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Climate scientists featured in YouTube film with Pope Francis

The documentary features voices representing Indigenous communities, people living in poverty, young people and the science community, and follows their journey to Rome to meet with the pope and share their stories on the planetary crisis and the toll it's taking on nature and people.

Arizona State University scientists and husband-and-wife duo Greg Asner, director of ASU's Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, and Robin Martin, associate professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, were chosen to represent the global scientific community for the film.

Q: What is the importance of having all these groups represented in the fight against climate change?

Asner: Science cannot solve the climate change crisis alone. People cannot just sit back and hope that science will solve the climate crisis or hope that some technological solution will solve it. As scientists, and I don't mean just Robin and I, but the entire science community, we have generated a huge number of tools - whether they're natural capital tools, like reforestation tools, or reef restoration and carbon reduction tools.

We have got to get people working in this space to implement the science.Science is not the answer alone, but it's the nail and hammer of how to help get us there.

Q: The documentary highlights your work assessing the impact of climate change on coral reef ecosystems.

How much time do we have before shallow reefs are lost?

Asner: The reason why coral reefs are highlighted here is that coral reefs are the world's biome that is going to disappear first. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report very starkly says if we don't do something, the reefs are not going to make it to 2030 or 2040.

In our fight against climate change, what do you think the role of scientists at ASU and beyond should be moving forward?

Asner: To me, to have Dr. Lee there was a huge relief because he is the absolute top of the supreme court of climate change science.

Martin: The pope is a conduit not just to Catholics, but someone who's a cultural and spiritual leader far outside of science that people listen to and respect.

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