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September 23, 2022
Ask a Scientist, with NASA’s Dr. Kate Marvel

In This Episode

Today on Hot Take, Mary and Amy are joined by Kate Marvel, climate scientist at NASA, who answers listener questions about acid rain, geoengineering, astrology, and more.

 

If you want to contribute to the relief efforts in Puerto Rico, here are a few places to give to:

Proyecto Matria (women’s rights org): 

Taller Salud (women’s health org) 

Brigada Solidaria del Oeste: Mutual Aid Network

 

Follow us on twitter @RealHotTake and sign up for our newsletter at hottakepod.com

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

[AD]

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Hey, hot cakes. Welcome to Hot Take. I’m Mary Annaise Heglar.

 

Amy Westervelt And I’m Amy Westervelt. Today we are bringing you an episode we’ve been excited to plan for a long time. We put a call out a few weeks ago for folk science questions for our friend Dr. Kate Marvel, amazing NASA climate scientist. And she came and answered all of them and more. So, yeah, we’re excited to bring you that. But first, we wanted to talk a little bit about what’s been going on in the world of climate this week, starting with, of course, Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico. Whew. Man.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Yeah, it’s been pretty bad. So some parts of Puerto Rico have gotten more than 22 inches of water, flash flooding. The videos have been absolutely terrifying. And I remember in the lead up to this being like, oh, well, you know, Fiona wasn’t quite a category one when she passed over Puerto Rico. And to my mind, that meant not be terribly concerned. However, today’s storms are not like yesterday’s storm. A Category one and 2022 does not mean the same thing in 2002. So while Fiona wasn’t that much of strength, she had a lot of water and a lot of water can do a lot of damage, especially if it just sits there. Which is what I think Fiona did.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, I heard that. Like, I think yesterday was the first sunny day that they’ve had since. Since the storm. So, yeah, then, you know, it’s just it’s sitting there. And of course, Puerto Rico was not in any way recovered from Maria, which was just five years ago.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Exactly.

 

Amy Westervelt You know.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Exactly.

 

Amy Westervelt This is the thing that I think people need to remember, too, is that, you know, I mean, there are parts of New Orleans that still aren’t recovered from Katrina. Am I right?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar All of New Orleans is not recovered from Katrina.

 

Amy Westervelt Right.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar No joke. No joke. And I would expand that to the Gulf Coast. So, yeah. Let’s talk about Maria for a second. Maria was a Category five storm in September 2018?

 

Amy Westervelt 17.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar 17. Yeah, took 11 months for the power to return to the island. It’s the longest blackout in U.S. history and it killed 3000 people.

 

Amy Westervelt It’s terrible, you know?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.

 

Amy Westervelt I reported a little bit there right after Maria and then again just a couple of years ago. So that would have been, what, like three years later. And it was still very much recovering, you know, a couple of years ago. And the folks that I talked to were like, you know, I don’t like just talking about a lot of things that I think maybe people don’t necessarily think of when they think of a hurricane and this long aftermath of it, you know, where people who were on dialysis, for example, couldn’t plug in their machines. People here I interviewed one woman whose father died because he was supposed to start cancer treatment like the day Maria hit and wasn’t able to start it and, you know, died a few months later. So there’s there’s a lot of stuff like that where it’s like, you know, there’s so many compounding effects that I think are easy to forget about if you’re not there on the ground yourself.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Yeah. About a year after Maria I went to it was it was something being held at a conference, but it was kind of like a ceremony for people to just share their experiences around. Maria And of course it, you know, prioritize. I was there, but it was only people with relationships to Puerto Rico that spoke. And some of the things people were saying were things I hadn’t even thought of. Right? Like people had gotten their family members out and brought them to places like Chicago, but they didn’t understand their relatives didn’t know that certain colors, certain things in certain neighborhoods and wound up getting killed because of that. Or like one woman spoke about her father, who was very proud Puerto Rican, had this very deep love and affection for his homeland and refused to leave. And therefore he lost his home. But he was too proud to go stay with anyone. He was too proud to let her bring him back. And so it was just she was just like my father’s homeless and I don’t know what to do about it because he won’t let me help him. And it was just like so much heartbreak in the room.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar So yeah. And so today we have Fiona on top of that. Yeah. So.

 

Amy Westervelt And another thing too is that like when okay, so shortly after Maria, there was this big push in Puerto Rico to try to get distributed solar going because, you know, it was like, wow, this is the perfect place to do this, right? Like you can have solar. Panels on every roof because there’s so much sun year round. There was a big, you know, kind of push to get more and more people trained in installations and to figure out manufacturing locally, all of this stuff. And it was like in the case of a hurricane, if you have your own set up with solar or like, you can get back up and running way fast, you know, as opposed to if you’re reliant on financialized grid that runs on fossil fuels and all of that stuff. Right? Because a big part of it is, is this is like worn down infrastructure and transmission, too. And instead of that, like there was such momentum behind it, but there was also momentum coming from somewhere else. And that was the gas industry in the United States, which at the time had a surplus of gas that they were hoping to dump on Puerto Rico. And they lobbied to like change a bunch of there were laws that actually prohibited that. They lobbied to change those laws. They like, you know, they they did a whole bunch of of ground work in in Puerto Rico and really, like basically kind of got the country from instead of going from coal to solar, going from coal to to gas. And now here we are. And who knows how long it will take for for the power to come back on. You know, it’s it’s so like, yeah, it’s really.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. There was a movement like that here in New Orleans after Ida, and I don’t think it succeeded either. So yeah, right now up to 7700 50,000 people are without water in Puerto Rico. More than a million people are without power. And who knows how long that’s going to last? You know, because, again, the blackout after Maria lasted a really long time. Last I checked, up to eight people are dead, four of them in Puerto Rico. So, yeah, the storm also caused significant damage in the Dominican Republic. And as of yesterday, Wednesday, Fiona strengthened to a Category four and was barreling toward Bermuda. Although it’s not forecast for a direct hit, it also hit Turks and Caicos in in all of this. And it’s projected to hit Nova Scotia later this week. And, you know, I don’t quite know what to make of this, but it does not seem like storms are slowing down after they hit land. It seems like they are getting stronger after they hit land, which like a lot of the conventional wisdom that I thought I had about hurricanes, is starting to feel irrelevant.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. I was wondering that I was going to ask you because I’m pretty hurricane illiterate. Is that normal for it to keep going for that long? Because I always think of it is like, okay, it hits land and then it peters out, but it’s going to go all the way to Nova Scotia? What? I don’t get it.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Is not unusual for them to keep going, but it is usual for them to keep getting stronger after they hit land. Usually like land weakens a hurricane. And so for it to go from like, I don’t know, I don’t remember exactly what it was when it hit Puerto Rico, maybe a one or two, and then to a three and then to a four. It’s like, how are you? What’s feeding you? And it’s the hot waters and and the ocean and probably several other things that we should have asked Kate about but we didn’t. Sorry, y’all. But also Kate is not a meteorologist.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, she’s not a meteorologist. Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar She’s not a meteorologist.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar So yeah, but before we go any further on this, let’s talk about some places people can donate to help people in Puerto Rico because.

