C.P. Snow’s identified philosophical divide between scientists and what he terms “literary humanists” has been the basis for many methods of education. The attempts to bridge the gap have included new ways of teaching, a “third culture,” and even Snow himself. Recently, a new potential bridge between the cultures has surfaced: a common goal. There is no question that climate change has effects that apply to everyone inhabiting Earth. Science has shown for decades that humans will suffer dire consequences if we do not implement sustainable practices and decrease our overall carbon footprint. Now, the question is not whether climate change exists, but how to combat the effects of a rising global temperature. So, how does climate change bridge the gap between cultures in terms of mutual collaboration? In what ways do scientists tend to approach the problem, and does that differ from their humanist counterparts? At the surface, the simplest and most logical answer would be that scientists and engineers utilize their backgrounds and respective fields to develop sustainable technologies. On the other hand, literary humanists may exercise their positions and educations to write policy, produce news, and educate the masses. Their writing craft makes it easy to relate scientific data to the general public and inspire change through persuasive pieces. While these approaches differ fundamentally, overlap between the two occurs surprisingly often, which reflects the necessary collaboration between the two cultures in facing the problem of climate change.

The most potent and recent example of collaboration is the 2018 IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) special report on “Global Warming of 1.5℃.” The report was penned by ninety-one authors, both men and women, from forty different countries. These people have extensive backgrounds in a variety of fields, including science, philosophy, languages, economics, mathematics, and communication from universities across the globe. Purnamita Dasgupta, for example, comes from India and had a background in economics, while Guangsheng Zhou comes from China and studied meteorology. The report also outlines ways to increase sustainability and encourages active environmentally minded behaviors from everyone (IPCC 2018). These facts are significant for two reasons. First, the wide range of nationalities makes the IPCC a more credible and more knowledged association. Climate change affects Russia differently than it impacts Australia, so the inclusion of representatives from both countries on the project yields more accurate suggestions for policy making. It is important to note that the report advocates general policies and practices that most areas are capable of implementing, and leaves more specific methods for individual governments to interpret in terms of their various situations. Global representation also contributes to a collective understanding that climate change does not affect only one part of the world, and emphasizes that international diplomacy is key to addressing global warming. The second reason relates to C. P. Snow’s points. The IPCC “aims to reflect a range of scientific, technical and socio-economic views and backgrounds” when choosing their authors. This clearly reflects their value for both scientists and literary humanists and for the diverse breadth of knowledge each group has to offer. The resumes of the authors and editors of the report are substantial and demonstrate extensive experience in their respective fields. The IPCC reflects Snow’s philosophy that interdisciplinary work produces the most reliable and effective results. On a broad scale, the IPCC exemplifies the collaboration necessary to build a bridge between cultures.

In order to trace the pattern of culture collaboration in climate change mitigation efforts to a smaller plane, the focus will hone in on several major projects that are hailed as the leading proponents for assisting in sustainable lifestyle choices. Elon Musk’s many projects seek to advance science and technology in sustainable ways. Tesla Inc., in particular, produces electric and solar-powered vehicles to create a market option for drivers to opt into sustainable energy and move away from relying on gas and oil for transportation. Tesla’s business model seeks to sell luxury vehicles to create a brand and acquire the capital necessary to begin producing sustainable cars able to be purchased by middle-class people. Through this process, the company can popularize electric cars. Elon Musk himself has an educational background in economics and physics (Business Insider 2016). Tesla’s board of nine directors all have backgrounds in some extent of economics, finance, or business, but also represent a range of languages and sciences (Tesla 2018). As a board of investors for a privately owned company, it makes sense that the directors would have achieved their positions through lengthy experiences in finance. However, their additional knowledge about the science behind the product that they sell, the ability to communicate with people all over the world, and their interest in history all contribute to their success. The board represents people who benefit from having knowledge from both cultures.

Technology is a common way for sustainable practices to become more widespread. While Tesla offers a market option for consumers to actively choose, other technologies operate as services and do not rely on consumers for support. Google’s Sidewalk Labs’ team of urbanists and technologists design urban centers where sustainability can thrive. Starting with waterfront Toronto, they plan to revamp a neighborhood with high-tech. Their plan includes parks, bike-share systems, and pedestrian-friendly streets. This would make sustainable travel more accessible to citizens. Their use of data and analysis is expected to decrease traffic hotspots, carbon emissions, and landfill waste (Business Insider 2016). According to their website, Sidewalk Labs primarily hires engineers and statisticians. They also look for students to fill their open positions (Sidewalk Labs 2018). There is no indication that the company hires literary humanists for positions other than those that are necessary to manage the business. For the purpose of their climate-change-battling innovation, only scientists are crucially necessary.

Finally, one technology explicitly endorsed by the IPCC is carbon absorbing, mechanical, artificial trees. These trees would imitate the role of natural trees in the carbon cycle: that of absorbing and storing atmospheric carbon. However, artificial trees can absorb carbon at a higher rate than natural trees, a trait that is necessary to balance the excess carbon produced by humans. There are various groups working on this type of project, but one leader in the field is engineer Klaus Lackner, who heads the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions at Arizona State University. Lackner and his team invented a device that does not look like a tree, but functions like one. The machine is made of a resin that absorbs carbon dioxide and releases the gas when submerged in water. Lackner calculates that the machine operates at 1,000 times the rate of a normal, natural tree. The captured carbon could then be stored and reused as a source of fuel while renewable forms of energy become more widespread, closing the carbon-emissions loop (Cantieri 2016). The majority of the people working on this project would be considered scientists by Snow; they are engineers, physicists, and environmental scientists. It’s importance in pushing for sustainability and attempts to reverse the anthropogenic damage to the environment make it a valiant effort by the science culture to resolve climate change. Tesla Inc., Sidewalk Labs, and Lackner’s trees are all stellar examples of technologies in production with the intent to dismantle the effects of climate change.

