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Economy and Emotion: Dr Raghu Murtugudde speaks about Climate Change3 min read

September 21, 2019 2 min read


Economy and Emotion: Dr Raghu Murtugudde speaks about Climate Change3 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

MANIPAL: Amidst Manipal’s increasing heat this monsoon, Dr Raghu Murtugudde found himself delivering an academic talk to a lively and interactive audience on Friday. The senior Earth Scientist addressed the audience at Sir M Vishweshwariah Hall, Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) on Climate Change, Sustainability and the Global Scenario.

Dr Murtugudde, who is a Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science and Earth System Science at the University of Maryland opined that while the mechanisms of climate change lie in physics, chemistry and biology, its causes and solutions are innately social and political.

He used the analogy of an elephant and its rider in terms of human behaviour. He compared a human’s rational thoughts to the rider, and their emotional mind to the elephant. While the rider has a clear-cut path and destination, the elephant often deviates, seeks immediate gratification and does not understand the concept of future benefits.

In a similar way, he reasoned, “The message should make sense to the rider and the elephant,” while talking about how if one wished to make a difference, it was important to appeal to people, both emotionally and rationally.

He also disagreed with activists saying that the planet was dying. “The planet will not go anywhere,” he said, “It is what will happen to us and how many species we will kill.”

He compared the current indifference to climate change to smoking. Until the 1990s, smoking was very common until Bill Clinton imposed restrictions on it despite many protesting the loss of business for tobacco farmers who have inherited the work through generations. Today, smoking is banned in most public places. It is presently stigmatised, and there once was a time when this would have been hard to imagine. Dr Murtugudde believed that if polluting the world became a social stigma like smoking, the threat of climate change would get internalised along similar lines and people would work to prevent it.

His other solution to climate change was in convincing the world of the profits that lie in a green economy. By incentivising clean energy and sustainable development and by convincing businessmen and politicians of the profits that lie in the business and politics of stopping climate change, Dr Murtugudde believes corporations will be encouraged to prevent its catastrophic consequences.

Dr Murtugudde concluded his presentation with a creatively appealing video on solar roadways. He believes that while young people are participating actively in preventing climate change, they are further invigorated by creativity in the news.

“Enjoy life. Save the future. Make money, but be environmentally conscious,” said Dr Murtugudde as he finished his talk.

Dr Murtugudde left an impression on many in his audience. He provided them with a new perspective on climate change. Tenzin Phagdol, a PhD scholar from the Manipal College of Nursing commented, “I had a lot of encouragement to listen to him, but after listening to him, (I realised) more than emotion, when it comes to our nature and climate, scientific facts are also required to create awareness.”


Featured Image Courtesy: Mridula Kumar

Edited by: Karthika Venugopal