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USU Ecology Center speaker covers how science launched her bid for senate

With warming temperatures, a drying Great Salt Lake and frequent wildfires, climate change is all around us. This week, USU’s Ecology Center is hosting Merav Ben-David, whose past research on the climate crisis pushed her to run for the US Senate.

Ben-David is a professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Wyoming. One of her research focuses is climate change and its effects on carnivores and the ecosystems they live in. She said her research led her to realize the climate is changing faster than we imagined.

“Things are changing very drastically. They're changing much, much faster than we expected, modeled, predicted . . . and what I realized from the work I've done both from being there, and feeling things on my skin and seeing things with my own eyes, but also using science and best practices and conducting very, very careful research on . . . organisms that are part of the ecosystems that I study. I realized that we're being too optimistic,” Ben David said.

Here in Utah, we’re already seeing the effects of climate change through drought, warm temperatures and unusual weather, and Ben-David is worried we’re going to miss our window of opportunity to act on these issues. To get people to address climate change with urgency, she said we need to reframe how we think about it.

“Look, this is a war. It's the biggest war we've ever fought in our human history. It's a war for our survival against climate crisis,” Ben-David said.

Prompted by her research findings and frustration over climate inaction by politicians, Ben-David ran for senate in 2020. While ultimately unsuccessful in her senate bid, she feels political action is a powerful way to create change, especially when so many are feeling helpless.

“I know a lot of people are overwhelmed. There are climate scientists who find it hard to get up in the morning . . . the fossil fuel industry has a lot of power, because they have a lot of money. But they can buy just so many. Stand up, speak up and vote,” Ben-David urged.

For information on how to view Ben-David’s recorded seminars, visit

Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.