Gentoo penguins on an iceberg in Antarctica.
Shrinking habitat - Gentoo penguins on the northeastern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. © Dr. James McClintock

Newsroom | The Nature Conservancy

Award Winning Scientist Dr. James McClintock Joins The Nature Conservancy's "Can We Talk Climate" Campaign

Arlington, VA

Antarctic researcher, author and explorer, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Dr. James McClintock Antarctic researcher, author and explorer, University of Alabama at Birmingham © Dr. James McClintock

Dr. James McClintock is the Endowed University Professor of Polar and Marine Biology at University of Alabama at Birmingham, and is an award-winning climate communicator. He is a Trustee for The Nature Conservancy of Alabama, and also a spokesperson for The Nature Conservancy’s “Can We Talk Climate” pledge campaign. If you want to be part of the solution by having a connected conversation about climate change, click here to take the pledge and here to learn more about connected conversations. On Twitter: @JiminAntarctica

“We can’t solve this problem if we won’t even talk about it,” says Alabama-based scientist.

The Nature Conservancy is pleased to announce that Antarctic researcher, author and explorer Dr. James McClintock of the University of Alabama at Birmingham will be signing on as a spokesperson for the “Can We Talk Climate” campaign. Launched by the Conservancy this year, the campaign promotes “connected conversations” around climate change and encourages people to sign a pledge that they will speak up soon, and often.

Can We Talk Climate directly addresses the disparity between our beliefs and our actions. Despite climate change being of concern to most of us, Americans rarely ever talk about it.  Yale University’s “Climate and the American Mind” survey shows that 7 in 10 Americans believe climate change is happening, and 6 in 10 are at least somewhat concerned, yet 65% of Americans rarely if ever discuss the issue with family or friends. Only about 20% of Americans hear people they know talk about global warming more than once a month.

“I’ve dedicated my life to talking to people about the climate impacts I’ve witnessed first-hand during my scientific expeditions to Antarctica,” says Dr. McClintock, a professor of polar and marine biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Over the past two decades on the western Antarctic Peninsula, I’ve seen glaciers increasingly shed house-sized chunks of glacial ice, and numbers of icebergs increase. Sadly, the once robust colonies of Adelie penguins near U.S. Palmer Station have lost ninety percent of the original 15,000 mating pairs tagged in the 1970s.”

Earlier this year, Dr. McClintock was recognized by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) as its premier recipient of the SCAR Medal for Education and Communication. SCAR noted in particular Dr. McClintock’s efforts regarding climate change and its impacts on the Antarctic ecosystem. In addition to more than 275 scientific papers, he has written critically acclaimed books for general audiences, including Lost Antarctica: Adventures in a Disappearing Land and A Naturalist Goes Fishing: Casting in Fragile Waters from the Gulf of Mexico to New Zealand's South Island.

Dr. McClintock was recently elected as a Fellow in the prestigious Explorer’s Club. He also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Alabama chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

“What I find compelling about the Can We Talk Climate campaign is its dedication to fostering real conversations – the kind that in my experience actually pave the way to solutions,” says McClintock. “I’m a scientist, but even I understand that approaching people from a place that isn’t grounded in shared values and doesn’t meet people where they are is doomed to fail. And we don’t have time to remain silent or disconnected on this issue. We can’t solve this problem if we won’t even talk about it.”

The “Can We Talk Climate” pledge is simple – visit nature.org/canwetalkclimate. Take the pledge to talk to someone you are close to within seven days. On the website you’ll find all sorts of resources to inspire you and help make your conversation “connected” – grounded in shared values and designed to be as persuasive as possible. There are opportunities to be contacted for follow up, so that you can share your experiences with other potential pledge takers.

“The recent Fourth National Climate Assessment released last month makes it very clear that climate change will have wide-ranging impacts on our economies, communities and daily lives, but we can reduce these risks if we step up actions to address climate change.” says Lynn Scarlett, VP of Policy and Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy. “The threats are very real but so are the solutions. We must increase the collective will to act. And that means committing to having real conversations where we share our thoughts and feelings with each other. We cannot afford to stay separate and silent on this issue.” 

“The best part about it is that this is something everyone can do to help address climate change,” says Dr. McClintock. “Not everyone has the ability to bike to work, or has available public transportation, or can afford solar panels, but everyone can have a conversation.  And yes, it is critical that we do more than just talk. But if we can’t even talk about climate change, we certainly won’t be able to do anything else about it.”

Dr. James McClintock is on Twitter: @JiminAntarctica

We can’t solve this problem if we won’t even talk about it.

Antarctic researcher, author and explorer.