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Communicating the Science of Climate Change

Filed under: — mike @ 12 January 2009

It is perhaps self-evident that those of us here at RealClimate have a keen interest in the topic of science communication. A number of us have written books aimed at communicating the science to the lay public, and have participated in forums devoted to the topic of science communication (see e.g. here, here, and here). We have often written here about the challenges of communicating science to the public in the modern media environment (see e.g. here, here, and here).

It is naturally our pleasure, in this vein, to bring to the attention of our readers a masterful new book on this topic by veteran environmental journalist and journalism educator Bud Ward. The book, entitled Communicating on Climate Change: An Essential Resource for Journalists, Scientists, and Educators, details the lessons learned in a series of Metcalf Institute workshops held over the past few years, funded by the National Science Foundation, and co-organized by Ward and AMS senior science and communications fellow Tony Socci. These workshops have collectively brought together numerous leading members of the environmental journalism and climate science communities in an effort to develop recommendations that might help bridge the cultural divide between these two communities that sometimes impedes accurate and effective science communication.

I had the privilege of participating in a couple of the workshops, including the inaugural workshop in Rhode Island in November 2003. The discussions emerging from these workshops were, at least in part, the inspiration behind “RealClimate”. The workshops formed the foundation for this new book, which is an appropriate resource for scientists, journalists, editors, and others interested in science communication and popularization. In addition to instructive chapters such as “Science for Journalism“, “Journalism for Scientists” and “What Institutions Can Do“, the book is interspersed with a number of insightful essays by leading scientists (e.g. “Mediarology–The Role of Climate Scientists in Debunking Climate Change Myths” by Stephen Schneider) and environmental journalists (e.g. “Hot Words” by Andy Revkin). We hope this book will serve as a standard reference for how to effectively communicate the science of climate change.


106 Responses to “Communicating the Science of Climate Change”

  1. 1
    Bob Reiland says:

    Thanks for this reference. I’ve been trying to communicate the basics of climate change based on greenhouse gases to the students of my school and hope this will help.

    In addition I’m a member of groups that attempt to inform the public about such things in Western Pennsylvania. I look forward to reading this book and telling others about it.

  2. 2
    Jim Angel says:

    In addition, the AAAS, in partnership with NSF, has a web site on communicating science (www.aaas.org/communicatingscience). They have sections on the basics of communication, working with reporters, and public outreach.

    They also have free 1-day workshops. I attended one last year and found it very worthwhile (http://communicatingscience.aaas.org/pages/workshops.aspx). Future workshops are offered in conjunction with the annual AAAS meeting in Chicago on February.

    [Response: Thanks for the heads up Jim. -mike]

  3. 3
    Hank Roberts says:

    Another:
    http://www.nps.edu/News/ReadNews.aspx?id=3979&role=pao&area=media

    “… Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Center for Stabilization and Reconstruction Studies (CSRS) recently co-hosted a two-day conference that addressed the economic, cultural, scientific, security and political implications of the region’s dramatic change in climate.
    … approximately 170 participants – who represented industry, environmental, indigenous, government civilian and military groups – an opportunity to work toward preventing conflicts that may arise as global warming transforms the Arctic landscape.”

    ______________
    “Built north-” says ReCaptcha

  4. 4
    Pat Neuman says:

    To succeed in communicating the science of climate change
    there first needs to be a conscience about the quality of
    the environment people will leave for others.

    How do we influence others to develop a deeper conscience
    for the environment?

  5. 5
    Andy Revkin says:

    As a participant in some of those workshops, as well, I agree heartily that the resulting book is valuable read both for scientists and reporters (and others). Two other takes on the hurdles (and opportunities) facing scientists and the media in discussing climate are chapters I’ve done for two books, one fully online, the other from MIT Press:

    One is my chapter in “Climate Change: What it Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren” (Editors: Joseph Dimento, Pamela Doughman, MIT Press). The chapter on the media and climate science is online on googlebooks: http://tinyurl.com/ClimBookMITmedia

    The other is my chapter on hurdles to effective environment coverage in “A Field Guide for Science Writers” (Oxford U. Press, 2nd ed., 2005): http://tinyurl.com/NASWrevkin

    [Response: Thanks for the comment Andy. I highly recommend the Dimento and Doughman book to our readers, and not just because I'm quoted on the book jacket ;) -mike]

  6. 6
    paulm says:

    Timely post.

