00:00:00:08] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: This is Climate Conversations, a podcast by ClimateX, the online community building a movement to solve our climate crisis.
[00:00:08:13] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:00:17:27] Hello and welcome to Climate Conversations. I'm Rajesh Kasturirangan.
[00:00:21:12] LAURA HOWELLS: Hi. And I'm Laura Howells. I also work at ClimateX. And I guess I'm here in the function of someone who's immensely interested in climate change, but not necessarily the technical educational aspect of it.
[00:00:33:24] CURT NEWTON: And I'm Curt Newton. I work at MIT's Office of Digital Learning and I'm on the ClimateX team. And I often play kind of the climate wonk.
[00:00:43:23] I like to get into them details.
[00:00:45:13] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Details, details. Talking about details, I want to talk about fly-swatting.
[00:00:51:00] CURT NEWTON: Oh man.
[00:00:53:01] LAURA HOWELLS: We've had some interesting conversations going on recently.
[00:00:55:22] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Yeah, about whether we need to be confrontational, especially when it comes to market forces.
[00:01:04:10] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. Market forces has been a running theme, it seems, on the ClimateX platform. And no surprise, because market forces are unquestionably a running theme out in the wide world as well and driving so much of what happens or does not happen in regards to climate action.
[00:01:18:08] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Yeah. And some of us think that we should be bludgeons and others think that we should carry flowers and come to ClimateX and tell us what you think.
[00:01:27:17] LAURA HOWELLS: Yeah, I have to be honest with you, I think maybe it's my nature to be a confrontational person, so I'm kind of more of a bludgeon approach, like if people aren't willing to listen to the softly softly, then maybe the more aggressive approach is what's necessary. But it's kind of drawing a line as to when we actually get there. Like what is the point at which we have to accept that people aren't listening?
[00:01:47:19] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Yeah. I mean, I definitely am on the bludgeon side, but I do think that one can be a tofu bludgeon, as I called it.
[00:01:56:07] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. For me personally, I got to weigh in as well, I think there's a place for bludgeons and a place for the-- I'm not even going to have a flyswatter. The fly cage--
[00:02:10:16] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: The fly cage.
[00:02:12:06] CURT NEWTON: The engagement, and--
[00:02:14:06] LAURA HOWELLS: So where do you decide those two places are? Like how would you make that distinction?
[00:02:17:24] CURT NEWTON: I'm not sure that there's a line that needs to be drawn as often as we might think.
[00:02:22:28] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So my thought on it is, as the climate movement really becomes a movement, and it becomes central to world politics, it's going to take every type. There will-- like you cannot have a movement with one voice. A movement by nature has many, many voices.
[00:02:41:25] LAURA HOWELLS: You need the aggressive folk out there with their bludgeons kind of pushing really hard, and you need the softly softly approach, I suppose, to bring in the moderates, the people that are willing to listen, that are a little bit more closer to that line of, I kind of-- I understand climate change, but I'm not quite sure how I should act or can act or whether it's a priority for me in my life.
[00:03:03:06] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. You hear some stories of people who've been actually quite successful in quiet advocacy. And one of the things they hear from the people that they're working with is, thank god you're not you screaming outside my door. And I think there's actually-- there's a relief that comes, but it's a necessary thing.
[00:03:20:06] Like it wasn't for the people screaming outside the door, I wouldn't--
[00:03:23:21] LAURA HOWELLS: I wouldn't seem to reasonable.
[00:03:24:18] CURT NEWTON: Feel so good. That's exactly right. And I think there's a role for all these voices.
[00:03:28:22] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: It happened actually quite a lot in the anti-globalization movement, right? That there were people in the room and there were people screaming outside the room. And there doesn't have-- I mean, you don't need to have coordination between the two. It's almost organic. But nevertheless, the movement needs both.
[00:03:46:03] LAURA HOWELLS: You're absolutely right.
