Climate Change: The Science Has Never Been More Compelling, The Public Never So Misled

Climate Change: The Science Has Never Been More Compelling, The Public Never So Misled

Sep 13



By Susan Hassol, Director of Climate Communication
Climate Progress
September 13, 2011

Original Link

Joe Romm asked me to write a guest post introducing you to Climate Communication — a new science and outreach organization dedicated to improving public understanding of climate change science. Before I do that, I want to say that Joe does a remarkable job of keeping Climate Progress readers informed on an impressively wide variety of topics related to climate change. And he does so in a rapid response mode that is truly amazing. It’s the first site I send people to when they ask where they can go to keep up with what’s happening on a daily basis with climate change. We at Climate Communication are doing something different, as I’ll describe below.

This is a critical time. The science has never been more clear and compelling. Yet the public has never been so confused and misled. There is much to tell, and there are many scientists who are talented at and committed to telling it. People need to know the facts, and there are labs and universities ready to offer them. People also need to hear the stories of climate change, from scientists and other messengers whom they trust. The need is urgent, as the time for effective action is short. In this context, Climate Communication was born.

I’d spent a couple of decades working with climate scientists to communicate their work to the wider public. I had helped to put a lot of great reports on the shelf (see for example: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, Impacts of A Warming Arctic, etc.). But if a tree falls in the forest and not enough people hear, then what?

So we’re here to do everything we can to bring the science forward in a way that it can be heard. We’re still doing much of what I’ve been doing for a long time: helping scientists produce accessible reports and other science-based materials. But we’re also doing a lot more.

For scientists, we’re offering workshops in communicating climate science that go far beyond typical media training. We focus on the specific challenges of communicating about climate change. We go beyond problems of language to consider psychological and cultural issues. Our Science Director, Richard Somerville, and I led a climate communication workshop at the American Geophysical Union meeting in December 2010 and we’ll both be speaking there again this year. We led a workshop at NASA Jet Propulsion Lab on communicating about climate change. And we have more workshops planned. We welcome inquires about holding additional workshops and professional development sessions.

For journalists, we’re making the latest science available in a more accessible form and helping them identify the best experts to interview on particular topics. In a fast-paced and challenging media environment, we’re bringing the science to journalists in ways that are credible and helpful. Last week we held a telephone press conference featuring leading climate scientists discussing the linkages between extreme weather and climate change. We also posted a summary of the latest peer-reviewed science on that subject. Journalists are welcome to contact us and we’ll do our best to help.

For the public, we’re producing clear, brief summaries of the most important things they need to know about climate change, using not only words but also videos and animations. We’re providing concise answers to the key questions people ask: What’s happening to climate and why? How will it affect us? And what can we do about it?

The Yale and George Mason Universities’ studies tell us the questions most Americans want answered. Our science advisors answer those questions and more, simply and clearly, at our website in both text and videos.

Our Science Advisors include many of the world’s leading climate scientists, who are also great communicators: Ken Caldeira, Julia Cole, Robert Corell, Kerry Emanuel, Katharine Hayhoe, Greg Holland, Jeff Kiehl, Michael MacCracken, Michael Mann, Jeff Masters, Jerry Meehl, Jonathan Overpeck, Camille Parmesan, Barrett Rock, Benjamin Santer, Kevin Trenberth, Warren Washington, and Don Wuebbles.

You can read their bios, learn what they do outside of science, and even see them in action on our website, in brief bio videos. We also put together a short video on what the public really needs to know about climate change. And there are many more videos on common climate questions, extreme weather and climate change, and other topics. We hope to help amplify their voices and bring more clarity to public discussions of this great challenge.

So explore our site, spread the word, and please let us know how we’re doing and what we can do to help you.


Click here to view an animated version of this graphic that charts temperature changes from now until the year 2090.



Climate Communication
The Climate Reality Project Website
Pulse on Climate Change
NHNE’s Climate Change Resource Page



  1. Of course I agree that our air needs to be cleaned up and so do our waters. But as far as who is making our planet warmer, we’d need to talk to the sun and it’s solar flares. This is a cyclical warm up and then cool down that has been happening for as long as we have been keeping track and much longer. There are just as many scientists on both sides of this debate but if we really want to know more, we need to follow the money — as in all political debates — money talks and in this case it’s all about money and power to control more of our lives. Let’s work to clean up our planet but let’s not form a climate change police force to take away our freedoms.

  2. Hi Barbara. I’ve been tracking the climate change debate for over a decade, examining and reporting on all aspects of this situation. Briefly, the suggestion that the sun and solar flares is behind the current warming trend is not true. This is not to say that the sun, solar flares, cosmic rays, etc. don’t influence the Earth’s weather, just that the idea that the current warming trend is caused primarily by the sun has been widely investigated and debunked. Ditto for the idea that there is some kind of widespread debate among scientists as to the cause of climate change. This is not true either. There has, on the other hand, been a devastatingly effective campaign of misinformation on the part of fossil-fuel-funded organizations to discredit global warming research. Bottom line: On this particular issue, there is overwhelming evidence that we, as a species. are actively unleashing the titanic forces of climate change which, in turn, is contributing to the sixth great extinction where, as James Cameron famously said, “we are the mean old comet this time, we are the Armegaddon”.

    What can we do about it? This, in my view, is where most of the controversy lies today and also where there are all kinds of legitimate concerns as to how money is spent, on what, by whom, and how effective those expenditures will be at ultimately dealing with climate change. Short of removing human beings from the planet, I’m not aware of any easy fixes. It does, however, appear to me that comprehensive fixes lead back to the basics: in order to achieve health, on both personal and planetary scales, we have to become more conscious, loving, caring, connected. Replacing dirty energy sources with clean ones and learning how to live green lifestyles is, in other words, only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to living more conscious lives. There are also all kinds of forces, corporate and otherwise, that are trying to cash in on this topic and exploit it for their own short-term, narrow-minded, self-serving interests. And, yes, these forces are operating on both sides of the fence, among both climate change believers and skeptics, so the whole situation is a mess. Honestly, I think we are going to need some kind of divine intervention to find our way out.

    Anyway, NHNE’s main website has a page up that extensively documents this debate. Take a close look at the links that deal with myths, misconceptions, and contrarian arguments. There are also links that deal with how the fossil-fuel industry has aggressively funded bogus climate change scientists and organizations:

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