Interesting Information In EOS On The Interface Of Climate Science With The Public and Policymakers

There are two insightful articles in recent EOS issues that illustrate the current state of climate science. The first is

How Science and Hollywood Can Work Together Is Focus of Fall Meeting Panel By R. Showstack in the January 18 2011 issue of EOS

where one of the sections reads

“Perkowitz [the Moderator of the AGU session and author of the book Hollywood Science] related that the 2004 science fiction film about global warming, The Day After Tomorrow, which has grossed nearly $550 million, got many facts correct but sped up the tempo so changes occurred in weeks rather than decades. He said some scientists and others “were deeply offended that the movie took that degree of liberty. Yet the movie made people more aware of the importance of at least knowing about global warming and thinking that it might be an issue.”

In a quick survey of the Fall [AGU] Meeting audience, Perkowitz estimated that about half were offended by the liberties the movie took and half indicated that it is okay to stretch the truth in a movie to raise public awareness about an issue.”

The second EOS article is

Pieter P. Tans Receives 2010 Roger Revelle Medal

Pieter certainly deserves the recognition he received for his scientific contribution. In his acceptance of the Medal he presents his view on the role of climate scientists in the broader community.

“As climate scientists we now find ourselves in the situation that our subject is widely understood to be so relevant to society that many powerful interest groups feel threatened. Thus, we are facing a well organized and well-funded campaign attacking our science and our integrity, spreading confusion and disinformation. This is not surprising, as mitigating climate change goes to the core of our energy supply system and the broader economic system. Human-made climate change demonstrates that we cannot continue business as usual. Should we ignore the deliberate lies and manipulations we face and stick purely with the science, hoping that sound judgment and compassion will eventually prevail? We are scientists, but we are also citizens. It is our civic responsibility to redouble our efforts to convey to the public clearly the urgency and the essence of the climate change problem. The kind of world we leave to our children and grandchildren depends on it. It will have to be a world that has as one of its guiding principles a Sanskrit prayer that was used as a dedication in the above mentioned 1972 book: “Oh Mother Earth, ocean-girdled and mountainbreasted, pardon me for trampling on you.”

The AGU itself is taking a more active role in involvement in the political process. I received the e-mail reproduced below from the AGU on January 24 2011.

Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2011 12:26:09 -0500

From: Kaitlin Chell XXXXX

To: pielkesrXXXXX

Subject: Invitation: Come to Capitol Hill with AGU

Dear AGU Member,

Do you want to get involved with science and politics at the national level?  Do you care about the nation’s laws and how they affect global citizens and the scientific community?  Participate in Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Day (SET-CVD) on 6-7 April in Washington, DC.  This is a great opportunity for you to come to our nation’s capital and promote science!

AGU has partnered with other scientific societies to host SET-CVD  AGU will schedule meetings for you with Members of Congress and their staff so that you can discuss your research and illustrate the importance of supporting federally funded research through agencies such as DOE, EPA, NASA, NOAA, NSF, and USGS.  I encourage you to participate in SET-CVD whether you have participated in congressional activities before or not.  You can view a short informational video at

RSVP to me at kchell@xxxx or xxxxx by 4 March.  Please be sure to include your primary research interest, affiliation, cell phone number, and home address (so I can determine your congressional district).

Please note that, unfortunately, no travel funds are available for SET-CVD participants.

PREVIEW AGENDA (subject to change)

Wednesday, 6 April

9AM—2PM:  SET-CVD workshop for Earth and space scientists at AGU headquarters (2000 Florida Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20009).  The afternoon will include a luncheon briefing on how to communicate with legislators, an overview of the federal budget and appropriations process, and ample time for questions.  A discussion with current and former Congressional Science Fellows will follow.  Topics will include how to improve communication with Congress, science priorities in the current session of Congress, and preparation for the next day’s visits.

2:30PM—5PM:  Briefings for all SET-CVD participants at AAAS (1200 New York Ave, NW)

5:30PM—7:30PM:  SET-CVD reception on Capitol Hill featuring the presentation of the George E. Brown Jr. SET Leadership Award

Thursday, 7 April

8AM-9AM:  SET-CVD breakfast on Capitol Hill

9AM—5PM:  SET-CVD participants visit their congressional delegations (as scheduled) on Capitol Hill

I hope to see you in Washington, DC, on 6-7 April!


Kaitlin Chell

Public Affairs Coordinator

American Geophysical Union

2000 Florida Avenue, NW

Washington, DC  20009  USA

Office: xxxxx

E-mail: kchell@xxxxx

If AGU members participate in this AGU activity, I recommend they read my son’s book

Pielke, R. A. Jr,  2007: The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2007) should be required reader to determine the role that each AGU member wants to serve with respect to their interface with the political process.

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