[00:03:47:05] CURT NEWTON: So we'd love to hear from you, ClimateX members and listeners who-- please come to the ClimateX website and join the conversation about this.
[00:03:56:05] LAURA HOWELLS: Yeah. We're at ClimateX.mit.edu. And we've got some good conversations going on right now about how we should tackle this problem. Do we go for the bludgeon? Do we go for the flyswatter? And we'd love to hear what you think. Me and Rajesh will be there with our bludgeons in hand.
[00:04:10:15] CURT NEWTON: And a hug. A big hug for everybody.
[00:04:14:00] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: A hug-gen.
[00:04:15:07] LAURA HOWELLS: A hug-gen. There you go.
[00:04:18:17] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So this week we have e a really inspiring person in our studio, Timothy Gay, who is a science teacher at the Boston Latin school and the founder of climatecurriculum.com. What do you think, Curt?
[00:04:30:28] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. You know, this is a little different from the first few guests we've had on the podcast who come from the University environment. But hey, this is an educational institution here at MIT and we really, really care about what's going on with the younger generation as well.
[00:04:47:01] LAURA HOWELLS: And Timothy appeals to me so much because like, I'm an ex high school teacher. So listening and getting to learn from someone who is a high school teacher and understands the importance of climate change and is able to then really reach all those students is-- I'm very excited. I can't wait.
[00:05:03:13] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. I think that young people are actually really, really smart about this stuff. And we would all do well to hear their voices.
[00:05:14:16] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: And they're picking up the ball that we dropped.
[00:05:18:02] CURT NEWTON: Smash. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah.
[00:05:20:21] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: All right, so moving on to Timothy Gay. So Curt, you know I've been thinking, I feel like we are going to pass on a sort of a terrible inheritance to our children. And that is climate change.
[00:05:34:24] CURT NEWTON: Yes.
[00:05:35:22] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: And it really sort of sometimes does keep me awake at night that my daughter is going to have to deal with things that we did not deal with. And that's why I think it's so important to engage with people who are passing on the right values to children. And when we do that, when we bring up--
[00:06:00:04] Ideally, we want a new generation that has a very, very different attitude to climate change than we do. And with that thought, I would like to introduce Timothy Gay, science teacher at the Boston Latin School and founder of the Climate Curriculum.
[00:06:17:05] TIMOTHY GAY: Thank you. Welcome.
[00:06:18:05] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. It's great of you to join us.
[00:06:20:15] TIMOTHY GAY: Thank you. I appreciate being here.
[00:06:22:09] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So Timothy, tell us who you are, how you got here, and what do you want to do?
[00:06:30:00] TIMOTHY GAY: So my name is Timothy Gay. I'm a science teacher at Boston Latin School. Always been interested in the sciences. I studied chemistry in grad school and loved the research aspect, but I got a chance to teach a few courses here and there and that's when I made the very difficult decision in life to leave the laboratory and head off to the classroom, because I found it a bit more engaging to work with students.
[00:06:52:21] So for the past 11, 12 years, I've been teaching in the Boston Public School System. And more recently, I've started a project where I'm trying to recruit teachers to participate and recruit other folks to work with me as we try to teach the proper science about climate change to students all across the country.
[00:07:08:29] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. It's really impressive what you've done with climatecurriculum.com, just to put it out there for people. You should check it out, even while you're listening to this podcast or definitely afterwards. It was through that project that I first learned of you and-- yeah, I just wanted to say right off the bat, way to go. Really impressive.
[00:07:27:05] TIMOTHY GAY: Thank you, Curt.
[00:07:27:26] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Yeah. So how many teachers have you reached so far?
[00:07:32:02] TIMOTHY GAY: It's been really interesting because the project started off with probably about 10 or 12 of us working together last summer to put lessons together to start this sort of project. And since then, I've had teachers from across the country get into contact with me. We've just received an intern coming up for the fall semester. I'll have a student working with me to help me write lessons.
