An Antarctic ecologist says humpback whales will be fine in 2017! Everything else, not so much

The consequences of climate change in the poles can be a hard sell for disinterested Earth residents. Sympathy for polar bears afloat shrinking ice platforms to the north and dwindling penguin populations to the south only goes so far, and dense academic papers on the other end of the spectrum remain impenetrable for those without marine biology degrees.

But that’s not for want of trying: To educate the world about the precipitous nature of these dangers, some scientists are trying to bring their research to a larger audience’s attention.

Antarctic scientist Ari Friedlaender believes in the power of storytelling to effect change. Personal narratives can often drive more empathy for understanding the hardships and consequences of global warming than hard stats and figures, so Friedlaender has dedicated as much energy to his creative endeavors as his academic pursuits.

As an ecologist, he has visited the Antarctica more than 25 times to develop a comprehensive research program that has been instrumental for understanding whale behavior. But as a concerned human, he also produces content with National Geographic and takes photographs of the ethereal surrounds to try and raise awareness for the plight of both the whales and continent at large. “When the conditions are right and the habitat is what it should be, these animals are absolutely magical,” he says. “But when it’s gone, it’s gone.”