2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (9–12 October 2011)
Paper No. 268-1
Presentation Time: 1:45 PM-2:00 PM

CLIMATE SCIENTISTS IN THE PUBLIC ARENA: WHO'S GOT OUR BACKS?

MANN, Michael E., Dept. of Meteorology and Earth and Environ. Systems Institute, Penn State University, Walker Building, University Park, PA 16827, mann@psu.edu

Climate scientists have an important role to play in informing the public discourse on human-caused climate change. Our scientific expertise provides us a unique, informed perspective, and despite recent high profile attacks against climate science, the public still affords climate scientists the greatest trust to deliver an honest, unbiased assessment of the potential threats posed by climate changes. Yet, as with all areas of science where powerful special interests perceive themselves as threatened by the findings of science, scientists enter the public fray at our peril.

Our efforts to communicate the science are opposed by a well-funded, highly organized disinformation effort that aims to confuse the public about the nature of our scientific understanding. In recent years, the disinformation campaign has demonstrated a willingness to attack individual, climate scientists as a means of achieving a broader end: discrediting climate science itself. These attacks are rarely fought in legitimate scientific circles such as the peer-reviewed scientific literature or other scholarly venues, but rather through rhetorical efforts delivered by nonscientists, using ideologically aligned media outlets, special interest groups, and politicians.

Scientists are massively out-funded and outmanned in this battle, and will lose if leading scientific institutions and organizations remain on the sidelines. I will discuss this dilemma, drawing upon my own experiences in the public arena of climate change.

2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (9–12 October 2011)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 268
Public Policy: The Not-So Great Divide—Where Science Meets Public Policy
Minneapolis Convention Center: Room L100FG
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 5, p. 642

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