Singing the climate change blues

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While climate change is no laughing matter, three of UChicago’s own climate scientists collaborated on a whimsical video that captures the importance of the issue with a touch of humor that is distinctly UChicago. As a response to the video “I’m a climate scientist,” David Archer, Dorian Abbot, and Ray T. Pierrehumbert came together to create this ZZ Top-influenced Chicago rendition.

I sat down with two of the scientists featured in the video, David Archer and Dorian Abbot, to learn about their inspirations for the video and to gain some insight into their current research at the University of Chicago. Archer, Professor in Geophysical Sciences, teaches a popular College course in the Core curriculum called Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast. The course, which Archer created in 1996, was one of the first environmental classes at UChicago to address the subject area. He recently adapted it into an open access class online, and nearly 800 people registered for the free online course in the first week (and the class was mentioned by Andrew Revkin of the New York Times!).

Archer has a background in oceanography and studies long-term carbon deposits in the sediment and oceans, as well as the long-term evolution of the earth. Along with a group of other scientists in the geophysical science department, he recently submitted an astrobiology proposal to NASA. The proposal is for a project that aims to understand the processes that control the assembly and then the chemical evolution of a planet. Archer says this is one of the things he’s most excited about, and hopes to hear from NASA regarding the proposal by this coming summer.

Abbot, Assistant Professor in Geophysical Sciences and the main vocalist in the video, planned to work in physics and earth science since a young age. He is particularly interested in climate extremes and the climates of exo-planents (those being discovered). This type of research utilizes the same theory and frameworks as climate change.

Despite the serious and complex nature of their climate research, Abbot, Archer, and their colleague Ray T. Pierrehumbert, the Louis Block Professor of Geophysical Sciences, came together to write the lyrics and produce the clever video featured above. Abbot suggested they do a ZZ-top version because the three donned long beards at the time. When asked what he would like people to take away from the video, Archer thought for a moment and then replied, “we are so concerned about issues on global climate change that we are willing to make absolute fools of ourselves.”

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This page contains a single entry by Christy Perera published on March 30, 2012 5:41 PM.

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