The Carl Sagan Institute is getting a boost from an unexpected source: Fiat Chrysler Automotive’s ad for its new plug-in hybrid, Jeep’s Wrangler 4XE. The ad features the late Carl Sagan’s famous “Pale Blue Dot” monologue and images -- and for every view of the ad on Jeep’s Youtube channel, a donation will be made to the Carl Sagan Institute (CSI).
The donation arrangement was a requirement of Ann Druyan, Sagan’s widow, long-time collaborator and careful steward of his legacy, when she gave permission for the ad. She is a board member of CSI and deeply believes in its mission; as she said at the CSI inauguration, “Honoring Carl by empowering interdisciplinary scientists to search for the answers to his most passionate scientific questioning, seeking to share that understanding with the public, and finding in that knowledge applications to life-threatening dangers here on Earth – that’s a multi-leveled and highly accurate reflection of who Carl was.”
The donations from the Jeep ad will provide initial funding for a new global climate model project at CSI. Lisa Kaltenegger, CSI director and associate professor of astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Toby Ault, associate professor of earth and atmospheric science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, are co-principle investigators for the project.
"Everyone can support this exciting climate model by clicking on the Youtube ad; donations can also be made directly through the Carl Sagan Institute website," said Kaltenegger.
As Ault and Kaltenegger explain, the CSI Climate Model (CSICM) will honor Sagan’s legacy by breaking down scientific and cultural barriers to climate modeling, running in the cloud so it can be accessed by anyone, virtually anywhere. The model will include scalable grids to run simulations across a wide range of geographic resolution.
CSICM “will allow both academic researchers at CSI and amateur scientists to take greater ownership in the underlying scientific process of understanding climate change...people are more likely to accept the science of climate change when they understand the science for themselves and on their own terms,” write Kaltenegger and Ault.
The researchers hope that their climate model’s large scale, community-engaged scientific endeavor will help us understand the future of what Sagan famously described as “the only home we’ve ever known.”