[00:07:54:29] CURT NEWTON: To have an intern means you've arrived, because that is the way the world is working now.
[00:08:00:17] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So this intern presumably will be writing syllabi, or is it actual course?
[00:08:06:04] TIMOTHY GAY: I will oversee the writing of curriculum. It almost-- it helps me in the sense where I kind of have the expertise to put it together, but not necessarily all the time and resources. So essentially I'll have someone that I will be mentoring write lessons that will help populate the curriculum.
[00:08:23:09] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So how does this work with all the standards and the rules and regulations? So tell us the mechanics.
[00:08:32:07] TIMOTHY GAY: Yeah. No, it's a great question. Especially in Massachusetts, teachers are held to a very high standard to make sure that the proper science is taught in all the science classrooms, to make sure that if a student in Western Massachusetts or a student in Boston is taking a course in chemistry or biology that they all are learning the same material.
[00:08:50:00] And more recently, there's been an overview and revision of the curriculum standards, they're called, from Massachusetts. And they've begun to include climate change as part of that. So that's a major deal here in Massachusetts that we have that as part of our state curriculum frameworks.
[00:09:04:21] CURT NEWTON: How does it compare, Massachusetts, with other states around the United States, and even outside of the United States? What have you learned?
[00:09:12:25] TIMOTHY GAY: It's very interesting. Idaho, back in March, was a state the law-makers decided that they were going to remove climate change from their science curriculum, because they don't feel like it's an important issue. Some other interesting information, I guess, and I guess this is just at the root I think of what you were discussing in the beginning part of this podcast about why this problem exists, is because there is so much money in the disinformation campaign about climate change that the only political party in the entire planet that does not believe in climate change is the United States Republican Party.
[00:09:46:25] CURT NEWTON: Did you get one of those Heartland Institute books?
[00:09:49:18] TIMOTHY GAY: I absolutely did. It was funny, because many of my colleagues at Boston Latin School also received the book and they came running right to me because they know I'm fascinated with climate change. And they said, can you believe this? Climate change is a myth according to the Heartland institute.
[00:10:03:23] CURT NEWTON: People may not be familiar with what that book was, if you can remind us.
[00:10:07:08] TIMOTHY GAY: Oh, sure. It was essentially a book that was published, and it's glossy. It's very well put together. It looks like it's an actual science publication. But it was published by the Heartland Institute, and if you're not familiar with the Heartland Institute, they're the ones who are always finding a scientist to sell their credentials to be on the wrong side of information.
[00:10:26:06] Essentially the secondhand smoke doesn't cause cancer, or CFS aren't causing a hole in the ozone layer is the side of the argument that those folks tend to gravitate towards. So now they've put this publication out to-- I believe it was around 20,000 science teachers across the country.
[00:10:43:07] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So more like stake through the heartland.
[00:10:48:03] CURT NEWTON: Reflecting back on our past conversation.
[00:10:51:19] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Indeed. So I believe that you have a group of students who've been working with you on this curriculum. Can you tell us a little bit about exactly what that looks like?
[00:11:01:18] TIMOTHY GAY: Absolutely. So I work with a group of students. They are part of the Boston Student Advisory Council. So they come from all the different high schools throughout the city. And they are a group of activists. And these students advocate for change. They've been working really hard for student rights and they've been working really hard for proper funding of the Boston Public Schools.
[00:11:20:20] And one of their projects that recently picked up was devoted towards climate change. And one of the really interesting stories, for me at least when I talked to the students of why they care about climate change, is many of them, it all started with one conversation of when did you first learn about climate change?
[00:11:35:24] And it seemed like all the students had different answers. Some maybe had a teacher that talked about it in elementary school. Some maybe didn't hear about it until high school even. So that conversation is what really started this movement of, well, why doesn't everybody learn about climate change at the same time? Why isn't this part of a bigger issue? So I got a chance to work with these kids.