    Is below realistic… I would have thought that with progressive warming the stability of the ice would worsen?

    Greenland’s Rapid Glacier Retreat May Stall, Scientists Say
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601100&sid=aXm16yRTS344&refer=germany

  7. 7
    Pat Neuman says:

    As Ben Santer said on page 3 of the Executive Summary:

    “Scientists and journalists have a professional and ethical obligation to tell this story”.

    I think moral and religious leaders have an obligation to tell the ethical side of this story.

  8. 8
    Maya says:

    #6: I’m kind of scratching my head over that one. On the one hand, they say that the rapid retreat shouldn’t be extrapolated into the future (linearly I guess they mean?) but they also say:

    — begin quote —
    “We found was that these outlet glaciers are extremely sensitive to fluctuations in climate and ocean temperature at the terminus,” Vieli said. “When temperatures go up a bit, there’s a strong reaction in terms of mass loss: They start to flow fast and thin rapidly. But also, they adjust very quickly to the new temperature or climate setting.”
    — end quote —

    That implies that the temperature doesn’t go up any more, so the glaciers reach a new equilibrium. That might be the case for a year here and there, or even a few years at a time, but the temperature trend is definitely upwards. So it seems like the glaciers would continue to react strongly when there’s a warming … isn’t this article contradicting itself? Or it’s making an assumption (that the new, higher temperature is stable) that is unrealistic.

  9. 9
    Anna Keenan says:

    A paragraph from a recent (unpublished) article that I have written, which I believe is crucial in all climate science communication:

    Our choices of lanuage around the effects of climate change is very important to consider. Consider, for example, the difference between the two sentences:

    ‘As a result of climate change, the Great Barrier Reef will be irreversibly destroyed.’
    or,
    ‘If we fail to solve climate change, the Great Barrier Reef would be irreversibly destroyed.’

    The first sentence implies that climate change, and the Reef’s loss, is a certainty, whereas the second still holds within it the power of human choice, bringing human agency into the equation. Most climate communicators over the last two years have learnt to be very careful to use the language of agency, rather than of imminent destruction beyond our control. This is empowering and motivating language, and encourages the audience to make a choice between alternative futures, rather than accepting fate. Science without movement theory embedded in its communication is depressing and disempowering. When communication resigns someone to accept inevitability, we lose the opportunity to engage them with the movement, and so the movement is weaker than it could otherwise have been. A weak movement, based on language with no vision for change, becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

  10. 10

    Paulm, I’d think there is not a conflict, due to differing timescales–the modeled stabilization is effective over a few years, according to your link, and the current warming trend is .17 degrees C per decade. So the study could be correct over the next decade, while your point of view could well be right over the longer term.

  11. 11

    RealClimate, more than any other site, allows anyone access to the underlying science of this issue. Thank you so much for that, and for postings like these. What a resource !

    (warning: cynical comments: )

    From what I can see, most humans don’t want to know about global warming, and refuse to think they will face climate destabilization, and especially do not want to make the scientifically necessary changes.

    But this deeply established human trait is cemented by our high carbon consuming culture. This kind of thinking is directly encouraged by professional PR campaigns from American Petroleum Institute and just about any fossil fuel company. Just why does ANY carbon fuel company NEED to advertise? What is their real message?

    News organizations themselves are blinded by a commercial bias. Count the advertising content on broadcast TV and printed media and see many automobile, coal, gasoline commercials and ads for products so heavily engaged in carbon fuel consumption.

    When carbon fuel empires help establish media empires, what kind of news stories will be permitted? What brave news editor or media publisher will attack their own funding source with news or opinion? If they do, then how long and how deeply will they analyze the problem?

