For the last decade, Anthony Leiserowitz has been tackling what he describes as the “problem from hell” – how to communicate to the public that climate change is a real thing that is happening and that they should probably do something about, unless they like famines and a world ruled by stinging jellyfish. As the director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, he’s been an integral part of some of the most comprehensive research out there on how people around the world understand climate change — and why they aren’t doing enough to stop it.

Recently, Leiserowitz talked with me about polling, human psychology, and the never-ending mystery of why insulating your attic isn’t sexy.

Anthony Leiserowitz Yale

Q. How did the work you do now begin?

A. As an undergrad, I studied international relations — specifically, cold war nuclear policy. I thought I had a long career ahead of me keeping the U.S. and the Soviets from destroying each other. Then, in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. My international relations degree turned into a history degree overnight.