[00:11:56:24] They're great. They're so full of energy. They're so hopeful. They really want to enact change. So we got together and we refined lessons. I took student feedback. I believe that right now students are working across the city on providing background information for the science teachers.
[00:12:16:07] So essentially what they're doing right now is they're trying to compile peer-reviewed scientific research that can be then embedded into the background information for the science teachers so when they do get a chance to look at these lessons, now they have sources of information for them. So the kids are very dedicated towards making sure this information is spread out to as many people as possible.
[00:12:35:15] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Wow. That's fantastic. So let me ask you a further question-- is this normal? Meaning if you want to teach physics or chemistry or a well understood subject, do you still do the same thing-- involve students-- or is this special to climate change?
[00:12:49:23] TIMOTHY GAY: I think this is pretty special to climate change, for sure. It's a scientific issue that I think many of the students gravitate towards. I think many of them stay on the positive aspect of things because they're always looking for solutions. They try not to get bogged down into the doom and gloom that typically comes along with a lot of these climate change issues.
[00:13:08:02] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. People from outside of Boston may not be familiar with your school, Boston Latin School, but it's like the high end most high performing public school in the city. Wondering if you have thoughts that can kind of put that community in perspective with, say, a more typical public school?
[00:13:29:08] TIMOTHY GAY: Yeah. I mean, at Boston Latin School, for certain, I mean it's the oldest public high school in the country. It was founded in 1635. I mean, I should know how many of the signers of Declaration of Independence went to our school, but I forget.
[00:13:42:15] CURT NEWTON: It's like the public school predecessor to Harvard.
[00:13:46:11] TIMOTHY GAY: Right, right. And kids have to pass an exam in order to gain entrance and they have to have a certain GPA. So these are-- it's essentially a school for the gifted and talented.
[00:13:56:16] CURT NEWTON: So at Boston Latin School, you've got a group of students who are particularly motivated--
[00:14:04:06] TIMOTHY GAY: Correct.
[00:14:05:01] CURT NEWTON: Perhaps. What do you think the situation might look like in a more typical public school somewhere else outside of the Massachusetts blue bubble?
[00:14:16:29] TIMOTHY GAY: Good question. Unfortunately, and from the article that I've read that really kind of inspired me to put this climate curriculum together, they surveyed science teachers from across the country about how well they teach climate change. And the results were rather startling, that many of the teachers don't.
[00:14:34:16] CURT NEWTON: This is the science magazine article?
[00:14:36:26] TIMOTHY GAY: Correct.
[00:14:37:08] CURT NEWTON: And we'll put a link to that on our--
[00:14:38:20] TIMOTHY GAY: Yeah. "Climate Confusion Among US Teachers" I think is the title of it. Yeah, and I mean essentially teachers across the country aren't teaching climate change for a number of reasons. It's whether they don't know well enough about it themselves, or potentially pushback from parents or other administrators in the community that don't necessarily agree with climate change.
[00:15:00:05] So there is a big gap in the science education across the country. So I think it's important that climate change becomes part of that.
[00:15:08:21] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So you mentioned pushback.
[00:15:11:03] TIMOTHY GAY: Correct.
[00:15:11:27] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Have you received any directly?
[00:15:14:24] TIMOTHY GAY: Surprisingly not. The parents at Boston Latin have been very receptive to all the lessons we have been giving. The last parent teacher conference I had, we have a very short window of time to talk to all the parents. So I usually give a very brief presentation to them about the course. And at the end of one of them, and it was a really eye-opening experience for me, but one of the parents said, jeez, this class sounds so depressing.
[00:15:40:04] Like because I said, oh, we talk about deforestation or sea level rise or forest fires spreading or the chemicals in the environment.
[00:15:47:18] CURT NEWTON: My kid's coming home all bummed out. Come on.
[00:15:50:11] TIMOTHY GAY: Exactly. But then I guess that was an eye-opening moment for me to start focusing more upon the solutions to the problems, as opposed to just these problems are terrible.