    This is the very beginning of a battle of perceptions, that must precede fundamental change. The change required is colossal, and few people want to look directly at such a ugly situation.

    (cynicism off)

    Many thanks go to the Metcalf Institute for hosting and disseminating this important information. Kudos to all the other valuable resources for communicating this issue. These are wonderful supports to help improve media outlets themselves, whether broadcast or web or print.

  12. 12
    mike says:

    We’d also like to alert our readers to an insightful article on this topic published last year in Eos by Susan Joy Hassol of Climate Communication (linked in our blogroll for those who want to learn more about the organization)

  13. 13
    Jim Bouldin says:

    The science isn’t faulty or broken. The communication pathway from scientists to Joe Public, and the confused concept of “equal time for opposing viewpoints” by the media, are what is broken. Thanks to all, including RC, who are working to fix it.

    #2: The annual AGU and ESA meetings also typically have workshops on how to communicate with the press/public.

  14. 14

    Slightly off-topic: I’ve revised my climatology page so the list of papers opposing AGW deniers specifies the gist of each one’s argument. I’ve also added a page for Dr. Roy Spencer’s egregious argument that the fraction of carbon dioxide in the air is too small to make a difference. Take out the hyphens before pasting into your browser:

    http://www.geocities.com/bpl1960/Climatology.html

    http://www.geocities.com/bpl1960/Spencer.html

  15. 15
    PeterB says:

    I’ve created a website/blog for my NGO that focuses on communicating the science of climate change via maps, called Climateatlas. http://blogs.edf.org/climateatlas

    I try to keep tabs on the writers, bloggers, etc. that do a great job in their communications…

    I’ll check out the Ward book. Thanks again for this great blog!

  16. 16
    Mark says:

    Anna, #6, however, the first one is seen all the time on hospital dramas:

    Doctor: I’m afraid if Jimmy’s lungs don’t start working, he’ll die
    Jimmy’s Mum: Can’t you do something about it????

    IMO, the biggest problem is that for AGW to be fixed the people here and now have to pay for the people in the future. Worse, the people in the least affected areas have to pay for the damage that will be done most to the people in other areas.

    It’s not until the doctor tells you you WILL die you give up drinking. You don’t care about the old man with a bad liver (you at 60) and so stop drinking like a fish (you at 20). You can just about get people to think about their children and grandchildren, and that usually happens when they’re 60 rather than when they’re 30.

    Hence the refusal. There’s no downside to THEM of denying it (accepting it but doing nothing makes you look like a baddie, so that’s out) and plenty of downsides to accepting responsibility (which also means you’ve done some of the damage now, which makes you look like a bad person).

  17. 17
    David Horton says:

    Thanks for the reference. I have had a go here http://www.blognow.com.au/mrpickwick/114981/The_skeptic_who_came_in_from_the_cold.html at a response to a friend who I discovered, to my shock and horror, was still a sceptic. We need,I think to distinguish between those who remain genuinely sceptical, and those in denial, and peel off the former from the latter.

  18. 18
    David B. Benson says:

    Slightly off-topic, but

    “Sea Level Rise Of One Meter Within 100 Years”

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090108101629.htm

  19. 19
    Larry Smith says:

    Very timely. When I get a chance, I need to read up. I was at Montana’s conference on energy futures last weekend-which had a very good turnout. Most people there got it. Much was said about the technical aspects of diversifying our energy future. I did sit with two (coincidentally? politically conservative) state legislators that clearly didn’t “believe” all this stuff about C02, and whether it will really be bad if the planet warms anyway.
    I tried to emphasize science versus opinion, but to little avail. I realized later I should have focused on listening, and get them to describe where they get their information, and take that route.
    There’s nothing like these situations to work on your game.

  20. 20
    naught101 says:

    Books on climate are great, I’ve read a number, and I’ve learned a lot from each of them.

    The real problem though, as Michael Tobis points out is the 50%+ of the public who think that climate change (if it’s happening) isn’t caused by humans.

