16 December 2010

Senate staffer gives tips to stop science from becoming politicized

Posted by mohi

Factory Emissions

Can America curb emissions? Perhaps, if scientists have one-on-one discussions with decision makers. Photo courtesy of EPA/NOAA

The NRC’s America’s Climate Choices reports released earlier this year can have a greater impact in Congress if discussion about them were to be elevated to the level of committee hearings, according to Kevin J. Rennert, a staffer on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.  Rennert was one of the speakers in the PA41A: America’s Climate Choices I panel this morning.

In addition, the scientists involved with preparation of these reports need to have one-on-one meetings with senators, Rennert said.  “The science has become unbelievably politicized.”  However, that “goes away with individual meetings,” he said.

“There are a number of moderate democrats and republicans who need to have on their minds conversations with scientists” who are good communicators about the climate science, Rennert explained.  This will help move legislators away from knee-jerk reactions.

“There’s a tendency to feel negatively about what Congress will do in the next session,” he said.  “We all know that in the long term we need to put a price on carbon,” but it will be an “uphill slog.”

Rennert noted that, “while we may have difficulty putting a price on carbon,” there is more optimism about getting other things done in Congress, such as boosting carbon sequestration and siting of renewable energy sources.

–Barbara T. Richman, Editor in Chief, Eos