Scientists really aren’t the best champions of climate science

I spend a lot of time thinking about the best way to communicate science (you might have noticed) and a recent video by Vox makes a good point.

Communicating about climate change might not be up to the scientists… because people are tired of hearing us talk about it.

Let me know what you think, could you become a voice for climate change?

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It’s good to have lots of bad ideas

Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel prizewinner, also gave us another important, if less well-known, dictum: that if you want to have good ideas, you must have lots of ideas and learn to throw away the bad ones.

But how do we quantify if that’s true? One academic of emeritus status (John Kirwanlooked back on his career to do just that.

Read about it here.

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Covering Climate Change, with Urgency and Creativity

2016 study by the Yale Project on Climate Communication and George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, found only two-thirds of Americans even believe climate change is happening. Just over half believe it is caused by humans. And only 15 percent are aware that more than 9 out of 10 scientists agree on both points.

The dearth of coverage can be explained, at least in part, by the difficulty in covering an issue that defies most journalistic conventions, says Bud Ward, who has reported on the issue for more than 20 years and is editor of Yale Climate Connections, published by the Yale Project. Climate change is often perceived as an abstract concept, he says, lacking a timely news hook: “It affects only polar bears I’ll never see, or it will only take place in 2150 or beyond.” Just as crucially, since nearly all scientists are in agreement on the problem, the issue often lacks clearly defined sides. “The villain is us, or villains are everywhere.”

The science behind the phenomenon, meanwhile, often lacks headline-grabbing revelations. “Science’s goal is to incrementally advance fundamental understanding on very basic questions,” says John Wihbey, an assistant professor of journalism and new media at Northeastern University who recently collaborated with Ward on a paper about climate change coverage for Oxford Research Encyclopedia. “If they [scientists] can collect data, test a hypothesis, and show something new … they’ve done their job.” By contrast, he says, journalists’ goal is to inform as many people as possible in as accessible a way as possible. “They are both dedicated to truth, but the importance of publicity and the scope of the audience is just very different.”

READ MORE HERE! 

A Houston interstate is submerged in water after Hurricane Harvey brought widespread flooding to the area.  The devastating impact strong and more frequent rainstorms are having on the city was detailed in The Texas Tribune/ProPublica's “Boomtown, Flood Town” months before Harvey hit

A Houston interstate is submerged in water after Hurricane Harvey brought widespread flooding to the area. The devastating impact strong and more frequent rainstorms are having on the city was detailed in The Texas Tribune/ProPublica’s “Boomtown, Flood Town” months before Harvey hit 

 

Record-shattering 2.7-million-year-old ice core reveals start of the ice ages

Is anyone else tired of hearing climate deniers say “this isn’t the first ice-age, this is all part of a cycle”. No. That’s wrong.

But now we have science to prove it! Scientists announced today that a core drilled in Antarctica has yielded 2.7-million-year-old ice, an astonishing find 1.7 million years older than the previous record-holder. Bubbles in the ice contain greenhouse gases from Earth’s atmosphere at a time when the planet’s cycles of glacial advance and retreat were just beginning, potentially offering clues to what triggered the ice ages.

Want to know more? Read about it here.

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In Africa that conservation is a “white thing”

It is the height of arrogance for industrialized countries to demand that developing countries conserve nature, while they plowed down natural resources (and often still do) to gain economic supremacy.

And that sentiment is reflected in a recent piece about the 18th anniversary of the death of Michael Werikhe, the enigmatic African conservationist.

Moreover, some of these points were emphasized in an interesting stream over on twitter.

The first step is recognizing the problem. But how do we solve said problem?

A Dr. by any other name

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Since getting my PhD a year ago, I’ve struggled a bit with something I imagine lots of fresh PhDs struggle with: when should I use the title “Dr.”

And it’s summed up nicely in a post over at Science.

Particularly relevant to me, I use Dr. often as an option on the dropdown menu when booking flights and tickets. Not because I want to be spoken to with respect (although damnit, I earned that f-ing degree (reason #1)), but because it’s none of your business whether I’m married or not Mr. Airline Booking Website.

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Learning about being a scientist, from a non scientist!

Leah Samuel at STAT writes a bit about biomedical research. So, to better understand the world of the lab, she spent 10 days at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole Mass.

And she summed up what she learned in this article.

TL;DR version

  1. Lots of stuff gets used only onc
  2. Scientists kill things
  3. Things kill scientists
  4. Findings don’t always mean answers
  5. Fashion is an afterthought

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