    A large proportion of those 50%+ don’t read books on climate change.

    Most of the probably do read or watch the news, at least sometimes. And the ‘web is slowly becoming a part of the picture too. Activism is the answer.

  21. 21
    MattB says:

    Science communication, sadly, is a double edged sword.

    http://joannenova.com.au/ is arguably one of Australia’s best qualified and experienced and entertaining science communicators.

  22. 22
    Mark A. York says:

    RE: 19, Interesting Larry. During the election season I interviewed many Montana state and county candidates in Park County. I had a Republican who lived off the grid and won. When told oil and gas leases beaneath the beds of the Yellowstone and Boulder Rivers,the candidate called it “shocking.” I put him onto my articles. He didn’t have a TV or a regular subscription to the paper. Anything can happen now, much of it good in this regard.

  23. 23

    Naomi Oreskes wrote Chapter 4 of the book that Andy Revkin recommended above (#5). It’s available here:
    http://www.ametsoc.org/atmospolicy/documents/Chapter4.pdf
    Excellent reading, as are the slides of here AMS presentation
    (http://www.ametsoc.org/atmospolicy/Presentations/Oreskes%20Presentation%20for%20Web.pdf)
    She goes over different scientific methods and how each of them is used satisfactorily to arrive at the same conclusion: current climate change is real and predominantly caused by humans.
    It does an excellent job of putting the “debate” into context.

  24. 24
    Maria M says:

    Is there anybody to answer a question about the greenhouse effect on Mars.
    Actually, in spite of the high level of CO2 in Mars atmosphere a greenhouse effect is not observed there.
    Why so?
    Thanks!

  25. 25
    Alan says:

    Re #24: Just a guess but Mars has a very thin atmosphere, absorbed IR energy would have more time to be released as a photon (lower kinetic energy tranfer fom molecular collisions).
    About communicating science, how about asking some of your peers to cut down on purile stunts like the recent “google searches warm the planet” thing from Harvard. I have no association with google but I do know they are leaders in efficiency and are putting their money where their mouth is with green energy. What possible gain is there in attacking an ally with mindless trivia?

  26. 26
    kevin says:

    Maria: Mars certainly does have a greenhouse effect, just not much because the atmosphere is very very thin. Googled “greenhouse effect on mars” and found this @ nova.stanford.edu in about 10 seconds (which you can do, too):

    “The atmosphere of Mars is also predominantly carbon dioxide, but Mars does not have a significant Greenhouse condition because the atmosphere is so thin that it cannot absorb much of the infrared energy which is emitted by the surface. The surface pressure on Mars is about 100 times less than it is on Earth, which is itself about 90 times less than it is on Venus. It is estimated that the Greenhouse effect on Mars warms the atmosphere at the surface by less than 10 degrees Fahrenheit.”

  27. 27
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Maria, Basically, the issue for Mars is that the atmosphere is very thin. It’s not just the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere, but the absolute number of molecules standing between an IR photon emitted from the surface and escape into space. There is also virtually no water vapor in the Martian atmosphere.

    One reason the Martian atmosphere is so thin is the lack of a protective planetary magnetic field that would keep the solar wind from stripping away the gas at the top of the atmosphere.

  28. 28
    EL says:

    I think the underlying problem with communicating science to the general population is mostly due to the severe decline in science education in the USA. There is this generation problem in America that says science isn’t cool. People simply don’t take science subjects in college, they take arts or some other get rich quick scheme. Even if they do take science, their job outlook is dismal compare to other fields. Companies seem more interested in keeping current technology then creating new technology.

    In short I think American scientist have a larger problem then global warming on their hands. Countries with totalitarianism ideas is growing in power while the west is in the state of decline. This should take priority over global warming in America, however I do worry it may be too late in the game to do anything.

  29. 29

    What possible gain is there in attacking an ally with mindless trivia?

    Situational awareness. Clearly they aren’t as green as they claim. The truth can never hurt, right? And certainly a $100 billion dollar corporation would never spin the truth, right?

