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How A Climate Scientist Became An Ecovangelist For His Children's Future

The book cover of "Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution" by Peter Kalmus.
The book cover of "Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution" by Peter Kalmus.
How A Climate Scientist Became An Ecovangelist For His Children's Future
How A Climate Scientist Became An Ecovangelist For His Children's Future GUEST:Peter Kalmus, author, "Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution"

>>> There are so many separate elements revolving around the issue of climate change. It is easy to get overwhelmed. There is the political controversy, the impact of rising sea levels, increased drought and wildfire danger, and various efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. One climate scientist turned author is trying to bring the information the urgency, and the action needed altogether in one place. Joining me by Skype is Peter Calamus and out missed. Scientist at NASA's jet propulsion laboratory he is the author of the book being the change live will and spark a climate revolution. Welcome to the program. >> Thank you for having me. I am speaking right now and also tonight as a human on my behalf and not representing NASA or JPL. >>> You start up in the book by defining what you call our predicament. You think the extent of our climate change predicament is underestimated by the public ? >> my opinion is yes it is underestimated by the public. People have a lot of concerns on their mind. Things they worry about. Things they vote on when they go to the polls. Right now, survey showed that climate change is still low on the list of priorities. >>> How serious do you think the sprite -- climate change predicament is. >> On the scale -- of 1 to 5 I would give it a five. >>> What is it that you want to bring the people in this book? >> When I started reducing my use of fossil fuel, I discovered that this was not really a sacrifice. There are a really good positive things I experienced by doing that. More connection to my community, more time with my family, the simple pleasures of gardening and biking, things like that. This is not a story I saw being told. The conventional story is that it is a huge sacrifice and there is no way we could live without fossil fuel or maybe the best we could do is put solar panels on our roof and by another car. What I found is that a lot of the problems with modern life that people are feeling stressed, they are feeling depressed, unhappy, disconnected from the communities and from each other, frustrated, maybe a lot of this was from moving too fast from burning all of this fossil fuel and fight -- Flying here in there. just living at a pace that was disconnected from the land, our food. A lot of what I am doing is parallel to the slow movement. Traveling slowly, eating slowly. I wanted to share that story. Life without so much fossil fuel, and I should say that I do still burn fossil fuel, I reduced my use of it by about a factor of 10. It is really hard to go all the way down to zero. In a society that has all of the systems in place that make it hard to live without any fossil fuel at all. >>> This is not a scolding book. It tells people you could make simple changes to begin with. Can you share some of those and why they are important? >> One of the first things people could do is simply to take a look at how their lives are interacting with the use of fossil fuel. What ever you are doing in your daily life that is contributing to omissions. There is a lot of advice out there about what we could do to lower our emissions. It can be confusing. A lot of it is not prioritized based on the amount of emissions. The first thing is look at your flying and driving look at you driving look at your natural gas use, electricity, food. The book makes it easy to connect all of these daily actions to how much we admit. -- E met. I found for me the biggest change I could make is to fly last in 2010 I was flying about 50,000 miles. That was dominating my emissions. Surprisingly, the second biggest change and possibly one of the easiest changes that people can do is to change their diet. Move away from a lot of meat in their diet and to start eating more vegetarian, more vegan. That can reduce your emissions significantly. I know that all of these things everyone is going to have a different experience. All I can say is here is what I did. Here is what worked for me. >>> Is it fair to say that the book being the change combines practical advice and information about climate change as well as some of your opinions about what makes life worth living? >> In some sense, the question has always been, even before climate change, how can we live well. I find personally that trying to do all I can on climate change, even though it is something that really billions of people are going to have to move on for us to really have to start to have an impact to change the culture. It is not about individual action. Individual action can open space to tell this new story that maybe we can prioritize things other than profit and convenience. Maybe we can prioritize connection and satisfaction and being with each other. Maybe shift the culture. So that some of the systems can start to change. So that we can change a political action on climate change. >>> Peter Calamus will be speaking about his book being the change live well and spark a climate revolution tonight at Warwick's book the La Jolla. Thank you so much, Peter.

Following the birth of his son in 2006, Peter Kalmus, now a NASA climate scientist, began looking at global warming through different eyes.

"I had a strong emotional response: how could we continue burning fossil fuels at an accelerating pace when this severely damages the biosphere for future generations? It seemed insane. At the same time, I was immersed in our industrial civilization, which dictates that burning fossil fuels is the only sane thing to do that someone who refuses to burn fossil fuels is ludicrous, a Luddite," Kalmus wrote in his book, "Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution."

Kalmus set out to reduce his own personal reliance on fossil fuels. He began growing vegetables, meditating and started looking for alternatives for using fossil fuel in his everyday life. He called this path to inner and outer change "becycling" which he said requires taking action rather than assuming that, “they will think of something.”


"I ’m aware that the changes I ’m making to my daily life will not solve global warming or stave off global economic collapse," Kalmus wrote. "However, my actions do make me happier, and that’s reason enough to do them. I also suspect that, for most of us, individual and local-scale actions are the most skillful means to effect global-scale change."

Kalmus will be speaking at Warwicks Books in La Jolla on Thursday night at 7:30.

Kalmus joins Midday Edition Thursday with more on how he has changed his life to minimize his impact on the planet.