How do we thread the needle with smart policy that avoids a worst-case warming scenario? What responsibilities do businesses have to go from talk to real climate action? In this episode, Dr. Andrew Dessler lends his expertise in climate impact and climate change policy as delve into what needs to get done.




In this Episode

  • A discussion with Dr. Andrew Dessler, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M and climate science expert.
  • What does the IPCC’s sixth assessment report reveal?
  • What are corporations’ role in the climate change solution?
  • The opportunity for companies to become climate leaders.

Episode Links

Dr. Andrew Dessler


Paul Douglas here with another episode of Climatrends. There’s an old saying that rings true, this year more than ever: may you live in interesting times. I’m not sure, but I suspect it’s not a compliment.

I’ve witnessed a lot of crazy things during my 45-year meteorological career, but increasingly I’m looking at the weather maps, the observed weather and whistling under my breath. “Never seen before that” gets muttered every other week, it seems. Some days I feel like a dazed greeter welcoming people to the Apocalypse, offering up a glimpse at the Book of Revelations.

The extremes are jaw-dropping and breath-taking. Literally. Choking smoke from hundreds of super-sized wildfires. Water restrictions in the west, some towns running out of water altogether. Record heat in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, where it got up to 121 degrees in the shade. July was the warmest month ever observed across North America – and the entire planet for that matter. Hottest summer on record for the U.S. – even hotter than 1936. Hottest summer on record for Europe. Rain falling on the highest summit of Greenland, thick smoke swirling above the North Pole, thunderstorms rumbling across the Arctic, where they don’t belong. Greece on fire, much of Siberia on fire. No, this isn’t natural, but it may be a preview of the new normal to come.

The climate is changing. It’s us. There are solutions. We just need to turn up the dial and move faster, weaning ourselves off climate-warming fossil fuels as fast as we can. But many of those clean-tech solutions hinge on the rapid adoption of clean, renewable energy like energy storage, biofuels, wind power and solar power. And solar is problematic when thick plumes of smoke are blotting out the sun. This is the first summer I’ve tried to predict where the smoke might go, and how thick it would be from day to day. I don’t recall ever being taught how to predict smoke during my years in the meteorology department at Penn State.

Climate change has been described as the greatest challenge our species has ever faced. It’s global, we’re all complicit – we’ve all taken advantage of fossil fuels, but the current path is not sustainable, and for many, it may not be survivable. The inevitable solutions require global cooperation, a transformation in the way we handle energy and transportation, and changes to our lifestyle, which makes many of us nervous. People often resist change, so it’s essential for our political leaders to help guide us on a path on this much-needed journey of transformation and reinvention – which some days sounds like swimming upstream.

How best to thread the needle with smart policy that avoids a worst-case warming scenario? And what responsibility do businesses have to go from talk and glowing press releases to real climate action; not only reducing carbon in their daily operations but turning a negative into a positive – providing the new methods, materials and climate-proof solutions we’re going to need to have everything we want and need, but with a much lighter footprint on the only home we have. We went in search of a climate scientist well-versed in public policy, with advice for businesses that want to stay in business, and be on the right side of science, and the right side of history.

On this episode, we consult with atmospheric science professor and climate expert, Dr. Andrew Dessler.

Climatrend’s Mission

Climatrends conducts climate scenario analyses, analyzing climate risks and opportunities for organizations and communities around the world. Scenario analysis is an essential tool for understanding the implications of climate change on business. Conducting a climate scenario analysis is a critical step to TCFD reporting. With deep expertise in climate, weather, and corporate sustainability, we help build a comprehensive climate scenario analysis uniquely tailored to your business. Learn more about climate scenario analysis.

Learn more about our hosts. Music courtesy of Compozly.