[00:16:00:24] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So give an example of a hands on solution perhaps that you worked on either with your students or with other teachers or both.
[00:16:09:13] TIMOTHY GAY: Great. One of the lessons in the curriculum is actually focused directly on the solutions. And there is a company called Mapdwell that is located-- I actually believe it's here in Massachusetts. It may even be in Cambridge. But they have mapped the roofs of every dwelling in Boston.
[00:16:25:08] So I have an assignment where the kids will log in to Mapdwell and they will find their own home and they will determine what the cost of putting solar panels on their home would be, what's the financial incentive, what's the payoff time on the investment. And then additionally, there is a professor out at Stanford, his name is Mark Jacobson, and he works with the Solutions Project.
[00:16:43:18] And him and his team have basically plotted how each state in the United States-- and now it's actually expanded to the entire world-- where what those individual states or countries would have to do to convert to 100% renewable energy. And it's all based on localized solutions. So for instance, here in Massachusetts we have tremendous offshore wind potential.
[00:17:04:03] So we should be building all these offshore wind farms so that we can--
[00:17:07:03] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Not in my backyard.
[00:17:08:14] TIMOTHY GAY: Exactly.
[00:17:09:24] CURT NEWTON: But as opposed to huge solar farms where we're a little more land constraint.
[00:17:14:08] TIMOTHY GAY: Correct. Yeah. Out in Arizona, it'd be great to create more solar farms because of their solar potential. And actually, believe it or not, nimbyism is something we have to talk about in the course. And I use the Cape Wind example as a stellar example of some potential renewable energy we could have had at this point in time, but some wealthy, beautiful people got together and didn't want those to be constructed.
[00:17:37:14] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Wealthy, beautiful people.
[00:17:43:04] What do your students think about-- how did they reason about these kinds of topics?
[00:17:49:06] TIMOTHY GAY: Believe it or not, it's rather inspiring. I find that once we start to talk about these issues in the class, they do focus on the solutions. There may be a bit of doom and gloom at first, but then it's like, all right, let's pull ourselves up from the bootstraps. What can we do about this?
[00:18:05:05] And I find that, whether it's the students tweeting at me or e-mailing me or stopping me in class and saying, hey, I went to California over break or I was in Europe over break and you should have seen all their solar panels. You should have seen all the wind turbines, that stuff's being done. We're working towards solving it.
[00:18:22:19] So it is more of a mentality that this can be conquered and this can be defeated, but it's just a matter of putting the right policies in place.
[00:18:30:27] CURT NEWTON: I remember when my kids were in elementary school. So my son was in fourth grade. That would have been the early 2000s. The environmental stuff that came up for him in elementary school was all about the rain forest. And this seemed to be-- this situation, schools all over the state, all my friends, were getting the rain forest thing. Do you think climate change is becoming the thing, the environmental thing?
[00:18:57:25] TIMOTHY GAY: Absolutely believe so. Yeah. It's in the forefront of most news sites. I mean, you can't escape it. I think every day there is usually something mentioned about, was it the Larson ice shelf that just broke off from Antarctica? Something relevant to our collective culture is always focused on something with climate change.
[00:19:18:23] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. But you know around that era, in malls all around the United States was a restaurant chain called The Rain Forest Cafe. Are we going to head for the Climate Change Cafeteria once someone figures-- someone figures out how to make money doing it, I'm sure.
[00:19:35:00] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Actually, that is my worry, right? That will become yet another boondoggle.
[00:19:41:01] TIMOTHY GAY: Well, if it's all locally sourced, there you go. And organic, I think it's OK.
[00:19:47:08] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: All right. I'll get my business plan ready.
[00:19:51:12] CURT NEWTON: So that reminds me, I wanted to ask you about teaching climate change to different age levels. I know on climatecurriculum.com, well, you come from a high school background. You've got stuff down to the elementary school level. And what's a couple of differences in how you would teach climate change to a really young person versus, say, an adolescent?
