When it comes to climate change, researchers at uC San Diego have theirworkcutoutforthem. Whether cutting-edgeclimatologistsorinflu-ential social scientists, they are tasked with finding
sustainable solutions to a daunting problem that will
affect our planet and future generations profoundly. yet despite the fact that skepticism about global
warming has been melting as steadily as Antarctic ice
sheets, the subject remains so multifaceted that it often provokes confusion and complacency instead of a
desire for meaningful action.
Two-thirds of Americans now say they believe
in climate change. The signs are everywhere, from
striking episodes of extreme weather to more heart-rending examples, like the recent viral image of 35,000
displaced walruses gathered on an Alaskan beach.
Evidence like this may signal an end to the debate, yet
the drive to take action remains elusive. Even among
believers, global warming ranks low on the list of
national policy priorities, behind economic concerns
and the threat of terrorism. On the whole, our collec-
tive reaction to climate change still tends to be a shrug,
not a rallying cry to dig out of the rut into which we’re
only moving deeper.
Such an attitude is a dangerous one. This was the
prevailing theme among thought leaders following the
publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change’s (IPCC’s) latest environmental assessment.
The three massive scientific reports warn that inaction
will lead to severe and irreversible impacts for people
and ecosystems. Conclusions that climate change is
happening mean we’ll have to strategize and adapt—
the sooner, the better. Because given what we know,
and how long we have known it, there is precious little
time left to waste.