University of Washington at Bothell science professor Dan Jaffe, seen here in his office, is a featured speaker in the UW-Bothell pub series held at McMenamins Anderson School in Bothell. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

University of Washington at Bothell science professor Dan Jaffe, seen here in his office, is a featured speaker in the UW-Bothell pub series held at McMenamins Anderson School in Bothell. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

UW Bothell professor leads off science pub talks at McMenamins

If you like dirty talk and drinking beer, then head to the bar on Aug. 29.

Dan Jaffe is the featured speaker at the free monthly Pub Night Talks presented by University of Washington at Bothell and McMenamins Anderson School.

His specialty is pollution.

Jaffe, 60, UW Bothell professor and chair of the physical science division, has conducted research on air pollution around the world for more than three decades. He is the editor of the international science journal Aerosol and Air Quality Research.

The title of his talk is “Planes, Trains and Mountain Tops: The Adventures of One Scientist and His Students Studying the Impacts of Humans on Planet Earth.”

It’s from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Haynes’ Hall at McMenamins Anderson School, 18607 Bothell Way NE, Bothell. Doors open at 6 p.m. All ages are welcome.

There will be time for questions and answers with Jaffe. Here are some for starters.

Talk about your adventures studying pollution.

I have studied air pollution in many places, including Russia and China, but especially here in the U.S., particularly Alaska, Washington and Oregon. In some cases, my team has had to collect samples surreptitiously.

For example, once in Russia, we hid in a school bus while we collected air samples that would tell us how much pollution the huge smelter was emitting (a lot!). It was a bit nerve wracking, as we thought the plant workers or local police might harass or arrest us. That was interesting. But I’ve also had to do some surreptitious “air sleuthing” here in this country, too. I won’t put that in writing, but I can share the stories at my talk….

How did you get interested in pollution?

Truth be told, I loved fireworks as a kid. These were illegal in Massachusetts, where I grew up, but that didn’t stop me and my friends. But I did notice they made a lot of nasty smoke. I later became very interested in acid rain in New England, where I lived. I did a pretty careful science fair project on acid rain in middle school. And, importantly, my public schools had some great middle school and high school science teachers. I can’t thank them enough. Teachers everywhere, please give yourselves a pat on the back.

What’s the good, bad and the ugly about global pollution?

Good: Most countries are getting cleaner air. I am very proud that the U.S. has really cleaned up its cities, and this has not hurt our economy at all. Even China is starting to make progress, but it’s starting from a really dirty point.

Bad: Other countries, like India, have very dirty air and have not yet made any progress.

The really ugly: Global warming is real and it’s going to cause huge problems for our children, if we don’t start to deal with it. Do we really want to leave a horrible situation for our children?

What are some myths?

Not sure how to answer this one. There is a lot of questioning in the political arena about science by non-scientists. It’s incredible that non-experts want to pick and choose which science to believe. The truth is science is real. It’s given us an incredibly high standard of living, including healthier lives. The scientific peer review process is the only way to discern fact from fiction.

What’s the most pollution issue facing the Snohomish County area? Could we see the type of air pollution L.A. has or are we OK?

Like other regions in the country, Seattle’s air is getting cleaner and our emission from industrial sources are going down. But as I write this, we are in the midst of a massive smoke event from wildfires in B.C. We know that with global warming, wildfires are likely to get worse in the Western U.S. Time to wake up and smell the particulates! Global warming is linked to air pollution, wildfires and other health issues in so many ways.

How drunk do people have to be to understand what you are talking about?

I like to engage people when I talk, and I hope they have fun but also learn something. But no, you don’t have to be drunk to understand me! Actually, I’d prefer people not get drunk if they want to learn something.

People would be shocked to know…

My air travel is my biggest environmental sin. But I make up for it by reducing my environmental footprint in other ways. I bike or bus to work every day.

If you could have a drink with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Barack Obama, Madame Curie, Rachel Carson, Albert Einstein or Mozart.

What are three things in your fridge?

Pesto. IPA. Kimchi.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Driving to go skiing or mountain climbing.

Do you know someone we should get to know better? Send suggestions for The Chat to Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

Pub talks

Monthly Pub Night Talks with University of Washington at Bothell professors are 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Haynes’ Hall at McMenamins Anderson School, 18607 Bothell Way NE, Bothell. Doors open at 6 p.m. Free.

Sept. 26: “Teamwork in Extreme Environments: From Surgical Units to NASA Missions”

Professor Deanna Kennedy studies how teams operate in isolated, confined and extreme conditions, and will present how teams as disparate as doctors, firefighters, deep sea divers, mountain climbers and astronauts learn how to co-exist and collaborate.

Oct. 31: “The Vaccine Controversy: Uncovering the Human Stories to Foster Healthier Conversations”

Interviewing people throughout the spectrum of attitudes and beliefs about vaccines, professor Dan Bustillos elicits the stories people construct to make sense of the practice of vaccination. These stories illustrate the complex reasoning involved in vaccine decisions — and challenge the simplistic way in which the vaccine debate is typically depicted.

Nov. 28: “The Greenhouse Gas Mystery: Reducing the Global Carbon Footprint”

How is the carbon footprint of a product measured? What can organizations and society do to reduce the global carbon footprint? Join professor Surya Pathak on a journey that involves multiple research teams spread across two continents attempting to solve the Greenhouse Gas Mystery.

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