 

Amy Westervelt Yes.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Do not give to the Red Cross folks.

 

Amy Westervelt That’s right. That’s right. We’ll stick these links in the show notes, too. But there are a few places that we found, you know, from credible sources on the ground there. And those are Proyecto Matria. That’s a women’s rights organization. Taller Salud. That’s the Health Workshop, also a women’s health organization, and then a mutual aid network called Brigada Solidaria del Oeste. So those are three places that are doing the work on the ground, helping people get food, get water, get shelter and and looking out for for folks on the ground in Puerto Rico. And again, we’ll stick those links in the show notes for you.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Thank you. If you’re able, please help people in their moment of need. Also, big fun meteorologists are tracking a tropical wave that they think is going to wind up as a storm in the Gulf. It’s way too early to say how strong the storm would be, what part of the Gulf it might go to, or even if it happens at all. I guess it’s early enough now that nothing could wind up having. But judging from all of my. Instagram feeds and and that you know the meteorologist that I follow and trust this is one to keep an eye on. So if you live in the Gulf Coast, now is the time to, you know, check all your batteries, check your supply levels, make sure your car is in evacuation shape, make sure your neighbors are good. Now, now is the time to, like, check all of the pieces of your evacuation and your safety plan. So.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Ugh. I hate it.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Take care of yourselves, folks. I know. I hate it so much. I kind of don’t let my car get below a half tank of gas throughout all of hurricane season. Just in case.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Just in case.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar So that’s everything going on a hurricane land. I also heard that there’s a permitting forum bill that the text finally came out. I know. It’s crazy long by also know that you’re an insane reader. Have you read it?

 

Amy Westervelt I have read it. And it is.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Wow.

 

Amy Westervelt Every bit as bad as everyone was fearing it would be. We’re going to get into some more analysis on that next week. But the headline is, you know, yes, they’re trying to shove through the Mountain Valley pipeline. There’s a thing in there about like blocking any litigation on it. And also like if any litigation does come up dictating where which court will hear that case, which is insane and a truly insane thing for the federal government to sort of step in and decide. Yeah. Lots of other details that we’ll get into next week. But. But it ain’t good. It ain’t good, folks.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, I have a lot of questions, but I’ll save them for next week.

 

Amy Westervelt And of course this is being pegged to the the budget bill that is required to keep the government operating. So that is unfortunate. But there’s definitely there’s like there’s actually quite a few Democrats that are like, this is bullshit, including Tim Kaine. That one really I’m like, okay, I knew that, you know, because he’s like, Oh, yeah, yeah. Like because he’s from Virginia. Like, he might because mom really pipeline doesn’t just impact West Virginia Joe Manchin state, it also impacts Virginia. And we but we haven’t really heard much from Tim Kaine on this. And he came out yesterday saying, like, I will fight this bill like every with like everything I have, which I was like, wow, okay. I mean, because he’s, you know, like, he’s not Bernie Sanders.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar He’s a lil meek. I remember him running for vice president and being like, oh, okay. Wow.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah. So that seems like, okay, maybe maybe it won’t be just the progressive wing of the Democratic Party that that it’s like this is too much. But we’ll see. We’ll see. And we’ll get into more next week.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. I mean, my main question, though, is, so is Joe Manchin still the world’s climate hero?

 

Amy Westervelt *laughs* Oh, man, oh, man. He is.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar That’s not an answer.

 

Amy Westervelt He is. Man. I just every time I think, like, surely that he’s done now. Nope. No, he’s not.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Are you ready?

 

Amy Westervelt I’m ready. It’s time to talk about climate.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Kate Marvel, thank you so much for joining us.

 

Kate Marvel I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me. Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar We were really excited when you accepted the invitation. So, you know, when we talk about climate change, I think so many people still think of it as a strictly science issue and that they can’t talk about it unless they understand the science inside and out. So before we get into today’s questions, I just wanted to ask you how you feel about that assumption about climate change as an actual astrophysicist.

 

Kate Marvel So that seems like too much work for me personally if I’m the only one who’s allowed to talk about climate change. Yeah.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah.

 

Kate Marvel You know, so, so selfishly, like, I don’t want to have to solve this problem by myself. But also, you know, climate change, you know, as you are super aware, is not just a scientific problem. Like, I get so sick of seeing these headlines that are like scientists are worried about Greenland melting. I’m like, what? What’s up with the rest of you? Why aren’t you worried about this?

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Kate Marvel I think it’s becoming increasingly not a scientific question. It’s becoming increasingly a policy question. And, you know, people ask me all the time, like, what do you think of this policy or that policy? Or Should I buy an EV or what should I do? And I’m like, I don’t know. You know, I have I have opinions as a citizen, and there are kind of opinions that are informed by my job. Mm hmm. But I’m not sure that I know more about what the right response kind of politically and morally and pragmatically. I’m not sure that I know more than. Than most other people.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm. Yeah.

 

Kate Marvel So I’m actually, like, I’m really excited to be increasingly irrelevant. That’s all I ever wanted.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Kate, You’re never going to be irrelevant. So sorry to break it to you. I don’t think that’s going to. happen.

 

Kate Marvel Aw man.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar But, yeah, we do have a ton of questions from our audience for you. So, Amy, you want to kick us off with the first one?

 

Amy Westervelt Yes, I actually I love this question because I also kind of have it and it relates to your job as well. What does NASA have to do with climate change? Why are we always hearing from NASA about it?

 

Kate Marvel So NASA knows a lot about planets and we live on one. So, yeah, you know, NASA’s done a lot of work looking out, sending up satellites and probes and various things to look out at the cosmos. And that’s great. But we also look down we send up satellites to look down at the earth. And what we’re seeing is really scientifically interesting, which is a great euphemism for terrifying and it’s really useful. So, you know, NASA is concerned and, you know, interested in studying climate change because we can measure it from space and also because there are a lot of physicists working at NASA, there are a lot of chemists, there are a lot of people with scientific backgrounds and the same physics that tells you things like why the earth goes around the sun and you know, why stars shine. That same physics tells you about why the earth is changing.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Hmm. We got another question from Ralf, which is a little bit longer when there’s a large scale melting of the ice caps or glaciers, could this have a temporary effect on creating cold weather in the air that gets shunted more than temperate zones in the winter, even though the ice and water are getting warmer in polar regions? Are there other cascading effects of melting actually warming the water?

