30 Seconds with... Greg Craven

[science teacher, YouTube sensation, author]

By Kaitlin Johnson June 23, 2009 Published in the July 2009 issue of Portland Monthly

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Your 2007 YouTube video, "The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See", has been viewed by nearly seven million people. It provides a framework for deciding if we should act to stop global warming. What’s life been like since?

Absolutely punishing. The whole idea was to get this grid out there. I use it with my students [at Central High School in Independence], and it lays out the basic scenario for the future. YouTube offered what I needed: a visual medium with the potential to reach lots of people. It was going to be a one-time thing, but I sort of got sucked out to sea with it.

Your new book, What’s the Worst That Could Happen?, elaborates on your take. Does it bolster your original argument?

What the book turned into was a coherent, systematic approach to what the layperson is supposed to do when given contradictory statements from experts on a critical issue. I’ve laid out a system for decision-making that is useful, logical, acceptable, and very flexible.

Do you make it a point to be eco-friendly in your own daily practices?

No. In my evaluation…the problem is so big that changing your lightbulbs and riding your bike won’t cut it. We need a wholesale change in the culture. What I suggest is taking all of the time and energy you’d spend going green, and instead use Twitter or your blog to spread the message of change as far and as fast as you can so that we can have a reasonable chance of preventing catastrophe.

Has your Internet fame affected your ability to teach?

There was one instance where someone felt what I was doing was part of a Zionist plot, which was kind of entertaining to my students. Other than that, it hasn’t had much of an impact on the school.

Have Oregonians embraced your viewpoint?

Not really. In fact, the United States has been pretty quiet, which is ironic because [we’re] the key to the whole issue. We have this decision paralysis here where there are people screaming “Believe me!” on both sides, and the average layperson just wants to let the dust settle and let it work itself out. But I think this is an issue where we probably don’t have time for that.

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