On a rainy day in December it was my pleasure to host the team from Monocle to record a podcast as part of the Rolex Perpetual Planet Pioneers series. This was the second time I have been interviewed by Monocle (first one here), and both times I came away feeling that the questions were interesting, insightful, intelligent and challenging. It was interesting for me to see the interviewer, Rob, artfully pulling together threads of conversation and reactively building lines of inquiry, but making it seem smooth and natural at the same time.
Over the 30 minute chat, we covered a whole range of issues from the importance of artistic collaborations for communicating climate science (especially my collaboration with Hannah Peel), the opportunities and dangers presented by artificial intelligence, the importance of aerial remote sensing data for understanding climate processes at scale, and the tightrope separating engaging media and scientific rigour.
We had originally planned that the interview would take place on the beach on Margate main sands, but the weather took a turn for the worst and we relocated to my house up the hill from the seafront. Near the end of the interview Rob asked me why people living in Margate should care about Arctic meltdown. I thought this was a very interesting line of inquiry and a skillful way to challenge me on the very pertinent “so what” question.
I pointed out that on the walk from the train station to my house, we walked almost exclusively along man-made coastal defences. These are a signifier that the town is vulnerable to the ocean. On our soft chalk cliffs rates of erosion are high, and small changes in sea level, combined with higher frequency and magnitude storms will increase the risk of damage to coastal properties and reduce the expected lifespans of clifftop assets. In my lifetime, before the latest sea defences were built, the town centre would regularly flood because of storm surges and/or high tides.
The best thing about doing this podcast has been that it has left me pondering some point still now, weeks afterwards.