 

Kate Marvel That’s a great question.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I’m so glad you understand it because dog.

 

Kate Marvel Well, the reason I love that question is it lets me do my favorite thing, which is complain about the movie The Day After Tomorrow.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar *laughs* You mean the cult classic The Day After Tomorrow, the one that galvanized the climate conversation.

 

Clip What you’re seeing are two actual tornadoes striking Los Angeles International Air. We can look like they. Our tornado.

 

Kate Marvel I mean, so I, you know, take this with a grain of salt. I saw this movie years ago, and I may not have been in the best state of liquid refreshment, so I don’t know that I 100% am remembering it. But as far as I can remember, Dennis Quaid is the only scientist on earth, despite the fact that he doesn’t understand anything about thermodynamics, and he melts Antarctica by taking some ice core samples. And when that happens, the entire earth is plunged into a deep freeze. And Jake Gyllenhaal gets trapped in the library in New York City.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yep.

 

Kate Marvel And they have to burn books to stay warm. And the movie is, like, highly supportive of this choice. Like, yes, burning books will save us. And, you know, I question that movie’s decision to depict climate change as something kind of overnight and cold. Neither of those are that accurate. But, you know, there’s kind of a little grain of truth in that movie, which is that as the earth was getting warmer coming out of the last Ice Age, there was a little blip in the temperature. So it’s getting warmer, it’s getting warmer, it’s getting warmer. And then all of a sudden, in geological terms, it starts getting colder. And the reason we think is that there was a big burst, basically, and some ice melted that put a lot of melt water into the oceans. And that really affected the circulation of air and the atmosphere of water and the ocean. And that led to a pretty pronounced but temporary cooling. So that’s an example of weird stuff that can happen on a rapidly warming planet. You know, things that we do know are happening is the a lot of the weather we experience, a lot of the climate we experience is driven by the fact that there is a temperature difference between the tropics and the poles. So the poles are super cold, the tropics are super hot. And that sets up a lot of the atmospheric circulation that dictates our, you know, day to day weather and climate. And what’s happening right now is the Arctic is getting warmed a much faster rate than almost anywhere else. And so that is kind of flattening out that temperature difference and affecting the atmospheric circulation and a whole bunch of really strange ways.

 

Amy Westervelt Hmm. That’s super interesting. So what Ralf is really asking is like, could we potentially see a similar sort of temporary cooling as the glaciers melt in the years ahead?

 

Kate Marvel You know, I wouldn’t say we’re going to see something like the day after tomorrow. What we are actually seeing is there’s there’s pretty robust evidence in the summer for the fact that this gradient is weakening. It’s doing things to the jet stream. And as a result, we are getting more pronounced and persistent heat waves because of of, you know, differences in atmospheric pressure. So that’s something that’s pretty robust in the winter. There’s been some suggestions that the fact that the Arctic is warming faster than the tropics and the circulation is changing, that’s making the jet stream less stable. That’s making the jet stream more wobbly, and that’s giving rise to cold air outbreaks. Winter weather, that is not a obviously wrong theory. That’s something that could be right. The evidence so far is not really accumulating to support that happening right now. But that is definitely something that is the focus of kind of active scientific study.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar So I selfishly have a question for you. I need to frame it with a little bit of contextual information. So last week my phone ran out of storage and I had to call Apple Support to fix it. The day before that, the sensors on my car got blocked and I had to take it to the dealership to find out that it was just a leaf on my on my, you know, car, and that the car was fine. And then this morning, I restarted my computer and it refused to turn back on for 34 minutes. And all of this to say is that this particular instance of Mercury Retrograde has been especially brutal, and I feel personally victimized. What is NASA’s doing to pull Mercury out of retrograde? And when can I expect restitution?

 

Amy Westervelt It’s really I was really wondering where you’re going, Mary. *laughs*.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar This is important. Don’t laugh.

 

Kate Marvel It’s like this is either going to be complaining about Mercury Retrograde or complaining about Skynet, and I’m not sure which one it’s going to be.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I don’t know what Skynet is, but fuck it too.

 

Amy Westervelt How often do you get complaints at NASA about Mercury in retrograde? I mean, like, do people write in?

 

Kate Marvel We get a lot of complaints. I get a lot of complaints about many, many things. But, you know, I’m not sure you want to be asking NASA to move planets.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Just out of retrograde.

 

Kate Marvel Now open a can of worms. You know, you think climate change is bad. Just wait until you start messing with gravity.

 

Amy Westervelt Oh, God.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, is that what retrograde is?

 

Kate Marvel I mean, I don’t know what it means astrologically because I do not believe in astrology, but um.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, but you’re an astrophysicist though. Like, how does that work?

 

Kate Marvel Exactly. You’re going to get me hate mail now for being cranky about astrology.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar We should have said this at the top of the episode. Actually, we have just to remind our listeners, please send all hate mail to B-K-A-H-N at protocol dot com care of Brian Kahn. He loves it.

 

Kate Marvel All right. Thanks, Brian.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar So you’re not doing anything to get Mercury out of retrograde, is what I’m hearing?

 

Kate Marvel No. I mean, you’re going to have to you’re going to have to deal with that yourself. I’m sorry.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Fuck. I want my taxes back.

 

Kate Marvel And I should say that mostly I’m speaking as an individual. I do not represent any agency of the federal government, but I kind of feel comfortable speaking for NASA there when I say we’re not going to do anything.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Okay. Fine. Just going to take my tax dollars and leave me in tech hell. So, no worries.

 

Amy Westervelt Okay. Kate, we got a lot of questions about various technological fixes to climate change, as you might, you know, not be surprised to hear. So one of them was from Rob regarding Moxie, a machine that turns CO2 into oxygen. I haven’t seen this, but I don’t know. Maybe you have.

 

Kate Marvel Is it a tree?

 

Amy Westervelt No. No, Kate, it’s a machine. Maybe it’s an artificial tree. Can you speak to its viability in reducing CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere and whether or not efforts are currently being made to use this technology here on our home planet?

