A Few Things Ill Considered

A layman's take on the science of Global Warming featuring a guide on How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

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Dramatic and Emphatic National Academies Statement

Michael Tobis has been stamping his feet quite a bit since a few days ago about the recent publication of a new Joint Statement of the National Academies [PDF] of all the G8 countries.

Why? Because it is both emphatic in nature and invisible to the press. He highlights these four points:
  • "Our present energy course is not sustainable."
  • "Responding to this demand while minimizing further climate change will need all the determination and ingenuity we can muster."
  • "The problem is not yet insoluble but becomes more difficult with each passing day."
  • "G8 countries bear a special responsibility for the current high level of energy consumption and the associated climate change. Newly industrialized countries will share this responsibility in the future."
It is hard not to see it as an urgent call to action (these are scientists, remember) so Tobis wonders out loud why no one seems to be talking about it. Good question.

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6 Comments:

  • At June 01, 2007 7:50 AM, Blogger EliRabett said…

    The problem is that Michael was NOT stamping his feet, but kind of edging into the water like a kid afraid of taking a swim. For several posts he was saying things like "if this is real and not a fake". . .

    Sorry, that is very science like behavior, but not very effective.

     
  • At June 01, 2007 7:52 AM, Blogger EliRabett said…

    On second thought, that was my last comment along those lines. The statement is important. Tobis was certainly right about that. Fleck and I picked up on the statement, but did not stamp our feet either. We made elegant dives, we should have cannonballed. Eli culpa.

     
  • At June 01, 2007 11:59 AM, Blogger coby said…

    Perhaps some of Michael's incredulity came from the fact that no one else seemed to takin much notice. You know, you wonder if you are seeing things when no one else reacts to something very significant...

     
  • At June 03, 2007 10:24 AM, Blogger StrHwk said…

    That is so right we are not going to be able to sustain this much energy for much longer. Thanks, good blogsite.

     
  • At June 19, 2007 7:44 AM, Anonymous J. Althauser said…

    The statement isn't reader friendly. The authors assume editors and reporters want to dig through it to find the key points. There aren't any personal, geographic or emotional connections for the average reader. They should take a page from the Union of Concerned Scientists playbook.

    Thanks for the nice summary. I doubt I'd have read it right now, otherwise. This don't mean I'm not interested - returning to a new paper on ice fields. . .

     
  • At June 19, 2007 3:08 PM, Anonymous inel said…

    Hello strhwk,
    Re: "we are not going to be able to sustain this much energy for much longer"

    That is why it is important to welcome and support new blood to keep energy levels up! Public relations folk can help extend the dialogue out to reach more people.

    I disagree with the Mooney/Nisbet idea that scientists ought to learn to frame science so they can communicate with the public more effectively. It is the interMEDIAries who need to provide links between scientists and relevant, distinct audiences, on a global-yet-regional basis. This is the point that j. althauser is addressing and missing when saying:

    "The statement isn't reader friendly. The authors assume editors and reporters want to dig through it to find the key points. There aren't any personal, geographic or emotional connections for the average reader."

    This is exactly what a good Science Editor will do. Today's example by Steve Connor in The Independent is a good case in point. He took the 'Climate change and trace gases' research paper by Hansen et al and made it front page news. The first person who wrote in to my blog about that when I wondered out loud how this was being covered Stateside, said "A 30-page article is a little much for the typical reporter to digest and disseminate to the public, even if it is by Hansen."

    Michael Tobis is right: we are let down big time in the US by such a poor standard of science reporting, everybody believes that the bare minimum that we are served up is all that can be achieved. We would still believe the moon were made of cheese if the generation before us had had that approach to sending man to the moon! (Wallace and Gromit had the right idea.)

    Furthermore, the National Academy of Sciences in the US made the least effort of any of the academies involved. I checked every country for coverage, and Russia was the only country that was quieter on the topic. The others provided translations, HTML versions, press contacts, sourced Reuters reports worldwide from the UK, and Yahoo covered the statement in full, in French.

     

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