How We Should Communicate

I really enjoyed this post by Andrew Freedman on the Washington Post blog Capital Weather Gang. I think it is written at the perfect level – basic enough for new readers to catch up on current events, while including enough creative insights to keep the interest of climate science enthusiasts.

The article covers the attempts of Dr Andrew Weaver, a top Canadian climate modeler, to fight back at the misinformation that has been willingly spread by top media outlets throughout the past few months. Here is an excerpt:

In late April Weaver filed suit against the National Post, a Canadian newspaper that has run numerous articles extremely critical of Weaver’s work and those of his colleagues. For example, according to Wihbey, the Post has called Weaver “Canada’s warmist spinner in chief,” and “generally impute[ed] to Weaver various views that he claims he doesn’t have.” (Weaver’s requests that the newspaper correct the record by issuing retractions/corrections were unsuccessful).

In the lawsuit, Weaver, who was a lead author of one of the IPCC’s working groups for its 2007 report, claims the articles include “grossly irresponsible falsehoods that have gone viral on the Internet.” Among those claims is that Weaver has turned against the IPCC and its conclusions, as trumpeted in this story in late January.

“If I sit back and do nothing to clear my name, these libels will stay on the Internet forever,” Weaver stated. “They’ll poison the factual record, misleading people who are looking for reliable scientific information about global warming.”

I am impressed at Dr Weaver’s courage and persistence to improve the accuracy of science journalism. For an issue that has potential consequences of an unprecedented scale in human history, we should be able to trust what the media tells us.

Something else I enjoyed was a sketch by Mitchell and Webb, a British comedy duo, making fun of how politicians pretend to promise action on climate change. Enjoy.

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4 thoughts on “How We Should Communicate

  1. Hi Kate

    This online video is of a talk I attended in December 2009 in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, the largest scientific meeting in the world (reputedly), and the largest gathering of environmental scientists concerned with earth system processes. Climate change is often a key topic, with both skeptics and anthropogenic climate change researchers presenting. The official position of AGU is that AGW is real and a serious threat. See:

    http://www.agu.org/sci_pol/positions/climate_change2008.shtml

    The talk is by Dr Richard Alley from Penn State University in the USA.

    http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/lectures/lecture_videos/A23A.shtml

    Parts of Dr Alley’s talk are quite technical, but people should stick with it as most of it is understandable to a general, but scientifically educated audience. He’s an animated and passionate speaker, and I think his talk very well tells the story that yes, climate change has been way the world has worked over its whole geological history, but it is precisely that history that gives us confiodence that (1) CO2 matters (he explains the natural sources and sinks for CO2, over various time scales, and how we measure it over geological time), (2) that climate models with all their flaws probably do foretell our future climate state, and (3) that if anything, the climate models are too conservative in their predictions. He talks about all the processes that affect climate and their importance. The talk by Dr Alley is good introduction into how an understanding of how the earth’s climate has functioned in the geological past informs on how it will behave in the future under higher CO2 levels due to human activity.

    David

    That sounds great and I will be sure to check it out. Thanks for passing it on. -Kate

    Wow, that was a fantastic lecture! Dr Alley was a great speaker and covered some very interesting work. I didn’t realize that AGU archived their video lectures; I sense that I am going to be spending a lot of hours watching them this summer….-Kate

  2. While I think it is good that Weaver is fighting back against the National Post I do think that he goes to far. For one he holds the newspaper accountable for comments made by its reader. And it condemns the the news paper for using common ‘share this’ buttons claiming it malicious. And finally the suit asks the copyright of the offending material to be transfered to Weaver, presumably so he can use it to silence his critics.

    All of this can set a very troubling precedent. And is likely to alienate the many in the tech geeks.

    Anyways I wrote a longer post describing my views here:
    http://mind.ofdan.ca/?p=3548

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