I am writing to comment on Emily Mize Robare ’s Back Talk article “No More Time to Procrastinate” [Page 47, Winter 2019] in the recent issue of The Grinnell Magazine. To add context to her concern about climate change, I am super proud to recall the leadership of Grinnell’s science departments and biology, in particular, in educating all of us about climate change. The message was driven home clearly more than 40 years ago, in the fall of 1972, in the first course in the biology curriculum, when we covered the concepts of greenhouse gases and when we were taken out to the prairie to learn about our native ecosystem. No one who took that course can forget Ken Christiansen’s lectures and the last day of class when he brought in his record player to play Joan Baez singing Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall.”
Grinnell had a fabulous, committed biology department, and the only downside for me was that I took it a bit for granted; I assumed that everyone everywhere already knew and understood the facts about climate change, and I underestimated the difficulties in communicating such knowledge to non-scientists. Now, it is up to the social scientists to help us understand why people resist scientific knowledge and how best to communicate scientific information to people who have difficulty accepting the information. And Grinnell is the perfect place to talk about interdisciplinary challenges, in this case, bringing science to non-scientists and helping motivate actions based on science.