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Provost Townsend Discusses Climate Change in Scientific American

Colorado College Provost Alan Townsend has co-authored an article in Scientific American with the five scientists who were featured with him in the recent documentary, “Let Science Speak.”

In the article titled “The Bad News We Need,” the authors note that the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) doesn’t mince words: If we don’t take immediate action to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, the cost will be staggering.

However dire that seems, they say that the IPCC’s news could be a blessing in disguise.

Why? Because perhaps a seemingly insurmountable challenge is what is needed.

“We can solve it. And by doing so, we will heal not only our planet, but ourselves,” they write. “Much as the basic facts of science transcend partisan divides, so too can humanity come together, across political, national and ideological barriers. We can unify, as we have in crucial moments in the past, to respond to a crisis that touches us all. We know what must be done. We merely require the will to act, and the belief that our actions will matter.”

Even in such a highly partisan era, the authors acknowledge that humanity is capable of uniting and working toward dramatic and purposeful change: “When someone is gravely ill, families and friends restructure their lives overnight. When a community is under attack, heroes emerge from every corner, and nobody cares how they voted in the last election.”

The co-authors of the Scientific American article initially came together in the six-part documentary series “Let Science Speak,” a film about the importance of science in the ever-evolving world, which premiered in September at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Less than a week later, The Weather Channel conducted an interview with Townsend and another featured scientist on an episode of “Weather Geeks.”

The "Let Science Speak" project is aimed at building a groundswell of bipartisan support for scientists on the front lines of solving the planet’s gravest challenges. “Chipping away at America’s solid scientific foundation means we risk losing much of what we hold dear,” says Townsend. “‘Let Science Speak’ is a window into the fundamental humanity of science — and why we all should care about its future.”