Dr. Jean-Pierre Savard – Ouranos

Project Scientific Coordinator & Ouranos Spokesperson Dr. Jean Pierre Savard

Project Scientific Coordinator & Ouranos Spokesperson Dr. Jean Pierre Savard

In the category of favourite encounters, our meeting with Dr. Jean-Pierre Savard, from the science-based consortium Ouranos, is right up there. Not only is he passionate about his work, the guy loves his job and explains the science of climate change well! We’re hoping this oceanographer will sit down and write a book à la Al Gore. Savard studies the impact of climate change on coastal areas and he is positive regarding the progress science has made in understanding our oceans over his 30-year career. “It is absolutely not comparable. We’re so much more aware… We can go to an area where there is no data and rebuild a situation of the past with a high level of accuracy because of our computer power, satellite technology and modelling systems,” he says. Although it is becoming relatively easy to anticipate extreme weather events, Savard’s team is still grappling with the psychology of why people do the things they do. As he gently reminds us, “It’s not enough to know just the biophysical aspects such as hypoxia or how storms develop.” Savard works at the scientific level, but his research also focuses on human adaptation to change, explaining, “We [have a poor understanding] of how people will react collectively and individually.” As an example, he points out that at least 20% of people affected by a disaster will return to an area known to be dangerous. From his standpoint, this seems irrational. But Savard is far from discouraged and honestly believes common sense will eventually prevail. “One of the most positive points about climate change is that it forces people to think about the long term: not 10 or 15 years, but 100 years. But that change will only happen if every level of society helps out.” We’ll have more on Dr. Savard in our documentary.

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