 

Kate Marvel Yeah, I have not heard of that. You know, we do have plenty of technologies that turn CO2 into oxygen. So we’ve got trees, we’ve got kelp, we’ve got plants. Basically, that’s what photosynthesis does. And trees are great. I love them. You know, for or after the story is about to say deforestation as a climate solution, that is absolutely wrong for reforestation. It’s is a climate solution, but it cannot be the only solution. It is just not possible to counter the enormous amount of CO2 that humans are currently putting on the atmosphere. By by building tree. By building trees. By planting trees. Right. Right. And, you know, that’s you know, there’s several reasons for that. You know, trees are part of ecosystems. They do many things other than just take carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and trees take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, not because they’re benevolent and they love us, but that’s how they exist. That’s what trees do. To grow is they use photosynthesis and they use carbon from the atmosphere to make more tree. And, you know, that’s that’s great. That does take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. But when you lose that tree, you lose that sequestration of CO2. So, you know, things like forest fires can wipe out enormous amounts of sequestration potential. Right. So, you know, I’m not like I’m not anti tree.

 

Amy Westervelt Kate Marvel hates trees. I’m just kidding.

 

Kate Marvel I’m gonna get so many, like, angry tweets.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Again, send them to Brian Kahn at protocol.

 

Kate Marvel Right.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Kate Marvel You know, like, I am I am pro tree, but, you know, we are not going to be able to to plant trees to to get ourselves out of this and and change nothing else. You know, in terms of artificial ways of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere, those technologies exist. Some of them are proven to work. The question is, do they work at scale from a scientific perspective? And then there’s obviously a lot of, you know, going back to what we were talking about before, that you cannot you cannot leave this up to scientists like scientists are not going to solve this problem because, you know, we’re we’re great. I love us. But that’s not really what we’re for. You know, so there’s there’s problems associated with taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. There’s too much CO2 from the perspective of temperature. But, you know, from the perspective of how many parts per million, there actually isn’t that much CO2 in the atmosphere. You know, we’re talking a little bit over 400 for 20 parts per million, and that means that you need to figure out a way to separate out that really, really small part of any given bit of air that is CO2 that takes energy. And, you know, that’s that’s going to be a problem as the stuff scales up and then you need to figure out what to do with it. So once you’ve got the CO2, you need to figure out, where am I, where are we going to put this stuff so that it doesn’t hurt anybody else? And, you know, that gets you into the domain of of people and society and things that scientists are not experts in. Even though, you know, I live with people and a society, you know, I don’t think I’m uniquely qualified to say here is the best balance between carbon dioxide removal and other things. I don’t feel like I’m qualified to say, here’s how we should build this infrastructure to do this equitably.

 

Amy Westervelt You know, who’s also not qualified, but it’s not stopping them, Kate? Oil companies. I’m just kidding.

 

Kate Marvel Yeah. Yeah. I mean, one thing that I will say is, you know, there’s sometimes a narrative that, oh, you can’t talk about carbon dioxide removal because oil companies will lie about it and they’ll use it to justify, you know, delay on climate action. And that argument actually doesn’t work for me because oil companies literally lie about everything and they literally use everything to justify delay. So, you know, I think you need to be aware of the environment that you’re entering, the communications environment when you talk about this stuff. But just the fact that oil companies will lie about this, you know, I think you can’t really let that stop you. Yes. They lie about everything.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar The environmental movement is really bad about letting the oil companies, like, control everything they say for fear of what they’ll say back. But, like,.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar They’re always going to find the bad faith argument.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Kate Marvel Exactly.

 

Amy Westervelt Okay. I found out. I looked at Moxie.

 

Clip I’m here with Jim. He’s going to teach us how to get oxygen on the surface of Mars. Jim, can you tell us where we are right now? Absolutely. This is the JPL Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Laboratory. We call this the Moxie Lab for short. The Moxie Instrument is a demonstration mission designed to prove that we can produce pure oxygen on the surface of Mars if it’s successful.

 

Amy Westervelt It’s part of NASA’s preparation for human exploration of Mars. And it’s like a small battery sized thing that produces oxygen from CO2 in the same way the trees do. It’s like this little unit that they have created, but right now it’s very, very small and it’s like, you know, it it wouldn’t even be able to make enough oxygen for one human on Mars, let alone, like, you know, be deployed at scale. But still, it’s a technology and it exists. And NASA’s testing it out on Mars. So there you go.

 

Kate Marvel Yeah, no, I mean, I you can go to Mars. I do not want to. You know, I like it here. Mars seems like it sucks, you know, no fun whatsoever. But, you know, the problem with carbon dioxide removal isn’t the technologies, right? It’s. It’s the scale. Yeah, it’s. It’s the questions of how do we do this? How do we do this quickly? Should we do this? What do we do? You know, what do we do with the infrastructure? And those are all really important questions, but they’re not questions that science is going to be able to provide you a yes or no answer for. Like science can definitely inform your decisions. But, you know, we can’t we can’t say yes or no. And we we certainly can’t say this is all solved now.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Another fun fact. Mars is also in retrograde until January 12, 2023. And let me guess, Kate’s not the, not Kate specifically, but NASA’s not doing shit about that either.

 

Kate Marvel Does retrograde mean boring? Because that’s what Mars is all the time.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Wow. Wow. Major Mars. Hate going on here.

 

Amy Westervelt Kate, I have a question. What would it take to get you on a spaceship with Elon Musk to Mars?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Chocolate. I’m betting chocolate.

 

Kate Marvel Oh, I don’t even like chocolate. I mean, it’s fine.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I’m sorry. What?

 

Kate Marvel I mean, it’s. It’s fine. I don’t, like, dislike chocolate, but certainly.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I am deeply concerned.

 

Kate Marvel Not enough to spend three years on a spaceship to Mars with Elon Musk.

 

Amy Westervelt Is there anything that would entice you to do that?

 

Kate Marvel You know, if somebody said, like, this one thing will solve climate change somehow. You know, according to some physics that nobody’s understood before, if Kate Marvel, and it has to be Kate Marvel goes to Mars with Elon Musk, then the parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, it will drop to pre-industrial values. Don’t question the science, it’s just going to happen. Then I would do it. Or, you know, like, you know, world peace or whatever. But, you know.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Can’t have world peace without climate action.

 

Amy Westervelt Can’t have one without the other. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

Kate Marvel But I mean, choc chocolate. I mean. No

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Okay. Outside of Elon Musk, though, are you at all interested in going to space?

