By Sofía López
One day having a conversation with new friends about how amazing is travelling, we expressed our jealousy for photographers that work on National Geographic who travel around the world, exploring and taking pictures of marvelous places. Then, I remembered that National Geographic gives grants to explore nature and cultures; thus, I proposed that we should apply together. However, I could notice some scepticism in the air, maybe because we have different backgrounds (botany, entomology, ichthyology and town planning), so identifying common topics or problems to solve could represent a challenge. After some thoughts, we said that climate change could be a potential field where all of us could work together without giving up our fields of expertise. Nevertheless, they still are sceptic to work together on this field, thus here I explain how relevant is working collaboratively to fight climate.
Why has climate change become such an important issue? The environment affects several sectors, from nature and natural resources to social justice. It is forecasted that temperature will increase by the year 2100 to 2°C in the best scenario, or to 4°C in the worst . The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported that the increment of temperature has significant impacts on physical systems (e.g. rivers, glaciers, floods, etc.), biological systems (terrestrial and marine ecosystems) and human systems (food production, livelihood, health, economy) that reveal differently worldwide (Fig. 1). Few examples of the impacts on nature are the deaths of thousands of Australian flying-foxes because of extreme heats . Regarding social justice, climate change is threaten the right to food and health of hundreds of people that live in countries that are highly vulnerable and are little resilient to climate change. Climate variability is leading to a decrease on crop yield in lower latitudes where several developing countries are located , and the increment of malaria disease also in developing countries . Therefore, since 1992, several nations have joined an international treaty to mitigate the increment of temperature and also to adapt to the current negative effects of climate change .
Figure 1. Observed impacts attributed to climate change in all continents .
Due to the fact that climate change is affecting almost every sector, few interdisciplinary projects have been emerging, which have inspired people to increase their knowledge about climate change and also have inspired to action. Scientists and artists have worked along different projects that allow the public to understand climate change apart from charts and maps. A string quartet made an exquisite interpretation of “climate data to climate music” to describe the “pace and the place of global warming” (to watch and listen, please click here ). Another interesting example which involves multidisciplinary approach, is the CLIMAS project (Climate Assessment). In this project, scientists are improving their capacity of communication to help stakeholders that manage water supplies to expand their decision-making when they are facing climate variability . In addition, scientists have received feedback from stakeholders to improve decision support systems that the community is using, such as web-based tools to assess climate forecast .
Nevertheless, it is important to highlight that it is still necessary to increase collaborative work about climate change, since it seems that gathering all the sectors has been challenging, or even when they have joined together, there are some barriers that make it difficult to work as a cohesive group . An important barrier is the extensive time required to build trust among heterogeneous groups . In addition, there is a failure in tolerance between earth scientist and social scientist, because the firsts are more prone to give neutral and value free evidences, while the seconds are more prone to develop more critical reflections from experiences .To overcome those barriers, there are some key actions to implement in a heterogeneous group to increase the tolerance and to open communication: 1) Recognize common important concepts or problems (nodes), 2) identify the processes that are unifying them (linkages), and 3) implement a cohesive language . Furthermore, there are some practices that improve interdisciplinary work :
Finally, probably if I do a brainstorm with my friends about the many impacts of climate change in our fields, we will able to find also some linkage among them to find a way to work together. I hope that using the practices mentioned above, it will be easier to persuade my friends to travel around the world solving socio-environmental problems.
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