Well, this is it. The official last post on Climatide.
I could wax nostalgic about what an incredible experience the past eighteen months has been, both personally and professionally. About how much climate science I’ve crammed into my head. About how much more quickly I now write. About my new-found love of Twitter. Or about all the incredible people I’ve “met” (I put that word in quotation marks since I’ve never actually been in the physical presence of many of these people, just developed great online relationships).
But I won’t. At least not for too long. Here’s why. Just as moms are so fond of saying, when one door closes, another one opens. And that’s exactly what’s happening here.
As a graduate student at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, my teachers and mentors were constantly pushing me to consider my research at every possible scale, from the most myopic details to the most global implications. Maybe it’s an ocean thing. Many of the most important processes going on in the ocean are invisible – the morphing of one molecule into another, carried out by single-celled microscopic organisms. To truly understand how this happens, scientists must drill down to minute scales, studying single cells, a specific molecule, sometimes even individual electrons. But to truly appreciate the importance of what’s going on, one must step back and consider what happens when that single cell is multiplied by billions, trillions, or more. After all, the ocean is nothing if not vast, and it derives much of its power over the Earth’s basic functioning from its enormity.
After six years of having this lesson drilled into my head, I have always found it difficult to consider any question at just one scale. This has presented a real challenge for me as a blogger. Finding the necessary focus – defining a clear and manageable beat, or niche – is d@#$ed near impossible when every tiny detail seems crucial to the bigger picture, but also meaningless without the bigger picture to give it context; when being aware of events on the other side of the globe seems critical to understanding what’s going on in my own backyard, and vice versa .. you get the idea. No one individual can stay abreast of every scientific discovery and news event relating to the ocean or climate, and the attempt to do so can be exhausting. It can also be enlightening.
The swath of ocean and climate science I’ve surveyed through Climatide has made clear to me the fact that science, itself, is like a teenager – constantly changing and widely misunderstood. Technology, social media, and the increasing diversity of the scientific community are just a few of the factors influencing movements that are fast becoming catch phrases – citizen science, open science, art and science, crowd-funded science. Many scientists are taking a critical look at their own practices and inventing new, maybe better, ways to do science.
And the changes don’t stop there. The way that scientific findings make their way into the public realm and into our daily lives is also changing. Indeed, I see shifts in the whole relationship between the scientific community and the rest of the community playing out online and right here on Cape Cod. That’s really exciting to me.
So I’ve decided to take a step back from the nitty-gritty of climate change impacts and ocean pollution to explore some of these bigger questions for a while.
Ocean science is my first love, the lifeblood of Woods Hole (where I feel lucky to have worked in some capacity for going on fifteen years), and an obvious link to the coastal communities of Cape Cod and the Islands. And much of ocean science today is climate-related. So ocean and climate science will still feature heavily in my thoughts and writing.
But the focus won’t be on the results (what usually makes headlines) as much as the stories behind and beside the headlines. Who does scientific research? What drives them? What happens when scientists and non-scientists work together? And, of course, the ever-present question: why should I care if I’m not a scientist?
As much as possible, I’d like to get out of the way and let you tell your stories about science in your own words, photos, pottery .. whatever medium suits your fancy.
The home for all this soul-searching will be a new website – Living Lab Radio. The site is currently under construction, but check back frequently. I’m hoping to be up and running in a week or so, with further development and improvements to continue over the course of a few months. And, of course, you can always find me on Facebook and Twitter. So start sending your science experiences my way, and I’ll see you at the new site soon.
And, just in case you were wondering, yes. The new site’s name is a hat-tip to the fact that, starting in a few months, we’ll be taking to the airwaves as well as the interwebs. Stay tuned!