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“Who’s a Climate Scientist?”

May 11th, 2011 · 2 Comments

A basic challenge in complex modern society: how does one translate expert opinion on complex issues into broader discussion? This is true for almost every domain of our society, whether discussing nutrition or infrastructure investment requirements or budgetary issues or climate disruption. As for the last, many have been seeking to foster paths for scientists to communicate better with the public. (An excellent (eminently readable and insightful) example of this is Randy Olsen‘s Don’t Be Such a Scientist. Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum‘s Unscientific America: How scientific illiteracy threatens our future is another top of the reading list choice looking at this challenge.)

One of the key challenges: helping the public understand the difference between pseudo-experts and true specialists to help foster an understanding as to who to listen to amid the truthiness- and falsehood-laden discussions seeking to confuse the public about climate disruption threats and climate mitigation opportunities. Many paths are occurring to take this on, such as the Google Climate Communicators to the Climate Rapid Response Team to efforts for including public communications as part of the graduate-level educational programs for scientists. Some people take a different path, such as these rapping climate scientists asking — and answering — a simple question: Who is a climate scientist?

This is from the Australian Hungry Beast show. As these scientists rap out

yo….we’re climate scientists.. and there’s no denying this Climate Change Is REEEEALL..

The problem, of course, is that there is a robust industry of misdirection and deception seeking to make us question that reality and to forestall meaningful action that would threaten the status quo (and the mega-profits of fossil-foolish industries).

I said Burn! it’s hot in here..

32% more carbon in the atmosphere.

Oh Eee Ohh Eee oh wee ice ice ice

Raisin’ sea levels twice by twice

We’re scientists, what we speak is True.

Unlike Andrew Bolt our work is Peer Reviewed… ooohhh

For those unaware, an appropriate analogy would be that Andrew Bolt is Australian media’s George Will.

Let’s be clear, there are a lot of complicated issues in the world and perhaps none more than climate science. And, well, many of the scientific terms translate with difficulty into the general discussion. “Positive Feedback” sounds pretty good, no? Or, well, “Theory” means lots of uncertainty, no?

Feedback is like climate change on crack

The permafrosts subtracts: feedback

Methane release wack : feedback..

Write a letter then burn it: feedback

Denialists deny this in your dreams

Coz climate change means greater extremes,

Shit won’t be the norm

Heatwaves bigger badder storms

The Green house effect is just a theory sucker (Alan Jones)

Yeah so is gravity … float away muther f**cker

And, well, let us be clear that “extremes” is another of those highly complicated issues to consider. “Climate change”, in many ways, is better described as “climate disruption” and “climate chaos” because the ‘change’ won’t necessarily be some incremental shift which enables adaptation and evolution, fostering minor shifts. So what if there is a few percent more rainfall? Oops, what if it doesn’t come as often and, when it comes, it comes in deluges of many inches? More droughts and more floods means disrupted agricultural production, threats to infrastructure, uneven water (and, in many cases, power) supplies, … And, this is true across so many different domains.

Communicating science is difficult — especially when there are legions of people seeking to confuse with disinformation rather than enlighten with truthful discussion. Here are some climate scientists seeking new tools for communication to help us understand who seeks to enlighten and inform.

Hat tip to Gareth in Climate Rap: Scientists fight back.

PS:  For a discussion of and example of using counter-intuitive communication methods, see Randy Olsen’s What can a good video do for you? Just take a look at Science Cheerleader’s video!

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Tags: science

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Energy VIDEO: “Fracked. Yeah, totally FRACKED.” // May 13, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    […] “Who’s a Climate Scientist?” […]

  • 2 opit // Aug 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    “Communicating science is difficult — especially when there are legions of people seeking to confuse with disinformation ”
    You have a lot of observations of future temperatures and can reliably attribute causation, do you ?

    “Observations of future temperatures …” amusing creation of yours.

    As to understanding what is going on with the climate and the contributing factors, there is a huge body of work. The Scientific Theory of Global Warming has a lot of substance behind it … substance backed by much work following and tested within the scientific method. Bizaare that you, considering the material that you gleefully link to elsewhere, would suggest that people learn more of the scientific method.

    Obviously, you seem to wish to put out a mythology that science can’t say anything about the future since it isn’t recorded yet.

    However, by the way, climate science is based — in no small part — on an understanding of our past and there is, if you might fail to recall, quite a bit of data about times past.

    Hmmm …. Seems that the scientific community has a lot to say about climate science. There is a reason that your website is removed … as you seek to pass along disinformation under the guise of informing.