14 May 2018

The humans behind climate science – a podcast

Posted by Shane Hanlon

By Dan Jones

Nearly every episode has started with a quick chat about the microphones. Credit: Dan Jones

“I’m too busy,” I said to myself. “I should be writing papers,” I protested. Nevertheless, the idea wouldn’t go away. It refused to die.

A couple years ago, I had the notion to apply the casual, long-format podcast style to climate science. I wanted to have and share conversations with my colleagues about their lives and their work, because you can’t totally understand science without knowing a little bit about the people doing it. I wanted to capture the fact that climate-relevant science is a living, breathing, organic thing that is driven by individuals, each with their own unique history and perspective.

My colleagues, friends, and family encouraged me to give it a try, perhaps in part because I wouldn’t stop talking about it. Knowing that I am too cheap to ever spend the money on the equipment myself, my wife gifted me two microphones and two windscreens; a kind gesture to get me on my way.

I launched the podcast in January 2018, starting with my colleague and friend Dave Munday. The conversation seemed to flow naturally, and although we got a bit tired around an hour in, we touched on some of the themes that I was hoping to discuss, e.g. the social aspects of science, the varied pathways that people take into their careers, the odd things that can happen during fieldwork.

Since that first episode, I’ve had the privilege of talking with a PhD student who also happens to be a champion boxer, a researcher who is bringing machine learning into climate science, and a cruise-leading marine biologist, to name a few. I’m honored by my guests’ willingness to spend time with me and to talk so openly, and the listeners have been very kind. One listener was inspired to start a twitter hashtag to cultivate more “origin stories” like those shared on the podcast.

I will admit that the name of the podcast might be a little bit on the dry side – Climate Scientists. But I want the name to simply reflect what the podcast is about – no clever puns, no half-hearted attempts to be deep – just a clear, simple label. If you come up with a very smart name for the show, please don’t tell me, because it’s too late! I’m stuck with the name, and I am honestly happy with it. Maybe use the name for your own podcast, if you’re so inclined – the more science podcasts, the merrier.

The Climate Scientists podcast is available on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, and others via Anchor.

Dan Jones is a Physical Oceanographer at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK. Check out the British Antarctic Survey website and his profile.