[00:20:13:09] TIMOTHY GAY: Yeah. That's a great question, because they keep me up with the 11th and 12th graders. So teaching something to a 3rd grader would be a nightmare to me. I wouldn't know the first thing to do. But working with the other teachers, I notice that it's-- you got to start with the big ideas at first.
[00:20:28:23] So for instance, if it was an elementary school, we could begin teaching the students about what a watershed is, and then teaching about say maybe the watersheds around the city of Boston and how water flows and how it flows to the oceans and kind of leave it there. And then the younger kids don't need to know about the doom and gloom aspect of stuff. It's not going to work well.
[00:20:47:15] CURT NEWTON: So it's all about connecting to your local environment, being able to follow that.
[00:20:51:29] TIMOTHY GAY: Right. And then I would say maybe you move up to the middle school level. And then you start to talk about sea level rise and how that could potentially begin to affect things and then maybe have them look at how sea level rise might affect the city of Boston, which is part of one of the lessons we have.
[00:21:04:18] And then maybe lastly when you get to the high school level, you start to have them engineer solutions to the problem. So keeping that consistent theme from the younger grades to the older grades, but building upon that previous knowledge.
[00:21:16:02] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So is there a community of teachers in Boston, or perhaps in Massachusetts, who are building this kind of stack starting in elementary school, going all the way to high school, and sort of--
[00:21:29:00] TIMOTHY GAY: Yeah. I mean, it's a common thing in the education realm. We call it Vertical Alignment. So it's something that you try to make sure that the same principles are touched upon in all grades, but that you're building as you go upwards. It's part of the fellowship that I was working on recently, the Science Education Fellowship, which really kind of was the root of how climate curriculum came about.
[00:21:51:08] But I worked with other science teachers and we would focus on how energy transfers in an ecosystem. And I saw how that works from the 2nd or 3rd grade level all the way up to my classes in AP Environmental Science. So you pick a consistent theme and you look at it and how it can be taught differently to different age students.
[00:22:07:22] CURT NEWTON: I'd like to hear about any of your prior students who've perhaps moved on and really taken on these issues in their post-high school lives.
[00:22:15:17] TIMOTHY GAY: That's a great question. So every single year when my seniors go off to graduate, I usually spend one class chatting with the seniors and chatting with the whole class so they can explain where they're going to college and what they're going to study. And more often than not now, I'm seeing students going into the environmental realm, and primarily environmental engineering.
[00:22:36:00] And believe it or not, I had one student recently revisit from BU and she had graduated high school three years ago. So she's a junior and she's studying environmental policy. So I was so excited. I was like, you got to tell me all the secrets because the only environmental policy I've ever learned that was successful was the Montreal Protocol, which banned the use of CFCs so that we didn't destroy the ozone layer.
[00:22:58:02] So I was like, Erin, tell me what else we have out there. What are your professors talking about? And she said nothing. She says that's all they ever referenced.
[00:23:06:07] CURT NEWTON: It's all effort and teeth gnashing.
[00:23:09:14] TIMOTHY GAY: Yep. It is. If the policy-makers would just listen to scientists a bit more--
[00:23:13:20] CURT NEWTON: I hear carbon pricing is pretty cool.
[00:23:16:14] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Wait, Curt, is that something that you care about?
[00:23:20:16] CURT NEWTON: It might be.
[00:23:23:23] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So Timothy, you've been to some exciting events recently.
[00:23:28:26] TIMOTHY GAY: Professional development.
[00:23:29:22] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Professional development events with people who might have invented the internet. So tell us a little bit.
[00:23:37:18] TIMOTHY GAY: Yes. So I was very lucky to go out into Seattle at the end of June. And I went to the Climate Reality Project Conference and it was a three day conference that was hosted by Al Gore. And Al Gore was our primary leader the entire time. We had a great three days where I got to see some major activist work that had been going on out in the Seattle area, ways in which they have prevented coal distribution in certain native lands or not building a hydroelectric dam that would disrupt the flow of salmon migrating.
