Jane Long is a member of the California Council on Science and Technology, a nonprofit that gives science advice to state policymakers. Last year, she co-authored a report on hydraulic fracking in California. Before joining a Zócalo/UCLA panel discussion on fracking’s environmental effects—“Is Fracking Good for California?”—she talked in the Zócalo green room about her New York lake house, the pope, and being passionate about problems, not organizations.
You’re a person with many titles—visiting researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, co-chair of the Task Force on Geoengineering for the Bipartisan Policy Center, chair of the California Council on Science and Technology's California's Energy Future committee, among others. Do you keep a list somewhere so you don’t forget all the groups you’re involved with?
No, I just look at whatever’s online. And the funny thing is, I’m retired!
What’s one thing that most people don’t understand about climate change?
What they don’t understand is what it’s going to take to fix it. There’s a belief that if we just get enough solar and wind power, we’ll be fine. But the problem’s much bigger than that.
What made you passionate about studying the environment when you were younger?
One time I went for a walk with my dog, and I got a ticket because I took the dog where I wasn’t supposed to go. That got me really into thinking about what preservation actually meant.
Do you have a favorite sport?
I’m a swimmer. I swim about six miles a week and do some open-water swimming.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Probably in Italy, on a bike trip I took across Piedmont.
What has been your proudest professional moment in the past year?
Definitely reports I did for the California Council on Science and Technology. And I did a report for the BBC about geoengineering.
If you could meet the pope, what would you say to him?
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were 30?
When I was 30 and building a career, I was very ambitious about running organizations. But now I’ve realized I don’t care about organizations themselves, but specific subjects and problems.
If you could wake up tomorrow anywhere in the world, where would it be?
If you could wake up tomorrow anywhere in the world, where would it be? A: I have two places that I love. My home is on top of a ridge in Oakland that looks out over Mount Diablo. And I have another house in New York on a lake.