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"Who's a Climate Scientist?"

by a siegel Wed May 11th, 2011 at 12:08:43 PM EST

A basic challenge in complex modern society: how does one translate expert opinion on complex issues into broader discussion? This is true for almost every domain of our society, whether discussing nutrition or infrastructure investment requirements or budgetary issues or climate disruption. As for the last, many have been seeking to foster paths for scientists to communicate better with the public.

One of the key challenges: helping the public understand the difference between pseudo-experts and true specialists to help foster an understanding as to who to listen to amid the truthiness- and falsehood-laden discussions seeking to confuse the public about climate disruption threats and climate mitigation opportunities. There are those who seek to train scientists to go on TV talk shows and encourage them to give public lectures. Some people take a different path, such as the rappers below the fold asking -- and answering -- a simple question:

Who's a climate scientist?

At the Australian Hungry Beast show, climate scientists have turned to rap music. As these scientists rap out

yo....we're climate scientists.. and there's no denying this Climate Change Is REEEEALL..

The problem, of course, is that there is a robust industry of misdirection and deception seeking to make us question that reality and to forestall meaningful action that would threaten the status quo (and the mega-profits of fossil-foolish industries).
I said Burn! it's hot in here..

32% more carbon in the atmosphere.

Oh Eee Ohh Eee oh wee ice ice ice

Raisin' sea levels twice by twice

We're scientists, what we speak is True.

Unlike Andrew Bolt our work is Peer Reviewed... ooohhh

For those unaware, an appropriate analogy would be that Andrew Bolt is Australian media's George Will.

Let's be clear, there are a lot of complicated issues in the world and perhaps none more than climate science. And, well, many of the scientific terms translate with difficulty into the general discussion. "Positive Feedback" sounds pretty good, no? Or, well, "Theory" means lots of uncertainty, no?

Feedback is like climate change on crack

The permafrosts subtracts: feedback

Methane release wack : feedback..

Write a letter then burn it: feedback

Denialists deny this in your dreams

Coz climate change means greater extremes,

Shit won't be the norm

Heatwaves bigger badder storms

The Green house effect is just a theory sucker (Alan Jones)

Yeah so is gravity ... float away muther f**cker

And, well, let us be clear that "extremes" is another of those highly complicated issues to consider. "Climate change", in many ways, is better described as "climate disruption" and "climate chaos" because the 'change' won't necessarily be some incremental shift which enables adaptation and evolution, fostering minor shifts. So what if there is a few percent more rainfall? Oops, what if it doesn't come as often and, when it comes, it comes in deluges of many inches? More droughts and more floods means disrupted agricultural production, threats to infrastructure, uneven water (and, in many cases, power) supplies, ... And, this is true across so many different domains.

Communicating science is difficult -- especially when there are legions of people seeking to confuse with disinformation rather than enlighten with truthful discussion. Here are some climate scientists seeking new tools for communication to help us understand who seeks to enlighten and inform.

Hat tip to Gareth in Climate Rap: Scientists fight back.


  1. Re the challenges of scientific communication, an excellent (eminently readable and insightful) example of this is Randy Olsen's Don't Be Such a Scientist. Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum's Unscientific America: How scientific illiteracy threatens our future is another top of the reading list choice looking at this challenge.  Along with Chris Mooney's work (Republican War on Science), one must recommend Naomi Orestkes and Erik Conway's Merchants of DOUBT:  How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming.

  2. Examples of efforts to enhance climate science communication include  the Google Climate Communicators to the Climate Rapid Response Team to efforts for including public communications as part of the graduate-level educational programs for scientists.

  3. For a discussion of and example of using counter-intuitive communication methods / 'images', see Randy Olsen's What can a good video do for you? Just take a look at Science Cheerleader's video!

  4.  Do not forget to increase the video's chance of going viral by viewing (and "liking") at Youtube.  And, well, the best single video series that I know re confronting climate deceivers is Greenman 3610's Climate Crock of the Week which also merit some 'liking'.

Okay ... I am a rather intermittent poster.  I forget how to post a video to EuroTrib, otherwise I'd post this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQeeKytdhUc

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Wed May 11th, 2011 at 12:10:00 PM EST
See this.

so <<youtube AQeeKytdhUc>>

and replace << with (( and >> with ))

to get:

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed May 11th, 2011 at 03:52:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
((youtube videocode)) In this case:

Though the video is technically well done I wonder how much it will help. Rap looks desperate and infantile.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Wed May 11th, 2011 at 04:06:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Word up!
by Jace on Wed May 11th, 2011 at 04:45:19 PM EST
At least it is fairly humorous and innocent compared to the disastrous exploding children clip. Good for them, but, well, a bit cutesy.

You probably know my shtick - the dominant PR change shouldn't be coming from more glitz and "Climate Scientists Got Talent" props, but from climate scientists (real ones) who first point at increasing weather disasters, blame climate change for them and who are then shown to be unfounded or, at minimum, untrustworthy by the very science numbers. There is really no easier target to shoot down and influence public confidence than showing that scientists are either lying or stupid.

Unfortunately, over 1.5 years after the release of CRU emails, which, considering the bad rep climate scientists got from the whole affair, should have been a clarion call but somehow wasn't, as respected scientists still do it and are still being shown to be off-base by independent analysis.

The converted won't be swayed, but they hardly matter.

Now, it also has been recently argued that real communication from what climate scientists know hasn't been properly brought to the public, except for bits of child-speak (and now rap). Personally I'm interested to see if there is sufficient traction to explain to the public, as independently as possible, what is going on in actual scientific terms (to a certain degree). Although I fear that anyone who even genuinely tries will get pigeonholed as fast as can be as a "hysteric alarmist" or a "denier" and the wheel grinds on.

by Nomad on Thu May 12th, 2011 at 04:52:48 AM EST
There are plenty of sources that properly explain climate science to any degree of detail one could desire. That's not the problem, the problem is an aggressive PR campaign by energy companies and opportunistic politicians. What else is new?

Even Mr "I will do what science says is right" Obama is now on the bandwagon.

by asdf on Sun May 15th, 2011 at 07:34:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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