1 January 2012
I saw a fantastic video last month at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. It was shown at a Climate One event that presented Dr. Richard Alley with the first annual Stephen H Schneider award for climate change communication. I’ve been waiting for this video to become available on the Climate One site and it now is.
John Cook at Skeptical Science was in the audience and has more on it as well. I think it made a real impact on everyone in the room. There are very few great science communicators out there. Dr. Carl Sagan was one, and it may very well have been why he was denied election to the National Academies. What a horrible mistake that was, and these days it’s very clear why.
We have a congress, that passed a resolution, that told virtually every expert on the planet and every major scientific body, that they were wrong on climate change! We have a country where 95% of the candidates for President of The United States will not admit that the world is over a billion years old, much less admitting that the founding theories of Biology and Geology are sound!
It’s downright scary, but it gets worse.
We live in a nation where millions spend money to buy cheap plastic bands, (in the color of their favorite sport teams) because someone on TV tells them that it will make their health better! Thousands more see jet contrails in the sky as an attempt at government mind control, and think that a research project in Alaska is messing up the weather! These same people seem unable to understand that a tiny amount of energy in the upper atmosphere over Alaska can have no real global impact.
At the same time, they do not realize that increased carbon dioxide over the entire planet is adding a watt of energy over every square meter of the planet, and can have a major impact over a century. Our math and science rankings put the U.S. at rock bottom of first world countries, and we’re not sitting pretty when you consider our scores compared to second world countries! Is there a connection to the above?
You bet. Science desperately needs great communicators right now. Desperately. Sometimes, you just have to tell someone they are acting silly, but you can do it in a way that does not offend!
I frequently mention such scientists here as Neil de Grasse Tyson, and Brian Cox along with Richard Alley and Ben Santer, because these people know how to communicate. Dr. James White at the Univ. of Colorado is another expert who makes very good sense about the issues we face regarding our planet. If you have not seen Richard Alley’s Earth The Operators Manual, I highly suggest you watch it. He certainly deserved an award named after Dr. Stephen Schneider, who was one of the all time great communicators.
Science desperately needed him, and we lost him far too soon.