[00:24:11:27] And it was a chance for 800 like-minded people to get together in the same room and exchange ideas and figure out ways for future collaboration and really kind of see the forefront of what's going on with climate change. You know, Al Gore's got his sequel coming out in about a week or so where The Inconvenient Truth sequel is going to come out.
[00:24:32:04] And he seems to be vindicated on a lot of those initial projections he made in the first film back in 2006. And there's this new phenomenon that's happening now in weather where he shows these atmospheric rivers. One of them is called the Pineapple Express. It comes from Hawaii and it hits the western coast of the United States and it drops tremendous amounts of precipitation.
[00:24:54:02] He has these things I've never heard of until the conference. They're called rain bombs. And if you Google a rain bomb over-- I think there's one great one in Tucson-- it literally looks like a giant bucket of water bouncing off of the buildings and the land when the rain comes out. So we're starting to see more extreme weather events with climate change.
[00:25:12:05] So Al Gore focuses a lot on that as well. So it was a really great conference to get re-energised, motivated, and working towards solutions when it comes to climate change.
[00:25:23:18] CURT NEWTON: Were there any other teachers out there you met?
[00:25:25:06] TIMOTHY GAY: There was a handful of teachers, yeah. Some, believe it or not, from Massachusetts even. Yeah. And some others. So I got a list of folks that we're going to try to do some collaborations on in the near future.
[00:25:37:04] CURT NEWTON: Fantastic.
[00:25:37:19] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So how do you network with other teachers?
[00:25:40:06] TIMOTHY GAY: Primarily I've found now it's teacher science institutes. So for instance, up in late August, I have a Teacher Training Institute. I'll be teaching teachers for Boston Public Schools about climate change curriculum and ways that they can get involved. I have some science teachers that want to get engaged in this.
[00:25:59:13] And believe it or not, I have some teachers that are not even in the realm of science that want to start incorporating climate change into their courses.
[00:26:05:25] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: That would be awesome. I mean, I can imagine history teachers could do a lot.
[00:26:09:22] TIMOTHY GAY: Huge. Yeah. You look at ice core records. You look at tree growth rings. So you can see really connections that exist outside the science realm.
[00:26:18:21] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: All right. I am going to put on my Gandalf hat and say, Timothy, if you could wave a magic wand and have one thing happen-- for your students, for other teachers in the curricular world of climate science-- what would that be and what would you want out of it?
[00:26:41:05] TIMOTHY GAY: So good -- I'm sorry. I got to ask a clarifying question.
[00:26:46:16] Do you mean like magic wand in the education realm, or like solving climate change, or do you mean--
[00:26:51:19] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So something that would have a solution-ist, but in a world that you can engage with directly. So it could be other teachers. It could be a curriculum. It could be maybe the administration of the school system.
[00:27:07:27] CURT NEWTON: I want to give you two magic wands. I want the education one, and then I want the big--
[00:27:11:22] TIMOTHY GAY: The world one? OK.
[00:27:12:25] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: All right. Let's start with a small one and then we'll-- so we'll do the magic wand and the magic stick.
[00:27:18:02] CURT NEWTON: There you go.
[00:27:20:12] TIMOTHY GAY: All right. So if I could have a magic wand for the education realm, I think it would be more funding and more time for teachers to work together, because I feel like that's the important thing is working on this fellowship I've been on for the past year and a half, now two years, when you have dedicated and committed individuals who are focusing on the same topic and you give them time to work together, you can come up with some pretty amazing results.
[00:27:46:19] So I feel like if I was in a science department and I had some other teachers who were committed to work on something similar, if we had time throughout the day to work together, I think that would be a bit better. And then also I think when it comes to public schools in general, funding is always an issue.
[00:28:03:21] If we had smaller class sizes, more teachers, I think you would be able to provide a better education to teaching maybe 20 students per class as opposed to 31.
