TED Conversations

Aja B.
  • Aja B.
  • New York, NY
  • United States

Online Community Manager, TED


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Happening Now: Live Q&A with TED Books Author Daniel Grossman on "Deep Water" and the Science of Rising Sea Levels

*** Live Q&A with Author Daniel Grossman: Tuesday, August 21st, 1pm-2pm EDT (New York Time) ***

We're starting a regular TED Book discussion group here on TED Conversations. Would you like to join us?

For the next two weeks, we'll be using this space to discuss Daniel Grossman's new book on the science of rising sea levels, "Deep Water". The TED Books are designed to be read in a single sitting, so it should be a quick read, and it will give us a good shared starting point for a broader discussion on climate change and what the future holds for our planet.

These are short eBooks, available for Kindles, Nooks, and iPads/iPods/iPhones. I believe you can also read Kindle books on your Mac or PC now, and if you have an iOS device, there's a new TED Books app.

Download options: http://www.ted.com/pages/tedbooks_library
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008R8U1LU/

At the end of our two-week discussion, author Daniel Grossman will be joining in for a Live Q&A session to share his thoughts and answer any questions we might have.


Closing Statement from Aja B.

Many thanks to Daniel Grossman and all our participants! This was an interesting and educational journey. To learn more about Dan's work, you can visit his website here: http://dangrossmanmedia.com

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  • Aug 7 2012: Just finished reading/listening/viewing on Kindle for Mac. Hadn't heard about TED Books before this. Pretty good deal. Although naturally interested in the climate change information, found myself at least as drawn to the stories of the scientists and to the process of environmental science itself. Given the grave nature of the subject, hope it's ok to say that this book sure makes science look an adventure - and even fun. Should have studied harder in college!

    Would love to discuss how much these scientists feel tension between a desire to be left alone to just "do science", and the sense of responsibility that must come with contemplating the results of their research. Also, how (or whether) they draw lines between "what I know from the details of my research" and all the rest of the climate change discussion.

    Going back for a second read.
    • Aug 7 2012: Good point, Kevin.

      I know of many scientists who are very serious about their science and realize that they are discovering signs of very worrisome phenomena. Just to take a couple of examples, Lonnie Thompson, who studies tropical glaciers, has been studying the Quelcaaya Ice Cap in Peru (the word's largest such glacier) for more than three decades. Among other things, he's show that Quelcaaya has shrunk by about 25% since he's been studying it. It's now smaller than it's been in 50 centuries. (Read about him here http://bit.ly/S13v2e) Another amazingly dedicated scientist is Bill Fraser, who's been going to Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula for more than 30 years, documenting the decline of the population of Adelie penguins there (which, by a complicated process, he believes is attributable to global warming). Like Thompson, he's deeply worried about what his findings signify. (You can read about him here. (http://bit.ly/NzwE1X).

      These scientists can't ignore the significance of their work, but they never signed up to be activists. They are puzzled by how indifferently the US public and its leaders embrace clear scientific results. Also, they've seen how in a way being outspoken can diminish their influence. Just look at today's New York Times story about a paper on climate extremes by James Hansen. (http://nyti.ms/RmDihj) A fair amount of space is devoted to his activism and whether that might diminish his credibility. Hansen's the luckiest one in a sense because he's already made it through the meat grinder. The scientist Michael Mann was pummeled over his research on past climate (and his "hockey stick" representation of recent temperatures).
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        Aug 12 2012: To that point (I'm halfway through reading), I'm wondering if the data analysis in James Hansen's latest paper has influenced the mindset of any of the scientists in the book. Do the scientists themselves look askance at him because of his activism?
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      Aug 13 2012: I agree, Dan's decision to tell this story as a back-and-forth between the hard science and the personalities involved was a great one, and not just for the ease of reading. I'd never stopped to consider how fragmented climate change research is across so many different fields of study, and how much of an effect each individual personality has on the science.

      Everyone seems to agree, for the most part, that humans are causing the Earth's temperature to rise beyond the planet's natural cycles, but how and why apparently depends on what type of scientist you ask! Paul Hearty is a rock expert, and views ocean levels through that lens. Maureen Raymo is a geochemist, so her understanding of ocean levels comes from a completely different perspective. Fortunately for the rest of us, they're willing and able to work together to better understand the larger picture, but is this the norm? Dan points out the friction caused by difficulty securing funds for unfashionable vs. fashionable science... how much of this research is "siloed" within particular fields, and how much of it is being undertaken by the sort of inter-disciplinary team Raymo put together?

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