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James Lawrence Powell: Grandpa, What Did You Do on Earth Day, 2012?

What’s the Big Idea?

James Lawrence Powell has three grandchildren, and he is worried about their future. What will their world be like 80 years from now, he asks, if sea levels are, say, a meter higher than they are today?

It was out of this concern that Powell, the former President of Reed College, says he wrote the book The Inquisition of Climate Science, which takes aim at the myths climate change deniers have spread. 

“I’ve chosen to try to write books and blog and accept your kind invitation to be here today,” Powell tells Big Think, “because I want my grandchildren to be able to say ‘What did Grandpa do?’ Well, he did something, he tried to do something. And I think every scientist should feel that way.”

Watch the video here:

What’s the Significance?

According to Powell, “it’s not enough for scientists to simply stay in their laboratories or stay on their computers and do their research and publish in scientific journals.” After all, it isn’t working, considering that only 59 percent of the public “accepts” global warming, depending somewhat on the way the question is posed. 

While skepticism might also exist when it comes to evolution, Powell says that doesn’t “threaten the future of humanity, but global warming does.” So Powell says it is time for scientists such as him to take a cue from Occupy Wall Street and actually start “marching with their feet.” Unless you are able to look your grandchildren in the face and say you did nothing, just standing by is no longer an option, Powell says. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan


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