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Scripps Institution of Oceanography director talks about urgent call to action to address climate change

Scripps Director Margaret Leinen at Scripps Oceanography's Nimitz Marine Facility (MarFac) in front of research platform FLIP.
Jeff Dillon/Courtesy photo
Scripps Director Margaret Leinen at Scripps Oceanography's Nimitz Marine Facility (MarFac) is pictured in front of research platform FLIP in this undated photo.

Margaret Leinen, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, was so moved by the stark language used in the reports recently published by scientists on the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that she wrote about it.

"Words matter," Leinen and Peter de Menocal, president and director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts wrote in an op-ed published last week by The Hill.

"The IPCC’s reports often land on the side of sounding nuanced or overly cautious. Which is why a small section in the current summary of the IPCC report on adaptation and mitigation stands out for its stark, plain-spoken warning," they wrote.


The language they were referring to was a quote from IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Hans-Otto Pörtner who said, “The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a livable future.”

Leinen said she believes IPCC scientists used such unequivocal language calling for action because the impacts of climate change are so clear.

"We see the impacts in terms of with precipitation with very large scale changes in drought and flood. We see the impact in sea level rise with many more events that are damaging coastal areas and coastal infrastructure," Leinen said. "Here in California we've seen the very progressive and rapid increase in the number of wildfires and the area that they burn. We've seen heat waves that are actually killing people. And heat waves in the ocean that are changing the ocean ecosystem very strongly."

Leinen joined Midday Edition on Monday to talk about the urgent call for action to reduce global carbon emissions, why she believes the ocean is often overlooked when evaluating the effects of climate change and its potential to offer solutions.