  30. 30

    EL wrote:

    “arts or some other get rich quick scheme.”

    EL, as resident artsie, I say “You’ve got to be kidding.”

  31. 31
    Alan Neale says:

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=83947f5d-d84a-4a84-ad5d-6e2d71db52d9&CFID=43985805&CFTOKEN=26963028

    Inhofe’s 650+ article to most people would seem like the peer reviewed parts of the document are true and demonstrate that it might be a hoax ir that the world is warming but is is not CO2 or other GHG’s. It just goes on and on.

    The WWW is full of this blogs and articles relating to this document and the postings on sites and the mass of opinion is just staggering. Therefore the media with its few scientifically trained journalists like debate and something to have a opinion related message in order to drum up column inches. When it becomes a message and involves a lot of potential dramatic changes to the cost of energy available to people, the technologies available to reduce GHG emissions, the life style changes plugged by environmentalists and hence the back lash from the skeptics, deniers, and simply those who refuse to adhere to it as it is a bad vibe on life is already out of hand. Who do ordinary people believe I wonder ?

    The Climate change science needs to be totally cleaned up to stop the interviews in the media from throwing out the contrarian message. George Monbiot posted a very politial message today in the Guardian in his column and the amount of reples and personal battles in the responses part have totaled over 350 thus far and it has wound a lot of people up.

    We ought to stop the environmentalists from making it sound like the planet is screaming for help as it is not helping, same as the other side is not either.

  32. 32
    Jim Bouldin says:

    #21: If that’s Australia’s best qualified and experienced, then OZ is in a world of hurt. E.g. this pearl of wisdom:

    “Evidence means observations, made by people at some time and place. Things you can see, hold, hear and record. Computer models are not, and can never be evidence.” And this individual claims to be a science writer???

    #20 (Naught):

    I prefer to look at the glass as (more than) half full. The Pew survey shows fluctuating numbers, with things actually being somewhat better, over all groups, in April ’08 than June ’06. And the study cited in the Eos article referred to in #12 above found that while only 41% believed humans were the dominant driver, another 42% believed they were at least a contributor. That’s over 80% who believe humans are at least part of the problem.

  33. 33
    Hank Roberts says:

    > We ought to stop the environmentalists

    What you mean “we” Kemo Sabe?

    > greenhouse effect on Mars

    Maria M, if you care to tell us, where did you get the misinformation? As Larry Smith points out above, finding sources that convince people of wrong information is always helpful. Tell us why you trusted the source you got that from, if you will?

  34. 34
    Sekerob says:

    I’m surprised Maria M is not asking about Venus’ greenhouse effect. Selectivity?

  35. 35
    Hank Roberts says:

    Let’s see if Maria comes back. I’ve become skeptical about name-plus-single-letter userids. Coincidence, I hope.

  36. 36

    Did anyone catch Christopher Horner on BookTV with Jed Babbin? That man looked so sad (presumably because of the results of the election) that I spent the entire hour waiting to see tears running down his eyes:

    http://www.booktv.org/program.aspx?ProgramId=9998&SectionName=After Words

    I sent him an e-mail with exactly that message and said that if the conservatives want to remain stuck in the 19th century it is ok because the rest of America really doesn’t care any longer. You can only spend so much time arguing with creationists and flat eathers before surrendering them to their own insanity.

    Though I have observed a substantial decline in conservative responses to denialist trip on the conservative blogs. Perhaps the conservative masses already realize that the battle is lost?

    For a sobering assessment of the Sixth Great Extinction mixed with ominous implications regarding human overpopulation, watch Doctor David Woodruff’s lecture:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cy7y1l9g1A

    Though, unfortunately, the lecture does end with “happy-talk” which implies that humans really are going to solve all of these problems before suffering the consequences.