 

Kate Marvel Oh, yeah. You know, I am I am really pro human spaceflight if I get to do it. Otherwise, I’m kind of lukewarm about it. But no, I would love to see the earth from space to, you know, get that blue marble view and be really moved about it and like have something to talk about at parties for the rest of my life. I would love that. If anybody from NASA is listening, I’ve told you, please, I want to go.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.

 

Kate Marvel But. And I go to the moon. I’d go to the moon because it’s three days away and that seems manageable, like a long weekend. But Mars. Mars is too far, and it’s it’s just. There’s nothing there.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Every time I get on a plane, I think I’m going to die. So you’ll have fun with that shit. And we are going to go to a break and come back with more questions.

 

Amy Westervelt [AD]

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Okay. This next question is from Drew. It says, Cam making or repainting things white or deploying mirrors on Earth’s surface practically reflect enough light and heat to make a difference in temperatures. Examples, roofs and pavements.

 

Kate Marvel Great question. So I’m going to I’m going to answer that question kind of more broadly and talk about sort of geoengineering and solar radiation management in general. So, you know, from a basic physical perspective, the there’s only two ways that you can make the earth cool down. You can make more energy leave the earth or you can make less energy come in. And the way you would make less energy come in is you would block some sunlight that would otherwise reach the Earth’s surface and warm us up. So there’s been lots of different proposed ways to do this. You know, painting roofs, white, you would have to paint a lot of surface white in order to make a difference in global temperatures, local temperatures. You know, that’s that’s a different story. But we’re talking global temperatures here. You could do things like make clouds brighter over the ocean. We’re already kind of inadvertently doing this. If you look from space, you can see the exhaust tracks of ships crisscrossing the oceans because as ships sail, they spew out particulates which seed clouds. So we could do that more deliberately, kind of making clouds that would block some sunlight over the ocean. Or we could do things like make artificial volcanoes. So volcanoes cool the certain types of volcanoes cool the planet. Most recently, in 1991, Mount Pinatubo went off and made it. In that year, about half a degree Celsius colder. We could do that deliberately. We could spray a bunch of stuff, basically sunblock in the stratosphere and and all of those things would. You can’t see my air quotes. All of those things would work in air quotes. If all you care about is lowering the global average temperature, and it might be that things get so desperate that we need to do that. So I’m not saying, you know, 100% in the future, I will never, ever see a need for for these technologies. You know, it may be that, you know, this incredibly imperfect, janky thing, we have to do it because it is the the only thing that is going to keep temperatures from rising catastrophically. The reason that it is imperfect and kind of janky is that it is a different thing. Heating up the planet by putting a bunch of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is not exactly balanced by blocking sunlight from coming in. That’s going to do things to the water cycle. It’s going to make rainfall patterns change in ways that we may not completely understand right now. It wouldn’t do anything about the problem of ocean acidification. And in fact, it may even make it worse. And there’s a lot of things on the planet that like sunlight and, you know, including me, including plants, and that might be a problem. So I think nobody or very few people, there’s kind of a stereotype that, oh, you know, there’s mad scientists working on this. And I’m not going to say there’s no mad scientist. I will not say who those mad scientists might be. But, yeah, the record is, you know, I’m an angry scientist difference. But, you know, I think the vast majority of people looking into the implications of this just want to use models in order to understand the implications of this and use that to learn more about the climate system. So I think very, very few scientists are cheerleading this. There’s quite a few scientists who think, you know, well, if we all don’t cut emissions the way that we’ve been telling you to for decades, you know, this may be the only way we prevent global temperatures from reaching truly catastrophic levels. So it’s worth understanding this. It’s worth doing the research. But I don’t think anybody is saying, oh, yeah, problem solved, let’s just do this.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.

 

Amy Westervelt I actually interviewed the folks that were doing that, the cloud seeding experiment at Harvard. Then they were going to do it like out in the real world in Sweden. And then I think various people were like, Please, let’s not. But they were really interesting because their whole thing was like, Yeah, we’re not excited about this. We just think like, because the technology exists. One of these days some psychotic dictator is going to unleash it. And we want to know like, what’s going to happen. And I was like, you know what? Not a bad assumption. Like, you know. Yeah, I could see that too.

 

Kate Marvel Yeah. Yeah, I mean, and that’s that, you know, I think that really points to the kind of the asymmetry, you know, between climate change mitigation and a geoengineering solution is that, you know, a crazy dictator could definitely do this. You know, a billionaire could definitely do this.

 

Amy Westervelt And they’re all finally of this stuff, actually.

 

Kate Marvel Yeah. And, you know, it’s it’s fairly comparatively cheap. So, you know, if you wanted to do this, you wouldn’t need kind of global buy in and, you know, major changes in society the way that you need for effective mitigation. You know, effective mitigation, you really need to get lots of different countries on board. And and that’s that’s difficult. Yeah. And so that’s that’s kind of another area that really worries me. Yeah. Another thing that kind of freaks me out is that, you know, it’s going to be really hard to attribute to things, you know. So for example, suppose they, you know, somebody starts geoengineering, somebody starts, you know, putting stuff in the stratosphere or brightening clouds. And then a major typhoon hits Japan, for example. Does it matter if you can prove this typhoon was caused by the, you know, geoengineering or not? And if there’s ambiguity there, you know, that’s kind of scary to me because that’s going to dictate countries responses, that’s going to dictate how countries relate to each other. And, you know, we’re never going to be able to say, oh, this had no effect. Maybe it doesn’t even matter. So that’s that’s another source of kind of uneasiness for me.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar You mentioned volcanoes, and I feel like volcanoes are often used to by like climate deniers to be like, see, it’s not real. Or the climate models don’t take into account volcanoes. I don’t really understand their argument. Do you?

 

Kate Marvel Wait? Climate deniers don’t make any sense. Is that what you’re saying?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I think I might be.

 

Kate Marvel What? Really?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.

 

Kate Marvel So.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar They’re on my Twitter, Kate.

 

Amy Westervelt There’s one. There’s one like new volcano that they all seem to be talking about. And I can’t remember the name of it, but like, yeah, it’s like every few years there’s another one that they’re like, Oh, the models don’t know about this.

