Anonymous said: How do you pronounce your name?
Aclimate scientist specializing in paleoceanography, Jess Spear was one of the chief organizers of Kshama Sawant’s victorious socialist City Council campaign and the subsequent 15Now campaign, which resulted in the new $15 minimum wage recently signed into law by Mayor Murray. Then last month, she announced that she is running against Speaker of the House Frank Chopp for the 43rd District seat of the State House. Naturally, we had some questions.
Seattle Weekly: How did you get into politics?
Jess Spear: Like a lot of young people, I saw things wrong with the world that didn’t seem too hard to fix. But when you are young, you’re called an idealist. People say “This is the way the world works.” And a lot of young people are sort of beaten down by hearing that from older people, but I never accepted that.
When I was in college I picked up a book by Carl Sagan called Billions and Billions, and in there was an essay on global warming that was a real call to action for me. I decided I was going to go to graduate school [at the University of South Florida] and get a degree in climate science.
The more you learn about what’s happening, the more radical one becomes. Year after year, there’s more and more data showing that past predictions are quite conservative, and that what’s coming is coming faster than we expected it to. As a paleoceanographer [for the U.S. Geological Survey and Burke Museum], I thought, “My research is adding to the body of knowledge, but is this really enough? I keep generating all this data, but if that’s not really showing policy-makers what’s necessary to stop this, then what do we do?”