June 21, 2024

Former UT scientist calls for climate change action

Dan Terpstra, retired UT senior scientist, advocated for a social tipping point he believes is necessary to end the climate crisis during the Friends of the Library’s monthly series Books Sandwiched In.

Image courtesy of Creative Commons

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Dr. Dan Terpstra, climate change activist and retired UT senior scientist, issued a call to action and a reevaluation of opinions at the East Tennessee History Center Wednesday while speaking at this month’s Books Sandwiched In. Terpstra advocated for a social tipping point he believes is necessary to end the climate crisis.

“Your generation is the one that is going to deal with the consequences of climate change,” he said, “so it’s up to you to figure out how to get those of us in the power structure accountable. This is your fight.”

As climate change begins to make more noise on the world stage, Terpstra urged those who disregard the controversial issue to look at science.

“98 percent of the climate scientists say unequivocally that (climate change) is happening. It’s been turned into an ideological, political hot potato in the U.S. and it doesn’t need to be. The science is clear,” he said.

While discussing the book This Changes Everything: Capitalism Versus Climate Change by Naomi Klein, Terpstra covered issues that he and the author identify as major climate problems. Klein identifies climate change as a holistic issue to be dealt with. However, Terpstra noted his specific concern with fossil fuels.

“The way we use energy is what drives our relationship to climate change. I’m in the place where I feel like fossil fuels trump everything. That’s what we have to deal with somehow if we’re going to get our hands around this whole issue of how we are going to slow climate change.”

Terpstra further noted Klein’s opposition to globalization and unregulated free trade of capitalism.

“First world nations started exporting their manufacturing, and along with their manufacturing they started exporting their pollution, and therefore also exporting their guilt,” he said.

Terpstra mentioned several economic policies that prevent the U.S. from doing more about climate change. He cited TransCanada’s current lawsuit against the U.S. for $15 billion over trade loss because of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The basis for the suit lies in a clause that is present in the North American Free Trade Agreement about enacting policies that restrict trade.

“Love of place has to trump love of corporation,” said Terpstra. “We have created a crisis by not acting.”

“In years past the answer would have been something like drive a Prius, change your lightbulb, weather strip your windows. These days, everything has shifted. We have to go beyond that. We have to act collectively in community otherwise we aren’t going to have the power to change institutions, only lightbulbs.”

Executive director of Tennessee Clean Water Network Renée Victoria Hoyos will lead the discussion about the novel Cool It!: The Skeptical Environmentalists Guide to Global Warming by Bjørn Lombørg at 12 p.m. on Feb. 17 at the East Tennessee History Center.

Featured image courtesy of creativecommons.org

Edited by Hannah Hunnicutt

1 thought on “Former UT scientist calls for climate change action

  1. Thanks Dr. Terpstra, for saying what just about all scientists know. However, I think that the younger generation needs help from us older folks, many of whom retain much of the power. I am an older science professor, fighting hard to for action on climate. I care about my grandchildren and the world that they will inherit.

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