 

Kate Marvel So I mean, volcanoes kind of volcanoes do two things. So if you’ve got a really large explosive volcano that’s located in the tropics and a region that’s really favorable to, you know, getting the stuff up in the stratosphere and smearing it around on the entire global stratosphere, like Pinatubo, like algae on and before that, like Krakatoa, the really famous explosion, explosion in the late 1800s. Those we know are really effective at cooling the climate. And that’s that’s really temporary, but it’s a large effect. You know, a lot of times you get, well, volcanoes produce CO2, didn’t you know? And like, yes, volcanoes produce CO2 less than 1% of what humans do. But like, yes, CO2 comes out of volcanoes. And, you know, there’s a there is a carbon cycle. There’s a carbon cycle dictated by biological stuff, you know, photosynthesis and stuff, eating the results of photosynthesis and dying and putting their carbon back. So there’s kind of that short carbon cycle. And then there’s a really, really, really long carbon cycle where volcanoes belch CO2 into the atmosphere over geological time scales, and then that is removed from the atmosphere by rock weathering. And so that takes place over, you know, millions of years really, really, really long timescales. You know, we know that volcanoes can, you know, over geological timescales, put a bunch of CO2 in the atmosphere. It’s what happened in various times in the Earth’s history. And we generally see like large scale extinctions, you know, big climate changes. That’s one of the reasons we know putting CO2 in the atmosphere makes it hotter and changes the climate. But on the timescales we’re talking about, volcanoes do almost nothing. And, you know, I work with kind of some of the experts. And here is what volcanic eruptions do, the climate. I’m working on some of those questions myself. And so I get kind of I get offended when people say that climate scientists don’t know about volcanoes because we know a lot about volcanoes.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Okay. From Maya in Brooklyn, she says growing up in the nineties, acid rain was concerning enough to teach elementary schoolers about it. Is this still a thing? Whatever happened to Acid Rain, Kate.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar And the Bermuda Triangle, I might add. I remember thinking the Bermuda Triangle was going to be a very big part of my life and quick sand.

 

Amy Westervelt Really? That’s so cute.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. I watched what was it? Ducktales.

 

Amy Westervelt Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

 

Kate Marvel Hmm. Was that the one where Baloo was, like, a floatplane pilot?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar No, that was. That was Tailspin. Ducktales was the one with the ducks.

 

Kate Marvel Mm hmm. Okay.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Kate Marvel I want to be in that pitch meeting for somebody who’s like, all right, it’s Baloo from The Jungle Book, but he is a cargo pilot. Like. The kids will love it.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar And we did. And they had a great theme song. But you’re stalling. What happened to Acid Rain, Kate? Did you disappear it like you did Pluto?

 

Kate Marvel Well, clean air legislation. So, you know, after World War Two, you saw massive increases associated with industrialization of pollutants into the atmosphere, things like nitrous oxide compounds and sulfur dioxide. And both of those things come from burning fossil fuels. Burning coal puts a lot of this stuff in the atmosphere, and you can actually see that in global temperatures. There’s a little bit of a global dimming happening from about, you know, the forties, 50, 6070s. And temperatures don’t rise as fast as they would have if you hadn’t had that stuff in the atmosphere, because basically North America and Western Europe put so much stuff in the atmosphere, so much of this pollution in the atmosphere that it effectively blocked the sun and made it colder, but that also sulfur dioxide also contributes to acid rain. And so the the concerns that you were hearing about in the nineties about acid rain was tied to the increase in what we call aerosols, the sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, a whole bunch of, you know, basically dirt and soot and pollution that power plants were belching into the atmosphere in the US and Western Europe, in the U.S., where the Clean Air Act and then the update to the Clean Air Act in 1990 in Western Europe, there was clean air legislation as well. And, you know, that wasn’t perfect. You know, no legislation is generally did not solve all the problems, but it did have a major impact. So the Clean Air Act and associated legislation did clean up a lot of the sulfur dioxide pollution. And so we saw a decrease in atmospheric aerosols. We saw a decrease not evenly concentrated in aerosol pollution. And we saw a decrease in that kind of sun blocking effect of aerosols. And most importantly, we saw a decrease in the incidence of acid rain. And so it’s you know, I don’t want to make it into a really simplistic, happy everything’s fine now story. But I think it is a story of how concerted effort and policy and legislation really can have impacts.

 

Amy Westervelt Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Follow up question. In August 2006, the scientific community removed Pluto as a planet. What did Pluto know and when did it know it? I’m actually waiting on an answer.

 

Kate Marvel *laughs* I’m not at liberty to discuss this.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Oh. Okay. Okay. We’ll ask you again offline. All right. So follow up question actually from Maya in Brooklyn Will climate change increase the number of pandemics we see? Are there particular diseases or viruses folks are expecting to emerge? And what can we expect to see over the next few decades?

 

Kate Marvel This is not my particular area of expertize. You know, there is things get weird when you change the climate. Things get weird when you warm the world up. You get species migrating in very strange ways. You get viruses emerging and strange places. You know, you get mosquitoes able to live for longer and to live in places where they weren’t able to live before. So all of this is happening. All of this is concerning. As far as specifics go, that’s not really my area of expertize. But I know that there has been quite a lot of research published on the different pathogens in a warming world, and it’s an area of concern.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, I’m really concerned about that permafrost. You know, we don’t really know what’s in there.

 

Amy Westervelt Some anthrax.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Oh.

 

Amy Westervelt I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I was thinking of, you know, things like, you know, triceratops flu or some shit.

 

Amy Westervelt Oh, yeah, there is. There’s, like, old dead animals and lots of, like, lots of random pathogens. So, yeah.

 

Kate Marvel How was how has nobody made that zombie movie yet?

 

Amy Westervelt How has that not been made. I mean, that seems like a slam dunk for for like a Hollywood vision of this, right?

 

Mary Annaise Heglar This is the shit.

 

Kate Marvel Call me Netflix.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar This is a shit I’m thinking about when I’m working out, you know, like when the prehistoric zombies get here, I want to be able to call to haul ass and I don’t want to be pulling a hammy.

 

Amy Westervelt It’s true. It’s true. You got to be in apocalypse shape.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yep.

 

Amy Westervelt Okay. From Kelly, who’s a math teacher. I like this question. This is fun. She says she teaches these classes as teaching how to think in systems, and she relates everything to climate. But she says, How could we make this more system wide? I’m not sure what she means by this except sort of like understanding climate in general. And is anyone doing the work or restructuring education toward a fossil fuel free future? And will they hire me? I don’t expect you to know all of the answers that I gave. But yeah, I’m curious about what you think about how kids are learning about climate to the extent that any of them are. Because I think, you know, I know the last time I looked at this, it was something like half of U.S. schools never mention the word K through 12. So. So, yeah, like how how would you like to see kids learning about this stuff?