In December of 2015, 195 countries met in Paris to negotiate climate policy that would diminish the level of greenhouse gas emissions each country produced. The Paris agreement recognized the independence of each country in terms of self-motivating climate change mitigation efforts. Instead, it created a realistic “pledge and review” system in which countries decided for themselves what they would accomplish, and then were held accountable. Policies are domestically driven, and every country, whether developing or developed, is expected to contribute. The agreement is significant because it accomplishes what the Copenhagen and Kyoto conferences had not been able to do: establish long term goals and instigate willingness of participants in mitigation. The Paris Agreement is the leading example for international climate policy today (Falkner 2016). In attendance at the conference were primarily government officials and representatives. However, there were also business owners and non-profit groups invested in the outcome of the conference. These people generally have backgrounds in history, law, English, media, or economics. According to Snow’s philosophy, the Paris Agreement represents both literary humanists and the third culture, social scientists.

Education in general also has a strong influence on sustainability, in two very different ways. The first is awareness of climate change. In America, environmental education has manifested at all levels. Children in elementary school learn earth science through Earth Day activities and through recycling practices. In high school, AP Environmental Science is now offered across the country. Programs at colleges have expanded to include classes on environmental impacts no matter what discipline. In a study in Nigeria of the relationship between the level of environmental education and the attitude of students toward the environment, researchers found that a high level of knowledge correlates to a positive perception of the environment. The researchers then use the results of the study to recommend “that more needs to be done to promote and encourage [environmental education] at all levels in the country especially by the government and its agency to ensure effective implementation” (Don, Erhabor 1). This combination of high knowledge and positive attitudes about the environment fosters a respect for natural resources, as well as an understanding of the consequences climate change has on the human population. People who are citizens of the environment are more likely to implement sustainable lifestyle choices and prioritize legislation and politicians who value climate change mitigation.

Education’s second impact on sustainability involves female empowerment. According to statistical analysis by the World Bank, the total fertility rate of a country decreases as the education level of the majority of women increases. This means that a woman with a higher education will bear fewer children. There are many factors that explain this. Typically, women in developing nations are unaware of the possibility to control and understand their own reproductive organs. As women learn that methods of birth control are available to them, they choose to use those methods. Women with families may do this in order to allocate more resources per child instead of being forced to spread their food and income too thinly over a large family. This also means the children will likely be in better health. Education also allows women to work towards a career. This path does not force women to marry in order to survive, because she can sustain herself (Pradhan 2015). All of these patterns are positive for the individuals, but female education also has a broader impact on climate change. Anthropogenic climate change increases as the human population increases because more land needs to be lived on and farmed. The Earth’s natural resources are spread thin as more people need to use them. We know that the population has already exceeded Thomas Malthus’ carrying capacity, which predicted the size of the human population that the Earth could sustain indefinitely. As population grows, everything humans need that contributes to global warming grows, and thus global warming itself grows. When women choose to have fewer children, they are helping to maintain the global population at a sustainable level, along with the additional health benefits both women and children receive as discussed above. The people who travel to educate women typically have backgrounds in multiple languages, education, and philosophy. Their humanist background is what helps them convey the crucial ideas and information to women in developing nations or in poverty.

The pattern that surfaces reflects the idea that scientists and engineers use their backgrounds to develop technology. It is also clear that literary humanists tend to focus on policy and education. Those who belong to the “third culture” seem to work in between, capable of developing a project on either side and occasionally balancing the two poles. In that way, they remain on their respective sides of the gap between cultures. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes obvious that neither side can accomplish their goal without help from the other. For example, policy measures are made based on information collected and analyzed by scientists. In the same breath, technologies cannot be marketed to or used by the public without communication assistance from literary humanists.

In addition to these general areas of overlap, there are specific cross-cultural spaces where the two cultures work together to encourage sustainable living. Owners of Tesla cars, for example, are eligible to receive a tax break for using a product that does not produce harmful greenhouse gases. In this case, scientists produce the technology and humanists acknowledge its value and provide consumers with an incentive to use it. The humanists support the scientists, and both cultures are able to contribute to climate change mitigation. Project Drawdown, a comprehensive plan that lists one hundred climate change mitigation techniques is full of cross-cultural solutions. Each proposed solution is based in scientific research and marketed to the public to encourage sustainable practices. It also incorporates societal and community benefits that are not necessarily related to greenhouse gas emissions. The project produces both research and literature that represents efforts from both cultures in climate change mitigation.

Finally, neither technology nor policy can exist without an economic evaluation of each. If the project is deemed unrealistic economically, it cannot hope to succeed. Thus, even the third culture, social scientists, are crucial to the success of any climate change mitigation attempt. The cultures must collaborate if they hope to reduce anthropogenic climate change or curb the negative effects of global warming. This collaboration is evident not only in who is working on a project, but also in what the project is. Thus, bridges are built between the cultures on several levels concerning the problem of climate change. As the effects of climate change continue to increase, so will the collaboration and tireless efforts of the two cultures.

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