Families don’t discuss climate change enough.
That’s something Peter Bancel hopes will change after his talk — titled, “Climate Change: Where We Are and Where We Are Going” — at the Ridgefield Library’s main program room from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1.
“Nobody talks about it, but it’s happening,” said Bancel, who has a Ph.D. in experimental physics and has authored over 40 scientific papers and articles.
Bancel, who works at the Institut Métapsychique International in Paris, France, where he studies the interface between physics, consciousness and psychic phenomena, said he first got involved researching climate change by accident.
“I’m not a climate scientist,” he told The Press, “but I’ve studied about it and written about our climate problem. It started when I read this denier essay in this research journal four or five years ago. I knew the editor of the journal and I wrote to him he shouldn’t publish [the essay] but it was too late at that point. He encouraged me to write a rebuttal essay so I took the next few months to look into climate change more and after that period of time decided to write something.”
Bancel admits there was a lot he didn’t know.
“With our Internet culture, you’re never sure what’s real and what’s not,” he said. “I find it best to get information from people in person, and that’s why I do talks about climate change when I can.”
It’s not his first talk at the Ridgefield Library. In 2016, he spoke to a crowd about the topic. He also gave a speech to three classes of environmental studies students at Ridgefield High School.
“The older generation is checking out, I fear,” he said. “I hear a lot of older people say, ‘There’s nothing we can do.’ They’re extremely misinformed.”
For starters, everyone can do one simple thing to contribute to the solution, according to Bancel.
“The main problem here is denial,” he said. “Everyone should make one small gesture to save energy — something that brings the problem into your awareness. Even just mentioning it, and accepting that it exists, is enormously helpful.”
Asking questions helps, too.
“We need every single person to be actively engaged, whether it’s turning off lights or writing your local congressman,” Bancel said.
In Europe, denial isn’t the problem.
“Silence is the main problem over there,” Bancel said. “There’s not this political polarization around the issue — there’s just not a lot of conversation, which I think is just another form of denial.”
A Rye, N.Y., native, Bancel takes comfort knowing it’s not just an American problem.
“We’re not alone,” he said, “we all need to learn about this home we live on more, and learn to appreciate it better.”
He said his research into the intricacies of climate change have provided him with the great realization that the Earth is alive.
“We’re not the only living beings here — the planet itself is alive and evolving constantly, and that’s beautiful,” Bancel said.
Communicating climate change — and any scientific subject — comes with its inherent set of challenges, the physicist said.
“You have to make it personal,” he said. “That’s why I always start with sharing stories of what I’ve learned or what I’ve seen.”
He believes the subject matter should be easy for an audience member to make a connection.
“It’s our home, it doesn’t get much more personal than that,” Bancel said. “I’m always asked the question, ‘what can we do?’ I always tell them to take a minute to look up at the sky. Stop for a second and appreciate where we live. That’s something we never do in our busy lives. But if we do that every day for just one minute our ability to understand climate change grows.”
And in turn, more conversations about the taboo topic are rendered.
“Once you make that connection to the Earth — once you listen to the wind, see the sky, breathe the air — it’s easier for you to start talking about saving our planet,” Bancel said.
‘A heavy lift’
Bancel said like any relationship the solution to climate change begins with honesty and trust.
He told The Press that the last time he spoke in town it was easier to prepare for the subject matter.
“We weren’t in as bad of shape two years ago,” he said. “The climate scientists are being more honest now that it’s gotten much worse…
“We have very few years left,” he added. “We’ve never had an existential threat to humanity like this — this is a new challenge to the human race.”
Bancel promises the talk won’t be totally depressing though.
“Some things have to be sacrificed, and that’s the harsh reality,” he said. “The outcome will require cooperation that’s never been seen in the history of humanity…
“It’s going to take a heavy lift, and we all have to take part in it,” Bancel concluded. “It’s never been done before but we’re lucky to live in this great important moment in time. We have no choice: We have to roll up our sleeves and do it.”
To register for the talk, contact Lesley Lambton at 203-438-2282 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.