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'More Than Scientists' Campaign Hopes to Humanize Climate Scientists

More Than Scientists, launched this week, brings together climate scientists, advocacy organizations and the public in a campaign that offers a glimpse into the stories, views and feelings of various experts on climate change. The campaign shares their personal perspectives — not on the science itself, but why it matters for future generations.

More Than Scientists is a growing community of climate scientists stepping out from behind the data to share their stories. From leading universities such as MIT, University of Washington and Harvard, they are parents, artists, hikers and musicians sharing their hopes for the future and what they fear will happen if we don’t act now to reverse the impacts of climate change.

"Of all the generations in history, ours will be the one which will be judged the harshest if we don't start to turn this ship around,” says John Michael Wallace, Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Sciences at University of Washington.

These videos hope to change the future by engaging more people to get involved and focus on solutions.

"We created More Than Scientists to make a better connection between the scientists and the people that need to hear their message," said Eric Michelman, the director of the campaign and long-time climate activist. “We want the public to meet the people behind the science and understand why they care about the world we’re leaving to our kids and grandkids.”

More Than Scientists uses scientists’ personal stories to engage people and drive action. It represents the 97% of climate scientists who know climate change is real, humans are causing it and we have the power to reverse it. More than 30 organizations will help share these messages from the people that see firsthand the reality we face, how it will affect future generations and the solutions to fix it.

"I do have hope for the future,” says LuAnne Thompson, Professor of Oceanography at the University of Washington. “And that is because I work with undergraduates and graduate students all the time … I see my daughter and her friends and they have immense energy for making positive changes in the future. We have to make changes now that will allow them to bring their ingenuity, their talent and their drive to build a better future."

From taking personal action to joining an advocacy organization to speaking with elected officials, the campaign hopes to inspire millions of people to get involved in the fight against climate change.

"I'm very excited about this new campaign. Too few people have seen the lighter and more personal side of climate scientists," said climate scientist Michael E. Mann, director of Penn State's Earth System Science Center and advisory board member of More Than Scientists.

200 videos, created by dozens of climate scientists, were released Tuesday on the MoreThanScientists.org website. The campaign invites scientists from around the world to contribute their own videos to add their voices to the message.

Bryce Harrop, PhD Candidate from the Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, hopes his videos encourage people to "Start a conversation with someone — your neighbor, your friend, your family members — and let them know this is something that's important."

The More Than Scientists video campaign launches just weeks after the release of Merchants of Doubt, a feature-length documentary by Robert Kenner that highlights scientists who are paid to publicly debunk the idea that human actions have exacerbated climate change. Kenner’s film centers on the idea that the climate change debate has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics. Interestingly, the documentary, based on Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway’s 2010 history of corporate liars, has tanked at the box office, earning a mere $23,300 in its opening weekend. While this could be the result of an apathetic public or evidence that the subjects of the film have been successful, critics say the film is hopelessly biased and ultimately uses the same, repetitive, oversimplified tone as the pundits it lambastes.

But as David McGee, Assistant Professor of Paleoclimate at MIT, asserts in his “More Than Scientists” video: “The big picture is very clear. The climate is changing, humans are doing things that are causing the climate to change and we have the power to stop that.”

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