Interview with guest quiz writer and climate scientist Dargan Frierson
This week the Habitat team caught up with the University of Washington’s resident climate scientist Associate Professor Dargan Frierson.
Dargan was nice enough to write a couple of new questions for the game. Every time players answer one of his questions correctly they will be learning about climate science and receive Habitat points. We thought we should find out a little about what it was like to be a climate scientist.
Tell us a little about your job?
I’m an associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at University of Washington. I do research on climate and climate change. I lead a group of students and researchers who study questions like “Why are deserts and rainy regions located where they are? How will rainfall patterns change in the future?” I also teach classes in atmospheric science. I especially enjoy teaching the big global warming class for non-scientists.
What made you want to get into climate science?
I grew up on the coast of North Carolina, so hurricanes were a big part of my childhood. When I was in college, Hurricane Floyd hit, which was by far the biggest one we had ever experienced. After seeing all the destruction from that hurricane, I wanted to know whether storms like that will happen more in the future.
What do you think is least understood about climate science?
The least understood part of climate science is not actually about the science, it’s about scientists. Most people think that there’s a lot of disagreement about climate change, but actually over 97% of climate scientists agree that global warming is happening and that it’s due to humans. When you look at the scientific data about our planet, this isn’t surprising. We have increased greenhouse gas levels by a tremendous amount, and they’re definitely causing the climate to change.
How do you see kids engaging with information on the climate and environment? Is their attitude different from adults?
I think kids can envision a totally different future much better than adults. So they have the inspiration and energy that is needed to build a greener planet.
Tell us a little about why you are hopeful?
The recent expansion of alternative energy gives me a lot of hope. For instance, the world is producing over 100 times as much solar energy as in the year 2000! It also makes me feel hopeful to meet people who care about climate change and are doing something about it.
Do you think games can play a role in climate change?
Yes! When I was a kid, games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego and SimEarth helped me get excited about learning about the planet. I think games can be especially effective in teaching about climate change, where it’s often hard to see the consequences of your own actions. This is why I was really excited to be able to contribute some content to Habitat!