Interview with Ben Santer

by Laurissa Christie, University of Guelph

I feel privileged on this expedition to be meeting and learning from such experienced staff, faculty, and students.   Ben Santer was a visiting faculty at Camp 10.  He has a PhD in climatic research and has served as a lead author for the International Panel on Climate Change Assessment Reports.  For the JIRP 2014 field season, he is a guest speaker talking about the earths climatic systems.   I planned to do a formal interview with Ben, but ended up dropping my pencil and instead having a two hour conversation about the challenges we face as climate change communicators.

As a motivational speaker myself, his advice was reassuring. My own climate change presentations include a What Should We Do Next? section. When I asked him for advice on this, he recommended mentioning the importance of talking to local politicians. He also stressed the importance of being an informed consumer, and learning about the science behind the decisions we make. He also notably expressed that, what defines us is humanity and not the number of letters which are in front of our names. 

So far, the Juneau Icefield Research Program has done an amazing job teaching us about the planet on which we live.  We are working on long-term data sets which will be used to predict future changes and climatic patterns. My conversation with Ben was one of the most moving conversations Ive ever had.  Ben is a great role model, and I look forward to continuing our correspondence in the future. Im grateful that JIRP offers its students an opportunity to learn from many amazing teachers like Ben.

Id like to end with one of my favorite quotes about our planet: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, but rather we borrow it from our children.

Ben Santer and Laurissa Christie

Ben Santer and Laurissa Christie