Saturday, December 12, 2009

climate change denial


Its a blog analysing the title phenomenon. The first couple of posts I read were really well argued, although I take issue with the author's position that scientists need to communicate science better.
With the exception of a few outstanding communicators, they often make no attempt to speak to deeper values or make an emotional connection with the public – indeed they see that as contrary to their professional independence.
This is because scientists are scientists, not necessarily good "communicators" in the sense of dumbing their subject material down to the level of Joe Publik. And dumbing down is exactly what's needed because the public really do lack any appreciation of . . . well . . . any basic science, let alone the fiendishly complicated and interdisciplinary science that informs the IPCC. What is needed are professional science communicators who can do this for us. Scientists are already expected to be scientists, managers, secretaries, accountants, technicians, teachers, lecturers, mentors, tutors, etc. etc. etc. You can't keep adding strings to our bows and expecting us to play a perfect tune on it simultaneously with the other instruments in our repertoire.

It is important to remind anyone reading this that we live in a pseudo-democracy and a system exists to enact meaningful changes in policy to a sustainable model. All it will take is for the public to be convinced of this. As George Marshall, the author of CCD, observes:

The lay public, when presented with confusing data and competing arguments about climate change deploy the heuristic (a fancy word for a mentalof short cut) of believing the people they most trust. Trust in the communicator is therefore a crucial precondition for belief in climate change.

Unfortunately the three main climate change communicators: politicians, journalists and environmental campaigners, are among the least trusted people in society- fighting it out for bottom place in the ranking with lawyers and car salesmen. No one would pay any attention to them at all if they were not drawing on the aquifer of public trust in scientists.

So there. Its important and it needs investment. Real investment, not the glib, esoteric and devious pledges of a typical British budget or anything out of the mouth of Mandelscum.

Addition a few minutes later:

This blog is even better than I first thought:
. . . unless significant changes in how scientific knowledge is shared and distributed are achieved, geo-engineering simply cannot address climate change in an equitable way. To believe that the unprecedented power of geo-engineering will not be wielded by the rich and the powerful at the expense of the weak and the vulnerable is more than simply wide-eyed techno-optimism: It amounts to a comprehensive denial of political reality.

Addition 13-12-09:

I want to link to other rants that kind of tie-in to the subjects of public ignorance of science and the issue of functional democracy being utterly dependent upon voting choices being evidence-based and rational. This is, of course, not currently the case.

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