[00:28:14:10] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Right. And now that we have done the magic wand, what about the magic tree?
[00:28:19:17] TIMOTHY GAY: Magic tree. I think you'd have to go back-- and this is this really defeatist and sad and I apologize-- but you'd have to change humans. I feel like inherently we're greedy and inherently we crave power. And I think that is ultimately what has undone so many positive things that we have in society, you know, like if we stopped putting money behind all the decisions we make and actually made decisions for an altruistic reason or for the betterment of mankind, I think we would be a lot better off.
[00:28:50:01] We oftentimes, like you can talk about policy in the United States around science right now and how disastrous it is. And it's primarily because of what we talked about earlier with the disinformation campaign with all the money coming from the fossil fuel industry.
[00:29:02:04] CURT NEWTON: Such a big be nice stick.
[00:29:04:14] TIMOTHY GAY: Yes.
[00:29:06:00] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So thank you, Timothy for this wonderful time.
[00:29:09:16] TIMOTHY GAY: Thank you for having me.
[00:29:10:19] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. Yeah. It's been a pleasure, real pleasure. And we're really impressed by what you're doing and wish you all the best in your future with this. And let's hope that intern does some great work.
[00:29:23:01] TIMOTHY GAY: Excellent. Thank you very much.
[00:29:25:14] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Thank you.
[00:29:27:21] CURT NEWTON: So Laura, Rajesh and I just had that great conversation with Timothy and you've been able to listen to it. What did you think?
[00:29:35:05] LAURA HOWELLS: Oh, I loved it. It was so interesting to me getting to hear that he's directly impacted the futures of these students, getting involved in college courses that are about environmental policy and things like that. That's fascinating. And the idea that in somewhere like the US where educational legislation is so diverse, that he's being able to bring teachers together all across the state and all across the country, is so impressive to me.
[00:30:02:12] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: It is.
[00:30:02:23] CURT NEWTON: My hat's off to him. Taking on the public education infrastructure in the United States with all the state frameworks and political sort of energies flowing at it, it's a really important and a tall order.
[00:30:16:19] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: More power to him.
[00:30:17:28] LAURA HOWELLS: Yeah, absolutely. I was actually thinking about when he was talking about how until he kind of got into this role, there was so much disparity between at what age you learn about climate change. I remember my first school had a Green Council. So my seven-year-old little brother was on the Green Council talking about what kind of recycling initiatives our school would have.
[00:30:37:14] And yet other schools in the area and many of my friends wouldn't have done anything at all until they learned about CFCs in high school.
[00:30:43:01] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. Maybe-- we didn't bring this up with Timothy, but there was a paper that was released last week to great fanfare about individual contributions, what we can do as individuals to climate change and students' perceptions of it. This is the one that says, recycling and changing light bulbs, the stuff that's talked about in your textbooks, actually have an almost invisible impact.
[00:31:08:00] And the things that really matter, living car free, not flying, especially long distances, and family planning, are overwhelmingly the things that matter. We'll put a link to that paper on the ClimateX website.
[00:31:22:01] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So what do you think the big solutions are? We would love to hear from you.
[00:31:26:15] LAURA HOWELLS: Yeah. It would be fantastic if you could get in touch with us either-- we're on Twitter. We're on Facebook. We are on ClimateX.met.edu. You can reach out to us all directly on the site as we're all members. And if you wanted to get in touch with us via email for any future podcasts, any questions you may have or that you'd like us to answer, you can get in touch with us at ClimateX_feedback@mit.edu.
[00:31:49:09] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Thank you, Laura.
[00:31:50:10] LAURA HOWELLS: Thank you, Curt. Thank you, Rajesh.
[00:31:52:16] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Good bye.
[00:31:53:15] LAURA HOWELLS: Another great week. Bye.
[00:31:55:22] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: ClimateX is powered by its active, diverse global community. Visit us at ClimateX.mit.edu and join the conversation.