    I think it is already too late for humankind. We haven’t stopped polluting the Earth and we aren’t going to stop. That’s just reality. The human population is still growing and it is going to reach 9 billion before 2050.

    http://www.flickr.com/dmathew1

  37. 37
    EL says:

    Kevin McKinney – hehe, I really didn’t mean to come across that way but just convey the general impression I get from people. They avoid science related classes because their too hard, boring, not cool, or because they have some idea that they’ll get rich by doing something else.

    David Mathews – I think we are looking at something like the period 1348-1350 in European history. The people experienced much of the same thing we are with the global warming issue. Rising populations coping with depleted resources.

  38. 38
    Jim Bouldin says:

    #36 (David):

    I watched a very small part of it. I was surprised to see it on C-SPAN (although barring such viewpoints completely only generates more calls of censorship, so damned if you do or don’t). When Horner launched into the idea that global warming “hysteria” was responsible for some Australian kid being diagnosed with psychological problems (only the tip of the iceberg I’m assuming he must’ve been implying), and kept using the term “global warming industry” I realized I had no time for it. Might watch some more just to get familiar with new “arguments”.

  39. 39
    MattB says:

    @32 – She ran Australia’s leadsing University’s science communication course for 5 years.
    - She used to have a science TV show
    - She is married to David Evans “Rocket Scientist”
    - She is a keynote speaker at the Climate Science 2009 Heartland Institute sceptics gig
    - She is a good looking and smart lady

    Write her off ar your “our” peril. My tip is that she will be a household name in Oz and the USA within a couple of years. Or am I being paranoid:)

  40. 40
    David Horton says:

    @39 David Evans writes denialist stuff too – obviously a team effort. So, no, you are not being paranoid. But anyway, you know what they say about paranoids …

  41. 41
    Jim Bouldin says:

    You guys are in trouble down there Matt :)

    And it surprises me not in the least that someone with her opinions (yes opinions), is a keynote at a Heartland Institute event. And the “writing off” has nothing to do with her current or eventual notoriety (as in “notorious”).

  42. 42
    Maria M says:

    Thank you everybody, Kevin, Alan, Ray Ladbury for commenting my question and giving advice.
    In the meantime I found some more details about Mars. Not asking about Venus because about its greenhouse effect one can read everywhere, discussed in details. The information about Mars is not mainly concerning the ghe, already know why.
    I found the Real Climate in Internet by a coincidence but the discussion here (except some commenting my question) is very interesting, although I do not have so much time to follow it and give oppinion.
    I am a chemist. Recently lecturing about Earth atmosphere, so how I came to the question about Mars and its atmosphere.
    Maria is my real name.

  43. 43
    Maria M says:

    Hank Roberts “Maria M, if you care to tell us, where did you get the misinformation? As Larry Smith points out above, finding sources that convince people of wrong information is always helpful. Tell us why you trusted the source you got that from, if you will?”
    Here is my reply: When I put my question in the forum I did not have any information about the ghe on Mars. As a matter of fact I was asked and because having vague picture on the subject I started looking around to read. Now I know more.

  44. 44
    Bob Clipperton says:

    Re: post # 28 by EL – science education in the USA

    I consider the same for the UK. The standards for all subjects, but especially the Sciences, have been steadily dumbed down for 30-40 years and the ‘promotion’ by careers advice bodies of get rich quick ‘service / financial’ industry jobs together with the personality cult in the media have all contributed to the denigration of science.

    On a slightly different note, I have debated Climate Change amongst other things on website. I have found that even a few reasonably level headed people still have some doubts about the science – because the residue of the US religious/business political doubt campaign of the 1990’s still being used by some of the UK media. I think particularly here about the Christophers, (Monkton & Booker), in the Daily Telegraph and ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ TV program.
    The latter particularly prejudiced many people that I came into contact for months after. One single corrupt TV program did more damage to the truth of CC here than pages & pages of science friendly information in the Guardian or Independent papers.
    Ian Stewart’s “Earth: The Climate Wars” recovered the situation somewhat but was a missed opportunity in some ways.

