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Highlighting some expert interviews from Denial101x

Posted on 18 September 2020 by Guest Author, BaerbelW

This is a guest blog post based on a comment by Guy Dusselier we happened upon in the discussion forums for week five about climate change impacts in our MOOC Denial101x. The words are Guy's and we added the videos he mentions where they fit in.

All along we have witnessed and enjoyed a long procession of experts in many fields of climate science & expertise in related specific domains. First, I truly think that we should be ever so grateful that the world has so many excellent people from all over the world dedicated to this top priority supra-national emergency.

The lectures are always instructive and very helpful in understanding some of the science on a practical level. But often, many of the full interviews are quite revealing and at times bring the "inner" person behind - or should I rather say - inside the scientist.

Some of this week's range of full interviews has touched me more than once, but for different reasons.

Sir David Attenborough, for example, is an icon who through his documentaries has enabled everybody to zoom in on issues that mattered (and matters more than ever!) for our planet. He weighs his words, does not fill time with unnecessary words, rather using his experience and authority to create impact.

Richard Alley drips with enthusiasm and makes his pitch light-hearted. What is important to convey to the public, he does in his own casual and honest way. He masters the skill to bring something (climate science) near which otherwise would remain distant and elusive.

If I need proper and (for a layman) clear explanations on some of the workings of climate science, I would gladly turn to Kevin Trenberth. Very matter-of-factly, to-the-point information that makes you understand better why certain things are what they are, and matter!

Then, there is indeed John "Charlie" Veron... Perhaps with some personal sympathy for his incredible story the award winner of this week! It is simply fascinating to listen to this man who, as a young man, seemed slated for nothing really worth remembering, but how appearances can be misleading. A life in search of self-discovery, daring to try, adventure and passion for what he finally discovered made him tick.

In many countries, in many educational systems, this man would have disappeared in anonymity, but not John Veron! With easy speech, mainly with a BIG heart, he lays bare how beautiful and cherished life and the environment is, his being saddened at helplessly watching our planet's vitality wither and suffer, his enormous knowledge and love for corals, and his personal project of setting up a website where everybody, at no cost, is welcome to share his passion and learn to better appreciate, and with time to manage our unique planet better than we have done.

All this I mention with an additional purpose which well may outweigh and exceed the importance of the more factual side of climate science. Part of what we have learned so far is that there is already enough overwhelming evidence of climate change/global warming. That should do the job, shouldn't it! Yet, it very often seems that we are bogged down knee-deep in this vast quagmire.

Communication will be key, not only the mere cold facts, but what social media platforms have also more and more shown is that emotion is most often the trigger that leads to the heart, and from there can reach the brain. Forget about one main message to the crowds at large. If it does not become personal one way or another, it does not hit home.

That is why some experts like Veron and Alley may create a much deeper impact on people in general rather than equally valid experts that focus on straightforwardly putting facts on the table. As Veron mentioned a couple of times, it is dreadful to pass on our legacy to our children, and to some extent scary what we will let them face as they are growing up.

Is it ultimately making this our last chance to save homo sapiens from self-destruction? It would be too sad to see our own demise happening, but unfortunately history does not side with us, knowing that so far not one civilization managed somehow to survive the test of time!

Has this personal account from a student currently working through Denial101x piqued your interest about our MOOC? If yes, then please check it out on edX - our current self-paced iteration is available for three more months until December 16, ample time to work through the six weeks worth of lectures and sample many of the 40+ expert interviews. The latter are also available via a collection on Wakelet and all the videos can be accessed from this blog post.

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  1. Thank's for these splendid videos!

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