rate of warming.
And clouds are one of the largest wildcards there. Because clouds are incredibly complex – they are difficult to correct in global climate models – and are extremely important for the planet’s energy balance; Clouds play a really important role in regulating Present Planet’s temperature. Therefore, the reason I work on clouds is not that I am naturally interested in clouds – I really hate clouds, I just want it to be sunny all the time. But the reason is that they can actually affect the planet’s response to increased carbon dioxide concentrations.
You are somewhat optimistic that mankind can fight the climate crisis.
I would not say that Optimistic, necessarily.
We know why it is heating up, and we know where greenhouse gas emissions are coming from.
And we, as a society, can choose to do something about that – any time.
I think a lot of people are doing Choosing to do something about that.
I wouldn’t say it’s optimism, because it’s just an understanding that it’s a problem with a solution.
“Together Science Plus WorkCan get things Better. “
What is your biggest concern about the climate crisis?
As we have seen with the Kovid-19 crisis, too, the notion that we have science, and yet, it is not enough right now.
It is not enough to counter people … who are resistant to hearing those messages.
You can ask people to separate from each other and wear masks, and some people are going to do that, and then others, for different reasons, say to the whole group, “No way, you Ho don’t tell me what to do. “
And with climate change, it is the same thing. The assumption is, “Oh, well, we’re going to respond to climate change by attracting carbon to the atmosphere and adapt to the new climate, whatever it is, using the best available science.” And how long have we done this?
What keeps me awake at night is this kind of irrational human reaction to rising temperatures. Lieutenant is not something I have any sense of, because I am a physicist – I do not study people. But this is the thing that terrifies me the most.
This series is about 2020. What do you have a big prediction for this decade?
I am a climate scientist, so I use climate models to say:
“If we do this, then it is the field of possibilities that can arise from those choices.
“So, if we’re serious about it, if we reduce the power sector by 2035, if we change our transportation system, if we come up with a viable alternative to factory-farmed meat, I think we can see it with pride, ‘Hey, we saw this problem coming, and we really took steps to fix it.’
There will still be climate disintegration, the world will still be hot – but we actually consider it the worst.
But, if we don’t get serious about this, if we don’t make it a priority, then who knows what this next decade is going to bring?
I’m not just talking about climate disruption; I am talking about the social disruption that also arises in response to that. So, things can get really, really bad.
It is not hoisting a coin. This is not something we just have to wait and see how it vibrates – we can shape the future we want.
Given that we’re almost finished by 2020, and it’s so terrible – Sorry, Historical – Year, what is the moment that you will remember from this?
I mean, I live in New York City. And I don’t think I’ll ever forget the siren. I don’t think I’ll ever forget to walk in refrigerated trucks parked outside hospitals. So, I will remember that; How terrible was this year.
But I will also remember how everyone wears masks in New York. Get out on the street in my neighborhood, everybody is wearing a mask; People have shifted their social lives outside. And although matters are increasing right now, we are not back to where we were in April. And I remember one day in May, where you could hear the birds again. It was less siren – more bird.
Therefore, it gives me confidence that along with science, action can be better.
Kate is a member of Marvel Reversal Future 50, A group of 50 people, which will be an army of good people in 2020.