    The dumbing-down of education means, I regret to say, that much of the UK population at least, can only assimilate ‘information’ from ‘visual’ sources and thus I think visual sources are more appropriate for getting messages out to general populations – (the success of Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’ still sends the diehard deniers into paroxysms of anger).
    Therefore, in my view, unbiased television is the key to getting the truth to the general population.
    Finally, is there any hope of getting say, the heads of the old ‘Climate Coalition’ to admit their antics on Camera by a really good TV journalist?

  45. 45
    Alan Neale says:

    SLIGHTLY OFF TOPIC BUT A MESSAGE OF THE RC MESSAGE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

    Fred Pearce who has been a science writer for man years for newspapers and New Scientist and popular books on the climate subject matter has today written an article of hope for the people who just want to see something done about carbon emissions.

    California, massive investment, a liberal president and the USA capability and technological know how (and the need for jobs) will win out with a new perspective and philosophy. But the one thing that comes over from this article is the new found optimism of liberal thinking and its reliance and dedication to science and not necessarily religion.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/13/climate-change-united-states-eu

    The USA can do it and if they have the electricity on hand then they can also plug in all them electric cars required and when the population of the USA realise the cost of running one of these cars it is going to happen.

    The world will hopefully thank America again. Its been a terrible 8 years in many ways although not all.

  46. 46
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Maria, Welcome. You probably didn’t realize you were reaching into a lawnmower with your question, did you? The thing is that one of the memes in the denialosphere has been that warming has been seen on other solar-system bodies, so there must be a cause to warming on Earth other than anthropogenic. Never mind that many of the claims are flat wrong, even if warming is seen on other celestial bodies, the energetics of the climates on those bodies are quite different than those of Earth. So, ask away. Even if you do generate some skepticism, you’ll get a more reliable answer here than anywhere else. Best of luck to you in your teaching–you’re part of our hope for a better educated populace for tomorrow.

    The oracle of ReCAPTCHA: fast learning

  47. 47
    Richard Simons says:

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned elsewhere, but debategraph.org has an interactive concept map for debating climate change, the implications and what can/should be done about it. From a cursory glance it looks as though climate change deniers have contributed to it but not people who accept AGW.

  48. 48
    Nick Gotts says:

    “For a sobering assessment of the Sixth Great Extinction mixed with ominous implications regarding human overpopulation, watch Doctor David Woodruff’s lecture:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cy7y1l9g1A

    Though, unfortunately, the lecture does end with “happy-talk” which implies that humans really are going to solve all of these problems before suffering the consequences.”- David Mathews

    Why “unfortunately”? At this stage, it is by no means certain that “we’re all doomed”; and while doubt remains, despair increases our danger as much as complacency.

  49. 49
    Alan Neale says:

    Re #44. Amen to the dumbing down of education in the UK in the public sector but surely our great private schools have not done such a thing and provided us with a lot of our great scientists of today ;)

    http://climateprogress.org/2008/12/07/very-warm-2008-makes-this-hottest-decade-in-recorded-history-by-far/

    Now here is a man how knows how to put across the climate science slightly better than most and he even knows some of the GISS and other climate scientists and admires your working standards in regard to science (I wish that others understood the standards of the best scientific institutions), measurement and attention to detail as only the best scientists will adhere to.

    My own personal opinion of the communication of climate change is that in regard to AGW it only takes one documentary and headline to convince the masses of this all being an elaborte lie because the media is peoples first line of trusted information and the media as a whole and this has recently in the UK become a you said / he said line of opinion and discussion.

    The BBC have recently stopped this line with climate science as hence it has disappeared from the radar as it not the liberal way to lecture people.

  50. 50
    Hank Roberts says:

    Thanks Maria! Keep asking. I read “a greenhouse effect is not observed” as a statement, but you meant it as a question.

    Google (and Scholar) have improved their natural language search routine: type in a question as though asking a human being — put a question mark at the end of the sentence — and it’ll give you a surprisingly good return. HTML for the question mark %3F is, without spaces, % 3 F

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?sourceid=Mozilla-search&q=greenhouse+effect+on+Mars%3F


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