Pablo Rodríguez Ros, PhD in Marine Sciences, reflects on the climate crisis in his book Argonauta. The benefits will go to the recovery project of the Salinas de Marchamalo, in Murcia.

Pablo Rodríguez, with an Antarctic sea lion in 2015.

From anywhere on the planet, Pablo Rodriguez Ros (Cartagena, 1990) has been aware of the news in the Region of Murcia (Spain) and, especially, of the critical situation of the Mar Menor, the place where he began his scientific career and to which he will always remain linked.

So much so, that one of the first chapters of Argonauta. Modern vicissitudes between the ocean and climate change (Raspabook), which talks about this saltwater lagoon, had to rewrite it up to four times: “This reflects that it is a stressed, changing and with a complexity that must be explained well “.

Argonauta, his first book, is a personal account of his scientific expeditions through the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Antarctic oceans, and his research stays at institutions in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Canada and the United States. The recent doctorate It does not intend to publish a popular popular book, but relies on its experiences to reflect on the climate crisis and demystify oceanographic research.

Has defined Argonauta as a “literary journey”, halfway between narration and dissemination. With what intention did you write it?

When I started the project I was clear that I did not want to make a popular science book. The most obvious thing for me was to write about marine science with an editorial dedicated to it, explaining how ocean currents work, the interaction between climate, weather and the ocean or the impact of plastics in the sea. But, from my point of view, that information is accessible in many places and there are people who have already written about it. What I intend is to use my personal experience with those subjects in which I have worked to spread science, even if these subjects are not mainstream.

Can you give me an example?

One topic the science media is sick of writing about is marine plastics. How are you going to write a marine science book in 2020 without talking about them? Well, I have. Not because it is not important, but because what I want is to show that science is much more than scientific articles. There are negative or reflective aspects about science. Things that, a priori, seem quite epic, in reality they are much more crappy.

What is the point of doing a scientific expedition in the 21st century, with all the satellite and communication technologies that exist?

The book is precisely about what expeditions are like in the 21st century, which have changed a lot. What I stand out the most is the communications. In Antarctica, for example, we had WIFI and I could tweet from there, even in the ocean. 50 years ago, if you wanted to know the temperature of the Atlantic, you sent a boat. Now we can do it, not only with human beings risking their lives, but with satellites, underwater gliders or other remote exploration systems. Manual oceanography is declining and operational oceanography is overtaking it. Scientific expeditions continue and will continue to exist, but each time they will be more focused on maintaining these infrastructures than on describing sites that have already been discovered.

Will more technicians than researchers end up on the expeditions?

It is something that is already being noticed in many countries. I have participated in studies in which research groups sent technicians, not doctoral students or post-doctoral researchers. They send people who know how to operate a device to throw into the water and start measuring. Professions like engineering are getting really hard into marine science and oceanography because of this.

In the synopsis of the book, he declares that we still have time to change things regarding the climate crisis. Isn’t that a very optimistic position?

I think it is on time. It is as if it were a path that is becoming narrower and more difficult to walk. The effects of global warming, today and if all CO emissions cease2 and greenhouse gases, would run their course. That is why we must also talk about mitigation and adaptation. It is an inevitable change, what is avoidable are the most harmful effects.

Between these two issues, from a communication point of view, there is a bit of a mess, as if global warming were avoidable by doing everything 100% right to return to the natural course, and the latter very much in quotes, because it would be necessary to define what is natural . Then you have people who, from a catastrophic point of view, comment that nothing can be done. This is one more type of denial. We are used to that of Trump and other politicians, who deny the climate crisis, its effects or that the human being has a role. But there are also scientists o lobbies who defend this path, that it is not worth the effort.

Do not strive to mitigate or reduce the effects of the climate crisis, but let them run their course.

These people say that anthropogenic climate change is a reality, it is no longer necessary to say the opposite, but they comment that nothing can be done. Then there is another type a little more subversive, which is the one that advocates, for example, the writer Bjørn Lomborg, who defends that there are more important environmental issues, diverting attention. But these people are involved in scandals and lobbies deniers.

The benefits of the author of Argonauta They will go to recovery projects for the Mar Menor. What has motivated you to make this gesture?

I will assign them to an initiative called Salinas de Marchamalo recovery project coordinated by the Asociación de Naturalistas del Sureste, which is an iconic organization in the southeast of Spain and Cartagena. I am from the Region of Murcia and I left there eight or nine years ago, but I have always been closely linked to it. My whole family lives there and I started doing science in the Mar Menor and at the University of Murcia, which is where I studied for a degree.

In fact, the book starts from this lagoon, it is the beginning of my entire career. At the end of the day, as the publisher is from there, I wanted to base myself a little on experience and have it positively impact on Murcian society itself and its environment. That is why I decided to assign it to this association.

On the Mar Menor, precisely, do you think it is possible to have better communicated its critical situation?

Yes, totally. From an awareness point of view, it is the biggest ecological disaster that is active in Spain, I can’t think of a bigger one. Spanish society must be aware of this, it is making a terrible communication. This also derives from scientific culture. On a regional scale, it has been understood, and some politicians continue to promote this belief, that if the water is transparent, the Mar Menor is already healthy and its systemic health is perfect. Its complexity is not understood. There has been a lot of sensationalism.

It is critical, complex and changeable. When a system is subjected to such stresses, any disturbance takes it to a different point. I had to rewrite the first chapter four times. The first time, DANA hadn’t happened. This reflects that it is a stressed and changing system. There is a historical gap in the scientific dissemination of this lagoon that has been filled by ecological and environmental associations. That has a problem, when you leave a vacuum, institutions like these can get in, which have done very well from my point of view in the last decade, but also opportunists and ‘opinionologists’ to create noise.