GREAT YouTube video on climate change!

by Stephanie Chasteen on January 9, 2008

Wow, I just saw a great YouTube by a science teacher on climate change. He frames the issue in terms of risk management. Rather than “who’s right?”, he asks “which scenario would we rather risk?” The one where we waste money to try to save an earth that’s fine as it is, or the one where we neglect to address the issue and are visited by multiple disasters? This is a common way to attack the issue, but the video is very well done. As my friend who sent it to me said, “ten minutes well spent!”

{ 3 comments }

debbie July 14, 2008 at 11:22 pm

You are very young and ill informed. The world is not going to end. You need to read the other side of the debate.

sciencegeekgirl July 14, 2008 at 11:37 pm

Heh, thanks for the compliment (guess I’m aging well), but I’m not so keen on the other comment. The scientific consensus is that the climate is changing, and it is due in large part to human causes. The extent to which the change in our climate is due to humans is certainly a topic of discussion, as is the predicted outcome. This doesn’t mean that the world is going to end, but rather that there are some serious steps that we need to be making in order to tip the scales towards less-negative outcomes. The media has portrayed climate change as a two-sided debate because that’s what it’s used to doing, but the truth is that in scientific circles, the debate is over the details, not the basic conclusions that I state above.

A great resource for the summary of the latest IPCC (Int’l Panel on Climate Change) report is the Wikipedia entry on the subject here: http://tinyurl.com/2qtehk

Here’s some commentary on why that IPCC report didn’t get widely circulated in the media: http://tinyurl.com/6x92gh

And here’s a scientist struggling with how to communicate climate change in a meaningful way, to get past the one-liners presented on why humans couldn’t affect the climate and try to get across his message clearly and quickly: http://tinyurl.com/6arcsv

sciencegeekgirl July 15, 2008 at 11:11 pm

And in this same vein, here’s a delightful post from Cocktail Party Physics on a new film on global warming — Sizzle — and the difficulty of communicating it in an understandable way.
http://twistedphysics.typepad.com/cocktail_party_physics/2008/07/sizzle.html

Here’s a little tidbit:

Olson’s focus for the film’s visuals shifts to (what else?) PowerPoint slides, because data is “what always works.” The kicker is when Olson soberly announces he’s snagged yet another interview with some scientists in Seattle: “The data these scientists have got is going to blow everybody away.” The same sub-theme ran through Flock of Dodos: exasperation with the all-too-common assumption among scientists — and even scientific organizations — that all they need to do to effectively communicate with the public is get the facts out there.

Olson has a valid point. Like it or not, the public doesn’t actually make up its collective hive-mind based on careful factual analysis; they’re more inclined to favor a nebulous “truthiness.” (Thank you, Stephen Colbert, for coining such a perfect word for it.) Most people have a far more complex relationship with “facts” than the average scientist…
As Olson’s film makes clear, the “facts” of global warming “come with points of view”: even the denialists don’t dispute the scientific consensus that global warming is real. They disagree vehemently, however, on how those facts should be interpreted, and that disagreement can make it very difficult for John and Jane Q. Public to grasp the gist of the science. Is it any wonder the public becomes confused and opts to base their budding views on global warming with whatever best fits with their pre-existing assumptions? (EG: “I hate Al Gore and therefore I don’t trust anything he has to say about global warming.”)

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