A couple days ahead of the IPCC AR5 report release I found this video in which 20 climate scientists were interviewed about the “gap between science and public opinion”.
It starts rather innocent telling that public perception of climate change (I believe they use in the meaning of “global warming”) is hard to perceive. The reason given is the flow of the seasons which makes it difficult to experience climate change conscientiously. I could agree with that. After this the admission that climate science is really difficult field. It is complex and spans over different disciplines.
Then “climate communication” comes up and things become more slippery.
We need to find a way to take the science that we produce and make it digestible to the general public. And then we will see people generally asking government and really forcing the government go out and do something.
At first it seems plausible. There is nothing wrong with making science digestible to the general public. But the intention of this is not to let the public gain knowledge, but to put pressure on politicians. Is that what climate science is about? And it continues:
Recently we started to realize that the problem with us taking action now is not with we perhaps don’t have enough research, but it is constantly a fight to make the research that we do have gets heard properly outside of the scientific circles. And it is a fight that we are not winning at the moment.
A fight they are not winning? Really? They got the mainstream media in their pocket. Climate scientists only have to make a press conference and whatever information they want to give will be printed in the mainstream media. Some journalists will even crank up the volume. And now he is telling us they are losing the fight?
What’s that all about fighting a battle? Since when does science need to fight a battle about the perception of the public? But it get even weirder:
The most important is to communicate the science, accurately. The climate science community is being doing it for 50 years. In the 1960s the first science came out spelling the warnings of ongoing greenhouse gases emissions. President Carter commissioned a report on the dangers of ongoing carbon emissions. And he was told at the time this is a problem we need to urgently move away from fossil fuels in terms of a source of electricity and for power and transport.
As far as I know Carter was worried about energy independence, not greenhouse gases. It was the time of the oil crisis and prices of oil skyrocketed. The frightening word back then was OPEC. By the way, it was at the end of the ice age scare and warming by greenhouse gases would be more a desired thing than something that urgently need as solution. It was the beginning of climate science and back then climate scientists (at that time probably only Lamb and Bryson) acknowledged both greenhouse gases and cooling. But, at least in the media, their bet was on cooling, not on warming.
The most interesting statement was this:
They say the reason why we should believe the climate scientists is there is a consensus because of the globe warming because of humans etcetera. I think people then think that somehow the science works by consensus or that someone is deciding this is the way is going to be and then everyone says That’s cool, let’s do that. The truth is the complete opposite. The scientists are so argumentative, so hate to be wrong and so like to argue with their peers. It is like a constant battle amongst everyone. Then there is one viewpoint that is coming out of this constant battling. Then this viewpoint is extremely, extremely valid. And we know it gonna be very close to the truth. So if you understood it more how argumentative scientists were in the field they might have more respect for these mayor viewpoints that coming out of their research.
That’s a strange reasoning. “No, (climate) science doesn’t work by consensus, but climate scientists are so argumentative, so when many of them agree that is really, really valid”. That’s like a consensus in disguise. It still means the debate is over because there is … a consensus. “They just looooove the debate”. Therefor they exclude other scientists that think differently. By calling them deniers, which is the case even in this video. Words like “Denier of climate science” and “anti science” start flying around. Calling people who have another viewpoint “denier” or worse, is not exactly a good example of being “argumentative”. Or are they only “argumentative” with the like-minded?
The science is clouded by these messages from the anti science community. So people left with a confused message and they decide, well, who to believe? That guy in a suit or that guy in a suit. It has been a very difficult communication message
Science is not particular well suited to communicating all this stuff and it is unfortunate because in the last 10-15 years there has been such concerted campaign to distort what the scientific community actually found.
My heart is going weak, those poor little climate scientists. They really think that the science or the debate is hindered by people who have another opinion. Just a couple years ago I had the same misconception. I thought “progress” in climate understanding was hindered by “deniers”. But I didn’t have a clue what the arguments of those deniers were. I wasn’t aware the skeptics’ arguments were only brought by the climate scientists themselves and a lot of things went lost in translation.
Then of course the road we will have to go:
I think that it is clear that it is not hard to do, that it is not changing the economy, that it is not impacting all of your life. I think that would be a start.
That seems unbelievable. We have to wean off fossil fuel energy (and probably other reliable energy sources) and replace it with intermittent and expensive energy sources. Hey, that’s going to be really easy! 😉
Then the “misconception” that climate scientists have diverse political views and that politics doesn’t drive the science. Well, looking at this clip gives me another impression. Sure, scientists have different political views, as have most other fields in our society, but that is not the issue. At issue is not that these scientists have political views, but that they want to influence the public towards one view. Confirmed in depth by the scientists in this clip. When they themselves know the subject is a very complex matter, yet pretending to have the answers and dismissing other viewpoints in the process.