 

Kate Marvel I mean, I would love to see, you know, going back to your very first question about science versus other areas of knowledge. I would like to see science and math not compartmentalized. You know, right now you kind of take your math class and you take your science class and you take your English class. And I teach right now, I teach at Columbia. And I’ve got, you know, people showing up in my master’s program saying, oh, I’m not a math person. You know, I’m like, what you are now. But, you know, our education system just kind of allows people to believe this false story about themselves that, you know, quantitative knowledge or the tools of science are not for me. I am interested in people. I am interested in storytelling. I am interested in art. And therefore, I can’t be interested in these tools. And I think that’s silly. You don’t need to be a like full fledged French person to know that French exists as a language. And it’s it’s useful for communicating in some, you know, in some situations. And I feel the same way about math and science and physics that, you know, you don’t need to be a professional physicist to know that these tools are available and they’re useful in some situations. So I would love to see less disciplinary boundaries. You know, a lot of times people ask me, you know, should I focus on being a better communicator or should I focus on, you know, learning the science? And I kind of feel like, well, you have to do both. And that’s hard. But climate change is hard. You know, that that that’s kind of my feeling. And I’m really sympathetic to people who don’t see themselves as science people or as math people. But I think a lot of that is you secretly are you’ve just never been taught that and in the right way. Yeah. So what was the name of the person? I ask the question. Kelly Thank you. Kelly Thank you for thinking about this. Thank you for teaching your students in this way. I wish I had you as a math teacher. Yeah. I wouldn’t have wasted so much time hating math and thinking it wasn’t for me. So it sounds like you’ve got a great start. And I hope that you and I and all the other people who are thinking about teaching in this context can can get together and can figure this out.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar [AD].

 

Amy Westervelt Okay. So from Kathryn in Canada. But this definitely applies in the US too. Can transitioning to hydrogen for some energy needs actually decrease emissions? She goes on to explain. She says, In Canada, our government has a hydrogen strategy. It includes injecting hydrogen into gas distribution pipelines so that it can be used for heating. And also plans for hydrogen powered vehicles and heavy duty trucks. It lists Suncor as a partner in these plans. Very suspicious. There are graphs in the strategy that show emissions reductions from this transition. Is this greenwashing? Would love to hear your thoughts on where different uses for hydrogen fall on the real solutions slash false solutions spectrum. And then, she says, Shouldn’t the focus be more on point of use, efficiency and reducing energy needs overall rather than just transitioning fuels? There’s a lot of questions in there. I think on hydrogen, there’s a lot like there’s a lot of different things people could be talking about when they talk about hydrogen. And a lot of times it’s just like capturing hydrogen from natural gas emissions, in which case like, you know, it often is used as a justification for continuing gas, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not worth doing as long as we have gas. But anyway, I just I feel like it’s hard to just lump all things hydrogen into one.

 

Kate Marvel Yeah, like, I have no problem with hydrogen as, like, an element. It’s a great element. You know, one of the first produced by the universe. Really simple. But, you know, I think I think you’re right that thinking about the place of hydrogen in a decarbonization strategy that’s kind of above my pay grade. What I will say is that hydrogen has to be made. Usually, you know, you have to take water or something else containing hydrogen and strip off the hydrogen. And that takes energy. And you can do that using electrolysis, which you can use electricity to do. And so that I think is green hydrogen. I get confused by the the spectrum of colors and, you know, that is arguably, you know, oh, that’s using green electricity that could have been used to do something else. So you could complain about it from that perspective. But, you know, for the things which require hydrogen or the things that can be most easily decarbonized using hydrogen, that’s the way to do it. You know, most hydrogen right now is made using, you know, using natural gas or what we supposed to call natural gas. Now, to make it sound as bad as it is fossil gas or.

 

Amy Westervelt Fossil gas or methane gas. I don’t know.

 

Kate Marvel Bad gas.

 

Amy Westervelt Bad stuff. Yeah, smelly gas. No.

 

Kate Marvel Mean gas, stupid gas, whatever. But, you know, that’s that’s not great. And, you know, so considering how that hydrogen is made, is is really important. And being able to to track how that hydrogen is made is important. You know, it’s not going to be a simple. A lot of times the kind of naive, very simplistic caricature of hydrogen as, oh, is going to allow everything to continue on as is we’re just going to slot in hydrogen for for methane. So, you know, the infrastructure that is used for methane gas right now, we’ll just keep all of that. Nothing will change except hydrogen is going to be flowing through those pipelines. And there’s various reasons why that is not going to work. But I don’t think very many people in good faith are saying that’s going to happen. Now, there’s there’s a lot of people in bad faith saying that that is going to happen. But I think, you know, writing off seeing the word hydrogen and saying immediately false solution, I think is is a little going a little too far.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar We’ve got another meaty question from Lyell. I hope I’m pronouncing that right. Lyell says I’m a middle school science teacher and longtime climate activist in Israel, where unfortunately, we still have a significant number of climate deniers and skeptics. My question to the marvelous Dr. Marvel is about one of the most commonly touted claims of deniers that I hear was the end all scientifically backed proof that the Earth’s heating is anthropogenic anthropogenic, which I can’t pronounce, and that due to an unusual increase in solar forcing that goes beyond that of the expected 11 year cycle. Thanks for all the great work you’re doing for keeping this a livable and fair planet.

 

Kate Marvel Oh, thank you. You know, there’s so much evidence that the planet is heating up, so there’s not really one smoking gun because you don’t need one smoking gun when you’ve got. And why do we have to use military metaphors? There’s like an entire arsenal.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah.

 

Kate Marvel You know, but I would say the one of the really, really, really clear signs that it’s carbon dioxide heating up the planet and not the sun. Besides the fact that NASA knows about the sun and is keeping an eye on it, and if the sun was suddenly getting a lot more powerful, like somebody at NASA would have noticed. But beyond that, the the the surface of the planet is getting hotter. The troposphere, which is the part of the atmosphere where all the weather happens, that’s getting hotter. But if you look at the stratosphere, the stratosphere is getting colder. And that wouldn’t be happening if the sun were getting hotter. So if the sun were getting more intense, the entire atmosphere, including the stratosphere, would get hotter. But the physics of carbon dioxide basically say that if it’s getting hotter because there is a bunch of carbon dioxide, the troposphere and the surface should be getting hotter and the stratosphere should be getting colder. Both those things are happening and there is no other explanation other than there’s a bunch of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Well, that takes care of that.

 

Amy Westervelt There you go.  I like it. Awesome. Okay. Last question from our listeners is from Sam, who asked, Do you all prepare for extreme weather events? Are you preppers? Am I crazy or wasting my money to do this? And ugh like, do you guys have go bags? And umm.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Absolutely, I have several. I live in New Orleans. I have one. No, not kidding. I have one at the foot of my stairs and I have one in the car. And just several emergency supplies littered throughout the house and at my mother’s house, too, because we live in climate sacrifice zones and everybody around me does this. So the question of, are you crazy? Absolutely not. Are you wasting your money? No. And I know this question was sent in for Kate, and I just co-opted it. But I just want to say, there is a difference between prepping and hoarding. So if you’re hoarding supplies, you know, kind of like in the way that people were doing at the beginning of the pandemic, you know, that’s one thing. And that gets into issues of equity and privilege and all of those sorts of things. And once you have those supplies, are you willing to share them? So that’s that’s one thing that’s called being a jackass. But if you’re just making sure that you’re ready for a disaster, that is likely to come because this is the world that we live in now. No, that’s not all. And I stock up on things so that in the event that disaster strikes, which is, you know, quite likely where I live, I can share them with other people around me. And so, yeah, no. Know you’re not crazy, you’re not wasting your money.

 

Kate Marvel I agree with all of that. I think that there’s a difference between being prepared and being a prepper. So, you know, I ever go back and, you know, I think everybody should it’s just kind of a sensible, useful thing to do, you know, I but I think that there’s a difference between being prepared and being a proper I think, you know, kind of the cultural narrative around prepping is, oh, society is going to collapse and so you’re going to have to be a rugged man hoarding all the food and shooting everybody who tries to steal it. And I don’t find that to be a very fun fantasy to indulge. Like, I don’t want to do that role playing. I definitely don’t want to live in that world. And I think it’s it’s better to expend effort thinking about how do we make society more resilient, how do we make society more fair, how do we make it so that there aren’t sacrifice zones? And that is, I think, a better use of my time than, you know, preparing wilderness survival skills to live in some weird, hypothetical future where, you know, society breaks down and somehow I’m still alive. And also somehow in the woods, I don’t know how I’m going to get to the woods and have to and shoot people. I mean, that that doesn’t sound fun. That doesn’t sound like a world that I want to prepare for. And I’d rather spend all of my time and energy trying to make this world better.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Okay. What about you, Amy? Because I know the answer.

 

Amy Westervelt Yes, I definitely. I mean, I actually like I’m in the process of sort of prepping different bags because I had I had like a had my my fire evacuation game on lock, but now I live more in like a flood area. So, yeah, I’m, I’m kind of figuring out.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Learning to adjust.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah, I’m figuring out what I need here but yeah, of course. Like, you know, I’m always like, okay, if I had to leave with – because I also I have little kids, I have pets like, you know, you know, like shoving Baloo into your car to go is a whole thing too right.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Baloo’s a cat. Baloo’s my cat. For folks who don’t know.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. But, you know, I’m kind of like. Oh, like, I like just the other day, I was like, oh, I should really have extra, you know, food for the animals on hand too in case we have to, like, grab and go. But. But I agree, Kate, that yeah. That’s that’s just like the world we live in. And I definitely don’t want to spend time preparing for, like, you know, permanent wilderness survival.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. I mean, I’ll say, like not only do I have go bags, I have used them. Right. Like that I.

 

Amy Westervelt Yeah. Same.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar If all of a sudden you get that tornado warning on your phone, you don’t have time to go hunt and peck around your house to find your flashlight and your water and all of that stuff. You need it in one spot because you need to get to low ground and get there very fast. So, you know, no wonder where the person where Sam lives, you know, like maybe they’re not having climate disasters that often in in their area. But, you know, nowhere is safe and it’s better to, you know, have your stuff together, literally.

 

Amy Westervelt Well, yeah, because also, if you if you’re trying to buy that stuff in the midst of a disaster, you’re going to be out of luck, too, so.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.

 

Kate Marvel Yeah. And I think, you know, that doesn’t that doesn’t make you a prepper. That’s a good Duma. That just makes you like a sensible person. And I think it’s totally possible to both, you know, take reasonable precautions that you will almost certainly have to use in the event of a disaster and at the same time not abandon vast swathes of the world to inevitable disasters.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, exactly. It’s all about adaptation and mitigation. Right. Like prepping, preparing for disasters does adaptation. But also you kind of don’t want to let the disasters get worse because then you’re just you’re not adapting. You can’t adapt. Chaos.

 

Kate Marvel Exactly.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. You should prepare and also help your neighbors prepare and. Yeah. And factor in other people in your in your preparedness plan.

 

Amy Westervelt Well, that’s like a more resilient like, you know, plan anyway, right? Like it’s it’s better to do it with community forever, actually. Yeah. That sounds like a slogan for something else but.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar I was going to say, prepare, prepare and prepare to share. How’s that?

 

Amy Westervelt That’s great, Mary. That’s much more wholesome.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Thank you so much. Okay. Actual last question, though. So octopuses can shapeshift to mimic other animals and things like coconuts. They can walk on dry ground and turn keys. They can play psychological tricks on other animals. Why is the scientific community silent about the aliens that live among us, Kate?

 

Kate Marvel They are absolutely not. There are whole books about how octopuses are aliens. Have you do you know any neuroscientist? Like they literally never shut up about octopuses. But the scientific community is obsessed with octopuses because they are an example of an intelligence which is undeniable. Octopuses are extremely intelligent and they play to their intelligence is their intelligence is so different from ours. So I imagine that if an octopus wanted to play chess, it probably would be able to. But they do not want to because chess is incredibly boring and doesn’t help you, you know, escape sharks or whatever. But no, like neuroscientists are obsessed with octopuses. Octopi.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Octopi. Yeah.

 

Kate Marvel Yeah. Non, non-human intelligence as well.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Seems like a great place to leave it.

 

Amy Westervelt Awesome. The octopi will have us in the end. Amazing. Yeah. Awesome. Thank you so much, Kate. We so appreciate you coming on.

 

Kate Marvel All right. Thank you so much.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Hot Take is a Crooked Media production.

 

Amy Westervelt It’s produced by Ray Peng and mixed and edited by Juels Bradley. Our music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos. Thimali Kodakara is our consulting producer and our executive producers are Mary Annaise Heglar, Michael Martinez and me Amy Westervelt.

 

Mary Annaise Heglar Special thanks to Sandy Girard, Ari Schwartz, Kyle Seglin and Charlotte Landes for production support and to Amelia Montooth for digital support.

 

Amy Westervelt You can follow the show on Twitter at Real Hot Take. Sign up for our newsletter at Hot Take Pod dot com and subscribe to Crooked Media’s video channel at YouTube.com slash Crooked Media.